BiggerPockets Money Podcast

BiggerPockets Money Podcast 157: The Money Date: What You Should (And Definitely Should Not) Do to Align Your Finances as a Couple

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Calling all couples! You and your partner may be on the same page financially, or off in two different directions, regardless of where you’re at, it’s a great time to start having money dates!

In this episode, Mindy and Scott are going solo, talking through why money dates are such a crucial part of any healthy relationship. This isn’t just talk, both Mindy and Scott are adamant about money dates, they do them often with their partners as well!

If you’re an individual listening to this episode, you may feel a bit intimidated by the concept of a money date. Do you just sit down and talk about index funds and taxes for an hour? No! A money date can be a perfect time to be alone as a couple, talk about the future, make some positive changes, and hold each other accountable for being the best version of yourselves.

If you have a partner who may be a bit averse to the concept of a money date, have no fear, Mindy and Scott have perfected their plan for setting up a successful money date, and how to make it enjoyable when you’re in it.

With the new year coming up very soon, this is the perfect time to plan a money date with your special someone, you won’t regret it!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast Show number 157, where Scott and I talk about how to have a money date with your partner. Set a time with your spouse that you both agree on to have this conversation. Again, don’t do this right after a very stressful day at work. Pick the time of day or week that is really easy for you to have a nice conversation and sit down and have the conversation.
Hello, hello, hello, my name is Mindy Jensen, and with me as always is my getting a fresh start in 2021 co-host, Scott Trench.

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Scott:
It’s just truly remarkable how you mint these new introductions every time, Mindy.

Mindy:
Scott and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else. We're here to introduce you to every money story, because we truly believe that financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you're starting.

Scott:
That’s right. Whether you want to retire early and travel the world, go on to make big time investments in assets like real estate, start your own business, or simply get started with some new goals with your spouse, we’ll help you reach your financial goals and get money out of the way so that you can launch yourself towards those dreams.

Mindy:
Scott, one of the things that we hear from couples over and over again, when we interviewed them on the show, is that they have a regularly scheduled money date with their partner. We’ve never really talked about how to have a money date with your partner. I think today would be great to give a step-by-step or set some guidelines for our listeners so that they could start off 2021 with a brand new outlook on their financial future.

Scott:
Yeah, I love it. This is something that I think is really important, and I think [inaudible 00:01:45]more of a general goal setting conversation, and then talk about how, money specifically, I think fits in that and how to have those conversations and be prepared in that. But this is something that I do. I know you do. You and Carl are on the same page when it comes to your finances. I wouldn’t say that Mindy and I are the end all be all experts on this stuff, but we do nerd out about goal setting and this kind of stuff. I think that this could be a helpful conversation. We’ll give you a couple of things to download if you’re interested.
Those can be found at the show notes at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow157. Those will include a couple of worksheets and those types of things, if you’re interested in all three, but should we get into it, Mindy?

Mindy:
I think we should. One of the most frequently recommended ideas that our guests have shared is the money date. Most of the couples we speak to have a regular scheduled time to sit down with their partner and discuss their financial situation. Today, Scott and I are going to tell you how you can set one up with your partner to set you on the road to financial success.

Scott:
All right. Let’s just go ahead and jump right into it. If you’re listening to this episode, you are probably … It’s either you and your spouse together, or you on your own. Likely, you are the one who’s more of the setter or the person behind the driving force behind setting this up. If that’s not true and your spouse is on board, you can probably skip some of what we’re about to say, but if it is true and you need some help with that, listen on. The first thing, if you’re going to try to set up a money date or general goal setting discussion with your partner in the first place, the first part is actually setting that meeting and doing it in what I call peak state.
If you’re dragging your partner along and they don’t really want to be there, or you’re doing it yourself on a day where you’re tired and exhausted, you’re going to have a bad time. You’re going to set mediocre goals and you’re not going to get excited and realize your vision. What does peak state mean? It doesn’t mean it’s like the best you’ve ever felt in your life, but everyone goes through these ebbs and flows of when we’re feeling really good, when we’re feeling a little bit down in the dumps or whatever. You want to, if possible, create a situation where you’re setting these goals in a situation where you’re in a great mood.
That’s probably maybe after you’ve had your coffee in the morning or after light to moderate exercise, or after a really good day at work, or on a weekend. It’s probably not after six beers, or after a hard day of work where you’re a little demoralized, or after a fighting match between your kids. Mindy, how do you think about your peak state?

Mindy:
My peak state is probably right after I’ve gotten up, I’ve had my coffee, and I am relaxed and ready to go. My unpeak state is probably right after I get the girls to bed because they don’t like to go to bed. They like to fight about going to bed. Every night, it’s the same argument. Why can’t I do this? Why do I have to go to bed so early? Why can’t I stay up later? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s really not the best time for me to be setting my goals or talking about where I want to see myself financially in five years. That’s not the best time for me. Another good place is maybe on the beach, on your honeymoon.

Scott:
Yeah. Virginia and I did this while we were on our honeymoon on the beach. Yeah, it was after a workout, all that stuff. You do it when you’re feeling really, really good. If you’re not, you just postpone it and do it another time, but yeah, whatever you need to do to buy that peak state from your spouse in particular and bring it yourself, I think is key. You may have to work and earn that one. I don’t know how wives do this for husbands, but for husbands with wives, I’ve now four or five weeks of experience in things like massages, honeymoons or trips, doing lots of the dishes for several weeks in a row.
Making a huge dent in cleaning the house or whatever, those things all tend to be ways to put your spouse into a really good mood. Big smile and greeting, extra big one every day when you come home, or whatever it is. Whatever it is you need to do, I think to set that up and get that conversation and build that excitement, I think is key without trying to force them into it. This is not a drag your spouse into the conversation type event. Otherwise, you’re going to set some mediocre goals that aren’t really going to get bought in, and you’re not going to be motivated to achieve them.

