Date Night Club (February 2019): Down to Earth
Let's start with an icebreaker question ...
What are the last three purchases you made? Be as specific as possible.
Now check out this video ...
Here's your homework assignment ...
Already tracking your spending?
Take some time each week to look through your purchases together. What do you notice?
Not currently tracking your spending?
Take some time to set up a system that will work for you both. You might carry around a notebook and note each purchase, save your receipts and enter them into a spreadsheet (here are some great, free spreadsheet templates), or use a tracking app like my personal favorite Mint. Decide on a process that will work for you both. Take some time right now to get yourselves organized. Find the approach you chosen isn't working? Don't be afraid to switch mid-month and try something different. There's no one right way to do this.
If you decide to track your transactions electronically set aside some time each week to look through each individual expense - don't just let the app do all of the work for you. Listen to what your money habits are saying about you.
Tracked your spending before?
Nice, you have a good sense of how this goes then. If you've tracked your spending for at least a month sometime over the last year, return to that data - what did you notice then? Do you notice anything different now?
It's been longer than a year? It's a good idea to do the activity again and see how your patterns changed.
NOTE: You're tracking all of the ways that you use the money that you have this includes ways that you save money, give money, as well as how you spend it. Make sure that you also track the ways that money is coming in to your life.
The goal isn't to use this activity as a means to guilt and shame yourself or your partner. This is the time to bring your financial life down to earth and take an honest look at where you are today. This honest perspective can help you see the distance between your reality and your goals. Don't let that distance scare you - I'm here to help you close that gap.
Ugh tracking my spending doesn't sound like fun ...
I get it. It's difficult to motivate yourself to do the hard work to make your biggest goals a reality. If you find yourself feeling burnt out mid-way through the month or too discouraged to even start the process go back to your goals particularly the images you picked and the "why" statements you crafted. You aren't tracking your spending because you enjoy the numbers, you're tracking it because you care about your goals.
Next month, we'll be able to use the information you've gathered to help you make some changes to your money habits to bring you one step closer to making those goals a reality.
Here's one way to make it fun ...
Make a game out of it. As you study your money habits, as individuals and as a couple, see who can find the most interesting patterns. For instance, you might find that you spend more money on eating out than you contribute to your retirement accounts. Or, you give more money away to others than you spend on yourselves.
Before we bring this date night to a close, let's check in with your goals ...
Do you think these goals still fit? Do you need to make any changes? Don't be afraid to make a change to a goal that is no longer serving you.
What progress have you made toward your goals this month?
What next steps (if any) do you need to take this month outside of tracking your spending?
See? That wasn't as hard as you thought!
Have questions about tracking your spending? Send me an email at: email@example.com.