Dim the lights. Pop the champagne. Pick up a bouquet of your partner’s favorite flowers, or perhaps a box of chocolates. You’re all ready for a nice hot…money conversation?
Yup, that’s right, we’re talking about a money date – a fun, romantic evening where you discuss the important topic of money management together. If you tune into The Money Date podcast, you know that couples who talk about money regularly are twice as likely to have happy relationships.
So to help you win at life, love and the pursuit of happiness, here’s our guide to having a great money date.
What Is a Money Date?
A typical money date pairs an honest, down-to-earth discussion of the current state of yours and your partner’s finances with the various fun and romantic touches you’d experience on a regular date. Whether it’s a new ice cream flavor to try, some scented candles for mood lighting, or a classic standby (chocolate lava cakes anyone?) – always include something to enhance the “date” part of the evening.
Zeta founder Aditi Shekar has made money dates a regular part of her relationship with her hubby Dalmar. By the end of each money date, they’re in sync when it comes to their financial future. And best of all, they’ve also deepened their bond and grown even closer as a loving couple. Fifteen years later, the couple credits these scheduled chats for the stability and strength of their happy marriage.
Why Do I Need To Have One?
Having regular money dates with your significant other are super helpful when things start getting serious – i.e. when you move in together or get married. Once you start sharing bills or other expenses, you’ll want to get on the same page financially. Especially if you’ll be combining your finances or making shared goals for the future. If you don’t see eye-to-eye on your finances, problems can arise as your relationship progresses.
What kinds of problems? According to many studies, the misalignment of money goals, financial infidelity and an inability to talk about money issues are frequent causes of divorce. With regular money dates, you can always be on the same page with your significant other and address these problems before they happen!
So…What Do We Talk About?
Go into each money date with an idea of what you want to discuss. Topics can vary each time, but some common conversation starters include:
- What are our current money goals?
- What progress have we made towards achieving them?
- How much money did we make, save and spend this month?
- Make sure to keep track of this last one in writing, whether it’s on paper or via an app!
Another important topic to keep in mind is debt. Debt is the number one thing couples tend to downplay or hide from each other entirely. And to be honest, huge debt balances, (like those student loans) can totally be intimidating or concerning for your partner. But, it’s best to be upfront and honest about it in your money date.
Work towards demystifying debt, not hiding it. Speak openly with your partner about the state of your student loans or credit card balances. If you have a joint credit card together, keep track of your payments and what you still owe during your money dates. This will help you develop a strong, trust-based relationship of financial honesty.
Planning for Big Life Events
Let’s not forget about the future! Use money dates to keep track of and plan for upcoming major events such as weddings, vacations, or a new baby. These can be expensive and full of surprise costs. All too often the burden of planning and budgeting falls solely to one partner. Avoid this problem by setting aside a part of your money date for this specific discussion. Keep paper or digital notes of your progress as you go!
How to Have a Money Date
At first, regular money dates will take planning and commitment. You’ll need to schedule them, plan what to discuss, and mentally prepare yourself for each one. However, over time, having money dates will turn from a slightly stressful scheduled date to a fun bonding experience with your partner. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find yourself looking forward to talking money with your fave person!
Here are some tips to help you get started with those first few dates:
Pick a Recurring Day/Time and Commit
Pick a regular time that works for the both of you. Some couples prefer weekly money dates, while others spread things out and do a once a month deal. Once you’ve picked a date, stick to it. Put it in your calendar and make sure you show up.
Each money date you attend will make the next one easier to get ready for. Skipping them or pushing them back will make these necessary conversations harder to plan, so don’t let them be a spontaneous thing. It’s so easy to say “let’s do it tonight” and then come home from work way too tired to follow through.
Be Understanding, But Honest
A money date should always be a judgment-free zone. Listen attentively to what your partner has to say, and respond kindly and appropriately. Avoid keeping financial secrets from one another – it only leads to distrust, stress and heartbreak.
Remember that these conversations aren’t easy for either of you. You’re in this together – it’s not “you vs. them,” it’s “both of you vs. finances”!
Show Some Love
Don’t forget to show your partner plenty of love before, during and after the money date. Create a loving, open mood by reminding them how glad you are to get to do this together. Aditi and Dalmar open every money date with a dedicated compliment session where they tell each what they appreciate about the other person’s money habits!
Remember, everybody likes to feel valuable and appreciated and discussing your financial situation can be difficult especially if one partner struggles to make payments on their debt due to income or lack thereof. Make sure you remind them that you appreciate your partner’s openness and efforts.
Once the date’s done, celebrate! Break out the desserts and champagne and toast to another successful talk about money together.
Get Your Money Date On
So there you have it! Now that you know what a money date is and how to have one like a pro, sync up with your boo and see when you can schedule your first one together. You can even play the 20 Money Questions together during your first money date to get the ball rolling.