What Is A Money Date? And How Can It Transform Your Relationship? Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Christine Leibbrand. Christine is a Health and Wealth Blogger focusing on fitness, nutrition, mental health, and personal finance (investing, budgeting, and career development). She is also a data analyst and guest lecturer in Sociology at the University of Washington.
What Is A Money Date? And How Can It Transform Your Relationship?
What is the first word that comes to mind if I tell you you will have a “money date” with your partner to discuss finances? For many of us, the answer will vary depending on the word “anxiety.” A conversation about finances might make us feel nervous, apprehensive, unsure, confused, embarrassed, or alarmed. Relatively few people feel excited or happy about the idea of having a date centred around money discussions.
However, it is crucial to have open, consistent, and healthy communications with our partners about our finances. Indeed, in surveys, 48% of married couples or living together report fighting about money. Fighting about money early in one’s relationship is a leading predictor of divorce. A money date might not sound fun but it could save your relationship and financial future. A money date can be empowering and fun with the right tips and tools.
What Is A Money Date?
At its most basic, a money date is a conversation about money. However, that’s only the start. The idea of a money date is to get into a consistent practice of discussing finances with your partner and how those finances align with your hopes and dreams.
Your hopes and dreams can include short-, medium–, and long-term goals. For some couples, their short-term goals would be a vacation or adopting a dog. Medium-term goals might involve buying a house or starting a business. And long-term goals often include retirement. This is where money dates can be fun and exciting. They involve dreaming about your goals and then figuring out how to make them a reality.
How Do We Use Our Money Dates To Work Towards Our Goals?
Making your dreams a reality involves understanding where you stand with your finances currently—how much income, debt, and assets you have, how much you spend month-to-month on necessities and non-necessities, and developing a budget that helps you consistently save and invest towards your goals.
These are all big questions. It is, therefore, valuable to spread these conversations over multiple dates. To get excited, your first date might involve outlining your dreams and goals. On your second date, you could discuss where you stand with your finances. And third, you might develop a budget that aligns with your goals and values (for guidance, you can check out this article). Subsequent dates might centre around checking your progress and planning for upcoming expenses.
Many partners also benefit from talking about their history with money—how their parents approached money, whether their parents fought about money, their own and their parents’ fears around money, etc. Understanding how the other person was brought up to view money can help cultivate compassion and patience, particularly among partners who view money differently.
How Do I Start A Money Date With My Partner?
Remember how I said many people find discussing money intimidating or anxiety-provoking? Your partner likely feels the same! You can create buy-in by focusing on the positives behind starting a money date. For example, you can tell your partner that the money date will allow you both to plan for your dreams and goals. You can also emphasize that you’ll start slow. It would be best if you didn’t try to figure everything out on the first date.
Former financial advisor and host of the financial podcast Stacking Benjamins recommends having your money date over wine or pancakes to make it fun. Alternatively, you could order takeout from your favourite restaurant or reward it with your favourite movie. Whatever your preferences, find ways to make the idea of a money date fun for you and your partner.
How Often Should We Do A Money Date?
Ideally, aiming for a money date at least once a month would be best. This cadence will enable you to stay on top of your upcoming expenses, assess whether you are staying on budget, and determine whether you are meeting your goals.
You may want to meet weekly or biweekly if you are experiencing financial difficulties or struggling to have productive money conversations. Having more regular check-ins will help you hone in on areas where you can shift your day-to-day spending in money-saving ways. Moreover, having more frequent conversations may take some of the pressure off of a once-a-month conversation where you may feel like you have to fit too much in if you face difficulties in your finances, communication, or both.
You may even consider getting a therapist or certified financial planner (CFP) involved to help strategize on communication (therapist) or finances (financial advisors). However, meetings with financial planners and therapists should not wholly substitute for your money dates, as money dates are your opportunities to put your learning into practice and dream with your partner.
What Tips and Tricks Can We Use To Make Our Money Date More Fun and Effective?
First, strive to be patient and compassionate towards one another. Few of us grew up learning to discuss finances, so it’s no surprise that you and your partner may struggle. Aim to be curious rather than judgmental about areas where you might disagree. You might ask, “Why do you feel that way?” or “Could you tell me more about that?” If things get heated, you might agree to revisit the conversation when you’ve cooled down.
Second, expect mistakes and hiccups along the way. Neither you nor your partner are perfect. Sometimes, you’ll overspend; sometimes, they’ll overspend. The point of regular money dates is to feel confident about your finances and develop a shared vision you’re working towards, not to nickel and dime every expense. So, if one of you makes a mistake, aim to practice forgiveness towards yourself and your partner. You might try to inject a little humour into the situation as well. Admit your mistake, laugh about it, and then make a plan to move forward.
Third, celebrate the small wins. Often, it will take you years or even decades to reach your goals. If you don’t celebrate and acknowledge your progress, it’s easy to make missteps like dipping into your savings for meaningless purchases. So try to give yourself regular benchmarks to celebrate. You might go for an excellent hike when you save $2,000 in your emergency fund or get ice cream when you max out your Roth IRA. Whatever you decide, use your money dates to stay on track, celebrate, and dream.
Finally, choose a time when you will most likely have energy for the conversation. For example, if you’re exhausted after work, you might avoid targeting that time for your money dates.
What Tools Can Help with A Money Date?
When you’re dreaming out your goals, a helpful tool is a pen and paper to list them. Once you’ve listed them out, try timelining your goals. In other words, figure out how many months away a goal is how much you have to save to meet that goal, and then divide that amount by the number of months until your goal. That will give you the monthly amount you should save to reach your goal.
Another tool is to use Ramit Sethi’s Rich Life journal. This journal prompts you and your partner to figure out what a rich life means to you and how you can build your rich life into your finances.
Once you get to the stage where you are figuring out your assets, debts, and budget, many couples use a template or an app to keep track of everything valuable. If you prefer a template, you can find a variety of budgeting templates at Nerdwallet. I like to add sheets to these templates to track my total liquid assets (like checking and savings accounts where money can be accessed right away), illiquid assets (like retirement accounts where money cannot be easily accessed), and debts.
Alternatively, many budgeting apps allow you to budget, see your assets and debt at a glance, and even cancel subscriptions and negotiate bills. I personally love Rocket Money. However, Mint, Honeydue, Zeta, and YNAB are great options. You can find a description of each of these here.
With the proper planning and mindset, money dates can set you and your partner up for financial success. Even more than that, money dates can create healthy communication and ensure that little problems do not compound over time. Money may not buy happiness, but planning and collaboration can support a strong partnership.
Please remember I am not a financial advisor. Before making any financial decisions, speak with a financial professional.
I hope you enjoyed that.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Christine. I am a runner, climber, writer, personal finance nerd, and Doctor of Sociology. I am passionate about providing people with fun, informative information that can improve their lives. My writing on health, wealth, and self-care is on my blog, Department of Adulting.