Welcome to the New Year! If you are like me and most Nigerians, this year has bought with it new energy and excitement for all the things you are going to accomplish: buying that new car, moving to a bigger house, creating a new stream of income or perhaps total & complete world domination. Wherever you dreams may fall on the spectrum of grandeur, ladies and gentlemen, if you are married (or about to be), you and your spouse need to be on the same page about your goals for this year otherwise, it’s going to be anything from between difficult and virtually impossible for you to achieve your dreams for 2018.
It’s quite simple really, if your spouse is hoping to have a new baby abroad this year and you have plans to get a mortgage for your first house, the two plans can be incompatible, especially if money is finite. The best way to align your goals and increase the chances of you achieving them is to have a frank talk with your spouse about money. This is what I call a money date. It’s useful to have the first money date at the beginning of the year because you can schedule periodic reviews as the year progresses so you can give feedback & encouragement to each other and also adjust your plans as needed.
You may be lucky to have a spouse with whom you are largely financially compatible, however, if you ask most couples about their spouse’s financial habits, you are likely to hear one complain about the other being too frugal with money while the other complains of his/her partner spending carelessly.
It’s rarely the case that you and your spouse will want exactly the same things for the year, so you need to compromise here & there and also prioritize.
In this post, I share “an agenda” if you will, of what to discuss on your money date and how to go about it without having the discussion dovetail into an argument as discussions about money tend to. This is just a guide for the first meeting and your priorities and personalities will shape how the discussion goes.
Find Neutral Ground
I call it a money date because I believe that it’s important to leave the house and go somewhere comfortable, where you can speak freely and openly. You’re also forced to act with civility if things threaten to get out of hand; there is less likelihood of someone storming off and banging doors shut if you are in a restaurant or a lounge.
Paint A Picture
Remind your partner that you love them and your number one desire if for the family to be financially independent. Let them know what a money date is, share your goals and encourage them to share their goals for the year too. Dream a little and allow yourselves to imagine the life you will have once the goals are achieved. Remember that goals need to be specific, realistic and measurable. “I just want us to be happy”, is not going to work for a money date. If need be, park some items and come back to them later, or revisit at the next date because some people need time for thought & reflection. Bottom line, your goals must energize and excite you. This is the fire that will sustain you as the year progresses and the going gets tough.
It’s rarely the case that you and your spouse will want exactly the same things for the year, so you need to compromise here & there and also prioritize. Some keys to prioritizing are, cost of execution of the goal, length of time to complete, ease of execution and impact on the family. I find that it helps to get some wins under your belt early, so one “quick and easy” goal goes to the top while you figure out the others based on the criteria above.
Breakdown Goals Into Actions
By this time, you both should be getting excited and the conversation should be flowing freely. Once you have agreed on the order of your goals, you need to break them into mini goals and actions. I prefer that you end the money discussion here and enjoy the rest of the date, discussing whatever you both enjoy. It’s a good place to pause and leave the discussions on a positive note.
When you next convene, it may be useful to bring out a pen and pad or use your phone to take notes. Breakdown each goal into mini goals and write down the month each mini goal will be achieved. For example, if a goal is to double household income, one of the mini goals may be for one of you to take the professional exam that will boost your salary while the other spouse will start looking for a better paying job. If these are mini goals, decide which month they will both be achieved and who is responsible for achieving them.
Hold Periodic Reviews
Hold periodic money dates to discuss progress on each of the goals for the year, next steps and responsibilities. As you begin to work better as a team, you can move the venue of the date to the living room or dining room, where you can spread papers around and open up spreadsheets on the laptop. It’s important to keep each other accountable while also encouraging one another.
These periodic meetings can hold weekly at first, then fortnightly and finally monthly as you get accustomed to the rhythm but the frequency is up to you.
Enough Talk, Time To Act
Schedule a money date with your spouse this month. Don’t let one month go wasted; every year is a race and you need to stay ahead from the start if you are going to succeed.
You may find that achieving your goals will involve saving money towards something or the other. Prepare monthly budgets together so that expectations are set from the beginning and there is less pressure and/or contention when decisions are made by either spouse.
Also Read: Where Your Wife Truly Belongs