#RealMoneyTalk: How to Have a Money Date

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You have probably heard the sage wisdom about the importance of keeping the romance alive in your relationship. One way to do that is to schedule a date night. You also need to keep your couple finances alive. To do that you’re going to need a different type of date: a money date.

What is a money date?

A money date is an appointment with your partner where you get together and talk intimately about your finances. You can make this resemble an actual date where you whip out your computers, order takeout, light some candles, and camp out on the floor of the living room.

The point is to set up and commit to a distraction-free time to talk to your significant other about your finances.

Why is a money date important?

No matter how in sync you and your partner are in other areas of your life, it can be challenging to get on the same financial page as a couple. And even if you are on the same finance page right now, things can and will change over the course of your relationship.

The budget that you both agreed at the beginning of the year that seemed so perfect at the time might actually turn out to be too restrictive for one or both of you. Or one of you might want to move away from the corporate world to start that food truck business. It’s not always easy to figure out the right way to bring up finances during a regular conversation, especially if you and your partner have just started to get serious about managing your money as a couple.

Having regular money dates takes pressure off these financial conversations. They provide a set space to talk about your money concerns instead of having to try to figure out a way to work your concerns into everyday conversations amidst concerns about how your partner might react.

Keeping standing money dates also reassures you both that these talks are an important part of your relationship. It sets the standard that talking about money shouldn’t be avoided. And that it’s something that you to prioritize as a couple, which is a great mutual jumping off point for talking about your finances.

A money date also gives you and your partner the opportunity to make talking about money fun and not something that you both dread. It’s also a great way to make sure that both partners stay involved in the money and budgeting and planning process.

How do you money date?

Now that you and your partner have agreed to make money dates a regular part of your relationship, the next step is to decide how often you want to have your money dates. You can have them as often as once a week but at the very least you should probably aim to have them at least once a month.  

You’ll also want to plan in advance how long your dates should be. While it’s possible that both of you might be able to talk budget spreadsheets until dawn, you want to set a time limit that allows you both to be alert and energized throughout the conversation.

In the beginning, it’s likely that your money dates will be longer because you’ll have a lot of ground to cover. So be sure to budget more time up front. You’ll also want to plan for more time if you are in the midst of a transition or have one right on the horizon.

When you’re planning your money date also think about what type of environment you want to have the money date in. Do you want it to feel like an actual date? If so, your money date can start as a conversation at a restaurant or over take out and you can go back home and whip out the laptops with dessert.

Or do you prefer something more formal and business-like? If so, perhaps you can plan to meet up in your office or at your local coffee shop with your laptop in tow so that you can look at the exact facts and figures throughout your conversation. The personality of your money date should match with your relationship personality. You want to make it as enjoyable as possible so that it’s something you both look forward to.

What kinds of things should you talk about?

Let’s talk about some potential topics that you might want to cover when you’re on your next money date. Start by reflecting on what has happened since your last money date. How do you feel about some of the discussions that you had and the decisions that you made during your last money date? Do all of those things still feel right and resonate with you or are there some things that you’d like to change position on?

If your last money date resulted in changes to your budget, take some time to talk about how those changes have been working out for you. Were they harder than you anticipated? Do they feel right? Is there anything that you would change or tweak about those changes going forward?

Next, you can talk about how you’re doing on your budget this week or month. Have you been sticking to your budget? Have you gone over budget in some areas? If so, now is the time to brainstorm the changes you will need to make in order to try to be sure to stick to your budget going forward. It can take time and testing to figure out how much money to allocate for each spending area within your budget and so this is a way of looking at each item and getting some feedback so that you can both get on the same page when it comes to all of the line items in your budget.

Another great topic for your money date is talking about your plans for your future. It’s always a good idea to talk about the potential financial impact that those plans will have on your finances. If you aren’t sure what your future might hold just yet, start by talking about how you feel about the way things are going in your lives right now as individuals. Do you like where you live? Do you enjoy your current jobs? Making a change in your long-term plan can take time and the sooner you start preparing your finances for the change, the better.

A money date is a great time to celebrate your financial wins big or small. Remember that accomplishing some financial goals, like saving for retirement or putting a kid through college, can take a decade or more to accomplish. But there is no reason why you have to wait until you get to the finish line to celebrate.

Take time to cheer each other on for each week or month that you continue to make progress on your financial goals. Taking the time to appreciate your hard work every single week or month can help reinforce the good habits that are getting you there. Celebrating your wins together helps remind you about your joint goals and how your teamwork is helping you get there together. That motivation will keep you focused for the long haul.