This is a guest post by Christian of Money Obedience, a virtual financial coach that offers a free budget planner. If you enjoy this article, please consider subscribing to the MoneyObedience RSS feed.
I call a “money date”a date with your partner that focuses on making joint decisions around money. You make a date with your husband or wife or significant other, so that the two of you have some time to discuss money issues of the family. It is not enough to lay down the ground rules when you get married like how many checking accounts do you keep, who pays for what, and stuff like that. Things change in life. They always do. That is why it is important that you have regular money dates.
My wife and I don’t have a regularly scheduled money date anymore. We used to talk more often about money earlier in the relationship. Our finances run fairly smoothly now and we don’t have as much need to talk about money as we did in the past. But we still have a money date about every other month, and sometimes even more often.
These are the times when you want to have a money date with your spouse:
Your Monthly Expenses. Let’s say you keep a monthly budget, and even record your expenses. Whenever you decide it’s time to take a look at your monthly expenses you should have a money date to talk about how you’re spending your money and what changes you want to make to your spending habits.
Your Quarterly Account Statements. When you get your statements from your retirement account or other investment accounts, talk about the performance of your investments and whether they make sense to you and your spouse.
Feelings around money. When one of you has any strong feelings around money â€“ let’s say one of you gets nervous about dwindling emergency savings, credit card balances, and so on. Talk about how the two of you can avoid any negative feelings about your finances.
Major purchases and plans. Whenever you make or plan to make major purchases like buying a car, doing home improvements, etc. or when you make any other plans that involve money, it’s a really good time for a money date. Most plans for big and small life events â€“ from having a child to going on vacation â€“ involve money in one way or another. Talk with each other about what can you afford, and how you want to pay for it.
Emergency savings. Whenever you think you’ll need to dip into your emergency savings, talk about whether it is really necessary to use the emergency savings for that purpose, or whether you have alternatives.
You don’t necessarily have to wait for a money date to get the job of money-housekeeping done. If you already have a good and regular way to talk to your spouse, just make sure that you make money the topic of a conversation regularly. If you don’t already have a good way to talk to your spouse, make sure that you improve the way you guys relate to each other and then bring up money. Unfortunately money is a sensitive subject for many people and couples, but it does not need to be. Remember, it is just money!
Do you have money dates with your significant other? If so, what do you discuss on such dates? If not, why not?
Kelly’s notes: I think a money date is a fantastic way to connect with your spouse and improve your finances. Just make sure you include some fun or a bottle of wine so it doesn’t feel like it’s all business.