Budgeting is important for any family, but budgeting is just one tool in managing your family finances. Another key to keeping both your finances and your relationship healthy is having regular money dates with your partner.
A money date is a weekly or monthly check-in that you have as a couple. It’s a chance to dive into your finances and make sure you’re spending and saving for the life you want.
To get you started, I put together 3 tips for having money dates that are both informative and, most importantly, fun. After all, you want to look forward to these, since you’re going to be doing them regularly!
3 Tips for Having A Fun And Informative Money Date With Your Partner
Tip 1: A little prep work goes a long way
I’ve found that the most successful money dates are the ones where you do a little prep work in advance. First, I recommend scheduling the date ahead of time. Talking about money can be tough, and couples often want to avoid it.
That’s why it’s important to put it on the calendar ahead of time and stick to the date — that way, you can hold yourselves accountable to regularly having an open and honest conversation.
When you put a money date on the calendar ahead of time, you’ll also know it’s coming — so you can make a list of any particular topics you want to cover together.
Plus, you can take a look at your bank statements ahead of time and make a list of the transactions that you want to review together (especially if you’re splitting your expenses).
Finally, set the mood: break out the chips, open a bottle of wine or a beer, and put on a fun album. You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable it makes your money date — and how much more you’ll look forward to these dates once you start doing them regularly.
Tip 2: Talk through the big three: Cash, Debt, and Goals
There are three primary areas that I suggest that couples cover during each and every money date: their cash flow, debt, and future goals. Here’s what this looks like:
1 – Set and check in on your short- and long-term goals.
If this is your first money date, you’ll want to spend time talking about your short-term and long-term goals as a couple.
Short-term goals could include things like buying a new Dust Buster, while long-term goals could include buying a house or paying off student loan debt.
Spend some time talking about what all your dreams are, individually and as a couple, so you can support each other in getting there. Plus, it helps to put your finances in context.
It ’s a whole lot more fun to talk about saving money when you know you’re both on the same page about taking a family vacation in the next 6 months, for example.
We recommend spending a fair amount of time on setting your goals during your first money date. In subsequent money dates, you’ll start by checking in on your goals and seeing what progress you’ve made towards them.
2. Track your monthly cash flow.
This is actually easier than it sounds: it involves looking over what you earned, spent, and saved as a couple.
There are a ton of ways to track that — from simple spreadsheets to free apps like Zeta, a tool that automatically tracks your finances as a couple.
If you’re splitting your expenses and don’t have any joint accounts (this is common for couples who are living together but are not married), you should also use this time to review any shared expenses and make sure that you’re settled up.
This also has the potential to be a more tense part of the conversation if you don’t set some ground rules initially: recognize that you both come into the relationships with different money histories and different spending habits.
Instead of getting frustrated, give yourselves the space to be honest and open without judgement.
Then, think about how you can support each other as a team and come up with practical ideas for building money-saving habits (I wrote a quick list of 5 simple tips to start mastering your money here).
4. Check in on your debt.
It’s likely that one or both of you came into your relationship with debt — whether it’s student loan debt, credit card debt, or an existing mortgage.
And if you didn’t come into the relationship with debt, you may have picked some up over the course of your relationship (again, hello mortgages and credit cards!).
Use your money date to check in on where you stand with your debt, and whether it’s gone up or down since your last money date.
Clearing your debt is likely going to be one of your long-term goals as a couple, but this process can take a while: so make sure you’re reasonable about your goals.
After all, you want to pay down your debt in a way that still lets you live your life.
5 – Revisit your goals.
Before rounding out your money date, circle back to those short- and long-term goals. Do you need to adjust your goals in any way based on what you saw when you looked at your cash flow and debts?
Are there any upcoming events or expenses that you want to make sure you’re prepared for, like your kid’s birthday or tax season?
This should be a fluid part of the conversation, where you talk through how you’ll pay for things or where you might fall short.
Tip 3: Celebrate!
You did it! You successfully had a fun and productive conversation about your finances as a couple and as a family — so treat yourself to a little something!
The point is to end the date with something fun, so you remember why you’re having these conversations in the first place. And of course, there’s one last thing: put something on the calendar for your next money date!
You learned about money dates and how to have a fun and informative one. Now we want to know what are your tips and thoughts about it. Share them with us.
About Author : By: Aditi Shekar, founder of Zeta — the personal finance tool for couples