You’ve finally parked yourself on the couch at the end of a long day. Your choice: Sort through your finances or catch up on the latest binge-worthy show everyone’s talking about.
Though many would opt for the later (talking about finances and money can be stressful and challenging!), there’s good reason to choose the former.
Most people don’t consider the importance of money matters until financial issues hit them. But couples who regularly broach the subject are more likely to avoid future conflicts and sustainability issues that can challenge the integrity of the household: college funds, unexpected medical bills, managing insurances, and more.
That’s where money dates come in.
What is a Money Date?
Put simply: A money date is a planned conversation between couples in which they discuss their finances.
The planning is key—it allows couples to come prepared to discuss previous expenses and manage upcoming expenditures. It also helps ensure both parties come to the conversation in the right headspace. With a calm and positive attitude, both individuals will be better equipped to handle any friction.
Though it does require some planning and forethought, a money date isn’t a dry conversation. Try to think of it as an exciting prospect—a chance to set yourselves (and any dependents) up for financial success.
How to Prepare for a Money Date?
If you’re stumbling over the logistics and the numbers, there will only be one outcome: frustration.
You can avoid this fate by finding a distraction-free time to chat. Monday, Friday, Sunday morning—it doesn’t matter, as long as you can both devote your full attention to the conversation. If you have kids, find a babysitter or make sure they’re in bed.
Next, choose a location for your money date. Ideally, this shouldn’t be a public space where disturbances are inevitable or where you might feel embarrassed about the possibility of someone overhearing your conversation. The ideal location may be at home where it’s easier to control disturbances and maintain a serious attitude.
You can always make it a little more fun by adding your favorite meal or even a glass of wine to the mix. If you have something to look forward to, you’re more likely to come to the conversation with the right attitude.
At the end of the day, there’s no textbook formula for conducting a money date. It’s mostly trial and error, and couples need to find out what best works out for them and come up with solutions that suit them best. Some couples enjoy discussing financial matters while sipping coffee and some like discussing it while strolling down the park. The most important part of a money date is that you find a way to start a healthy discussion about your finances in order to identify the underlying challenges that may come over the years.
What Should You Bring to a Money Date
Besides a positive attitude, prep anything you might need to discuss your money matters. Gather passwords to any and all bank accounts. Have any budget spreadsheets or tools you may use readily accessible. You may even want to have statements already printed out. A calculator and something to write with is also helpful.
What are the Techniques for Icebreaking?
During money dates, couples must prioritize their goals and come up with viable, long-term solutions to ensure they have a sufficient flow of funds to manage the necessities of child-rearing and—ultimately—retirement. Not always an easy subject, especially when you have to cover topics of financial instability.
To stay on track, prioritize the present and address the future with savings-related discussions. One of the best ways to achieve financial goals is to plan and set easily achievable benchmarks. Identify the elements of overspending to identify loopholes. Doing so will allow you to come up with measures for remedying those loopholes.
Which Discussions Should be Avoided
Money dates should be a pleasant experience for couples. Conflict can stop you in your tracks, and that’s never productive. Try to avoid any discussion that can spoil the momentum of the discussion.
And if the conversation does begin to skew negative, think about how you can reach a solution, rather than dwell in the conflict. Steer clear of blame, as it is unproductive and won’t help you reach a conclusion. Couples must support each other’s views and find solutions that suit them collectively and individually.
If you have to, it’s okay to call it quits for the day. You can always revisit at a time when both parties can come back to the conversation with a fresh perspective.
How Often Should You Have Money Dates?
Couples need to decide this based on the effectiveness of their conversations. The most important thing is that you’re having ongoing and productive conversations, whether that’s weekly, monthly, or even bi-annually.
There is no fixed formula for a money date and participants can determine their methods based on their comfort level and financial goals. Remember: The best money date is the one that brings out solutions and works to resolve the household’s financial issues.