Mindy:
Yeah. Another thing I want you to think of when you are thinking about setting a money date is no accusations. If you are listening to this without your spouse, you are the one who is the one who wants to make changes to your financial situation. Accusing your partner of being the reason that we have to have this money date in the first place is not the right way to get buy-in from your spouse. Here is what I would like. I would like our financial situation to change.
I think it is within our means to do this. I would like to do it with you, I would like to have a conversation together. Let’s start off by looking at our financial page. Let’s have a payment financial picture. Let’s look at what our goals are. What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years? Let’s talk these things through in a non-confrontational way. That is the best way to get buy-in in this. You’re both in this together. It is not a competition. It is not a battle, or it shouldn’t be a battle. It should be a conversation where you’re both on the same page and moving forward every single time you have this conversation.

Scott:
Yep. I also think another rule that is closely aligned with that, and that can avoid that accusatory state in these meetings or this date is to come prepared with some homework and be ready to go with like, here’s a vision that I’m painting for our future together. This should be based and grounded in what you know about yourself and what you know about your partner. This is your spouse, or the person that you’re going to be planning your financial future with. Surely, you know some of the things that they like to do, or the world in which they’d like to live.
Surely, as you paint a vision, or begin the process of mapping that out and how you want to move your financial position forward, that it supports those things that that partner wants to do in some of those ways. We’ll get into this in a great detail here, but I think that, that’s the third piece of this is, if we’re going to rephrase those, if we’re going to restate all these three rules, it’s set the goals in a peak state condition when you’re both feeling up to it, energized, invigorated, and bought into the process.
Don’t accuse your partner of being the one that’s holding you back from the goals. Attack it together. Three, drive the meeting yourself and come prepared with your homework and your plans, your initial stab at painting a vision for the future together and how you want to get there.

Mindy:
Okay. Those are the rules of the money date. Let's talk about things that you should do before you come to the money date. You can't just say, "Let's have a money date. Okay, go." You need to come prepared. You need to do your homework, and you should not expect your spouse to be as prepared as you are. That, unless you're listening to this together and you're on the same page, that is not going to happen. Come in with your feelings and your thoughts in a non-accusatory way. Number one, you're going to want to track all of your spending and your net worth.
This is something that you can do retroactively by looking at past credit card statements and looking at your bank statements and try to remember where your money has gone in the past month. Of course, we just had the holidays. You may have extra spending in December, but you can still see where money’s going. Track your spending again in January. Maybe go back to November or October and see where your spending is there, too.

Scott:
If you’re really gung ho go back six months, because that’ll give you a much clearer picture of what your average spending is, if you can get that much data, but that might take you a few hours, but that will give you the most, I think, complete picture of what you’re really spending on an average basis.

Mindy:
Yeah, and Scott just said the word, hour. This might sound daunting, but you’re changing your entire financial life. It’s worth an investment like this.

Scott:
Absolutely. Now, if this is, again, this is before the money date, so if some of that spending is controlled by your spouse, maybe they’re not combined or whatever, my suggestion I think would be to just track everything that you can track, everything that you spend, everything that you have easy access to in the bank accounts that you can see. If your spouse is very open and amenable, ask for that, but if that seems like it’s difficult, at least at first, before the talk, just track what you can track and figure out what you’re able to see there.

Mindy:
Yes. Once you have tracked it all, go back and review it. When you’re tracking it, you’re doing it without any judgment. You’re just writing down numbers, plugging in numbers. But once you have finished tracking your spending, go back and review where your money’s going, and you will start to see patterns. If you’re like me, if you’re like anybody else, you will start to see patterns. Oh, look at me doing this on a consistent basis. Do I really need that? Is your money going where you really want it to go? I know I harp on this all the time.
Regular listeners are going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you’ve never told us to track your spending every single episode.” There’s a reason I say track it. It is so eye opening when you haven’t tracked it to when you first start tracking it, you’re like, holy cow, I can’t believe I’m spending money at these places, because when you’re spending the money, it’s only a dollar, it’s only $20, it’s only $50. It’s only whatever only means to you, but it adds up and it adds up a lot. It’s quite shocking, it was to me how much I was spending at different places, and it was so easy to change how much I was spending just by being cognizant of where my money was going.

Scott:
Yep. Another tip on that, as you're doing that, I think it's critical to bucket your spending into no more than let's call it five to seven major categories. If you need to, you can go slightly beyond that, but if you've got 25 light items in a spreadsheet, that is completely overwhelming and distracting and difficult to bring up with other parties. It's hard to do that at work with people who do this for a living. I can only imagine how difficult that will be to review that many line items with your spouse, especially if they're just getting started with this and getting introduced to these concepts.
So, bucket into five to seven categories. Your utility bill, that’s part of your housing expense. Your gas, that’s part of your auto expense, along with your car payments, along with your insurance, along with your maintenance, those types of things, bucket them together, keep it simple stupid when you’re reviewing your spending there. Food, your grocery bill and your eating out budget is food. Break them out within that category if you need to, if you want to go in and take a deeper dive into it if you think that’s an inflection point, but for the purposes of your overall budget and your overall spending, lump them into those big categories and keep it super, super simple for those types of things.
Entertainment, miscellaneous, and other, one giant category, dump it all in there, all the little things that you’re getting, those types of things. Mindy’s raising an eyebrow. You disagree with some of that categorization, Mindy?

