Where love, money, and cars intersect

Americans are expected to spend an average of $25 on chocolates, flowers, cards, and other gifts to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. Valentine's-related candy sales are expected to reach nearly $1.1 billion, and as many as 110 million roses will be sent in the US.

Planning to tie the knot on that romantic day? To avoid the financial woes that can rock a marriage, the Institute of Consumer Financial Education (www.financial-education-icfe.org) recommends you ask a few questions before the nuptials:

*Have you looked at your credit files in the past year - and will you share them?

*Do you have a savings account, and does it grow with every pay period?

*Have you had utilities and or a telephone in your own name?

*Have you been called by a collection agency, had a car repossessed, or filed for bankruptcy?

*Have you ever borrowed from a family member or friend, and do you still owe them money?

If such questions are hard to take, you can always just pledge your love to your car. About 12 percent of car owners said they would buy something for their "wheels" this Valentine's Day, according to a survey by Ohio-based Progressive Insurance.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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