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Berger’s Burg: Candidate Berger chooses love over politics

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You see, Valentine's Day was coming on Feb. 14, and, on its heels, Presidents' Day on Feb. 18. So, which do I write about - politics or Valentine's Day? Being quick on my feet, and resolute, I quickly and resolutely came to my irreversible decision: Presidents' Day!Gloria happened to be walking by, and she peered over my shoulder. "What are you doing?" she exclaimed. "Why aren't you writing about Valentine's Day?""Dear, I cannot. You know that I am running for president, so a Valentine's Day column is inappropriate at this time. When I become president, and I bring peace, prosperity and tranquility to the world, wouldn't my name look spiffy alongside those of Washington and Lincoln?""No!" "But..." "No!"Valentine's Day is a lovely day to talk about love. But love isn't always the key to romance when starting to date someone. It may be finding the right financial match for you. "Hold on, now," you say, "You mean a person must worry about monetary matters when dating someone? If I really care for someone, their financial situation shouldn't change my feelings. Couldn't we work it out?" Perhaps, but experts say money does matter.The cure for love at first sight is another look.Finances, if not No. 1, are one of the top three areas that couples fight about the most, along with sex and children. I know money conversations can be awkward and touchy, and people don't want to get into it because it is laden with emotion and family history. But it is not simply about the money, but what it represents. So, early in the dating process, partners should want to figure out if they're financially compatible - and the sooner, the better.Love is a crime that requires an accomplice.If you wait until after you've fallen madly in love, it may be too late to extricate yourself. You don't actually have to talk about the subject, but look for obvious money signs. To gain important financial information, drop casual hints in conversation. Nobody will be the wiser.Love is when a man takes out the garbage and his wife goes with him.There are a few clever ways to learn about a date's "money personality" without coming right out and saying, "So what is your credit score?" Talking about the past is one way to determine whether two people are on the same page financially. Ask about your partner's first experience with money. What was the first job he or she had and did he or she take that job strictly for the money?Love is the sweetest note in the music of life.Day-to-day habits also reveal a person's views about money. Pay attention and do not overlook red flags. What are they spending their money on - $3 coffees or make-at-home drip? Are they a brand snob at the grocery store, or do they clip coupons? Take a long look at how a person pays for purchases: cash, debit, or credit.It is better to have loved and lost - much better!Credit-card use is one of the most vital pieces of information in understanding a person's financial habits. How many credit cards does he or she carry? How often do they use them? And what kind are they? If they are so into credit cards that they have designer ones, then he or she is probably someone who is using them more than they should. Observe the person's lifestyle to see if it makes financial sense.What should a man do to keep from falling in love? Try pricing a house!You can get into the savings subject by talking about housing. Where do they live? Do they rent or own? Do they have roommates and why did they choose their neighborhood? The point is not to date the best money manager, but to find your best match. Some people like to spend money. Others like to save money. If all else is equal, try to be with a partner who shares your financial position. (However, never forget that money can build a house, but it still takes love to make it a home.)At this time, let me say to each and every one of you, "I love you." And, Gloria joins me in wishing you a happy Valentine's Day of love (with or without money.) Amore!

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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