Most couples find themselves talking about money often, especially when it comes to spending or bills. Talking about money is important for any family (even for couples without kids) to properly manage their finances. If conducted in the right way, the discussions can be productive and help the family stay on track towards their financial goals.
Here are a few ideas to hit the ground running in talking with your spouse about money:
Find a good time for the family finance meeting
Find a time that can be used each week to conduct the family money meeting. My wife and I find that Sunday evenings is generally the best time to conduct this meeting because it’s the first day of the week. Having the meeting after a long day of work can make it less productive.
Have an agenda for the family finance meeting
The general agenda of the family finance meeting can be the following:
- Family CFO (family Chief Financial Officer responsible for paying bills and organizing finances) reviews balances for the major spending categories, i.e., how much is remaining for eating out, food, gasoline, etc.
- Discuss upcoming expenses, especially if unplanned and how to manage them.
- For Christians, it is a good time to tithe.
- Discuss/review spending priorities. If there are wants, it’s a good time to discuss the order of priority to make sure you’re both on the same page when the money becomes available for them.
- For Christians, you can wrap up in prayer. It’s a good time to pray and thank God for blessings as well as ask Him to meet future needs.
Guidelines for a successful meeting
- Find a time where both spouses can give their full attention.
- Don’t conduct the meeting if one spouse is tired or not feeling well. Find a new day in which both people can give 100% of their energy.
- Keep the meeting to 20-30 minutes. Anything over this time will make the meeting less productive and might be draining for both spouses.
- It’s okay to have short discussions throughout the week about spending decisions or budget category balances, but in general try to have a rule that money discussions take place during the weekly meeting. This will help eliminate the need to talk about money at the dinner table or around children.
- If you’re the CFO, determine the level of detail your spouse would like to have regarding the money. Your spouse may be comfortable knowing how much money is left for a spending category and not the necessarily the details around all the transactions in the account.
- Have patience. One spouse may be more organized or better at managing money. At the end of the day, both will make mistakes, so it’s important to be patient with each other and learn from the mistakes.
I recommend to all people whom I coach to find time for the weekly money talk. When my spouse and I conduct this meeting, we experience far less anxiety related to money decisions and find the chances of over spending are reduced simply because of the communication that takes place between us.
What topics do you think should be included in the weekly money talk? Do you have experience with other guidelines or tips for conducting a successful meeting?