If you are married, engaged, in a serious relationship, single or otherwise, I hope you have found some time (or already have it on the calendar) to sit down with your other half (or accountability partner) to map our your financial goals as a unit for 2020.
If you find yourself struggling to have this discussion with your other half, no matter the reason, here are some tips to help ease into the discussion and keep it moving forward in the months and years to come.
I’ve learned this one the hard way! It’s so important for both partners to recognize (or be warned) that an important conversation is headed his or her way. Please learn from my mistakes, trying to have a serious conversation in the middle of (insert sport or show of choice here) is not going to be the background for a productive or healthy conversation. It’s best to plan ahead and schedule a time when it’s known by both parties the topic of discussion. My husband and I like to call these ‘Money Dates’.
Create an Agenda
If you’ve worked with me in the past, you know that I love meeting agendas! In this scenario, I am referring to another type of agenda, unless agendas are also your jam. By agenda I mean verbally outlining before or during the conversation topics you’d like to cover during the money date. Think of it like picking a theme for the conversation and this will help the conversation flow.
To help the conversation, I listed below a few conversation starters and topics to cover. Also, if you scroll to the end, I created an agenda that you can print out and bring on your money date (I couldn’t help myself!).
- Recap of 2019 Goals – What goals did we meet and what is still in progress? Did anything change that we should discuss or update?
- What do we want to achieve financially in 2020? Create and review 2020 SMART goals and make revisions as appropriate.
- Review 2019 cash flow. How much came in? How much went out? Where did it go?
- Review spending categories? Are there any new categories or changes?
- Financially, what did we do really well last year?
- What could we improve upon? Realistically, what adjustments should we/can we make in this area?
- How can we hold ourselves accountable?
- How will we know if you are on track to hit our goals?
As a couple, you should work to get through all these questions and then some! It might take more than one sit down to cover all these topics but I encourage you to find the time. Starting off the year on the same financial foot as your partner is so important!
Once you’ve outlined all the financial goals and created strategies to maximum savings to achieve them, be sure to write it down! Some examples of capturing this information on paper includes writing out SMART financial goals, or creating a new budget. Writing these things down gives you the ability to reference these items again and again which can spark inspiration and hold you both accountable.
Keep the Conversation Going
As a financial advisor, I am not allowed to make guarantees at it relates to investment returns and the success of a financial plan. What I can guarantee is that if you don’t continue to have money dates and financial conversations with your partner, you will struggle meet your financial ambitions for the New Year. The dialogue must continue! Monthly check-ins may be overkill but try to get together as a couple at least once a quarter to review all things financial.
If all this seems too overwhelming and daunting, I would strongly encourage you to get an objective third party involved. This could be a family member (if they can promise to stay objective and not pass judgement!), a religious leader, trusted friend or financial professional.
And now the agenda I created for you all to use during your next money date. Feel free to download, print off and make adjustments as needed.
Hope it’s a good date!