Mindy:
I do, in the beginning when you are looking for places to cut. If you have an enormous gas bill, gasoline for your car. If you’ve got that lumped in with your insurance and your car payment, that could just be, well, I guess I just spend a lot on my car. When you break it out, you can see, oh, you know what? I never consolidate my errands, or I’m paying way too much for car insurance because I’ve never had it requited, or wow, my car payment is $1,000 a month and I make $3,000 a month take home. Maybe I should reconsider my choices. For the purposes of this spending this first money date, maybe having the overall picture is good just to see it. But when you’re starting to look at where you can cut, you definitely want to go in and nitpick everything.

Scott:
Absolutely. I just want to chime in, I completely agree with that. I just think that, for the purposes of reviewing your budget, you’re trying to create a pie chart basically. Where are my big buckets of spending? If my car and auto spending is $2,000, then I break into that, then I break that one back out and look at that as an individual item, and then I do the exact same exercise, five to seven categories and say, okay, great, now I’m spending all this money on gas, or my car payment, or my insurance. Wow, I can begin eliminating those.
But I can at least zoom out from the highest level and say, oh, that car payment seems like a place to look. The 80-20 rule, where it can be impactful seems to be in that car, or the housing, or the food, or the entertainment portions of my budget rather than these other categories. Then of course, you go in and do that deep dive. That’s the whole point of that to figure out which item I want to cut back on this month or the next six months.

Mindy:
Okay. That’s fair. I’ll give you that, Scott. The next thing you want to do before your meeting actually happens is to prepare a vision for your family. That’s you preparing the vision for your family. It’s okay for this vision to morph over time, and it will morph over time because once you get into the money date, you’re going to ask your spouse to do the same thing, prepare a vision for the family. During the money date, you’re going to compare those visions, but we’re not to the money date yet. We’re just doing the setups.
You want to make sure that you have … What’s important to you? Do you want to know where you want to live in five years, or do you want to know where your kids are going to school? Do you have children? Is it a family situation? Overall, your first money date is very, very broad. In five years, I want to have a child, or I want to be done having children. In five years, my oldest daughter will be out of the house, almost, which is actually kind of exciting, but also a little sad. I feel like I’m not old enough to have a kid that age, but I am definitely old enough to have a kid that age.
Just what do you see? I want to be able to pay for her college. In five years, my goal is to have enough money to pay for her college so she doesn’t have to take out student loans.

Scott:
Yeah. When it comes to this vision stuff, I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times from different places. We’re not the people inventing this, of course, but my advice would just be to keep it simple again. Don’t write pages and pages in this vision, at least not the first time. Just do something that’s like two or three paragraphs, less than half a page typed in Microsoft Word, or Google sheets or something like that. Just say, think about things like, where do I want to live? What do I want my day-to-day life to be like? What do I want to do in that day-to-day? Do I want to exercise? Do I want to be healthy?
Do I want to enjoy time with friends and family? Do I want to be doing impactful work of whatever type it is that you might want to be doing? What kind of environment do you want to be? We’re in Denver, Colorado by the mountains and beautiful ski areas and hiking. Do you want to be there? Do you want to be by the beach? Do you want to be in the wilderness, in the woods, or by a lake? What is it about your environment that you want to be in? What do you want your family life to be like? What kind of family do you want? Then just go around that. A great way, if you’re struggling with this vision concept to just get basically started is to download what’s called the wheel of life.
It’s a very simple circular piece of paper. We’ll link to a version of it in the show notes. It creates arbitrary life categories, like career, money, health, business, if you own a business, fun, leisure, relationships, mental health, and learning, those types of things. You basically rank yourself like, am I miserable in this category of life or am I ecstatic? Miserably being a one, ecstatic being a 10. After you map it out, if you can follow along with what I’m saying here, you’ll get like, either a circle, if you’re really well balanced, or you’ll get like a very spindly little thing where you’re like eight on one and two on the other.
Anyways, this can be a very helpful tool. Just getting you an idea about where you feel you’re strong, where you feel you’re weak in life, and where you want to begin focusing on that vision. Where do you want it to be? I recommend downloading that and just filling it out. It’ll take a few minutes. It’ll give you a picture, a zoomed out view of how you self-assess your life, which I think can help you write that vision.

Mindy:
The next thing you want to do is set a time with your spouse, that you both agree on to have this conversation. Again, don’t do this right after a very stressful day at work. Pick the time of day or week that is really easy for you to have a nice conversation and sit down and have the conversation. Make sure your spouse is available at that time. Don’t force them into anything. Again, you’re asking them most likely to make some changes to their life, that they may not be really excited about making. A quiet evening where you don’t have any distractions. One of those distractions might be children.
If you have young children and there isn’t a time available to have it after they go to bed, get a babysitter. Schedule somebody to come over or take the kids someplace else so that you have an uninterrupted conversation time. This conversation is going to take a while. It is not a five minute conversation. It’s not a 30 minute conversation, and you don’t want to be rushed because you’re talking about your financial future. So, sit down with your spouse, have some snacks, have some light drinks. Scott and I were like, hmm, maybe we should say, skip the alcohol during the conversation.

Scott:
Alcohols after the conversation.

Mindy:
Yes. Have a bottle of wine chilling for afterwards, but during the conversation, you want to be headed and open to the discussion.

Scott:
It’s going to be different for everybody, but Mindy, you and I, we both just talked about this while we were thinking through the shadows to today, both of our peak states are kind of in the morning. Not the early morning necessarily for me, but in the morning hours, right around this time. We record these podcasts around 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning, Denver time. That’s about my peak state. That’s when I feel the best. The coffee has kicked in and I’m starting to feel very energized. I feel wide awake and ready to get going. Prepare your goals whenever that time is for you. It may be in the morning, it may be in the afternoon. Maybe in the very early morning if you’re Mindy.
But prepare it then, and then I would bias towards moving more towards your partner’s peak time, whenever they’re going to be feeling really good. When you go do it, your partner date, because you want to set that up. I bet you, that’s not going to be on a stressful day after work. It may be on a Friday night, earlier in the evening on a date before you have the drinks. That could absolutely be it, but I would think about what your partner’s peak state would be before setting that up. Then you’re like Mindy said, making sure you have a quiet, dedicated time and space set up for that.

