How to take yourself (or your partner) out on a money date
Last updated on 2nd February, 2021 at 10:15 am
Gain control of your financial future by taking yourself or your partner out on a money date. Yes, you read correctly. A money date can set you up for success in some surprising ways. Here’s how to get it right.
What is a money date, anyway?
A money or budget date is a coffee date you set for yourself (or with your partner) that’s dedicated to unpacking your budget and getting on top of your cash flow for the days, weeks or months ahead. It’s good to schedule one for the start of a new year to understand how your goals and life changes will impact your budget. Making a monthly or even weekly habit of it is great for your financial health. Forecasting your life and expense changes also means you’ll be able to better plan how to make ends meet, while still adding cash to your savings and investments. With these boxes ticked, you’ll feel a sense of calm when it comes to your money. This can help you build a better relationship with it.
Get set for success
A money date or budget date allows you to build a positive, healthy relationship with money – as opposed to the all-too-common avoidant, stress-ridden one. “Budgets help you reach goals that may seem unobtainable,” says Nicki Blignaut, a senior financial planner and principal at 2one2 BlueStar, underwritten by Sanlam. If you’re looking at setting a money date with your partner, you could be in for some overall rewarding results in your relationship, too. According to a study published in Psychological Reports, couples who are financially satisfied tend to be more stable in their marriages.
Before you’ve settled down with a cup of coffee, calculator and spreadsheet for your money date, get the little things right.
Set a time
Be intentional about booking time in your diary to sit down and focus fully on your money date. “Choose a day when you are in a good mood and optimistic. Also make sure you are not hungry or thirsty,” suggests Blignaut.
Find the right spot
“Make sure you have space. Ideally this could be a dining room table or kitchen counter,” says Blignaut. If you can find a quiet coffee shop or restaurant close by, take yourself out for a treat. Just be mindful that you’ll be delving into personal information, so the fewer eyes around, the better. The important thing is to have a quiet spot with no distractions so you can make a success of your money date. “Send the kids to their granny; you need to focus,” suggests Blignaut.
Gather your statements (and goals)
Think about the goals you’d like to achieve over the coming months, and find out what the cost implications of these will be. Also round up your latest bank statements, including your investment and credit card accounts.
Kick off your money date
The point of a budget is to take charge of your finances and plan how your money is spent. This will help you cover your essential expenses and still save some money. The best way to do this is to forecast your income and expenses and, where needed, adjust your expenses to free up cash flow. “In one column put your income, and in the other, your expenses,” says Blignaut. “Be realistic about your expenses. If you aren’t, you’re only cheating yourself.” Being honest with yourself demands a degree of vulnerability when it comes to you and your money. The pay-off is that you’ll be smarter with your planning and spending choices.
Use a budget template to set the right foundation for a budget that works for you.
Avoid these money-date mistakes
• “Avoid getting sidetracked,” says Blignaut. “You are doing this for a purpose, so finish what you set out to do.” Assess and adjust your budget without a TV, radio or other noise and distractions in the background.
• Don’t get despondent. Remember why you’re setting aside this time, and the value of engaging with your financial picture. Do you have debt you need to knock down? Actively choose to lower certain costs to do this sooner. Would you like to take a holiday this year? Cut costs to match the amount you’ve researched to make that booking. “For a long-term budget you should relook at it at least once a year,” says Blignaut. “Maybe you can afford more than you thought in a year’s time and so the end date can be brought forwards.”
Are you looking to save towards a new car, holiday or home renovation? Use this savings calculator to help you set the correct amount to put away each month towards your goals.
After your money date, outline your plan of action
Your budget plays the role of a statement of your current financial situation, and a forecast of where your money will come from and be spent over the next few months or year. Being realistic about your expenses goes hand in hand with being able to realise your financial goals. At the end of your money date, decide on the action points you need to take or any changes to your lifestyle you need to make to ensure your success with money over the next couple of weeks and months. And remember: “It may not be nice sacrificing that takeaway, but when you drive away in your new car it will all be worth it,” concludes Blignaut.
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