The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever
This year give the gift of financial peace.
Do you have a favorite Valentine’s gift from years past? For some people it might be a beautiful piece of jewelry. Maybe it was a great vacation. You might think a great gift needs to be pricey, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, the very best Valentine’s gift you can give to your loved one costs no money, only your time.
Here are nine steps to achieving this financial felicity:
- Meet together at the end of each month to discuss your spending plans for the next month.
- The spouse who is more comfortable crunching numbers should bring a first draft showing the expected income and then showing how it will all be used.
- The couple revises the spending plan together. This is a time for future-looking communication. It is not a time to bring up old spending disagreements.
- Total spending should match your expected income. If your plan requires you to spend more than you make, you need to cut somewhere or find a way to make more money.
- Conversely, don’t leave any money on the table without a spending plan. Tag it for your emergency fund, or to pay off debts, or to build savings. Make a plan for how you will spend (or save) every dollar.
- Set aside some money for emergencies — because you can expect emergencies to happen.
- Designate some “mad money” that you can each spend on anything you want. It helps control spending in other areas if you have some freedom to spend some money on whatever you want.
- Review your monthly spending together as needed to make adjustments during the month. If the budget isn’t working, don’t throw it out. Fix it.
- Do it again next month because every month your spending needs will be different. You need a new plan for each month in order to make it work out for the best.
Doing a budget by yourself does not come naturally to most people, and it can be much harder doing it with another person. But if you have developed the habit of setting up a monthly budget every month — regardless of your income level — you’ll be able to add more to savings, pay off debt, and contribute more to your retirement accounts.
Doesn’t that sound like the best Valentine’s gift ever? So, give it a try: take the time to plan your spending for the next month with your partner. You may be surprised at what you can do when you work together on your daily finances.