Mindy:
Good tip, Scott. Yes, you want your partner to be on board, and their peak state is more important than your peak state for this first conversation.

Scott:
Yeah. Especially if you’re able to set some time alone to do it, to figure out what you want, or your first draft of it that you might present at this meeting, that might be helpful.

Mindy:
The last thing we want you to do before the money date is prepare an agenda and stick to it during the date. What does an agenda look like, Scott?

Scott:
I don’t think an agenda has to be overwhelming. I might be three points. It might be get alignment on your vision. It might be determined some of the goals that you need to do for the next year to move towards that, and then to set a cadence for regular money dates and goal reviews on an ongoing basis. Might be as simple as that, just those three things.

Mindy:
I’m going to say, write this down on a piece of paper so it’s not your computer screen that they can’t see necessarily, but this is a piece of paper that you have. This is what we’re going to do. Let’s talk about our vision. During the money date, bring your piece of paper that says, this is my vision, this is what I think would be great to have for our family, for our couple, for our household, and compare it to what their vision is. This can be rather eye opening because not everybody’s vision is the same. Really, really read through your spouse’s vision. Let them go first, let them explain anything that you have questions about. This is what I want. This is where I see us going.

Scott:
Yep. You will know your spouse. We hope a little bit better than we do. You don’t have to come with the draft if you think your spouse will just want to work from scratch with it. You could have written down your thoughts somewhere else and be prepared with them to contribute to the conversation, but you don’t need to have it prepared if that’s not the way your spouse will roll. On the other hand, if your spouse really needs something very visual, you can bring that as a starting point, or if they’re proactive, you can ask them to bring their own and begin working with that one. Whatever way you think is the most healthy way to work between you and your spouse, I think is the right way for you.
There’s a whole bunch of options here, but I think it is … We’re erring towards the side of thinking through how the situation might go for a less than enthusiastic spouse, at least at first, and how to win them on board with this [inaudible 00:23:29]. Just, if that’s you, think about what you need to do to get there. Oh, and by the way, you have additional homework before the money date, which is to win your money date, which I think we mentioned earlier, but do whatever it is you need to do that’s nice to bring them in, to get them really excited.
Whether that’s the dishes for two months in a row, creating free time with the kids, where you take the kids away for a day and give your spouse some alone time, or whatever else it is that’s a set of nice, wonderful things you can do to make sure that your spouse is thrilled with you and excited for this talk, do it.

Mindy:
Spoken like a true, I’ve been married for five minutes guy.

Scott:
That’s right, yes.

Mindy:
But it’s great advice. It’s great advice. You don’t want to start a whole week of fights with your spouse and then be like, “Hey, we got to talk about money now.” That is not going to get a lot of buy-in.

Scott:
Look, if you have your date all set up and everything’s ready to go, and you have a big fight right before it, and you’re not in peak state, postpone it and try again another time. It’s all it is. Don’t overthink this. You just want to be in a good mood and feeling, and both being bought in and excited before you start setting goals for your life together. Otherwise, you’re going to set mediocre goals, or not be really dreaming up the possibilities and bought into them.

Mindy:
Once your spouse has shared all of their goals, start asking, how can we make this happen, questions.

Scott:
Yeah, and I would output that into a paragraph format. When you’re talking about the vision, two separate things. The first step is division, which again, I would just jot down and two or three paragraphs. Something very simple. We are going to live here. Our life’s going to look like this. Day-To-Day, Jayden’s going to do this, and Joe’s going to do this, and yada, yada, and you have a couple of paragraphs on that. That’s without worrying about the how. That’s not goals. It’s not, I need this much money to get there. It’s just exactly what you’d like your life to be in three, five, seven, nine, 15 years, whatever you think is an appropriate timeline to get there.
You just map that out and don’t worry about the how. Then we get to the goals, the goal setting part, which I know is what Mindy’s very excited about.

Mindy:
Okay. You want to come up with a plan for success. Remember, large changes are going to be met with hesitation. Your spouse is not really excited to change everything about them, especially if they are the perhaps reason that you are having this conversation to begin with. If you’re not on the same financial page, chances are good you’re listening to this, you’re the one who’s better with money, and I’m doing air quotes, but you can’t hear those. So, come up with a plan for success. Small changes are going to give you the best opportunity for that success, and they’re easier to implement and become permanent.
I don’t want to cut out all my spending at Target. Maybe I’d cut out going every other week, or maybe I don’t go on weekends, or maybe I only go with a list and stick to the list and I can’t buy anything that isn’t on the list. There are lots of ways to make changes to your spending without having them be draconian and you have to do this. It feels so awful to be told what to do. So, coming up with a plan for success isn’t you telling your spouse. It’s you asking your spouse. How do you think we can achieve this thing that we want to change?

