Since I won’t have a holiday of my own, I’m focusing on other people’s Feb. 14 follies. For example, did you know that some people buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets?
Not making that up. Couldn’t make that up.
According to the personal finance comparison website Finder.com, 28% of people will purchase presents for their dogs and 17 percent will buy for their cats. Anticipated expenditures will be $25 and $21, respectively.
Anybody but me find that weird? Or maybe a little sad? I mean, I get it that you want to treat your animal companions kindly. But it’s not as though the critters will understand that it’s a special day, vs. the other goodies you give during the year.
I also can’t help thinking that this money would serve pet owners better in some other ways. Chief among them would be to build a pet emergency fund for the next time Fido or Fluffy gets sick.
Incidentally, the Finder.com survey also found that as a nation we’ll be putting $17.3 billion on plastic for the holiday. Given how expensive those roses and dinners out can be, I guess I’m not surprised. A little alarmed, maybe, but not surprised.
Valentine’s Day for humans
Buying for a female partner, spouse or significant other? Hope you thought twice about gifting lingerie. At least that’s the advice I got from the Ebates cash-back shopping site.
Nearly six in 10 of respondents who are in relationships, and almost half of singles say that “dinner out” is the way to celebrate on Feb. 14. (It can be hard to get a reservation on Feb. 14, so I hope some of those folks are flexible.) By contrast, 29 percent and 25 percent respectively do not want naughty scanties for Valentine’s Day.
However, just over four in 10 of all respondents believe it would very romantic to get engaged on Valentine’s Day. Here’s hoping that whoever does the asking is pretty sure of the answer if s/he pops the question in a public place. Pretty embarrassing to have to get up off one’s knees and finish out the evening.
As for expressions of romance, the digital marketing site SOASTA says that 79 percent of youths and 71 percent of adults plan to send Valentine’s Day greetings this year. Almost three in 10 married folks (28 percent) will buy cards. However, 40 percent of singles will be doing this through social media. (Sorry, Hallmark.)
Good credit is hot; financial infidelity is not
And this just in from TransUnion: Nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of those surveyed believe that a good credit score makes someone more attractive.
Sounds reasonable to me, especially since smart money management can prevent problems later on. More than one-third (36 percent) of divorced people surveyed by Experian said that their spouses’ credit scores causes marital stress.
In addition, 59 percent said that finances played “at least some” role in the split, and 20 percent said it played “a big role.”
Again, advance communication might help: 71 percent of women and 60 percent of men said their ex-spouses’ spending habits were “different than what they anticipated before they married.” In fact, half the respondents said their spouses ran up debt during the marriage.
Financial disclosure, people: It works. And if you’re afraid to talk about money, spending habits and credit scores while engaged, then maybe you’re not ready to get hitched.
(Edited to add: I forgot to put in the discount! If you want to help your sweetheart (or yourself) be a better steward with available funds, take advantage of a Valentine’s Day discount code for the e-version of “Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Large On Small Change, For The Short Term Or The Long Haul.” Go to my PDF store and use the discount code LOVEANDMONEY to save 14 percent. The code is good through the end of the day Feb. 28.)
Love and money
And speaking of disclosure: Some people are awfully good at hiding their financial foul-ups. This can lead to some pretty devastating discoveries later on.
“Financial infidelity” is a thing, and a digital bank called BankMobile offers some tips to help those blinded by love to see a little more clearly:
More month than money. Sometimes this means you aren’t earning enough or you’re living an unsustainable lifestyle. But if you’ve already got a budget in place yet you come up short/can’t get ahead, then it’s time to start looking for the money leak.
Unexplained withdrawals/transfers. Generally couples discuss money matters in advance, e.g., “I need to move cash from savings to checking to pay for the driveway resurfacing.” While you shouldn’t pounce on your partner about an unexpected $5 Starbucks expense on the debit card, you should keep an eye on what’s going on. That is, unless you…
Have no access to financial statements. Unless you’ve gone paperless you should be getting monthly mailings from your bank or credit union. And if you have gone paperless but your partner hasn’t shared them? Problem, especially if it’s a pattern of…
Never talking about money. You and your spouse/partner need to be on the same (ledger) page about your finances. Some people find money talk boring, but guess what? You’re adults, so do it anyway. And if your significant other never brings up the topic and/or changes the subject or is “too busy” to sit down and discuss it, you may really have a problem. You should definitely fear…
Non-answers about money matters. “Let me handle it” or “no problem, it’s all under control” are not acceptable answers to your questions about household finances. Either your partner is avoiding talking about an existing problem or s/he is actively hiding something. Bonus gaslighting points if the love of your life gets defensive, annoyed or angry when you press the issue.
Okay, readers: How are you celebrating (or not) today?