Can $5 Really Improve Your Marriage?

Growing up, $5 felt like a lot of money. With it, I could buy lots of candy, or a Beanie Baby, or get half-way toward a Polly Pocket — my favorite toy. The possibilities seemed endless.

But today, there’s not a lot I want to buy that’s $5 or less – maybe a burger from a fast food restaurant or a sweet treat from my favorite bakery. About the only time I feel like that $5 is well-spent is when I use it to support Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) as a sustainer. It doesn’t feel like a lot to me, but I know it makes a difference for them, especially when all of us sustainers join together to magnify our impact.

So what kind of impact could $5 make in your marriage and your life with money? Would you believe it can help you and your partner intentionally reconnect with your values and each other all while building your financial confidence? That’s the goal of my date night club. I want to give you the tools to make talking about money easier. Join, and you’ll get a monthly email from me with a brief video on a specific financial topic — everything from repaying debt to saving for retirement to easy ways to cut spending — and a few questions to get your conversation started. You’ll also get an activity or resource to help you dive into the subject matter a little deeper. The whole process is designed to take about 30 minutes, so don’t worry — you’ll have plenty of time left over for the fun stuff! And, it’s just $5 each month. Ready to dive in?

To make your money date night more successful, try these six tips:

1.          Set a date: Let’s be honest: Impromptu date nights are fun, but they are few and far between. Dates take intentional planning, especially when you’re married. One of the best pieces of advice my husband and I received during pre-marriage counseling was to set a date night each week. Wednesday nights are our night and they are sacred time just for the two of us.

Tip: Make this night something to look forward to. Mark a date off on the calendar and clear your schedule. This is your priority for that night; don’t let anything else supersede it. If something does come up, be sure to reschedule your date. Once you get there, quiet distractions. Leave your phone behind or put it on silent so you can focus on your partner.

2.          Choose a non-anxious setting: If you’re going to talk about money, it’s really important that you both feel comfortable. For some people, that means a chill night in with takeout. For others, it means making a meal together. For my husband and me, it means going out to our favorite restaurant for burgers and Arnold Palmers.

Tip: Part of the planning process is deciding where to go. Ask your partner: Where would you feel most comfortable having this conversation? If you decide to go out but are worried about your budget, make it a coffee or ice cream date instead of dinner. Don’t be afraid to change up the location if it isn’t working for you.

3.          Focus more on your partner than on the money: Even if you’re talking about money, it’s still a date. Make your partner the priority. Listen closely. Dream together about your future, discuss what’s working and what isn’t, and take an honest look at where you are today. If you are the person most responsible for handling money in your relationship, this can be challenging. You may have issues to bring up and to-do list items you’d like to tackle, and it can be easy to just want to “get it done.” 

Tip: Instead of diving right into the numbers, start with some questions to open up the conversation and allow you both to get comfortable. Remember, this conversation is really about how you can best connect your money and your values to create a fulfilling life together.

4.          Make a list: Have you ever approached your partner about a money issue at the completely wrong time and quickly sparked a fight? I’m guilty of that! One of the things I like best about meeting monthly is that my husband and I rarely have to discuss money issues at any other time. If either of us have questions, ideas, or issues we’d like to bring to the table, we write them down and bring them to budget breakfast. That way we can discuss them in a non-anxious way, with clear minds and good food.

Tip: Start a list — mine is in Google Keep — and keep track of items for your next meeting as they come up. Unless they are urgent concerns, try your best to wait to discuss them. Trust me, your marriage will benefit from this approach.

5.          Make outcomes tangible: You’ve enjoyed great food and great conversation … now what? End your time together by making a to-do list. Be sure each of you identify next steps you can report back on during your next meeting.

Tip: Since I’m more of the money person in the relationship, I’ve struggled to not take all of the to-dos myself. Don’t do that! Make sure each of you has a list. Managing money should never just be one person’s job. The best way to help both  partners increase their financial confidence is to ensure each of you are taking steps toward making your money life better as a couple. It may not be easy in the short-term, but it will be better for your relationship in the long-term.

6.          Seek out help when it’s needed: Running into roadblocks? Sometimes you need an educated third party to answer questions and help make sense of what’s going on. That’s ok — it means you’re committed to making your marriage work.[sc1] 

Tip: Have questions related to retirement or other benefits? See if your employer offers financial advising services for free or a reduced price. Need coaching around a specific goal or assistance in seeing eye-to-eye in your money life? This is a great time to seek out a financial coach. Take a look at my coaching packages and see if one might be a fit for you.

Date night is easier when you let someone else moderate the conversation. Join my date night club: I’ll bring the ideas, you bring the ambiance. Join for $5/month for the next two weeks. On January 22nd the price goes up to $9/month. Don’t miss out on this deal! Plus, everyone who joins in the next two weeks will be entered for a giveaway to win free access to my Marriage & Money survey! What a better way to kick off your date night experience than with more knowledge about yourself, your partner, and your money, plus personalized questions to get the conversation started?

Interested in learning more? I’ll be talking all about money date nights in my FB Live this week. Join me on my Classy Frugalist page at 8pm Central on Thursday night.

 Which date night do you prefer — staying in or going out? Let me know below!