Scott:
That’s right, yeah. It’s all in the context as well of that bigger vision. Okay, great, now I’ve got that vision. I want to live on the Lake with a boat and spend no more than 20 hours a week working a job that I love that has high impact, that’s part-time. I don’t need the money. I’m spending most of my time with my family. We have friends over all the time. Okay, great. I’m making this up. This is not my vision. That’s just one that I invented here. Okay? That vision requires now a certain financial position and other things that you’re going to have to do. Maybe you’re going to have to develop 40,000 a year in passive income over the next five to seven or 10 years.
Great. Now, how do I go about doing that? Now I’ve got a one-year, or three-year, or whatever smart goal, right? A goal that is something measurable, that I can begin working towards. Then, from there, you have to have the discussion about the best way to achieve that. Is it by compressing my budget? Is it by focusing on investments like real estate, or other business opportunities, or is it by just buckling down at work and getting that big promotion so you can get the next payday or whatever. Those are things that you’re going to have to work on with your spouse to figure out what’s going to be right.
Although you should come in again, with some directional guidance about how you think the best way to achieve it is so that you can initiate the conversation. It’s one thing to initiate the conversation and have a baseline of a plan. It’s another to tell your spouse what to do in that conversation. Again, you’re driving the meeting and driving this change, but you want to do it with buy-in and get input.

Mindy:
Yeah. I don’t think I can stress how important it is to make small changes first. The five-year plan is not something that gets started tomorrow, jumping in with both feet and cutting out everything, or completely overhauling absolutely everything about you, because that’s going to be really, really difficult to maintain. What you want to do is look at the five-year plan. Okay, I want to have a better job. I want to increase my income. Okay, great, let’s look at what you need to do to increase your income. You need to change jobs. Now might not be the best time to be looking for a new job, but it’s always a good time to be learning a new skill that can help you get to that next job.
There’s always an opportunity to look at different jobs in the same field. A Purple Life said that she increased her income every time she changed jobs. So, she’d changed jobs frequently, and the old advice not to change jobs and not to look like a job hopper is no longer really valid. If your company doesn’t have a great potential for increasing your income, maybe it’s time to look at other companies. See what’s going on in the industry. Obviously, if it’s a volatile industry, maybe now is not the best time to try and get an extra couple of bucks. Maybe that would be better served after we have figured out coronavirus.

Scott:
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s 100% correct the temptation I always have because I get so motivated, because again, you’re setting the goals in peak state. You’re feeling really wonderful and enthusiastic. Your spouse is onboard. You’ve just done a million nice things for your spouse. Your relationship is at its peak level. Lots of things are going right, going into your date, and you’re motivated to make all these changes at once, and you create a completely unsustainable plan. I just did this recently, and I have to walk back and go back and try to be a little … Make some smaller changes that are more sustainable for me in order to move towards our vision.
Just think about that as you’re doing that and know that the bias is going to be towards doing everything all at once. But if you can do something that’s sustainable, you’re going to be much more successful in the long run.

Mindy:
Yeah. As you find success in making small changes, then you can increase those changes, or add in new changes. The last thing we want you to do when you’re setting up a money date is to set a regularly scheduled date, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually. I do believe if you’re first starting out, a weekly or monthly date is going to have better success for you. I really want to do weekly. I want you to do every Friday night, every Saturday morning … Just to check in with your spouse, “Hey, we were going to do this, this week. How did it work out?” I keep saying spouse. I mean to say partner. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to be that person.

Scott:
I think it’s fine. Yes, we’ll bias towards partner, but I think that it’s … I forgive you, Mindy.

Mindy:
Thank you.

Scott:
Okay. Yeah, I think that that’s right. Set the regular cadence. By the way, this is beginning to sound overwhelming. It shouldn’t be. You need to spend the time you need to set up your personal vision and those types of things, but your first money date can be an hour or 45 minutes to bang these things out. Perfect is the enemy of good in this case, and your vision, what you want, your goals will change over time. So, don’t lock in too hard to any of these things, especially at first. Write that vision, keep it in a draft, update it regularly at these weekly or monthly things. As you learn more and move towards it, the target will move slightly over time.
Again, you don’t have to get it perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good when it comes to this stuff, and these regular cadence meetings don’t have to be like a two hour in-depth board meeting, where you go through every detail in your personal lives in a business like fashion. It can be a 15 or seven minute check-In, where you just kind of walk through spending really quickly, and then write down some goals to get to that you want to get done for the next week, three to five goals each, or one to two goals each. It does not have to be an overwhelming process if you’re going to do it, especially if you’re gonna do it at more frequent cadence, like weekly or monthly. If you’re going to do it quarterly or annually, maybe you set a little bit more time, I guess.

Mindy:
I just want to highlight that when you are the one who is driving this conversation, during your subsequent check-ins, praise your partners successes, while highlighting your failures, because when you are not seen as perfect, when they are being praised for the things that they’re doing, the positive reinforcement is going to get more buy-in and more cooperation down the road. This almost sounds kind of manipulative, and I don’t mean it to be, but you want your partner to be on board with you. So, give them every opportunity to feel good about what they’re doing.

Scott:
Absolutely. Look, if you’re listening to this together with your spouse, great, you’re probably not gonna have this issue, but if you’re listening to this and you’re trying to again, get your spouse to approach this and begin doing these types of things, you need to give a lot more especially at the beginning of this to get them on board. That means if you want to do a weekly or monthly review, you’ve got to buy that goodwill to a certain degree. How do you do that? You, again, go out of your way, make sure that they’re in peak state and excited to go about this every time you go and meet about these goals, and that it’s helping them reap rewards in their lives.
That comes down to, how do you make it easy? How do you make it automatic? How do you make it the same time? How do you get them excited about it? Perhaps one way to do that, which is what another one of our tips here is, reward yourself and your partner as you move towards those goals. What is it that you like, do you like to travel? Do you like dates? But what is it that you guys like and how do you make sure that those are granted as you move towards the goals that you’re trying to achieve and hit a couple of weeks in a row?

