When was the last time you sat yourself down and got your financial ducks in a row? The thought of sorting out your finances might give you the ick – but there are serious benefits to setting aside some time to give your money some lovin’, and that’s exactly what a money date is all about. Just you and your bank accounts, spending some quality time together—cute.
Here’s how to do it in five simple steps.
#1 Clear Your Schedule And Set The Scene
Your money date should be just as important as any other date, so set aside a decent chunk of time for it. Then, set the scene. The point of a money date is to help you feel more in control of your finances, so make it a pleasant experience. Yes, we’re serious. Pour yourself a glass of pinot, cook yourself something tasty (or order in, if it’s in the budget!) and set yourself up for some feel good financing. You’ll also need a notebook or digital document to keep track of what you uncover.
#2 Pull Up Your Accounts And Tie Up Any Loose Ends
Next, you’ll need to pull up your bank accounts, either online or on your phone. Check your balances and note them down, keeping a record of what date it is so you can refer back next time. Now is also a great time to tie up any loose ends. Got a bill that you’ve been meaning to pay? Forgotten to pay a mate for the Uber last week? Get it done.
#3 Review Your Transactions
Now, it’s time to review your transactions. Go through everything you’ve spent over the last week, fortnight, month or quarter—however often you plan to have your money date—and categorise your spending into essential and non-essential. You can do this by printing out your statements and using highlighters, exporting PDFs from your online banking and marking them up digitally, or just good old-fashioned pen and paper jottings using your banking app as a guide.
Then, in your non-essential category, further sub-categorise to identify where your money has been going. Have you overloaded a little bit on food spending? Maybe you took way more Ubers than you thought. Or maybe you’re pretty bloomin’ proud of how your transactions are looking and you’ve kept everything in check. Whatever is showing up, note it down for later.
#4 Adjust Your Budget
Your next task is to adjust your budget or spending plan for the coming week, fortnight or month. To do this, you’ll need to think ahead to the upcoming period of time and identify anything that might impact how you spend your money. Got two mates’ birthdays back to back and a long weekend? You might need to allocate some extra cash. Got a quiet one focusing on getting work done? Maybe you can allocate some extra to savings.
Doing this type of exercise helps keep your budget realistic. Not every month looks the same, and your budget doesn’t have to either. Feeling good about your financial capacity heading into a new week or month is what having your money date is all about!
#5 Set Goals
Your final step is to consolidate your learnings from steps two, three and four, and set goals for the upcoming period. If you identified in step three that you over spent on Uber Eats, you might want to set yourself a goal to only order in once a week. If you identified in step 4 that you’ve got a pretty low-key month ahead, you might want to set a new savings goal. You get the idea.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to your money date—it’s all about taking the time to regularly engage with your finances and feel good about your money. You can make it fun, and customise it to suit you and your spending style. Plus, having money dates regularly helps you keep track of your financial progress, so remember to look back on notes from previous dates and see how you’ve improved.
Next up, school yourself on everything there is to know about NFTs.
Image Credit: Jakob Owens
Emma is a finance blogger at The Broke Generation and a reformed spendaholic. She shares hot tips on saving, property, tax, career and investing for millennials who want to break the spending cycle and get financially confident.