Get romantic with your finances this Valentine's Day
Today is the first big retail event of the year, Valentine's Day, and South Africans are reportedly spending more than ever to spoil their partners on the day of love.
According to MasterCard's latest "Love Index", sentimental spending has doubled since 2015, with dining out, travel and jewellery topping the list of ways to express love.
However, in these tough economic times, money is often too tight for romance and as the old expression goes: "When poverty comes in the front door, love goes out the back."
So what if instead of pressuring your loved one to do something grand for you on the day of love, why not get closer by sharing ideas on how to build a strong financial future as a couple.
"In a relationship, you bring your own money management experiences, so it's important to acknowledge and understand each other's thought process when it comes to money, spoiling each other and finding a balance that works," psychologist and relationship coach Dr Tshepiso Matentjie of Matentjie Consulting says.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your finances as a couple, especially when it comes to how you decide to spoil each other.
However, remaining financially incompatible and not drawing on each others' strengths could cause a major rift in the relationship in the long run.
You could opt for a romantic dinner during which you share your credit reports and be honest about your debts, as a first step.
Make sure you know your own financial situation before you interrogate your partner's finances.
The financially stronger partner helping the weaker one could be a Valentine's Day gift to someone whose love language is acts of service.
You could form a powerful bond with your partner by helping him or her eliminate debt and rein in their spending.
When couples fight about money, it's usually because of money secrets, whether it is about secret savings, secret spending or secret debts.
With the debt talk behind you, you should discuss budgeting and decide on individual and shared expenses.
A habit of budgeting together will help avoid expectations not being met - you will agree about what you will spend money on and there will be no disappointment when, for example, you get a homegrown rose instead of a bouquet, or he gets a home-cooked meal instead of meal at a restaurant.
Also set savings goals for things that you may want to purchase jointly or shared experiences like, for example, that holiday in Zanzibar that you've discussed.
The earlier you start, the better your chances are of achieving your goal.
Some tips for the big:
- Plan regular money dates to discuss your current financial situation and how the cash is flowing.
- Skip the restaurant and try an exotic home-cooked meal while discussing your financial aspirations. Trying out a new dish together will bring the intimacy and also help create a safe zone to discuss money issues.
- If you can't afford to buy an expensive gift or experience, make it a goal for next Valentine's Day and start saving now.