The anatomy of a killer money date

Aditi Shekar
March 22nd, 2018 | 3 minutes
The anatomy of a killer money date
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What if I told you that you could significantly improve your chances of hitting those #relationshipgoals? That as little as an hour each month could help you avoid the number one reason most couples get divorced? Would you be game to try it out? Bring out the candles, uncork the wine, and ready your calculators because we’re going to have ourselves a money date.

What’s a money date, you ask? It’s a date where you talk about the kind of life you want to live and how you’re going after it. Some couples like to host them monthly and deep dive into their finances, while others have shorter sessions each week. Whatever your style, pick one and get started.

Who should have money dates?

The truth is, the earlier you start talking about money in your relationship, the easier it gets. But because of the regularity of money dates, a good rule of thumb is to start them once you’re living together. You’ve got enough shared expenses at this point, and enough opportunities to piss each other off if your money habits are really misaligned. These dates create space for you to bring those differences up in a open and honest way.

Rules of engagement:

  • Schedule it ahead of time. Don’t try to schedule it on the fly because most of us will usually pick retro bowling night over an impromptu money date.
  • Create a judgement-free zone — you aren’t trying to parent each other; you’re trying to plan a life together. Give yourselves the space to be honest and open without feeling like either of you is in the principal’s office.
  • Take a minute to appreciate the other person. My husband and I start by saying something we appreciate about each other just so we’re in a better mood when we dive in. It might sound cheesy, but it works!

What you should cover:

  1. What goals you’re gunning for. Start by understanding your short-, medium-, and long-term goals and focus your conversations on your progress towards those goals. It’s a lot more fun to talk about how you’re going to retire in Colorado to run your dog-sanctuary than discuss your spending for category X. This is a great time to talk about the goals you already have together or to bring up new goals.
  2. Your monthly cash flow. Sounds complicated, but it’s actually rather simple — take a moment to review what you earned, spent, and saved this month. This is a good moment to check how you’re allocating your money and whether it’s going towards the goals you discussed. This is usually the hardest part of the conversation because you’ll inevitably have different spending patterns. Instead of getting mad, try using this space to suggest ways to save or ideas on earning extra income together.
  3. Check your debt. We millennials have more debt than any prior generation. This is a reality that many of us will have to inevitably face. Use your money dates to check in on your debt situation and see if it has increased or decreased. While you want to clear yourself of that debt, you also want to do it in a way that feels like you can still breathe or have a life.
  4. Look ahead (the next 1-3 months). Use your money dates to get ahead of expenses or events coming up. Talking it through helps you figure out how you’ll pay for things or where you might fall short.
  5. Celebrate a win! A date night should include a celebration! We usually go get an ice cream after the fact or eat chocolate molten lava cakes. The point is, we try to end the date with something fun to remind us why we bother to have these conversations in the first place.
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