Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine has compiled a list of money moves to make each month to better your finances in 2020. Here are steps to take in February:
Consider flowers, chocolates and financial talks
Valentine's Day is this month. Unromantic as it may sound, sitting down with your sweetheart to talk finances is key to a more fulfilling -- and maybe longer-lasting -- relationship. In a survey from personal finance website MagnifyMoney, 21% of divorced couples said that money was the cause of their split. The higher their income, the more likely money was the culprit.
If your relationship is getting serious or you've been avoiding the money talk, have an honest conversation about what financial accounts you have, any debt you're carrying, what your credit score is, and your attitudes toward spending and saving. Consider whether you'll merge your bank and investment accounts, keep them separate, or construct a combination of independent and joint accounts. Early and frequent communication with your sweetheart can help avoid fights down the road. It seems, however, many couples are not having these discussions. A survey from SunTrust found that 88% of Americans believe that discussing finances before tying the knot is important, but only 51% have a pre-marriage talk about how they'll handle money.
Longtime couples are wise to have regular money talks, too, (say, each month or quarter) to stay on the same page about their budget, investments and goals. Test your savvy when it comes to money and relationships with the quiz at kiplinger.com/links/couplesquiz.
Plan your summer vacation
If you're traveling to a popular destination this summer, book lodging before it sells out. Now is also a good time to set up fare alerts for flights with a tool such as Google Flights, Hopper or Kayak. But don't buy yet -- you may get the best price if you wait to book domestic trips about 45 days in advance and international trips about 75 days in advance, says Hayley Berg, an economist with the travel booking app Hopper.
File your tax return
By the end of January, your 1099 and W-2 tax forms should be in the mail. Avoid the last-minute scramble and submit your tax return now. Acting early may also prevent identity thieves from using your Social Security number to file a fake return and claim a refund
(Lisa Gerstner is a contributing editor to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to email@example.com. And for more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.)