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Couples Embrace the Money Date – The Least Romantic Date Ever

Hadley Finch Intro: Can a Money Date help couples

avoid a top cause of divorce? Yes, as you’ll see in

this guest post courtesy of WSJ

Written by Julia Carpenter

Advisers and relationship counselors say couples
who go on regular money dates can better manage
their spending, saving and investing.

To set the mood for poring over budgets and savings
goals, Tierra Bates and her husband, Gregory, get
dressed to the nines and head to dinner at a fancy

“We’re discussing things, but we’re
celebrating at the same time,” said Bates, a
school therapist and real-estate agent in Shelby,
N.C. “Treating ourselves while still talking
about the goals we have in mind.”

This mix of romance and finance has been dubbed a
“money date” by financial advisers and others
in the business of building wealth. The idea is to
carve out time for the sort of conversations
couples often dread by making it an event to look
forward to.

Advisers and relationship counselors say couples
who go on regular money dates can better manage
their spending, saving and investing. Since
disagreements over money can be a major strain on
marriages, having regular open discussions about
financial decisions in a fun and intimate way can
help address any troubles before they become a
source of resentment.

“I have even suggested to clients, ‘Have the
money date in your sexy clothes,’” said
Christine Luken, a financial coach based in
Cincinnati. “Just go ahead and have it naked—as
long as you get the money stuff done.”

Bates and her husband plan money dates throughout
the year. In January they set goals for the year,
then they set up shorter quarterly follow-ups, as
well as brief monthly check-ins for short-term
concerns and week-to-week budgeting.

At their August check-in, Bates and her husband
visited a local food hall and hired a babysitter to
keep the focus on the big conversation: the
Bates’s back-to-school budget.

Talking about something as stressful as the school
year can bring up a lot of emotions, Bates said,
but the money date gives them a specific time to
work through everything together. Plus, doing it
with good food and adults-only time makes it more

The art and science of the money date
Turning financial planning into a date might sound
like a mismatch, but science backs up the premise.
It is a form of “temptation bundling,” pairing
a less exciting task with a more exciting reward,
that research suggests can actually help people
change their habits, said Scott Rick, associate
professor of marketing at the University of

“Pair the want with the should in order to entice
you to do the should,” he said. “Get each other
money date presents. Open the nice bottle of wine.
Say, ‘this is the night we order in from the best
restaurant in town.’”

You might have to spend money to make better money
decisions, as counterintuitive as that might seem.
As Adam Kol, a financial therapist based in Fort
Lauderdale, Fla.., likes to remind his clients:
“You don’t get bonus points for having a money
date if you’re sitting in a dark room and
you’re in a miserable mood.”

When Megan and Bronson Allen got married in 2019,
the Chicago-based couple pooled their finances.
They also set up a regular recurring calendar
invite that prompted them to sit down together to
go over savings, investments and personal account

Megan will pop a big bowl of popcorn and project
their laptop onto the TV screen so they can review
the money date agenda items almost “more like a
game or a movie that’s playing,” Bronson said.

They have taken their laptops to a coffee shop and
cozied up while reviewing coming travel and other
big purchases. They also tried a double money date
with Megan’s brother and his wife.

“It’s about finding ways to make them kind of
lighthearted, like a date and not like a chore,”
said Bronson, a 33-year-old product designer.

Their money dates can take several forms, Megan, a
28-year-old designer, said. Sometimes they look at
the calendar and plan travel spending for the
month. Or they look back at the previous month’s
budget and compare it to the bank statement.

Then there are “pitch days,” when one of them
makes the case for an especially big purchase or
financial goal. On a recent money date, Bronson
made the case to take some money from their shared
account to invest in a new road bike for his
triathlon training, laying out his plans as he and
Megan mixed drinks.

“I’ve been running the numbers, and this is
what I’m thinking, and this is the account it
would come from,’” he told her.

They landed on a compromise: Bronson would sell his
old bike to invest in the newer one.

Making a first money date
For couples looking to set up their first-ever
money date, Kol recommends reviewing the most
recent credit-card statement as a duo. When both
partners are looking at the transaction history,
they are better able to get on the same page about
what needs to be done about recurring subscriptions
or spendthrift tendencies.

“It doesn’t have to be ‘I can’t believe you
spent this, we need to cut this’ but instead
‘Let’s make sure nothing weird is going on
here. Let’s make sure our kid isn’t charging
$700 to Candy Crush,’” he said.

From there, you can build onto your money dates and
introduce different themes or topics to organize
them. For example, maybe one month you and your
partner review your respective student-loan payment
plans, and the next you could price out travel
options for a coming vacation.

“Having that monthly touchpoint allows you to
feel like ‘OK, if I have a concern, it’s not
going to go on indefinitely. I’ll have a chance
to talk to them, I don’t have to confront
them,’” Kol said.


Start having money dates before you marry, so you

build healthy money habits that support happy sexy love,

Hadley Finch

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