Budgeting is an essential part of reaching your money goals, but some consider it a nuisance and choose not to keep a working budget. Or, they may start a budget, but not keep track of progress and maintain their goals.
One of the reasons that keeping a budget can be challenging is because it is hard to hold yourself accountable. With another person by your side, budgeting can actually be a fun—and achievable—activity to take part in.
Whether it’s a friend, roommate, or romantic partner, consider planning a money date night to better acquaint yourselves with your finances. With these creative ideas and activities, you and the partner of your choice can learn to make key financial decisions together, and also get one step closer to reaching your financial goals, as well as each other.
Why Budgeting Matters
A budget acts as a guide to keep you on the path of reaching your financial goals, in that it will show you where you need to make adjustments in your spending.
When you budget with another individual, it’s important to be able to communicate honestly and openly about money. According to a recent study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine that analyzed reasons for divorce in married couples, financial problems were cited as a major contributor to divorce by at least one partner from 55.6% of couples.
Further research shows that couples who don’t budget are more likely to live and spend from day to day. But with a well-planned budget in place, couples can save better, make smart money decisions, and avoid misunderstandings.
Discussing your finances with a partner can be challenging, but it is not impossible. And if you’re successful in continuing to have frequent check-ins and working together as a team, the two of you can tackle your financial woes together with ease.
How To Have a Budgeting Date Night
Money tends to be one of those sensitive topics that people feel uncomfortable talking about. One 2020 survey from financial management company Personal Capital found that 53% of respondents consider talking about money with their significant other to be stressful. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.
Whether you’re in a committed relationship, married, or simply want to track your financial progress with a friend, tackling your budget together is the key to setting your finances (and your relationship) up for success.
Budget While Doing Something You Both Love
Hosting a money date night should be more than just a time to talk about your budget—it's also a time for you and your partner to connect.
The best way to make it successful is to discuss finances while doing something you both enjoy. So, whether it’s going out to dinner at your favorite restaurant or putting on your favorite show, budgeting while doing something you both like can make the experience that much better.
Try your best to limit all distractions while having a money date night and keep the atmosphere relaxed. If you have kids or pets, for example, maybe get a babysitter and have these money conversations outside of the home. It’s best if it is just you and your partner enjoying a glass of wine, a nice dinner, and maybe some soothing tunes.
Use the Power of Physical Touch
Research shows that physical touch can lower stress levels and increase feelings of trust between adult partners. One study found that, specifically in adults, physical touch can promote higher levels of positive relational, psychological, and physical well-being.
One way to improve communication while discussing a hot topic like money is to try holding hands with your partner at the same time. Because talking about money tends to increase stress levels, combining the conversation with physical touch like holding hands or sitting side by side can make the entire money date more comfortable.
Try Sharing a Money Diary
Sharing a journal can be a satisfying way to combine your financial goals in one single place. When you share your money perspectives as a couple, financial issues can be more easily resolved. It’s also a way to set financial goals, develop priorities, and define the type of lifestyle you want to lead.
A money diary or spending journal can help you and your partner track spending toward shared goals. For example, if the two of you have a shared goal to buy a house in the next five years, you can use the journal to determine how much to save monthly for the down payment, track spending, and work together to meet that goal.
Make It a Recurring Event
Having a money date night is not a one-and-done sort of deal. To make sure that you both stay on the same page with your finances, it needs to be a recurring event. Of course, as with most of the things on your to-do list, they will likely never happen if you don’t plan for them.
Treat these events as an opportunity for the two of you to check in on your goals. So, whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, block out a recurring time with your partner and add it to your calendar. The goal is to find a schedule that works for both of you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should you share finances with your partner?
Depending on the relationship, the answer to this question will differ. What makes sense financially for a couple who doesn’t live together might not make sense for a couple who does, for example. One recommendation is to have consistent financial chats and create a blueprint when your relationship first becomes serious. This way, you can continue to discuss finances together and find a system that works best for you both over time.
How do you start a budget?
When you want to create a budget, this is the process to follow.
- Determine your monthly income, including all sources of income, whether you’re self-employed, have many jobs, or are a W-2 employee.
- List of all of your monthly expenses by tracking your spending in separate categories, like housing, utilities, and eating out.
- Know when your bills are due to prevent you from making late payments and paying additional fees.
- Use a budgeting worksheet to organize your income and expenses.
What is the 50/30/20 budgeting rule?
The 50/30/20 budgeting rule is a way to allocate your spending. It means 50% of your income will be spent on necessities like food, shelter, and utilities, and 30%of your income can be used for wants like entertainment and new clothing. The remaining 20% should be used for financial goals like your emergency fund and saving for retirement.