Couples that have the most success staying on top of their finances meet for an hour a week. Single people need money dates too, but half an hour should do it since they don’t have to deal with dynamics, semantics and someone else’s “money stuff.” I’m suggesting weekly money dates in addition to a daily personal money practice, which typically takes about five minutes.
Here are 8 tips for successful money dates:
1) Your time is sacred. No interruptions allowed, no children, no scheduling conflicts, no cell phone, not even work. Ideally, you would meet at the same time every week with no exceptions.
2) Childcare is available. Use it if needed, seriously!
3) Talk about money during prime time. As my financial planner Katy Song suggests, “No talking about money between 6-9pm!” It goes without saying that after 9pm is totally off limits.
4) Choose a conducive environment. Which location is best? A café, the kitchen table, your office, your dad’s apartment or somewhere else? A behavioral financial therapist Aishlin O’Coyle taught me, “No money matters in the bedroom!”
5) Practice being a master of the obvious. Many people feel overwhelmed when they sit down for a money date. Look at the obvious places for conversation starters: tracking your spending, monthly budget, annual budget, periodic (non-monthly) expenses, systems, files, goals, reimbursements, interpersonal dynamics, any burning financial topics or financial resentments and finally, financial footwork like follow-up phone calls, the mail or paperwork.
6) Check your self-care before you start. Are you hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT)? If so, it’s probably best to postpone the date until you feel better and can start from a positive place. My acupuncturist Susan Fox always reminds me to keep the big four in balance: food, water, sleep and stress.
7) It’s okay to take a break. If the date stops feeling productive and peaceful, take a deep breath, acknowledge it and determine whether you need a break (short or long), a glass of water, a hug or to process something that is coming up. My mentor, Barbara Stanny says, “Whatever comes up, comes up to be healed.”
8) Always wrap up a money date by planning the next one. A healthy and sustainable relationship with money lasts a lifetime and needs to be tended to carefully and consistently.
Commit to meeting weekly with your partner or yourself and see what happens to your spending, saving and earning. There may be a time when you choose to shift your commitment to money dates to every other week, once a month, etc. Trust you will know when the time is right.