Other money gurus preach the practice of holding a monthly budget meeting, but not me! I much prefer my clients have a weekly “money date” instead. Why? If you’re only checking in with your money progress on a monthly basis, you have the opportunity to get way off track. By doing this weekly, you’re more in tune with your money and can easily course-correct.
It doesn’t matter if you’re single or part of a couple, you need a weekly date with your money. Spending regular quality time on your personal finances will ensure that you have a healthy and happy relationship with your money. And by doing it weekly, you only need to spend about 15 minutes on it.
This past week, I trained a group of financial professionals on the subject of money and emotions. The weekly money date came up in the discussion and a financial planner asked, “What’s the agenda for the money date? What should my clients do during their weekly check-in with their finances?” Great question!
What to Do During Your Weekly Money Date:
1 – Check Your Spending
This is the first and most important task to tackle weekly. Check your spending versus your plan. What categories are on track? Which are over or under budget? Do you need to modify your plan to shift money from one category to another?
I recommend tracking your spending electronically to stay on top of your progress. Why? First of all, once you set it up, it saves SO much time and effort than manually updating spreadsheets. (Unless you love that sort of thing!) And you can check your spending in real time to make better decisions. My favorite spending tracker is Zeta, which is free, but there are plenty of options out there. Your bank might already have a budget function built in to your online banking.
2 – Pay Your Bills
Pay bills that are due within the next 7 to 10 days. This weekly rhythm ensures you’re not overlooking a bill and paying it late. If you’re a disorganized or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants bill payer, you risk missing dues dates and incurring late fees. It might not seem like a big deal to pay an extra $5 here or $20 there, but over the long term, it can add up to big bucks!
3 – Transfer Money
If you don’t have automatic transfers set up to your savings and investment accounts, do this during your weekly money date. If you’re self-employed, this is also the time to pay yourself and transfer money into a savings account for your estimated quarterly tax payments.
4 – Discuss Exceptions with Your Honey
My hubby and I have been actively managing your personal finances together for almost 17 years. We definitely have a good rhythm going and we don’t need to discuss as many details as we did in the beginning. We have our system and it works. But at least once every month or two, there are exceptions to discuss. Some are positive and some aren’t.
Over the summer, it became obvious that replacing the roof on our 21-year-old house couldn’t be postponed any longer. The price tag was large, over $8,000, so a discussion was definitely in order. We had the money in savings, but Nick didn’t want to draw our balance down. After talking about it, he decided to pick up some overtime at work to pay for it without having to dip into savings.
Other times, the exceptions are more positive. We always pay at least $100 extra monthly on the principal of our mortgage. But sometimes, when our income is more than expected, we discuss paying thousands extra towards the principal, instead of hundreds. Or we might earmark extra income to go towards a fun goal, like our next Hawaiian vacay.
The weekly money date keeps you on track with your financial goals, ensures bills are paid on time, and keeps the line of communication open.
Do you spend regular weekly time managing your personal finances? Is there anything else you do during this time that I missed? Please leave a comment and let me know!