Family Financial Meetings
Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Money is a topic that many couples try to avoid or completely ignore. It is also a leading source of conflict in marriage and is one of the leading causes of divorce. This is not groundbreaking information and probably not the first time you have heard statistics similar to this. Even though talking about finances is becoming less taboo, it still continues to pop up in surveys year after year as a leading cause of stress in a relationship. The reason I believe is simple: talking about money is hard, especially in a relationship! There is a solution to cope with this difficult topic. It can open lines of communication, set expectations, and lower stress… Recurring family financial meetings.
How often do you and your spouse sit down to talk about and review finances? Weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, never? Maybe it is on a sporadic emergency basis, we need to put out this fire type of a meeting. There very well could even be a screaming child running around looking to destroy your home while you’re trying to talk! It is a fact that couples who talk about money, as a whole, are happier than those that do not. It seems simple enough but weekly, monthly, or quarterly finance meeting are a great way to improve your financial life, marriage, and decrease stress. Below are steps for establishing recurring family financial meetings, items to discuss during meetings, and tips for meetings.
The steps needed to set up recurring meetings are:
Establish the frequency: Generally, monthly meeting are a good place to start. If there is a lot of stress or change desired, meet weekly. Find a weekly, monthly, or quarterly date and time that you are usually home (maybe the kids are asleep) and free. Hopefully, picking a great time and day will lower the need to reschedule these meetings.
Pick a meeting name: Picking a creative name will help establish a positive and fun mindset for your meeting (okay maybe not fun fun, but more fun?). Some ideas are Penny Patrol, It’s Accrual World Meeting, Sir Count a lot Meeting, Recipe for Results, Penny Wise, or No Money Meetings Mo Problems.. Or pick a motivational name to help remind you why you are doing this in the first place (ie.. Hawaii Retirement Meeting). Some more ideas are Onwards and Upwards, Peace of Mind Meeting, Increase our Net Worth Meeting, etc… If you don’t want to name it, just call it the Monthly Family Financial Meeting (FFM) and move on to step 3.
Set your meeting agenda: Typically, the format of these meetings will be a constant from meeting to meeting. First, start off by stating your financial goals and priorities. Try to reignite your motivation/passion, reasons for making changes, what got you to where you are today and what is going to lead you forward. These can be as broad or specific as you need them to be. Second, recap spending and savings since last meeting. Were you on track with your projections, under, or over spending? What did you do well? What can we improve on? Third, look forward towards your spending and saving during the next week or month. This meeting should help establish communication, create accountability, and refresh/reignite motivation for the upcoming weeks and months.
Some best practices and tips are:
Sunday night meetings: Typically, Sunday nights are relaxing without too many scheduled activities. Watching TV may be more enjoyable, but this may be the best day and time for your meetings. A Sunday night meeting may energize and give you a fresh start for the upcoming week.
Match the agenda towards your biggest goal: If there is one goal or item causing a good amount of stress, focus your agenda around that item. If it is budgeting, bring out your budget and look at it.
Have kids join: Once your children are old enough, let them sit in on the meeting. If they have have some financial responsibility, have them give an update too. This is a great learning opportunity for them and will create healthy money habits.
Do something enjoyable after the meeting: If the idea of sitting down weekly or monthly is just absolutely dreadful, do something fun during or after the meeting. Have a nice home cooked dinner with wine, watch a movie (afterwards), and get creative so the idea of a meeting isn’t a drag on your whole Sunday.
Bring supporting documentation: Bringing budgets, savings, a net worth tracker, and other documentation to the meeting may help to illustrate progress. Sometime from day to day or week to week you can feel like there is no progress being made. Financial success is very slow. Reviewing savings or debt reduction will help show progress. Looking at concrete numbers is always easier than guesses and estimating.
Mindset: Try to stay constructive, positive, and open. These meetings should be a team effort. You will get out of these meeting what you put into them.
Recurring family financial meetings are not just for couples who want to change their financial lives. Meeting regularly is important even for the most financially successful / happy. A quick 15 or 30 minutes a week, month, or quarter can be enough to help achieve more financial goals, decrease marital stress around money, and decrease financial stress in general.
Please reach out to me with questions or if you would like assistance with setting up or creating an agenda for recurring meetings.
Evan Werckenthien, CFP©
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Source: Experian, Federal Reserve