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  • Writer's pictureTeam at JointGoalsLife

The 7 ‘Money Dates’ Couples Need to Prevent Divorce

Updated: Apr 1

Nearly half of Americans (48%) who are married or living with a partner say they argue over money, according to a survey by personal finance site

If you’re arguing about money in your relationship, you need to take steps. If you don’t start down a new path to manage it, there is a high likelihood that the road you’re on could lead to divorce. According to a study of more than 4,500 couples published in the Journal of Family Relationships, “financial disagreements did predict divorce more strongly than other common problem areas like disagreements over household tasks or spending time together.”

Other recent studies confirm it. Data by the Institute for Divorce found that 22% of couples say they ended their marriage due to disagreements about money. With U.S. Census Bureau statistics reporting approximately 1,000,000 divorces per year in the US, this means at least 220,000 divorces happen every year specifically because of money.

Enter “The Money Date.” So what the heck is a ‘money date’? If you ask ChatGPT, it’s “a planned and intentional conversation between partners focused specifically on their finances. It's a dedicated time set aside to discuss money matters openly and honestly. The purpose of a money date is to foster communication, collaboration, and financial alignment within a relationship.” Sounds great. But how do we even start?

  • Plan a Series. We recommend planning ahead with 7 regularly scheduled money dates, whether monthly or weekly. Put it in your calendars and agree on one topic for each session. Below you’ll find 7 suggested money date topics. Knowing the topic of each session, you can both come to the money date prepared for the conversation.

  • Stay Focused & Positive. Agree at the outset to allocate 60 minutes, 90 minutes max. That’s the optimal time for a productive session. Anything more and you’ll get fatigued. Remember going in that money can be emotional. If things get heated, give each other permission to raise the “pause” flag. Resume when you’re ready.

  • Be Grateful & Make it Fun. You and your partner are so lucky to have each other. The fact that you’re one of the 50% of couples that’s still together is something to celebrate. Always remember that. Make it fun, grab a cup of coffee or a bottle of wine. Pick a great playlist (money songs, anyone?) and a relaxing place for a conversation. The money date is something to enjoy. After all, you get to work as a team to build the life you love … together. “Always end on a positive note” and celebrate what you accomplished, says Lindsay Bryan-Podvin at Mind Money Balance.

The 7-Series Money Date. So you’re all set. Time … check. Place … check. Ambiance… check. Now what do we talk about? Though you can decide to focus on whatever is top priority to you as a couple, here are the 7 most important topic areas with questions to guide your sessions:

1. Financial Goals: Identify short-term, mid-term and long-term financial goals and determine how to work together to achieve them.

  • What are our financial goals? Identify the entire list.

  • Which goals are short-term (less than a year)?

  • Which goals are mid-term (1 to 5 years)?

  • Which goals are long-term (5 years or more)?

  • Which goals do we share as high priority “must haves”?

  • Which goals are individual priorities, how can we find balance between them?

  • Which goals should we tag as “nice to have”?

  • What steps can we take to achieve those financial goals?

  • What financial decisions or changes do we need to make as a couple?

  • How can we celebrate financial milestones and successes together?

2. Financial Roles & Transparency: Ensure both partners are fully aware of each other's financial situations, including income, expenses, debts, assets, and net worth.

  • Do we want to combine finances, keep them separate, or find a hybrid approach?

  • Where is all of our money located? Take an inventory of all of your accounts.

  • Do we each have access to all of our accounts? If not, work to get access.

  • Where will we track the money across all of our accounts so that we have full transparency in one place?

  • What are our monthly income and expenses?

  • What are our debts and assets, and ultimately our joint net worth?

  • What are each of our roles and responsibilities concerning finances (e.g., bill payments, budget tracking, investment decisions)?

  • How can we celebrate each other's financial contributions in managing money?

3. Budgeting: Review income and expenses, set financial goals, and create or adjust a joint budget.

  • What do our monthly income and expenses look like?

  • Is this snapshot the latest view or does it need to be updated?

  • If we are not covering our expenses comfortably, how can we improve what we’re allocating to different categories of expenses?

  • Are there spending habits that can be improved?

  • Are there opportunities for additional income that we should consider?

  • For all money after expenses, are we properly allocating it towards our joint goals? To what accounts and how much are we allocating each month for each goal?

4. Savings and Investments: Discuss savings strategies, investment opportunities, and long-term financial planning.

  • What are our views on saving and investing for the future?

  • Are there any financial decisions we need to make jointly, such as major purchases or investments?

  • Do we have adequate emergency savings? How can we ensure financial security during unexpected events?

  • Do we need to update or revise our financial plan based on changes in our circumstances?

5. Debt Management: Address any debts and devise a plan to manage and reduce them effectively.

  • Are we comfortable with our current level of debt?

  • What is our debt to income ratio? What ratio is a good place to be?

  • Which debt should we tackle first and by when?

  • How can we automate the payment of that debt so we meet our deadline?

  • How can we work on reducing all other debt and what is our timeline?

6. Financial Concerns: Share any financial worries or stresses, such as unexpected expenses or job changes.

  • Are there any financial concerns or challenges we need to address together?

  • How can we better communicate about money to avoid misunderstandings or conflicts?

  • What are our financial boundaries when it comes to supporting family or friends?

  • Are there any specific financial topics or concerns that we've been avoiding? How can we address them together?

  • What are our feelings about money, and how might they impact our financial decisions?

7. Financial Education: Learn together about personal finance, money management, and investment strategies.

  • How do we want to approach financial education and improvement as a couple?

  • What are areas that we each want to improve as individuals and as a couple?

  • How can we support each other in taking specific steps to improve and make progress on our financial goals together?


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