Mindy:
Yeah, I do want to say that if you are, maybe if you’re working towards fixing your finances, maybe your reward is a low cost reward, such as a delicious chocolate bar, or we get to go out for dinner at a relatively inexpensive restaurant, or we get to go out for drinks and have a babysitter, or we get to go on a hike. Whatever it is that you reward yourself with, just don’t undo all the positive work you just did by, we went to the Bahamas, all expenses paid. I guess all expenses paid is not …

Scott:
Make it proportional if that’s the case. If you’re $50,000 in debt and one of the milestones is paying off 25,000, well, simultaneously put together that trip to the Bahamas if that’s what it takes to motivate you, but make sure … Yeah, this is BiggerPockets Money, let’s be responsible with the money decisions and those types of things, and make sure that they’re effective and motivating and your partner, and also don’t completely derail you off your goals. Don’t finance that trip with the credit card.
Last tip here following the money date is to set up systems. In fact, I wouldn’t even focus on the work necessarily after your money date. I would focus on setting up the systems that will automate that. For example, one of my things is I really want to improve my daily routine that I do every single day. I want to make sure I get a couple of things in around exercise, reading, self-education. Yes, I’m starting to be one of those guys and go into meditation. I’ve always been skeptical of that, but enjoying that so far.
I’m just starting to do some of those types of things. The key to sustaining that is to set up a system that makes sure that that happens, no matter what every single day, and that there’s no way that it can’t happen. Right. That’s been first thing in the morning for me. I have a little small routine, and I also have the option to extend any part of that, but I never miss my six minute routine, or I guess, seven minute routine. I can extend it if I am feeling good about it and want to keep doing it.

Mindy:
Well, that’s interesting that it takes you six or seven minutes. I love that. Anybody could do six or seven minutes. You could do a lot, almost anything for six or seven minutes.

Scott:
Yeah. If, for example, tracking your spending was a big part of that, you could review your spending for one of seven minutes every day. You can browse one article for two minutes every single day on a topic that you’re trying to learn more about. I don’t know. There’s a lot of things you can do, but if you can automate it so that you’re able to just do at least one minute of activity, every single day, that moves you towards one of your top five to seven goals. I think that’ll make a huge difference.

Mindy:
I completely agree, Scott.

Scott:
Or, better yet, do nothing and have it happen anyways. That’s like, I’m going to automate that part of my paycheck go straight into my 401k, even better.

Mindy:
We want to hear about your money date successes, because this is so key to so many other couples that we know who are financially successful. Because the money date is so key to their success, we want to hear about your success too. Send us an email, [email protected], [email protected] if you would like to share a private message. Go to our Facebook group and share it with the entire group, the group is there to boost you up, not to make you feel bad about any past issues that you have had. They are here to support you in your journey and they are super supportive.
We have some really great members in our group. You can find that at facebook.com/groups/bpmoney, but we really want to hear what’s working for you, or are you hitting up on an issue that you need some help with? We can crowdsource that.

Scott:
Absolutely. While we’re there, one of the things that people can struggle with is just basic getting started and templates like an example can be helpful sometimes. Again, we’ll have examples. I think there’ll be about four worksheets. These are just simple Microsoft Word worksheets. We are not goal setting professionals, we’re goal setting nerds. Feel free to download them and print them out and modify them however you like at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow157 if you’re interested in those types of things.
There’s also a couple of really good books on the subject. One that I read recently was The Miracle Morning, and more specifically, The Miracle Morning Millionaires, which is by Hal Elrod and David Osborn. Really enjoyed that, and that I think actually made a big impact on some of the goals that I’m setting. I’m still not necessarily a morning person, but I really liked what they had to say in the book. The power of … Oh.

Mindy:
Hold on. I want to address that comment, I’m not a morning person. Scott once wrote an article that says, I don’t have to get up early to be successful in life, or something like that, on the BiggerPockets’ blog.

Scott:
Yeah. I do see the benefits in getting up early. I’m just not very consistent about it and don’t think I will or need to be, but I think that having a daily routine that encompasses some of the big things, then the habits that you need to set to become successful over time, I think that’s critical. I’m still skeptical about whether that needs to specifically happen in the morning, especially early morning, or if it can happen in the late morning or afternoon. Well, that’s-

Mindy:
I think that you can sleep later than some of us, and you can also stay up later. If you’ve got the same 16 hours of awakeness that’s just shifted on the clock, who am I to tell you when your 16 hours has to start, or who is Hal Elrod?

Scott:
I’m keeping an open mind and I am beginning to attempt to get up earlier. We’ll see how long I sustain it, Mindy. Maybe if I sustain it for a long time and I’m able to get up earlier, I’ll change my tune on it. Well, what’s another book you like on goal-setting, Mindy?

Mindy:
Scott, I really like The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. This book is older than dirt, but it is such a good book. I have a problem with people who say, “Oh, just change your mindset and everything will change.” Well, no, you also have to do work towards your goals, but changing your mindset can help you start to believe that you can achieve those goals. This is not a book about, oh, just change your mindset and everything will fall into place, but it is a book on how you can change your mindset and help yourself get to where you’re going. If you think, what is that phrase? If you think you can, or you think you can’t, right? Whether you think you can-

Scott:
Yeah, whether you think you can.

Mindy:
Yeah. This helps you get in a better place to start believing that change is possible. It doesn’t make the work non-existent. You still have to do the work.

Scott:
That’s right. Yeah. On that note, there’s another three more, I would say practical books that are more templatized, are going to be journals that I think I’ve used, or we’ve both used in the past. The first is Living Your Best Year Ever, which is a journal from Darren Hardy. The second is the BiggerPockets Intention journal, which is a 90-day journal. The Living Your Best Year Ever will be a one-year a 52 week journal. Then The 12 Week Year is another book that gives you a framework around setting goals in quarterly chunks, or 12 week chunks with a week off at the end for a break. All five of these books, The Miracle Morning Millionaires, The Power of Positive Thinking, Living Your Best Year Ever, 12 Week Year, and The Intention Journal from BiggerPockets are going to be linked to again, in the show notes at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow157.
All right, so we’re going to recap this, and if you’re just listening or you want a 90 second overview, well, this’ll be it. Let’s dive into it. What are the rules that we have for the money date? One set them in peak state. Make sure that you are in your most energetic and enthusiastic state of mind before going and setting the goals, and then do whatever it is in your power to make sure that your spouse is in their peak state coming into the conversation. Do your homework and come prepared with an agenda, be ready to drive the conversation, and don’t frame it from an accusatory position. Frame it as you’re in this together, and we’re going to have to go out there and build our best life together, and here’s how money can support that vision.

