Sometimes it is very difficult to make your finances a priority. I know this first hand. In addition to being a financial planner, I teach high school economics and personal finance full-time. Because of my jobs I think about money and finances more often than the average person. I enjoy discussing and thinking about such things. Yet, it is still hard for me to get energized for our family’s budget meeting. My wife and I have struggled to get together and talk; even though we know how important it is and both feel much better when we consistently do it.
We have four wonderful kids! But this contributes to us being busy... and exhausted. After a full day of work, running the kids around, fixing and eating dinner, cleaning up the house, getting the kids to bed, it is difficult for both of us to find the energy to sit for 20 minutes and talk finances. Talking about money takes focus and thinking. Usually, both of us want some time to unwind and relax. I also usually have some additional work to finish up. Tisa often has 16 things on her list that she wants to get done. When we do sit and talk, we want to talk about our day, upcoming events, and things that don’t take too much thinking - not necessarily money!
I am sure your experience is similar. It is so easy to say “We can do it tomorrow.” Trust me, we have done that plenty! But, we have found that if we let it go one day, we tend to let it go additional days. Then, when we meet two weeks later, the task becomes more difficult. Each of us forget things. We are always trying to remember where our money was spent. Where is that receipt? What did we decide we were going to do last time we discussed this? When this happens, we always end up saying, “We really need to meet more often.”
Meeting about your finances is important. It only becomes easier when it becomes a habit. In our marriage, there have been times when our habits were well established and times when we have struggled mightily. Forming the habit is the difficult thing. Forming the habit must be priority number one. Everything becomes easier after that.
Find the Best Time and Place to Meet
Ask yourselves when is there a time when you both can be awake, focused, have energy, and be uninterrupted? (Insert joke about finding this time in about 20 years!) I know I am asking the nearly impossible here! This has been one of our biggest challenges and frankly, we haven’t done a good job of using the best times of our week to meet. But, you will probably agree that you will make better decisions, be in a better mood, and get more accomplished if you try to find an efficient time in your day
The same goes with where you meet. If you are talking about important things and need your computer to look things up, maybe on the couch is not the best place to meet. Maybe sitting at the kitchen table is better. Possibly going out for coffee is best. Then again, the couch may be best for some couples. You have to find what works for you. Where is the best place for you to be focused and get things done?
Put it in Your Calendar
How would you treat the most important meeting that you have this week for your job? Would you arrange your work schedule around the meeting? Would you block it off in your calendar? Would you do some things ahead of the meeting to be well-prepared? Would you be willing to drop almost anything so that you are there on time and ready to go?
Think of your budget meeting as the most important meeting you have for your family. If it is a key to move you toward financial success, you need to treat it that way! Do all the things you would do for your budget meeting that you would for your work meeting. Be prepared! Put it in your calendar and don’t be willing to move it for almost anything! Treat it with the importance that it deserves.
Make Time for What is Important
I know you are busy. Everyone is busy. Sometimes I start to feel overwhelmed with how busy my life is, but then I realize the EVERYONE is busy. The fact is that successful people have the same amount of time as less successful people. The difference is they prioritize what is most important to do with their time and make time for that.
So let's stop making excuses. You might not “have time,” but you have time to do the things that are most important. Communicating with your spouse is one of these things. Be willing to drop something less important for this very important thing for your marriage and finances.