How is Focus on Finances Month going so far for everyone? Hopefully you've been committed to the spending freeze this week and it's been going well for you! I love a good spending freeze, it's a great way to kickstart a new financial path.
If you've been following along on the month calendar and see that tomorrow you're supposed to hold a Finance Date Night (or “Money Date” as we also call them)! I wanted to take a quick minute to explain what the heck that is, and give you some guidelines for success…so you don't end the night on the brink of divorce with drawers full of clothes scattered all over the front lawn.
First things first:
What the heck is a Finance Date Night, or “Money Date”??
The best way to describe it is…well…a date where you talk about finances and money! That's it!
WHY is a Money Date important?
Have you tried to have a conversation about money in passing? Maybe in the middle of dinner, or in the car on a quick drive somewhere, or while shopping for something, or even while getting ready for bed?
How'd that go for ya?
I'm 99.9% positive it wasn't that effective for you. The reality of the situation is that money is a tense subject that needs time to work through. Talking about it in passing not only adds stress and anxiety to the situation, but it's physically hard to get very far before being interrupted.
Holding a formal, official, planned Money Date FORCES you to set everything else aside, sit down, and hash it out (in a positive way, of course).
HOW do we hold a Money Date?
It's so easy, and believe it or not, really fun! Here are the simple steps:
- PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR. It MUST be planned in advance! Doing a spur the moment Money Date is N-O-T effective, I promise.
- Get a sitter – NO KIDS ALLOWED. Can't afford a sitter? Do a babysitting trade with someone, or cut back on groceries, eating out, or fun money to make it happen. Call in a favor, find a way to make it happen. You cannot, should not, and will not (I forbideth you!) to have these conversations with kids around.
- Do it over dinner. No one needs a hangry money conversation…
- Bring your laptop and paper/pen. Yes it looks a little nerdy, no, no one will care, yes, Bubba and I do it all the time. We use Google Docs and Google Sheets to track everything, including our goals.
- Do it in a restaurant. Choose your favorite restaurant and preferably one that takes a long time so you can sit and stay for as long as you need. Since it's a spending freeze this week use gift cards, or pack a picnic somewhere so you don't spend money. Just try to get out of your house if you can afford it!
*Note: If finances are too tight and you shouldn't do a sitter and restaurant, feel free to make it a date at home but make sure the kids are in bed, the electronics are away, the TV is off, and you focus on NOTHING but your finances!
Why do it outside of the home? 2 main reasons:
1) You're more likely to get distracted, cranky, and be interrupted when at home.
2) you're less likely to yell at each other and have an epic fight! Not kidding with this one. When in a public place, like a restaurant, you will be on your best behavior. You will speak quietly, you won't get up and storm out (hopefully), won't yell, will try not to cry…it sounds dramatic, but those things happen – even for Bubba and I! Sit next to each other, hold hands, look into each others' eyes, and enjoy your night!
What do we DO on a Money Date?
Then, sit down and get real about your numbers. If you are part of my Budget Boot Camp program, you have the BMI tool that allows you to punch in your numbers and it spits out numbers and budgets for you which is GREAT. So be sure to use it! (If you want to sign up for my program use the code FCFBLOG for an extra 10% off!).
You need to go back for the last full month and look at everything you've spent money on. Categorize it. Find out where your money is going.
Work backwards and figure out how much you need, to pay off pressing debt.
Set budgets. Talk about the future. Dream about the future.
There are so many things to do! Just pick ONE purpose to start (don't overwhelm yourself), then don't stop until it's done. Once your first purpose is done, choose a second one and go from there.
How often should we have Finance Date Nights?
At least 1 per month. But if you are just starting to Focus on Finances, do one every week until all your initial tasks are accomplished, and budgets set! I promise…the more often and more frequently you have them, the easier and more pain-free they become!
Additional tips for success:
- Make a game out of not saying the word “YOU”. It may be impossible in some situations, but for the most part, you should be able to get along without saying it. Maybe you have to do pushups, or chug soda, or add 5 minutes to a back massage each time you say “YOU”. Choose something lighthearted, and commit to it. It forces you to avoid pointing fingers, and to turn the focus on yourself and what you can do to be better and change; rather than focusing your energy on nitpicking the other person.
- Try to have a positive attitude. No one likes a whiner!
- Try to have an open mind and see the other person's point of view. Sometimes…just sometimes…they might have a good idea about something! (Said from a control freak…)
- If you have a problem to talk about, don't bring it up unless you also bring 2 possible solutions to the problem. It does no good if all you do is complain, be a problem solver! So make a rule – no talking about problems unless you also have 2 solution ideas!
Good luck tomorrow! Let me know how it goes in the comments below!
(Again, my Budget Boot Camp walks you through this in great detail if you're interested, otherwise just go follow the tips above and you'll do great!)
Excited for you, have a good time!