Mindy:
Yeah. Scott said, do your homework. One of the things that you need to do before the money date is be prepared. Track your spending and your net worth, so you come to the date with a position of knowledge. This is where we are at right now. This is where we want to be. Have your spouse prepare a vision for the family, and you prepare a vision for the family. This isn’t something that you should prepare together. You should each prepare it separately, and then come to the date to have that discussion. Once you’ve tracked your spending, review the numbers to see if there’s any patterns that are easily changeable.
The money wins that you get in the beginning are going to be the small wins that you can cut out without actually missing them.

Scott:
Yep. That’s right. During the money date, make sure you’ve got that mutually agreed upon time. You’re both energetic and in peak state. You’ve got the quiet and alone time to do it. You’ve got that prepared agenda. Get alignment on that vision. Mindy said, prepare them separately. I think that is the best way to go about doing it, but know your spouse. If that’s not going to work and you have to start from scratch together, and that’s the healthier way to do it for you guys, have that discussion beforehand and do that. Discuss what needs to be done to achieve the vision. That’s where you begin framing out those goals.
Come up with that plan and then set a cadence to review progress towards it regularly. While you’re doing that, again, focus on progress, not perfection. Good is better than perfect, and begin working towards those goals. Don’t set enormous goals upfront that are going to require you to be a perfect paragon of virtue and success right From the beginning. Focus on something that is easily achievable that can be done every single day without fail. If you can, just a minute or two on each goal per day can make meaningful progress towards it.

Mindy:
Yes. Highlight your spouse’s successes. Your partner is probably not the driving force for this change, so you want to make sure that you’re highlighting what they’re doing right. Don’t really focus on their negatives, but maybe focus on the failures that you have had that week, or the missteps that you have made. Hey, I’ve done this, but I can do better next week. That sounds so manipulative, Scott, and I don’t mean it to be manipulative, but you want them to feel good about what they’re doing. So, continue to highlight what they’re doing and praise their successes.

Scott:
Yeah. I just think genuine joy of working towards the goals together, and a system of rewards that you set up that really, that you enjoy, but really your spouse enjoys is the right way to go about setting up those things up.

Mindy:
I love it. I love it. In the beginning, when you’re having your more regularly scheduled meetings, weekly or monthly is the best choice for you right now, just so you can continue to stay on top of your goals. If you have a goal, and hey, we’re going to change our finances, talk to you in a year. It’s probably not going to set you up for success. Continually talking about it, revisiting frequently is going to give you the most chance for success. See what’s working and what isn’t working. If there’s something that just isn’t working, scratch it or move it to the back table and focus on the things that are working.

Scott:
That’s right. Don’t be an authoritarian when it comes to setting these goals and the money dates and those types of things. Focus on progress, not perfection, and keep it simple. This is not an hour a week commitment that you guys both need to do to review everything in detail. It could just be a small check-in to keep you on track and reset.

Mindy:
You know, Scott, if you’d like some information about what sort of things you should be talking about, on November 1st, we tried something new where we reviewed a listener’s finances to see if we could identify any tweaks that he could make that would have a larger impact on his finances. We discovered that people really liked that episode. So, we created an entire new weekly episode of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, where we are reviewing people’s finances on real time, real life stories from people who listened to the show on the path to financial independence like you, and are looking to see if they can optimize their finances.
These episodes release every Friday, including this very next Friday, which is January 1st, happy New Year. We sit down with Wayne, from New Jersey, and talk about where he can make changes in his finances to further him down the path towards financial independence.

Scott:
Yeah, I think that could be a very good first step as well in this. Of course, the number one key is to listen to the extra episode of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, the finance review, which Mindy and I are really excited about. Again, it’s a guide given step one, but a step two could be like, after you listen to a few of those, if you feel, hey, I’m a little in over my head and it’s going to take me a good six months of continuing self-education to really develop a clear financial plan, maybe it’s worth, as part of your money date, setting up a goal to meet with a financial planner, and begin kind of mapping out that approach as well. Or maybe that listening to a couple of financial reviews will help you do that on your own.

Mindy:
Ooh, Scott, we talked to Kyle Mast way back on episode 41 about how to find a good financial planner. What you’re looking for is a fee only financial planner, and you can find them at the XY Planning Network, but what you want is somebody to look at your situation, see where you’re at, where you want to be, and make a path for you to get there. A financial planner is a really great asset for you, even when you’re starting out. One of the things that Kyle said during that episode was, you don’t have to have a million dollars in net worth before you sit down with a financial planner, and you don’t have to sit with them every month, every year.
You can go and talk to them, and then come back in five years and talk to them again after you’ve made some progress, after your net worth has grown, after you’ve paid down your debt or whatever, and get another bit of direction.

Scott:
Yeah. Remember, Mindy and I are not financial planners. Everything we’re doing is for entertainment purposes only, and those types of things. But perhaps, in listening to this, you may discover some things from other people’s financial positions that can help your own. Our little disclaimer there.

