Monthly money dates sure don’t sound very romantic. However, it’s said that money and sex are the two biggest reasons for divorce. Could it be just a coincidence they are also (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3htphYTGlQ) two of the most difficult topics for couples to discuss? Making regular times to talk about a difficult topic can often break down walls within other relationship areas.
Furthermore, a money date doesn’t have to last that long, probably at most 15 minutes. My suggestion for a money date has 3 parts, with each partner taking turns:
Part 1: “Here’s what I contributed this month.”
Part 2: “Here’s what I see for major expenditures coming up.”
Part 3: “How are we doing?”
What You Contributed
First, telling what you contributed, no matter how big or small, starts the conversation with recognition for your efforts. If one partner stays home or is out of work, find a way to recognize other ways you contribute – whether it’s nurturing the kids or searching for that next great job.
Second, talking about what’s coming up, or could come up, leaves little room for unpleasant surprises. While this may be the hardest part of the conversation, it’s placed here for a reason. Psychological studies show that thinking about how much we spend or have spent can induce the same emotions that lead to depression. On the other hand, counting what we have induces the same emotions that lead to happiness and fulfillment. That’s why the spending question is sandwiched between the other two.
How You Are Doing
Third, how do you know how well you are doing? What goals are worth tracking? Like a dashboard or cockpit, try the following four indicators: Retirement accounts, savings levels, debt levels, and charitable giving. Rather than constantly comparing to an ideal number, find a way to recognize progress from where you were at some point in the past. No matter where you might see room for improvement, walk away with at least one thing you can both point to and be glad or hopeful about.
Sharing your hopes and working through challenges about money decisions, even for 15 minutes, can be an intimate couples exercise. If you follow this formula successfully, you might even find you’re more interested that-other-intimate-part-of-your-relationship-that’s-hard-to-talk-about. (And feel free to take longer than 15 minutes.)
For more tips on the psychology of money, subscribe to the award-winning monthly e-letter, “The View From the Porch,” at https://bit.ly/3t2uwfn.