Flirting Smarts: 4 Ways to Impress Your True Love and Stay on Budget

Stacks of coins and pile of bills.

Whether it's dining at a five-star restaurant, driving a new sports car or springing for an exotic vacation, we've all been tempted to spend more than we can afford simply to impress a significant other.

Or maybe you're just trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Either way, it's OK to splurge once in a while.

"But faking that you're in a better financial state than you really are can be dangerous relationship business," says Scott Halliwell, a certified financial planner ™ professional with USAA. "It's usually only a matter of time before the truth comes out, and by then you've probably made things worse."

Time for a gut check.

Here are four ways to avoid going into a financial hole simply to impress the one you love:

1. Put your financial goals front and center. Perhaps you're saving for a down payment on a new home or to send your kids to a private school. Whatever the goal, once you and your significant other are on the same page and know what you're working toward, you'll be less likely to get distracted by something shiny and new.

2. Consider prices in context of your budget. By understanding how much you should be spending on big-ticket items, you are more likely to stick to the budget. For example, as a rule of thumb, you shouldn't spend more than about 10 percent of your gross annual income on transportation, including cars. With that number in mind, you can shop for a car confident you won't overspend.

3. Establish a cooling-off period. Step away from that coveted item and take some time to think about it. Some couples will agree to wait from one day to a full week on all purchases of $100 to $500 or more. If, at the end of the cooling-off period, when emotions have calmed, you decide it makes sense to refurnish the entire living room or buy those first-class plane tickets, then go for it.

4. Recognize the importance of financial security. A healthy bank account for emergencies or a sound retirement savings plan will provide real well-being, whereas a new gadget or impromptu trip may mean just the opposite.

"Our 'you deserve everything now' society can make it hard to be smart about financial decisions," Halliwell says. "But you have to remember that even though a lot of the Joneses out there look like they've got it going on financially, they're actually broke."

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