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A Financial Planner's Musing on Valentine's Day

A Financial Planner's Musing on Valentine's Day

February 15, 2019

Which is More Romantic?  Flowers?  Or Paying Down Credit Card Debt? 

OK, this is a day late for Valentine’s Day, but we consider it a reflection on the holiday. 

We all know Valentine’s day is a holiday that seems invented by jewelers, confectioners, resort owners, and Hallmark to separate us from our money.  All holiday traditions suggest that the best way to demonstrate your everlasting love by spending money on gifts or experiences for your beloved.  But we all know love isn’t measured in dollars and cents.  Heck, spending money – especially money you don’t have – requires no effort whatsoever.  Just whip out the credit card, and presto – I Love You! 

It seems to me a much greater a gift would be a contribution toward a sound financial future.  How about instead of an expensive dinner out, you pay off $200 of debt and cook a romantic budget meal at home?  Instead of a weekend escape – how about putting $750 in your Roth IRA and a romantic weekend with each other at home?  Or on a smaller scale – instead of $10 for the fancy Hallmark card, draw up a romantic note using your own words – it will say more (and put $10 back in the budget to pay down debt!)

Am I being un-romantic with such a suggestion?  I don’t think so.  Consider that the effort I might put into our financial future indicates a strong comment to our long term future together.  It demonstrates a real commitment after all to the vow of To Death Do Us Part.  What is more romantic than that? 

Obviously, it your retirement plan is on track and you are debt free, then it is fine to enjoy the day, buy the overpriced rosses and have a nice meal out.  But if you are struggling to build or rebuild your financial house, fundamental changes in traditional thinking and attitudes toward spending can help you succeed.  It might help to consider that NOT spending money you can’t afford actually is the more romantic thing to do. 

And yes, in case you are wondering, my wife is indeed a saint.