Got a Valentine this year? Is it kinda, you know, serious?
Whether you’re about to move in together or have been married for decades, it’s time to break out all the stops and schedule a date complete with candles, chocolate, and an intimate conversation about…money.
While it might not sound like the most romantic topic in the world, discussing finances with your boo can be a winning play for both your relationship and your wallet.
What the heck is a ‘money date’?
A money date is an occasion for you and your partner to sit down and review your entire financial picture: what’s coming in, what’s going out, what you owe, and what you’d like to accomplish in the future.
Renowned financial expert Farnoosh Torabi recommends having your first money date when you’re starting to get serious. When she and her now-husband were on the verge of moving in together, for instance, they went out for a margarita and dished on their incomes, outstanding debts, and credit scores.
While that’s a great start, it doesn’t need to end there. You can continue having regular money dates for as long as your relationship lasts.
Aditi Shekar, founder and CEO of Zeta, a financial budgeting app for couples, and co-host of The Money Date podcast, has had recurring money dates with her husband for five years. It all started when they moved in together and received a few credit card bills that were much higher than expected.
“That got us talking!” she says.
“From there, we realized that if we didn’t schedule time to have those conversations, we wouldn’t have them — or we’d have them at the wrong time — and money arguments would arise.”
Shekar and her husband began having money dates once a week, and to this day, still have them once a month.
Why money dates are so clutch
Money dates come with a myriad of benefits:
- They prompt you to discuss your financial dreams, which will help guide how you earn, spend, and save your money.
- They allow you and your partner to check in with each other regularly, so you can feel like you’re working as a team toward your mutual goals.
- They carve out a space to talk calmly and openly about money, reducing the likelihood of fights — and the likelihood of financial infidelity, which affects a stunning 20% of relationships.
Choncé Maddox, a financial blogger at My Debt Epiphany, has been having money dates with her husband for two years.
“They create a safe atmosphere for us to talk about our financial goals and progress, share our dreams for the future, and hold each other accountable,” she says.
4 steps to rewarding money dates
Convinced that you and your SO should be having money dates? (Good, you should be.)
Here’s how to get started.
1. Schedule a time to talk
If you don’t regularly discuss finances, asking your partner out on a money date might be the toughest part. You’ll need to broach the money topic delicately, framing it as a way you’re both going to get ahead — and not as a judgment on their spending or past.
“Present it as a fun opportunity for you both to get on the same page and work on your finances as a team,” Maddox says.
When Maddox first approached her husband about having money dates, for example, she suggested going to a dessert shop because he loves ice cream. It worked: To this day, they still have weekly financial check-ins, plus a “big overview of everything” at the beginning of each month.
2. Figure out your agenda
Once you’ve nailed down a time and place for your date, you should decide what you’re going to talk about, so you both have time to prepare.
“Pick two or three things you want to cover,” Shekar says.
“If you’re feeling a lot of financial stress in your relationship, focus on the areas that are causing that.”
Here are some ideas:
- Cash flow (how much is coming in vs. how much is going out)
- Short- and long-term financial goals
- Progress toward paying off debts
- Ways to cut spending and increase savings
- Adjustments to your budget (or the creation of one!)
- Upcoming expenses or windfalls
- Outstanding financial tasks (like switching to a bank account with no hidden fees)
- Access to documents and accounts
Still stuck? Shekar recommends simply sitting down and examining your income and expenses as a team. By doing that, she says you’ll naturally notice things that warrant further discussion.
3. Make it fun
When it comes time for your money date, make it feel like, well, a date.
Whether that means ordering a pizza and opening a bottle of wine, or going out for coffee and donuts, incorporate an element of fun so it doesn’t feel like such a chore.
As Shekar notes, “Our last money date was right before a couples massage — let’s just say, we’re definitely doing that again.”
4. Be honest and kind
A money date is an opportunity to create an open, judgment-free zone where you and your partner can discuss your financial highs, lows, and goals. So do your best to avoid being critical or inflammatory.
“Watch how you present things and how you speak to your partner,” Maddox says.
“Don’t start making accusations or putting them down, because odds are they will get defensive. Focus on working together if a financial issue needs to be solved — not against each other.”
Building a future — together
For both Maddox and Shekar, money dates have been integral to their relationships.
“I like money dates,” Maddox says, “because we can talk — just the two of us — and dream about our future and how money will be the tool that helps us live more fulfilling lives.”
Shekar agrees. Before she and her husband started scheduling money dates, they often discussed money “when tensions were running high.” (Sound familiar?)
“Setting time aside to have money convos made us smarter about when and how we talked about our shared expenses,” she says.
“Once we mastered the day-to-day operations of our household, we found ourselves dreaming about the future more. That helped us move from having fewer ‘burning’ conversations to more ‘dreaming’ discussions.”
“It’s incredibly gratifying to feel like we’re on the same page about where our lives are headed and how we’re preparing for that financially,” says Shekar.