We all wish we could save more, but only about 20% of us actually achieve that goal. A majority of Americans report that they are not satisfied with how much they save, but few actually take steps to budget well and save for emergencies. Where does the money all go? Well, here are five common money mistakes we all make, so maybe we can watch out for them and hopefully start saving.
So, it’s Valentine’s Day. For some people it means showing affection in extravagant and expensive ways. Some people opt for the standard heart-shaped box of chocolates or a bouquet of roses. Some don’t celebrate at all.
My husband bah-humbugs Valentine’s Day in its entirety. As I was leaving for work this morning, toddler in tow, I left behind a sicky-poo, 31-year-old man, who replied, “My tummy hurts,” to my “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Personally, I like Valentine’s Day. I see it as a reminder to tell those you love that you do, in fact, love them. Tell everyone – not just your significant other. This holiday is not “couples only.” And, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be grossly decadent.
I like to celebrate by doing – not buying. And, let’s be honest, there’s no need to wait until Valentine’s Day to show your love and appreciation to family and friends. If you truly care about a person, you should show it everyday.
Here are some ways you can show you care that don’t require heaps of cash, making reservations six months in advance, or getting into fisticuffs over the last rose at the checkout of the corner gas station.
Clean your special someone’s house.*
This may not sound romantic or special, but think about it: very few people actually enjoy housework, but it needs to be done – repeatedly. By doing something for your loved one that they don’t want to do themselves (and, quite frankly, you don’t really want to do, either), you’re showing just how much you care about their happiness. You’ve reduced their stress and saved them lots of time and energy – that is now freed up to spend doing much more fun things with you!
*I especially like this idea if you live with your loved one, and the housework tends to fall to them most of the time. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience about how awesome this is.)
Make your special someone a meal.
This one is fairly traditional. Don’t think it has to be dinner; a special breakfast sure beats toaster waffles. Choose a favorite dish or cuisine and create a meal around your loved one’s tastes. While you should like the food, too, be sure to remember that it’s really for the other person. Break out the fancy Ikea dishes and actually set the (freshly wiped) table. Don’t forget the beverages – champagne or wine is always good, but so are yummy juices or teas. Plan the whole thing out, from hors d’oeuvres to dessert. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful. And, here’s the best part – clean up afterward! No matter how delicious the dinner is, your loved one will lose a little giddiness at the sight of the disaster waiting in the kitchen. So to make it an extra thoughtful gesture, go full circle and clean up, too.
Give your special someone flowers.
Most ladies dig flowers. Again, don’t feel like you have to go hog wild with an arrangement of roses. Be creative and choose flowers in colors you know she likes. Ask her friends for suggestions if you need help. A single flower handed over with a genuine smile and a hug is pretty awesome, too. Don’t underestimate what flowers can do, and really and truly, don’t only give them on holidays. Flowers are best when they are unexpected and “just because.”
Surprise your special someone with a personal gift.
Okay, so the flowers thing was mostly for the ladies. This one is gender neutral. I asked around the office to see if there was a standard gift that generally appealed to men – like flowers do to women. Among the responses were ice cream sundaes, lottery tickets, baseball cards, carwash coupons and action figures, among other things best left off this blog. I guess this means there is no universally appealing gift for men. So, what does your loved one like? Mine likes micro-brewed beer, videogames and books. Because I’m me, and advocate showing you care all year long, my husband has happily received random gifts of these types. I even went so far as to email one of his favorite bloggers to ask for a recommended-reading list to ensure I selected an enjoyable read.
Give your special someone a night out.
With their friends. Without you. It could just be to watch the game with some buddies, or something bigger like a fly-fishing weekend away. Maybe the girls want to get together for something especially girly, like a mani-pedi party or maybe they want to go skiing. You don’t even have to pay for it; just send your loved one off with your sincere wishes that they have a great time. Showing you trust your loved one is always romantic and appreciated. And, while they’re away, don’t forget to clean their house.
What do you like to do – or have done for you – to show love and appreciation? Share in the comments!