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How Much Should I Spend on a First Date? Your Money Questions Answered

Would you lend money to a relative? If not, how do you decline gently? How much should you spend on a first date? What about a wedding gift for a close relative? How should married couples divide (or share) their money?

They’re not exactly the types of questions you’d bring up around the water cooler or even at the dinner table. But at Mint’s new feature – Mint Answers – they seem to be drawing passionate responses.

Two weeks ago, Mint.com launched Mint Answers help consumers get answers to their personal finance and investing questions. Since then, hundreds of you have asked – and many more have chimed in with answers. (At Mint Answers, your questions are answered by experts, as well as by other community members like you.)

Below are four of our most popular questions so far. Find and ask (or answer) more at answers.mint.com.

Would you lend money to a relative? 

If so, under what circumstances? If not, how do you decline gently?

1. In most cases I wouldn’t because it creates awkwardness and has the potential to affect your relationship with your relative. I think giving gifts is the best route. You might approach it this way: “I’m not in a place to loan you $X but I’d like to help you and your family by giving you $Y as a gift”

2. A saying I’ve lived by is “don’t go to the casino with more money than you can afford to lose”.  The same rule applies to personal loans.  Be sure you’re willing to deal with any consequences, both financial and to your relationship with that person, that would come of them never repaying a dime.

As for how to decline, I’ve never really had a problem there due to not generally having much money.  When you can say “I would but I can’t afford to” any your friends/family know that’s a real possibility, it makes things easier.  Obviously not the preferred solution, but a minor perk to a bad situation.

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How do married couples divide their money and expenses?

1. The best way I’ve heard it described is the American Way, the French Way, and the Cuban Way:

American Way: totally separate accounts, 50% / 50% of joint household bills
French Way: everyone contributes according to percentage of salary – i.e. if you make 70% of the total household income, you pay for 70% of the total household expenses.
Cuban Way: everything goes into one big pot, and household expenses & personal fun expenses are paid out of this common pot.

2. We do it the Cuban way–but where’s my cigar?

3. I may get blasted for this… Isn’t marriage about trust? Why would you have separate accounts? We have a joint account where everything comes out of and are both active in the “maintenance” of it. It’s not a “his and her paycheck” type thing – it’s an “our paychecks” type of thing. We check with each other before making any purchases over a certain predetermined amount.

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How much should I spend on a first date?

1. I’m a firm believer in super low-pressure first dates. Go get lunch somewhere unique and fun but affordable (good sandwich place nearby?). For my budget, affordable means $20. My first official date with my boyfriend was a rock show at a crusty tavern that cost us all of $4 at the door. We each bought our own drinks, but even if I’d paid for him or vice versa, it would have cost around $20 total. Fun, respectful, and romantic don’t have to cost you much!

2. My first date was at Jamba Juice ($10 for two drinks) and i bought her a CD from a band she liked for $10. Not too showy and not dirt cheap :D

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How much is an appropriate wedding gift for a sister?

My sister is getting married.  My wife and I are in the wedding, and we’ve already spent a good amount on her wedding (tux rental, dress purchase & alterations, wedding shower gift, bachelor and bachelorette parties). So, what’s an appropriate gift amount?

1. Sounds like a question for Miss Manners. 

Hopefully your sister knows that you’ve been funding part of her wedding. So, if your finances are being strained, then a card expressing your heartfelt congratulations and your appreciation for letting you be a part of their wedding should certainly be enough.

If you are the charitable type, NOW is the opportunity to help them out with a monetary gift during a time when they may need it most. If you were to give $200 as a wedding gift, it might be easier for them to accept than if you gave them $200 for a birthday because that type of gift on a birthday is not normal. Most people have a sense of pride and don’t like to be thought of as a charity case, so if they need the help, now’s your chance. If they don’t need the help, go back to the card idea.

2. Tough question. I think it depends on how well-off you are right now. If my sister participates in my wedding party and spends lots of money on that, to be honest, I wouldn’t expect her to give me an expensive wedding gift. Maybe something small as a token to remember the day and her thoughts about it, but nothing huge.

Certainly, if you have the money go all out. The sky is the limit. I agree about this being a good opportunity to donate without it seeming like a charity case. But if you can’t afford that, I’d say something under $100.

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Do you have a money question that you don’t feel comfortable bringing up at work or at home? Go to Mint Answers and ask away! While you’re there, feel free to answer questions from other community members. Come back often, as we continue to improve this exciting new feature.