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

Jean Chatzky  |  February 12, 2019

Are you feeling the love this week? Being a bit kinder to your significant other, perhaps going so far as to tell them they look beautiful in that ridiculous hat you hate?

Telling little white lies to spare (or boost) our partners’ feelings is completely normal, sometimes even encouraged. But when finances are involved, it’s a different story. In this week’s Washington Post, advice columnist Carolyn Hax (who we love, every day, btw) advises a reader — who is uncomfortable with her boyfriend spending so much money on her — to state in no uncertain terms that she is not happy with someone always paying her way. She also suggests that the couple look for activities that are within both their budgets. This policy of complete honesty with what you can and can’t afford is a good one for all relationships — even the platonic ones. Keep this in mind the next time an invitation to a weeklong wedding celebration in Argentina shows up in your mailbox.

It’s A Family Affair

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been warned that babies are expensive, or that college is expensive, I’d have more than enough money to afford daycare and a degree…but what about all those in-between years? These days a family of four can expect to spend $2.3 million before their child turns 18, according to a study from EverQuote. That eye-popping figure includes expenses for two parents and two kids for 20 years, and comes with all the basics like housing, food, insurance, and transportation, as well as nice-to-haves like vacations and extracurricular activities. Far and away a family’s biggest expense is housing ($449k) followed by food ($369k), but thankfully those numbers aren’t set in stone. By making a few swaps and sacrifices – like trading half your dining outs for ins, and filling the garage with used cars rather than new ones – it’s possible to reduce the grand total by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe more.

You Can Spend All Your Love Making Time

Many of us would agree that our beds, couches, cars, and offices get a lot of… well, us. So then why is it that so many of us are unwilling to invest in high-quality mattresses, desk chairs, supportive shoes or other items that could make those hours of our lives a bit nicer? Eric Ravenscraft writes in the New York Times that we should all make an effort to spend money where we spend the most of our time. And, yes, sometimes that means that we’ll be spending a lot on what might be considered boring utilitarian purchases, but one must compute the “price per hour” when buying new things. As Ravenscraft says, “You only get so many hours in the day, and you don’t want to spend them in misery. If you’re going to spend money on yourself, the areas where you live your life the most are a good place to start.” (P.S. The best time to buy a new mattress is when you really need one. If you can wait, however, you might want to mark your calendar for May.)

Show Yourself Some Love

Finally, when your annual performance review rolls around this year, will you be prepared? Sure, you may come to the table dressed professionally, armed with a list of questions for your boss, but will you be ready with a rundown of how Capital-“I”-incredible you are? If you don’t seize the opportunity to toot your own horn a little bit, you’re doing it wrong. We tackled this topic on HerMoney this week, and looked at why it’s so important to be your own advocate. Hint: Your boss just doesn’t have the time to keep track of all the amazing things you’ve done with the thoroughness you deserve, so that’s why you’ve got to do it yourself. Remember: It’s not bragging when you’re touting your accomplishments with an eye toward advancing your career.

Have a great week,

Jean


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