4 Ways to Romance Your Wallet on Valentine's Day and Beyond

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Bills.com offers tips for financially savvy in February, the month of love.

February is the month of romance, but love for your wallet means never saying, "I'm broke!" -- and to that end, Bills.com co-founder and co-CEO Brad Stroh offers suggestions for consumers to stay healthy, wealthy and (financially) wise in love, in February and beyond.

"From junior-high Valentine exchanges to grown-up commitments like engagement rings, February's romantic atmosphere offers ample opportunity to forget New Year's resolutions and your budget," Stroh said. "Before you get caught up in a spending frenzy, take a look at your bank account and decide whether your budget calls for multi-carat diamonds or construction-paper hearts."

Stroh offered the following tips for those planning Champagne romance on a soda-fountain budget:

  • The perfect date: While movie stars jet off to the Plaza Hotel for a romantic weekend, glitz can't manufacture true love. Instead, personalize a romance: Recreate the pasta scene from "Lady and the Tramp" for a Disney buff, pledge your love on a snowshoe hike to a stunning mountain vista, or indulge a '70s fanatic with a couples skate at the roller rink. Remember, too, that homemade dinners - and cards - are often the best kind.
  • Make it official: By some estimates, 10 percent of couples get engaged on Valentine's Day. Those who hope to become a happy statistic should bear in mind that the idea of spending two months' salary on a diamond engagement ring was devised by the diamond industry. The amount you spend has nothing to do with how much love you share, so don't let retailers lure you into feeling guilty. "What's important is for couples to decide together what fits their budget, their plans, and the woman's lifestyle," Stroh said. Some husbands-to-be pick up an inexpensive ring for the moment of presentation, present a family heirloom, or offer another symbol of their love for the proposal. Other couples skip the engagement ring and choose wedding bands together.
  • Wedding bells: After the proposal comes the planning -- the first decisions that launch a couple's life together. "Whatever you do, do your best to avoid going deeply into debt for one day of your lives," Stroh advised. "Beginning a life together in the red creates a learning experience -- a painful one."
  • For richer, for poorer: With money trouble leading cause of divorce in America, "the wedding ceremony doesn't include this phrase for nothing," Stroh noted. All couples encounter better times and more difficult ones. Make saving a financial habit. Couples (and singles) should have open, honest discussions about money and budgeting, build an emergency fund for rainy days, and always strive to live within their means.

"When it comes to romance, try to get lost in your partner's eyes -- not in a morass of credit card bills," Stroh added. "Start married life with a budget, and stick to it. If financial matters get out of hand, get them back on track -- or get help -- right away to minimize the heartache."

Based in San Mateo, Calif., Bills.com is a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about complex personal finance issues and comparison shop for products and services including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages and other loans. The company blogs about consumer finance issues at http://www.bills.com/blog. Since 2002, Bills.com has served more than 30,000 customers nationwide while managing more than $500 million in consumer debt. Bills.com is a division of Freedom Financial Network, LLC, whose co-founders and CEOs, Andrew Housser and Brad Stroh, have been named Northern California finalists in Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.


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Aimee Bennett
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