Mindy:
Yes. Yes, we are not financial planners, but we have been around for a hundred years. Okay. Yeah, like I said, these are part of the same BiggerPockets Money Podcast. You don’t have to subscribe to anything new. They’ll just start showing up in your feed on Fridays. I have had a lot of fun recording them, and we’re looking for more people to talk to. If you’d like us to review your finances on the show, please fill out the form at biggerpockets.com/financereview.

Scott:
Absolutely. Now, last tip here is I think a big thing to do, as you’re heading into the new year and setting these goals is, it can feel like a vacuum when you’re talking about finances. Maybe like the stuff that we’re talking about, or the money show is not stuff that your family, friends or colleagues are talking about, and it’s kind of a different viewpoint on how to live your life and how to run your personal financial situation.
That can be overwhelming or de-motivating. What I recommend is finding a way to saturate yourself with more of this type of stuff. One way to do that is social media. We’ve got, of course, the BiggerPockets Money Facebook group, the BiggerPockets Real Estate Rookie Facebook group. You can just type these into Facebook and find them. You can follow Money folks, or many of the guests that we’ve had on Instagram. You can join other communities. Hey, I love our BiggerPockets Money learning community, and I’m the most active there, but I’m also a member of other communities out there, like the Mustachian’s community for Mr. Money Mustache, and the ChooseFI has a great community, and the FinCon community is great.
But go join these communities online, especially The BiggerPockets Money community, of course, and saturate your Facebook feed with money talk, not Donald Trump talk. That’s as far as I’ll go in that one. But just saturate yourself with that stuff. I think it’s going to be a lot more healthy and will keep you motivated and focused on your goals as you see those kinds of things popping up in your feed rather than unhealthy stuff.

Mindy:
That's really funny that you say that, Scott. As I scroll through Facebook, that's basically all I see is BiggerPockets Money, BiggerPockets Official Group, Real Estate Rookie, ChooseFI, ChooseFI Real Estate, and one that I am a member of because I'm a real estate agent. I'm always thinking and talking about money and real estate, and I'm doing a lot with money in real estate. It's just-

Scott:
Yeah. I’m not hearing bad news. I’m not hearing about politics, political events, or whatever. I’m hearing about people succeeding with money, and tough, interesting nuanced debate on various different items like, should I go with this index fund versus this one that are almost so close, identical, the same, that it doesn’t matter at all, yet several hundred people have an opinion on it. That’s healthy stuff to be surrounding yourself with, or more healthy than a lot of the other junk that used to show up on my Facebook feed.
That’s what I just encourage people to do is figure out a way to surround yourself with that stuff. Turn off the news, turn off the other stuff that’s-

Mindy:
Garbage TV.

Scott:
Yeah. If you can, at least on a default basis, and make it so that the default is you’re surrounding yourself with like-minded folks in the community, because there are millions of them and there’s lots of enthusiasm.

Mindy:
Yes. You will find that you are not the only frugal weirdo on the planet. It can be really difficult when you feel like you’re an island and nobody else cares about money and nobody else talks about money, and nobody else is cutting back, and everybody else has a better car, and everybody else has better clothes, and better everything, everything. That’s not the case. In most situations, that’s not the case at all. It’s really refreshing to get involved with a community that has the same mindset that you do.

Scott:
All right. Your homework for after this episode is one, go set up that money date. If you need help, you can download some of this free stuff we have on the website at biggerpockets.com/moneyshow157. Second, check out a book on goal setting. It can be any one of the ones we listed, or you can just Google books on goal setting and figure out another one from there. Third, go check out the … Just do what you’ve always been doing and keep downloading the latest episode of The BiggerPockets Money Podcast.
There’ll just be two a week now going forward. Our regular one on Mondays, and then the finance review, where we do an in-depth dive into a listener’s personal finances on a weekly basis, and that will continue probably for the duration of 2021, and maybe in perpetuity. Perpetuity is a big word. Then lastly, go figure out a way to get your social media feeds to start showing you more personal finance, money, success, healthy, or investing content, and less junk and garbage from unhealthy folks in your lives, or conversations that are not productive, or political debates, especially. I know those suck me in, or it used to before I got my feet cleaned up. But go ahead and take control of that by signing up for accounts, and then snoozing or blocking this stuff that is not productive.

Mindy:
I love that idea, Scott. We have so many friends in the personal finance space, and there are so many different voices out there. There is absolutely somebody there that can talk to you, speak your language, and say the things in the way that you need to hear them in order to enact change. So, check out the new bloggers, check out personal finance, Twitter, check out people that we’ve had on our show. We’re going to continue to bring you people who are in this space, sharing their money journey, and showing you that this is possible no matter what position you’re starting from.

Scott:
That’s right. Well, should we get out of here, Mindy?

Mindy:
We should. Scott from episode 157 of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. Here’s Scott Trench, I’m Mindy Jensen, and we will see you next year, ha, ha, ha. The joke that never ever gets old. The end of your joke that never gets old.

Scott:
I’m excited for that one. This has been quite a year. All right, bye, everybody.

Mindy:
Bye.

 

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In This Episode We Cover

  • What is a “money date
  • What to do before you suggest a money date to your partner
  • How to make the money date successful and what topics to bring up
  • Following up on your money date and setting up systems for success
  • The importance of keeping your ideas simple in a money date
  • How to present the idea to a partner who may not be too keen on finances 
  • Why money dates help create healthier, happier relationships
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Book Mentioned in this Show:

Connect with Mindy & Scott:

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast is for anyone who has money… or want to have more! Join BiggerPockets Community Manager and Podcast Director Mindy Jensen and CEO Scott Trench weekly for the BiggerPockets Money Podcast! Each week, financial experts Mindy and Scott interview unique and powerful thought leaders about how to earn more, keep more, spend smarter, and grow your wealth. You'll get tips for getting your financial house in order and actionable advice from guests who have been in your shoes—and found their way out.