Thank Me Very Much
You spent how much? Smart ways to exchange gifts when both you and your loved one pay the bill.
(MONEY Magazine) – It's mighty romantic to get your sweetheart a Valentine's Day gift. You know what isn't as romantic? "Honey, I withdrew 10 grand from our savings account—but here's a platinum tea cozy. Happy Valentine's Day!" Exchanging gifts when the giver and the receiver share the same financial pot can be tricky: You don't want to be a heel, but it's not entirely your money to spend. Fortunately, there are strategies you and your loved one can use to keep you in the giving mood all year long. Here are three:
› Set some guidelines. Head off arguments about gift amounts by agreeing to a spending limit ahead of time. You and your spouse might, for instance, restrict all gifts between the two of you to $100 or less. Or you could establish a "gift fund" for each of you at the beginning of the year ($500 each, for example). That way you can draw on it according to your own discretion (you may want to spend more on a birthday than an anniversary or vice versa). "You'll have a less stressful holiday if you set a limit," says Olivia Mellan, author of Overcoming Overspending. "That frees you up for the fun part."
› Fund a goal. A bauble or gadget is nice, but so is a long-awaited vacation or a new home. Put money toward a goal like that and purchase an inexpensive item that serves as a fun token: say, sunscreen and a bag of sand representing that island vacation or a framed photograph that will have pride of place in your house-to-be.
› Unite on one gift. Rather than buying individual gifts, get something the two of you will enjoy, such as a subscription to a concert series or an item for the house. Give yourselves a subscription to Netflix or, if it was a good year, spring for that new plasma TV for the den you've both been longing for. Just make sure you've really both been longing for it.