THE MOST ROMANTIC DATE OF THE YEAR: HOW WE ARE SPENDING OUR MONEY IN 2019
Every year, Ben and I sit down together and formulate our new year budget. This isn’t for business, this is just our everyday personal spending plan. To be honest we usually do this twice a year just to check in, but it’s a non-negotiable date we have every year.
This year we sat down before we went back to work and looked at what we spent last year to make sure we hadn’t overspent in any area, and if so, we could either adjust our budget for the new year or make a conscious effort to change our habits if we were that way inclined.
In 2018, it cost us approximately $105,000 to live our life, including our mortgage and our holiday to Canada and the US. This is what we budgeted and it was pretty comforting to know that we didn’t overspend in any area.
We’ve been doing this process for the last 9 years, and this year’s ‘date’ took about 10 minutes because we have this process running like a well-oiled ship. We confirmed our plans for the new year (10 days in Bali, a potential Melbourne trip and a weekend away or two), decided whether we wanted to change anything like our personal spending money (not this year), or throw some more money into our investment portfolio (yup), and then set up the budget to automatically flow for the year ahead. Done! Ben even commented on how easy and quick it was.
This is a habit we formed automatically when we moved in together. From that time onwards, all of our money has been pooled together. When I got a pay rise, it was a win for the family and if Ben got a bonus, it was another win for the family. How we choose to spend our money is also a family decision, so we check in each year and make sure we are both happy and on the same page.
When we work with couples, which is the majority of our clients, it is very common that one person handles the financials for the family. That’s totally fine and probably best from an efficiency perspective. We do however think it’s absolutely necessarily for both partners to be across where the finances are at, what the budget is and why you are doing what you are doing. This is often part of the annual review process with our clients so that we can talk about what worked, what didn’t and start prepping the finances for the future plans to come.
As mentioned above, we considered increasing our individual spending money, because to be honest, it’s stayed the same for about the last 5 years. Having more money for coffee and breakfast would be pretty sweet, but we also know that we can probably pay off our house in the next few years if we continue to make the smart decisions. We both feel like we get the best of both worlds and we both have the same goals, so that was an easy conversation and everyone was happy.
Money is one of the biggest things that people fight about in relationships, but open communication can really help that. During this ‘date’ we get the opportunity to talk about anything we might personally want to spend our money on and decide as a family how we will move forward. Understandably Ben is not keen on going to a yoga retreat that I’m planning, and I’m not super interested in whatever beer brewing contraption he wants next, but if it’s important to him, then it’s important to me.
We encourage people to set aside this very romantic date night at least once a year to have a safe and open discussion about money. Money can be quite an emotional topic, but it’s important to remember that it’s just a tool you can use to live the life that you want. If you both know how you want to use that tool and you work together, you’ll be able to do so much more.
Happy date night!
This post is from our resident Financial Planner Cara Brett, check out her details in the About Us section.