I have never been one to get overly excited about what I consider to be Hallmark holidays, but this year I am actually excited for Valentine’s Day. This is not because I have grand plans waiting in the wings, but more because I am looking forward to spoiling my husband and children with a nice brunch, which we don’t do often enough, and spending the day with each other playing games, hanging out and just having quality family time. In this pandemic, that has been my most favorite thing – spending more time at home with my family. We always used to be on the go and have learned the art of slowing down.
Now, of course you may remember my love of history, so I did some research on how Valentine’s Day came into existence. Valentine’s Day is a day in which we celebrate Saint Valentine, who according to history may have been a couple of different martyrs, but most notably this day is the celebration of Saint Valentine of Rome who died on February 14th. The day became associated with romance and love, particularly in early history as this time of year was when courtships occurred as “lovebirds” connected in the early parts of the year, and in more modern history where people began exchanging gifts as expressions of love. Hallmark was founded in 1911 and quickly commercialized the holiday with mass printing of cards and valentines, and today Valentine’s Day accounts for billions of dollars spent on dinner, flowers, jewelry and candy purchased.
We all know there are some people who curse Cupid and do not get excited about a day devoted to love. Some people may actually protest the day depending on their circumstances. No matter what your relationship status is, on a day that is symbolic of love, trust and commitment I think there is no better time than now to show your finances some love. Single or not, this is a gift that everyone can give to themselves in the form of committing to your personal growth for yourself, or for your partner and family. Here are a few things you may consider:
- Set your goals
It doesn’t matter if you are in a relationship or not, everyone in life has goals and you should set the ones that impact your finances. You may want to take a vacation when it’s safe to travel again, or maybe purchase a house since it is historically one of the best times to do so with the current low interest rates. Or maybe you are like me and despise the cold weather so you are considering a second home in warmer climates. No matter what your goals are, it is important to write them down for yourself, and also to share them with your partner. Having a written plan can come in many forms – make a list, create a vision board. Give yourself something to look at and motivate you to stick with your plan.
2. Give Yourself a Budget
Having a plan is all well and good but now you need a roadmap to get you to the finish line. Create or review your budget. See where you can find savings that can go toward your goals from above. Make sure you also leave room for not only taking care of your needs, but recognizing your wants. Living is a game of balance and so is managing a budget. Now I’m not saying go out and buy fourteen pairs of shoes (or books in my case!), but make sure all of your hard work towards your goals is recognized by small rewards along the way.
3. Review Your Investments:
I cannot stress this enough when I say to make sure you are familiar with your investments and try to understand them. This is whether you are single or not! I have seen far too often where one spouse controls the financial well-being of a household and the other is blissfully ignorant. Be committed to your wealth and make sure that you understand what you own and the levels of risk within your investment strategy align with your goals. Things will undoubtedly happen in your life that will affect the way you feel about your money. If you haven’t checked in on this in a while, now may be a good time to do so.
4. Give Yourself Free Money
What?! Free money?? Yes, it does exist in many cases. Most notably, if you work and your employer has a retirement plan, get the details and sign up to participate in it. Many companies offer benefits in the form of matching contributions. Always take advantage of this when you can! It doesn’t matter if you plan to work at one place for the rest of your life or not because most of us don’t, but do make sure you are receiving your benefits because in most cases they are portable with you. Other ways anyone can give themselves the gift of free money is look at money saving apps like Rakuten, where you can earn cash back on online or everyday purchases, or reviewing the incentives offered by your credit card company. Most have a cash back option.
These tips are just a few things to get you started and as I’ve said many times before, work with a partner to keep you on track. It can be an actual partner, a professional one life myself, or both. On a day we know will occur each year, put an annual date on your calendar to check in with yourself around tax filing time to ensure you remain on track. We may not all celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we do all have to file our taxes. Making a commitment to yourself or your family will help you reach your goals, and it doesn’t matter if you are lucky in love or not, you can have a fortune in wealth by showing it love along the way.
Iris Buczkowski is the founder of Birch Wealth Management (birchwealth.com). Original content provided by Iris is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice.