More than often, a financial conversation with your significant other may include imminent frustration, increased anxiety, or even, a sprint in the opposite direction, hiding away from the disappointment, lack of progress, and discouragement that results from the discussion. It doesn’t have to be this way with an enjoyable, scheduled, financial date night.
Not only is a scheduled financial date night critical to your financial success, but it is critical to your relationship success. Financial disagreements are consistently among the highest reported reasons why people want a divorce. However, a scheduled financial date night begins the financial conversation with your partner in an open and honest way, while also creating a financially-healthy relationship!
We need to cover the ground rules for a successful financial date night…
- The spouse or partner need to discuss expectations ahead of the financial date night. “No, we will not spend the entire evening discussing the rate of return of your 401k.”
- Schedule the date and commit to the time. Find a babysitter if necessary.
- Choose a favorite place (restaurant, park, coffee shop) where positive emotions already exist. The date should be fairly low cost...you don’t want to be discussing monthly cash flow while ordering a $42 filet!
- No spreadsheets, algorithms, and saving pattern analysis. This is a financial conversation focused around priorities, emotions, and behaviors.
- Have a time limit…otherwise, the non-financial spouse or partner may never show up to the meeting knowing it may never end!
- Enjoy the evening…once finished, change the subject and move on…don’t return to finances for the remainder of the time.
- Questions that can be discussed…
- Do we need to include other professionals in our plan to provide guidance?
- Do we feel as though we are making progress towards our family priorities?
- How we can make small behavioral changes that will result in a big difference?
- What’s an upcoming expense(s) that we need to strategically plan to pay?
- What are the takeaways? What are we going to adjust or make decisions around to strengthen the plan? Make these action items SMART…specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. “Save more for retirement doesn’t cut it!”
As you can see, a financial date can be enjoyed and not result in a fight, frustration, and one spouse or partner leaving the room upset. Aligning financial decision-making is critical to your most important relationship. In the end, consider these ground rules and embrace the opportunity to discuss an important aspect of your lives in an environment that is low-stress and creates positive family momentum.