There is no month like February.
We don’t mean that in a romantic, it’s-the-month-of-Valentine’s-Day-so-everyone-tells-you-that-you-must-spend-a-bunch-of-money-to-convince-your-man-or-woman-that-you-love-him-or-her way. We mean that to say that February, like any other month, is unique. It has its own expenses. And since we only see February once a year, you may forget some of the costs that come up during the month of Cupid. That’s where we come in.
Here are some common (and not-so-common) February money gotchas that may getcha if you’re not careful:
- Winter clothes going on sale. Everyone loves a bargain, right? Discounts and clearances happen a lot this time of year, so if you budget for clothes that are going out of season, you can score some big buys.
- Hiring a tax accountant. You may elect to do your taxes yourself, which means the only thing you’ll pay for is the software you use. However you choose to prepare your taxes, at least know that you’re going to spend some money on it.
- Higher utility bills. It’s not surprising to see snow falling in February. Remember that when the temperature drops, your heating bill rises. Be ready to pay more by putting it into your budget.
- Super Bowl parties. Big game. Need food. Pay cash. ’Nuff said.
- Christmas savings. We’ve only got 11 months to go, and if you start saving now, you can save a little at a time. That’s much easier than last-minute scrambling.
- Valentine’s Day. This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised at how few people budget for it. All the prices are jacked up for Cupid Day, so a budget is extra important. As long as you’re allocating money, look for ways to not spend as much of it. You don’t need to spend to say, “I love you.”
Oh, and speaking of being with your spouse for Valentine’s Day, take advantage of some time together to talk about money and your budget. Not your idea of romance? Well, it doesn’t have to be the topic of conversation over a candlelight dinner. The point is that talking about money is foreign to many couples when it could be one of the healthiest aspects of their marriage.
As Dave has said many times before, the number-one cause of divorce in North America today is money fights and money problems. Money is a big issue, but when you get down to it, it’s a stupid reason to break up a marriage. The issue really boils down to trust.
Trust and responsibility go hand and hand. By making a budget together every month—which needs to be done anyway—you open the doors of communication and transparency. So don’t look at it as a chore to do, look at is as an opportunity to strengthen your marriage. Plus, Dave’s online Gazelle Budget tool makes budgeting easy—maybe even fun! The budget wizard will get you started with a handful of simple questions, then you’re off and running. And the first seven days are free. That’s a budget no-brainer!