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 two of the most difficult topics for couples to discuss? Taking regular time 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:
“Here’s what I made this month.”
“Here’s what I see for major expenditures next month.”
“How are we doing on our goals?”
What You Contributed
First, telling what you made starts the conversation with recognition for your household contribution, no matter how big or small. 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 finding that next great job.
Second, talking about what’s coming 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 induces 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.
Be Where You Are
Third, 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. No matter where you might see room for improvement, walk away with at least one thing you can both point to and be glad about.
Whew! What Next?
If you follow this formula successfully, you might find you’re both more interested in working on that-other-part-of-your-relationship-that’s-hard-to-talk-about. (And hopefully, that date will last a lot longer than 15 minutes.?)
For more on the psychology of money and how to manage it, see our Recommended Resources page.