There is nothing sexier than watching my girlfriend fuss over cells in an excel spreadsheet at our weekly budget meetings.
For the last three months, my girlfriend and I have consistently been having weekly budget meetings. We spend a little over an hour in a restaurant reviewing our expenses and goals and thinking of ways to save more money.
The first budget meeting was complete torture. It ended in a bunch of tears, broken hearts, and my broken ego. With some work the meetings improved, and now they have become more of a pleasurable experience. The budget meetings aren’t only a time to talk about money, but we also find ourselves talking and communicating much more than we did before.
I’m writing this post to share some tips that we’ve learned to help us stay on track and consistent.
** My girlfriend and I keep separate budgets, and use the budget meetings to talk about everything that we plan to do with our money individually**
1. Have your meetings in a public place.
Our first meeting started off well! We sat down to review our individual budgets and talk about what we should do with our money. I wish it would have stayed that way, because the meeting soon took a turn for the worse. We started arguing and fussing over what was a smart decision for our money. Not long after, we were completely off the topic of money and were taking verbal jabs at each other.
How many couples can relate to similar scenes when it comes to talking about money and budgeting?
One thing that helped prevent this from happening again was switching to have our budget meetings in public places. For some reason, we tend to argue less (or respectfully) if other people are around. Now we have our meetings in a coffee shop or at a local restaurant.
2. Invest a little money into the meeting
In order to make the meetings stay consistent & fun, we started to have them at restaurants we enjoyed. We even budgeted extra money for it! The way I see it is that we save more money by having the meeting than by not having the meeting. So I’m willing to “invest” money for a meal out every week.
3. Stay on track (Have an Agenda)
Another thing that we’ve learned is that you need to have an agenda. If you don’t have one, it’s easy to spend way too much time on one topic or get sidetracked. There were a few of our meetings that were almost three hours because we didn’t have an agenda.
4. Have the Budget Meeting at the same time every week
Having our meeting at the same time on the same day eliminates two decisions. It’s a blocked-off time in our schedule now. We know that every Saturday afternoon, it’s time to take out the budgets.
5. Consistency is key
After reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits I realize that the only way to sustain anything for a long period of time is to stay consistent. Consistency is key.
Make them easy. If you don’t like to talk about your budget for an hour start off with only ten minutes. Then spend the rest of the time as a date.
6. Learn & grow together
Use books to drive the conversation. We’ve read Larry Burkett’s How to Manage Your Money & Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover to learn about money and to get more on the same page together. Find a book that resonates with you as a couple and read it together. See if it helps your understanding of money. It may also help with driving the flow of the meeting.
7. Review your goals every meeting
Reviewing your goals and tracking progress is a way to remember why you are having these meetings. It makes it easier to pull out the spreadsheet every week.
Reviewing your goals will also increase the likeliness of your goals being accomplished.
8. Come prepared
Come to the meeting prepared. This may mean different things to different couples but for us it means: Don’t take this time to make your budget or track your expenses. You can do both of these things at other times during the week. Those small, individual tasks just make the meeting longer than it should be, when the real purpose is for us to track progress.
In conclusion, having these meetings is not easy. Sometimes you have to have tough conversations or talk about things that you don’t want. You may even have to turn down other events to consistently have the meetings. But I can assure you that having the budget meetings has paid off for us tremendously, and I know they can do the same for you.
I hope this article helps. If you have any questions or of you would like to add tips please leave a comment below!