“I take thee…to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”
We have all heard these words. Maybe you have even said them. Many wedding vows, across the denominations and religions, mention money. Yet, managing money together isn’t on the top of most couple’s to-do list. At least it wasn’t on ours.
In fact, when we first got married, there was no money management at all. Our focus was on the here and now. Who wants to stop and talk about finances when there is fun to be had?
When things started to go south, I tried to budget and manage our money on my own. It never worked. You can read about that here.
After attending FPU (which you can win for free here) we learned that we had to budget together and talk about finances consistently in order to succeed. Dave Ramsey calls them budget meetings. That phrase makes me cringe. Two of my least favorite words-budget and meeting- in one title. No thank you. I immediately began dreaming up “budget dates”.
The Budget Dates of My Dreams
We are sitting by a river as the sun begins to set with a bottle of wine and gourmet chocolate. We quickly glance over the numbers, make some adjustments and then spend hours talking about our dreams and how our awesome money management skills will help us achieve them.
My Budget Date Reality
Spoiler alert: There is no wine, chocolate or river at the moment.
It is Sunday afternoon and the little man is finally down for a nap. We talk for about 10-15 minutes as we sit on the couch for a moment of rest. If it is the end of the month, our chat is closer to a half hour, since we have a new month to plan.
During our “date” we:
1) Look at the budget. We discuss what we are doing well and what we need to improve.
2) Make Adjustments as needed.
3) Set or Re-set Goals.
To save time, we usually put all of our spending from the previous week in the appropriate category before we talk.
These “budget dates” are very chill and informal. It is time for us to make sure we are on track, both on the same page, and making decisions together. We are not reviewing every transaction, we are looking at the big picture.
How often do you need to have a “budget date”?
Once a week. That sounds like a lot, I know. However, these are not long, complicated conversations. They are quick check-ins.
This is just enough to ease anxiety, spark ideas, and rearrange priorities.
Part of working as a team and managing finances together is constant communication- about the good, the bad and the ugly.
How is that a date?
You must not have a toddler. A fifteen-minute adult conversation without a toddler hanging on one of us is most definitely a date!
All kidding aside, you’re right. It’s not a date by the traditional definition. It’s just a more appealing name for an important conversation. However, in my opinion, a date is taking time to be together as a couple and strengthen your relationship.
At 15 minute conversation about money does that much more effectively than dinner and a movie.
How is a budget date more effective than a real date?
Money is everywhere. It is an essential part of everyday life. Money can, and will, make or break your marriage.
If your marriage is struggling or if you feel distanced from your spouse, before you hundreds of dollars into marriage counseling, try budget dates. Try managing your money, and consequently, your life, together first. I promise you it will make a difference. I know it did in my marriage.
Trust me, I know.
A few months ago, a reader asked how I got my husband on board. I begged and he came to FPU with me didn’t sound like the most profound answer so I asked him. His response- At that point, I wanted a divorce so I figured I would try it. If it didn’t work, I was going to be done. I was shocked and overwhelmingly grateful that he agreed to give our life together a second chance.
A year later, I can happily say that yes, we still argue and get upset with each other but I can’t remember the last time we actually fought. Money is no longer a stressor in our lives, it is a challenge. We no longer live in desperation and despair. We are peering toward the light at the end of the tunnel, running toward the future.
All because we spend ten minutes a week reviewing our finances together and live out the week being accountable to our goals.
At the moment our budget dates are not sexy but they make our relationship stronger. They are not glamorous, but they give us the courage to dream glamorous dreams. In our lives, they are not optional, they are a necessity.
Do you want to start your own budget dates?
Here is what you need:
- A specific time each week where you have 10-30 minutes without distractions.
- A way for both of you to be looking at your budget.
What you do:
- Look at the budget and discuss what is going well and what is not.
- Make Adjustments.
- Set or Re-set Goals.
Things to remember:
- Keep it short and simple.
- Look at the big picture.
- Use the conversation to bring you together, not tear you apart.
- Be kind and patient.
The first few chats may feel awkward or uncomfortable. With time, you will get used to it. Stick with it. Every couple will have a different version of “budget dates”. The only non-negotiable is taking the time to make sure you are both on the same page about your finances. As long as you are doing that, the how, where, and when don’t really matter.
If you have tried budget dates/meetings or have any other ideas to help keep finances part of the conversation, comment below!
This was a long post with a lot to remember. To make life easier, I created a summary of “How to start your own budget dates” for you to print out and get started on your own budget dates today! Just add your email below and I will send it your way.
Mom. Writer. Lover of all things DIY. My mission is to empower my fellow creatives to show money who’s boss, ditch debt and follow their dreams. Achieving debt freedom isn’t easy but our dreams are worth it!