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This Week In Your Wallet: The Things We Do For Love 

Jean Chatzky  |  September 10, 2019

As autumn approaches, dare we take a moment and add up how much we spent this summer on rooftop bars, meals out, beachside cocktails, and (gulp) weekend getaways with friends? If you had a low-key and inexpensive few months, congratulations. But if you’re scared to even do the math, then I have some news for you — your friendships may be priceless, but the cost of maintaining them doesn’t have to break the bank. That’s the message from the Wall Street Journal’s Julia Carpenter, who writes that simply “hanging out” at home (where the cost of food and drink are the lowest) may be a lost art among friends, and that if you’re serious about getting and staying out of debt, you should do more of it. 

Because here’s the problem — when our friends spend more, we spend more. This goes for shopping, dinners, nights out drinking, you name it. And if your friends’ spending has gotten to be a problem, then it may be time to look for some pals with similar financial values (or try to bring your friends around to yours). It turns out money is just as big of a predictor of happiness in friendships as it is for relationships.  

So, where do we find these frugal friends?  Start (cautiously, of course) with social media, and look to take things into the real world. These days, there are countless groups for people who enjoy things like finding free camping sites, scoring two-for-one deals at restaurants, couponing, the list goes on. There’s also the HerMoney private Facebook group, where nearly 10,000 women have come together to talk about their financial journeys, and meet up in the real world. No, talking about money over drinks isn’t required, but we absolutely recommend it

When Duty (and Dad) Calls 

Approximately 10,000 boomers are turning 70 every day, and one in five people between the ages of 55 to 64 are spending time caring for their older relatives. Twenty percent of those caregivers also have children at home. Many of our readers know this story all too well — and are living it on a daily basis, sandwiched right in between our obligations to the people we love most: those we brought into this world, and those who (in their day) threatened to take us out of it a time or two.

If you’re in this boat, you’ve probably found yourself thinking some combination of, “How did I get here so quickly?” and “Is my doing the caregiving really the best option?” Not surprisingly, women are bearing the brunt of the responsibilities, according to an article this week in the New York Times, which asserts that caregiving is taking too many women out of the workforce during their prime earning years, and as a result is now weighing down the American economy. In 2000, the U.S. Ranked 17th out of 36 countries for the participation of women in the workforce during their prime earning years, but by 2017, we’d slid down to 30th, leading to an outcry over the absence of virtually any kind of support for eldercare. 

Although it’s too early to say that real change is on the horizon, conversations around increased benefits for childcare and eldercare have heated up, particularly this election cycle. If you’re passionate about seeing real change, write to your elected representatives to tell them this is a priority for you, and if you need more time off from your employer than what you’re getting, you can always approach HR about making some changes that could benefit everyone. 

Looking For Love In The Most Convenient Of Places 

If you read about Facebook launching its new dating platform this week and were horrified at the thought of being somehow matched with Uncle Mark’s creepy friend Cliff who you met at that barbeque one time 5 years ago, it’s time to breathe a big old sigh of relief. Facebook Dating requires you to set up a profile separate from your main one, and you won’t encounter any of your Facebook friends on the platform — or even friends of friends, if you adjust your settings accordingly. 

But if you’ve secretly been pining away for one of your Facebook friends, the dating platform comes equipped with a “Secret Crush” feature where you can anonymously add up to nine of your Facebook friends and indicate your interest. If they join the platform and add you back as a crush, you’ll be matched. And if they don’t, they’ll never know what you’ve REALLY been thinking every time you “love” their new profile picture. The cost for Facebook Dating is free for a basic profile, and around $20 per month for a premium membership. 

Here Comes The Bride, Fully Insured 

Last week, Dorian got me focused on the need for hurricane and flood insurance.  This week the reports of a couple whose South Carolina beachside wedding was cancelled got me to thinking about a different kind of insurance — the kind for weddings.  It’s kind of a big thing now. And with the average price tag for a wedding hovering at around $34,000, I’m not surprised. The policies can be used to cover postponement or cancellations due to illness or weather, as well as lost deposits, unplanned venue closings, medical emergencies, and lost or stolen wedding gifts or wedding attire, among other things, reports Anabel Pasarow in Refinery29.

Not everyone needs it, necessarily. If, for example, you’re getting hitched during hurricane season, get it. Likewise, if the venue you’ve chosen says they’ll have renovations completed the day before your wedding, it might be a wise bet. But if you’re doing your wedding on the cheap or in a friend’s backyard, you can probably skip. And where any insurance product is concerned, then my money rule #79 comes to mind — If you can’t afford to replace it, insure it. If you can afford to replace it, don’t. The most common claims on wedding insurance policies were due to issues with a venue or vendor (think shuttered banquet hall or no-show caterer) and severe weather. If these factors seem likely to throw a wrench into your nuptials, then take a look at the policies that might be right for you. The cost varies greatly, but range between $200 range for basic coverage for a basic wedding, and $1,500 for full coverage on a pricer ceremony. If you’re going to say “I do” to one of these policies, treat it just as you would any other form of insurance. Do your homework and make sure you’re going with an established company that will have your back if things fall apart… Come to think of it, those are pretty good guidelines for choosing a spouse, too. 

Have a great week, 

Jean


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