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This Week in Your Wallet: February 7, 2012

In honor of a certain upcoming holiday (or “Hallmark holiday,” as some of you probably refer to it), I’m curious: what’s your favorite type of flower? Now, what does your significant other think is your favorite type of flower? Having different answers to these questions could be costing you money.

I’m more of a lilies girl myself, which turns out to be lucky for my husband’s wallet this time of year — long-stem red roses, the Valentine’s Day staple, can cost almost twice as much as what you might pay during warmer months.

“Every real florist wishes Valentine’s Day was in June,” one florist told me recently, explaining the price hike. “It’s a rose holiday in February. There’s a huge demand, but the cost of production is more — greenhouses have to be heated.”

This makes sense, but it still probably doesn’t help the sticker shock you see when you look at a premium batch of long-stem red roses. To that end, I’ve put together a list of things you (or yoursignificant other) can do to get a beautiful bouquet for a reasonable price:

For more tips on buying Valentine’s day flowers, check out my Today show segment from yesterday morning. We tested five of the most well-known online retailers and had some interesting results!

I’d like to hear from you:  What are your favorite ways to save money on Valentine’s Day?  Click here to visit my Facebook page and share with the rest of us.  Next week, on Valentine’s Day, I’ll put my five favorites in this newsletter.

And now, here are the other headlines of the week:

A Valentine’s Day money date

While we’re in the Valentine’s Day state of mind… You’ve heard me say before that the best way to talk to your spouse about your finances is to sit down and have a money date. This month, the AARP is looking to make this date a little easier. On Thursday, they will host a webinar for couples to provide information on claiming Social Security and maximizing these retirement benefits. To register for the event, click on this link here.

Did your state escape the recession?

According to a new analysis of the U.S Census data, 12 of 50 states saw income rise between 2005 and 2010, a time when unemployment rose to 10% and the average income dropped 3.5%. The state that saw the most income growth was Wyoming, where the median income rose to $54,700. Other states that saw gains include West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas. (The common denominator? All of these states are growing energy centers.) To see how your state fared, check out the study results here.

Is your morning routine killing your creativity?

New research suggests that the things we do in the morning — jump out of bed, rush into the shower, run out the door only to sit in traffic — inhibit our abilities to think creatively and solve problems at work. Believe it or not, our brains work best when we let our minds wander, because this is a time we can subconsciously think through problems and even make inspired connections and solutions. This means that lying in bed for a few extra minutes or taking some extra time when you shampoo your hair is actually a good thing! (Letting your mind wander while you’re stuck in traffic, however, doesn’t count. Honking cars and terrible drivers activate our stress hormones, which essentially act to slow down our brains and make “A-HA!” moments in problem solving less likely.)

You can read more details about the study here. It includes some good tips on increasing creativity, too — and I’m happy to report that drinking coffee is on the list!

Have a great week!


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