When was the last time you and your spouse sat down to talk about finances? Not just about bills, but about your financial situation as a whole. Most couples do not set aside time for a “money date” to have conversations together about money, goals, and debt. And that’s a shame.
We all know that about 40%-50% of all marriages end in divorce, and money is at the root of a majority of those divorces. From different spending habits to different financial goals and even a power struggle when one spouse makes more than the other. However, most disagreements about money can be avoided with an open communication plan between spouses by setting up a regular money date.
This plan doesn’t have to be long or drawn out, but it needs to be consistent. You need to be sitting down with your spouse at least once a month, if not more, to discuss your finances. There are a few best practices when it comes to a money date to make sure you stick to the task at hand, minimize interruptions, and allow for a judgment-free zone.
How To Have A Successful Money Date
Tune Out All Distractions
Make sure that you are solely focused on one another and your finances. It’s much harder to have an open and honest conversation about money when you have your kiddos running around interrupting you. Plus, you need to be fully present, so turn off all distractions — phones, email inboxes, Facebook, and other interruptions.
Hire a babysitter, ask the neighbor kid, or drop off the little ones with grandma and grandpa for a few hours so you can have one another’s undivided attention. Turn your phones on silent, close your inbox, and turn off the TV.
Know What You Want to Discuss on Your Money Date
Have a game plan before sitting down together. This could include talking about your bank account’s current state, what monthly bills have been paid, and what amount you have in debt. You also need to discuss any upcoming expenses that might be out of the ordinary, so you both are aware of them — work trips, girls’ night out, boys’ trip, activities for your kids, birthday gifts, or any other gifts that you might need to purchase soon.
Check-In With Your Budget
Once you have an idea of your current position, now is the time to update your budget. Go through each category, line-by-line, and see where you stand for the month. If you see any spending that seems a bit off, then look into it. Check out bank transactions or check your billing statements to see why you went over.
That’s why it’s important to sit down at least once a month (although weekly is ideal) to have your money date. If there is an error in a billing statement, you will know sooner, which means you can get it fixed faster. If your family is consistently overspending in one budget area–like groceries, eating out, or something else–you can take the steps needed to correct it.
Be Open with One Another during Your Money Date
Most marriages have a spender and a saver. One person who wants to live life, have a good time, and enjoy the moment, and another who wants to save every penny they make. If that’s your case, then you just need to be open and honest with one another about your spending or saving habits.
A money date needs to be a judgment-free zone. That means no yelling, no making one another feel bad, and no inserting opinions on what your partner values. Don’t be afraid.
Talk about Your Goals
A money date is a great time to talk about goals and dreams for your family. Dream big–become debt-free, buy land to build a home, take a trip to Disney World next summer, buy a new car, or any other dream.
When you talk about dreams and goal setting together, you can create a plan to reach those goals. Especially if you’re on the same page with your current financial position, then it will be easy to start dreaming together.
Schedule Your Next Money Date
Before ending your money date, go ahead and schedule your next one. You need to get it on the calendar now so that it doesn’t slip through the cracks. Try to sit down the same day each month and around the same time so that it becomes routine to have a money date on the second Tuesday of every month or the first Sunday in the month. Having a routine money date is vital to keeping an open dialogue with your partner regarding finances.
There you have it! The best practices to having a successful money date with your spouse. The first time you have a money date, it may not be the easiest date you’ve ever been on, but it will get it better. Just be consistent, and it will get easier with time!