It doesn’t matter if you’re still vetting potentials from your favorite dating app, or you’re in your eighth year of marriage: money can play a huge role in the relationship. Pair up with someone who doesn’t mesh with your financial philosophy and risk adding unneeded tension to your life.
But tackling money issues isn’t easy. One survey showed that for 44 percent of Americans, personal finance is the most challenging topic to discuss with anyone – even more challenging than religion and politics. Money dates can help you relieve some of the pressure from money convos and tasks, whether you’re in the infatuation stage or you’re a seasoned couple.
Take these five creative (and budget-friendly) dates for a spin.
1. Get-to-know-you Pictionary
Money talk on the first date? Don’t even go there. While finances are probably a bit too heavy for the first, second, and maybe even third date, it might be a good idea to find out about each other’s money situations before things get serious. Falling head over heels with someone who doesn’t share your financial approach could be a setup for strife later on in the relationship.
Here’s a way to open up about money along with your date, without making it awkward.
Have you ever had a blast playing Pictionary®? It’s a game that gets everyone smiling and laughing, isn’t it? Grab a pen and paper and create your own version of the game to help you and your date get to know each other better. Some drawing prompts might be:
- Where did you grow up?
- What is your dream job?
- What vacation would you take if money was not an obstacle?
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
- What do you want your life to look like in the next five years?
- What would you buy if you won the lottery?
Guessing your partner’s drawings can be entertaining. It can also lead into deeper questions like, “What’s keeping you from taking your dream vacation this year?” or “How do you think growing up on a small farm shapes your personality now?” The conversation might naturally circle around to how debt might be holding one of you back, or how an extra-frugal childhood makes one of you prone to stinginess.
2. Vision boards
Crack open your favorite bottle of wine, lug out old magazines you and your partner both love, and create a financial vision board together. You can also do this during a Netflix® sesh if arts and crafts don’t sit well with your partner.
Creating this visual together helps you sync your goals and figure out how to accomplish them. It can also prompt more serious questions like, “Why are we waiting five years to take that dream family vacation / buy a new house / go back to college?” This can help you both look at your budget in the new light of what can we tighten up to reach our goals faster.
3. The $10 grocery store picnic
Grab a picnic blanket and drive to your nearest grocery store. You and your partner have $10 and 10 minutes to grab whatever sensible – or not – foods you want for a picnic. Set up your picnic at the park, or eat in the car overlooking a scenic view. After you judge each other’s food choices, it’s time to break out the budget.
Starting off this money date with a grocery store dash lightens the mood, and getting out of the house can lessen the temptation to fight over money issues. It is smart to look over what you spent the month before, income received, debt and savings totals first. With those things in mind, you can create one to two financial goals for the new month – for example, transfer $500 into your savings account or pay off a credit card.
4. Thrifting to flip
Need to tackle debt? The route most people take is to go on spending freezes or work longer hours. Both can kill the spontaneity in your relationship. Instead of logging more hours at the office, why not consider pursuing a side gig together?
One way to make extra money is to shop at thrift stores or garage sales and look for items that can be resold for a profit. Keep the eBay® and CRAIGSLIST® apps handy since not all things are profitable and it pays to research salability before purchasing an item. Remember, the goal is to get out of debt, so set a budget before you go. Once you flip an item, you can roll a portion of that profit back into buying more items to resell.
5. Bookstore dreaming
Grab a latte and visit your nearest new or used bookstore or your local library. The goal isn’t to take books home, but to spark interesting conversation. Talk about dream vacations in the travel section, career changes or goals in the business aisle, and dream homes or house projects after flipping through decor books and magazines. Almost every genre of books can inspire talk related to your current and future finances.
Let the fun of looking at books lead you to writing down goals and discussing budget changes you want to make now.
Say you discover that visiting Machu Picchu in Peru is on both of your bucket lists. Don’t let this revelation live as a “someday” forever. Use it as a launching point. Ask each other:
- How much would it cost to go?
- Are you a backpacker or a luxury hotel lover?
- When is the soonest we can go?
- How can we tweak the monthly budget to make this dream a reality?
Now when you tackle your monthly budget and look for spending to cut, it isn’t such a drag. You are no longer just giving up eating out three times a week, you are working towards your bucket list trip.
Talking money with your partner is non-negotiable, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a chore. Roll budget talk into date night for fun experiences that help you get your finances on point.
Ashley Eneriz is a widely published writer who specializes in personal finance for regular people. She also writes children’s books. Opinions are her own.
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