Valentine’s Day: Your money and your honey

Ah, love reigns on Valentine’s Day. Or at least, to hear the retailers tell it, the love is sweeter when you present your sweetie with some bling, flowers and/or candy.

However, add in any conversation about money and the love is gone, some folks think.

But is it unromantic to mix love and money?

Let’s talk about that today during my live online chat that starts at noon ET. Join me for a conversation about money or love and money.

Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education at Experian Credit Services, says it’s important to know how your partner handles his or her money, especially if you’re hoping to begin a serious relationship.

A recent survey by Country Financial Security found that two-thirds of Americans who are dating or single say they are unwilling to date or marry someone who has significant debt.

So when should the issue of money come up when you are dating?

When it comes to talking money, nearly one-third of people in the Country survey said the three-month mark is the right time. But 29 percent said it’s fine to talk about finances right away.

“It’s important to observe your partner’s spending habits if your relationship is serious with expectations of marriage,” Frost writes in a post for DailyFinance.com. “It’s equally important to observe your own.”

Frost says before you allow the relationship get serious, you need to pay attention to “telltale signs that trouble may lie just up ahead.” What are the signs you may ask? Well, Frost says look for the following signs that your Valentine may be in financial trouble:

-- Letters or calls from collections agencies

-- Spending habits that suggest your honey is living beyond his or her means

-- Maxed-out credit cards

“Open communication is key in any relationship, and finances should definitely be a topic of discussion among couples,” said Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at Country Financial. “While money may not need to be a first-date icebreaker, it’s important to have the conversations early and often to make sure you and your significant other are on the same page with your short-term and long-term financial goals and obligations.”

It’s not that you should dump people because they are in debt. The economy has been brutal to a lot of people. Yet you want to be sure that you are willing to handle the financial baggage that person is bringing into the relationship.

Color of Money Question of the Week

How long into a relationship before a couple should get intimate about their finances? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Your Money and Your Honey” in the subject and include your full name, city and state.

Day Late, Dollar Saved

How would you feel if your Valentine waited until after the holiday to treat you to something nice?

Well, waiting until the day after Valentine’s Day to splurge on your “boo” (as in sweetie or snookums) makes financial sense, writes Cameron Huddleston for Kiplinger personal finance magazine.

“If you haven’t already bought Valentine’s Day gifts for your loved ones, take note: There are several items you should avoid buying if you value getting a good deal,” Huddleston says.

She does acknowledge letting price dictate your Valentine’s Day purchase could get you in trouble. Nonetheless, take note of these price points:

-- Chocolates are typically on sale for as much as 50 percent off the day after Valentine’s Day.

-- A week or two after Valentine’s Day jewels are marked down as much as 80 percent.

-- Buy your snookums fragrance or cologne a day late and you could save as much as 50 percent.

Ok, so you probably can’t wait until after Valentine’s Day to shop. In that case, Huddleston offers some tips to save money. Click here to find out how to save. You’ve got one more day.

You Keep Your Stuff, I’ll Keep Mine

One of the top questions I get from couples who are engaged or thinking about getting married is whether they need a prenuptial agreement.

As I wrote in my column this week of the couples who expect to become engaged this year, half will do so on Valentine’s Day, according to a spending and saving survey by American Express.

I think a prenup is a plan for fail. And why would you want to start out your relationship that way?

Now, having said that, in some cases, I see the need. If you’re getting married and you have children from a previous marriage or relationship, you may want to ensure they are included in your estate planning.

But many people want a prenup so they can keep their stuff. And more couples are opting for a prenup, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers of its members. The organization found that 63 percent of divorce attorneys have noticed an increase in prenups. The survey also found that 46 percent of the attorneys noted an increase in women initiating requests for prenups.

That’s the case with Gabrielle Union, star of BET’s “Being Mary Jane.” Union, who is engaged to NBA star Dwyane Wade, said she is the one who insisted on a prenup.

“When you have your own stuff, you don’t need to worry about anybody else’s stuff,” Union said during an interview on the “Arsenio Hall Show.” “So everyone should go into the relationship knowing I’m here for you and you’re here for me. And the reality is, I’ve never seen Dwyane balance a checkbook, so I’ve gotta protect my stuff! It’s the wave of the future -- protecting your stuff.”

Union may have just been going for the laughs, but I see a lot of red flags in her statement. I hope they are going to get some premarital counseling.

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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