Making budgets is just so romantic. I love it when my husband talks those numbers to me. SAID NO WIFE EVER. But yet, we need to talk about money. It’s hard to talk about money when you can’t seem to find the time. Maybe your jobs or kids get in the way of real, deep conversation about your finances. Several years ago when we decided to go to one income, my husband had an idea: let’s go to dinner and talk about our finances in a lower-pressure environment. It was then the budget date was born.
So, What’s a Budget Date?
You’ve heard about movie dates, dinner dates, and the like. But today we’re talking about something brand new – budget dates! No, it isn’t a cheap date (although I do love saving money when we go out). A budget date is just like it sounds: budget dates are when you and your spouse have alone time, normally out of the house, to talk about your budget and financial health.
Forget fighting about money. Budget dates open the door to honest conversation about your overall financial health. When you talk about your budget, you can more easily achieve your goals with your partner.
Why a Budget Date?
Dates give us an opportunity to be alone with our spouses and reconnect. We share food, laughter, and actual conversation. Your mind doesn’t wonder about if you should start the next load of laundry or when you last showered. Being out and being focused on just your spouse opens a wide opportunity to discuss whatever you’d like. In this case, finances.
Isn’t a Budget Date in Public… Uncomfortable?
When you go out in public, what is an embarrassing thing that could happen? Your skirt could be tucked into your underpants. You could spill your drink in unfortunate places. You could get into a fight with your spouse and no one wants that.
Fights about money are more easily erupted at home, in private, where no one can see or hear you. When you’re in public, the likelihood of both parties to remain calm and think of real, practical solutions goes up.
But people can hear us talk about our money! Yes, nosey table neighbors can hear and listen to your conversation. But honestly, I’m probably listening to their conversation, too. And you know what? They’ll forget about it as soon as they start eating or ease into their own conversation. Unless the people next to you happen to be friends or acquaintances, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
But my spreadsheets! Look, I love a good budget spreadsheet as much as the next girl, but listen, you don’t need it! Bring a small, simple notepad and pen and jot down questions, topics, and notes. Don’t look at your phone, and good heavens, don’t bring your tablet.
Do They Actually Work?
Yes, budget dates actually work! We’ve been on several when we know a big financial decision is coming up. The action of stepping away from our “everyday” life (meaning, a baby tugging at us for more food) gives us the ability to converse about what we need to. The decision to live on one income wouldn’t have happened so readily if we didn’t go on the budget date that preceded it.
We were able to discuss the pros and cons of me staying home full time. We were able to talk real numbers. There were ways that we found to cut back on expenses. I established goals for myself as a SAHM. If we would have been at our own dinner table discussing this, I would have become distracted by our baby or doing a chore. Being out helped us focus.
But I Can’t Afford to Go on Dates All the Time!
I know, going on a date just to talk about money seems excessive (especially if you’re trying to save money). Budget dates are meant to help you through tough financial decisions or even just start to work on your budget. Going out provides a new perspective and a space where you’re less likely to fight. Setting a concrete date gives you time to prepare any questions, comments, and concerns ahead of time.
But when you just need to update your budget or tweak a few things, why not set a regular budget meeting? Dan and I have budget meetings every Sunday during our kiddo’s nap time. We review transactions, update our budget spreadsheet, and adjust when necessary. This also allows us to pay bills coming due in the next week and make transfers from account to account if needed. The best part? I can wear yoga pants and messy bun. 🙂
Before You Go
Before you run off to your first budget date, here are a few things to think about and take notes on:
- What’s the purpose of the budget date?
- Goals for the date (i.e. come to an agreement on budget, decide to transition to one income, find a way to pay for vacation, etc.)
- Questions for your spouse about money/finances/budget
- Concerns you have about the goal in #2
Bring that sheet with you on your date. It’s not nerdy or uncomfortable to pull a piece of paper out of your purse while at dinner (trust me). It can help you guide the conversation and stay focused.
So I task you with this: go to your spouse and let them know you want to talk about *whatever financial topic*. Suggest that you go out instead of staying in to talk about it. Set a date, find a sitter, make reservations, and jot down notes of what you want to talk about. Let me know how it goes!