When I wrote my story of getting laid off and why I’m an entrepreneur now, I mentioned something in the section about figuring out your financial runway. What I mentioned there was Finance Night, which is something my wife and I do monthly. It’s been surprising to me how many people liked this idea.
I‘ve always assumed that my peers always kept on top of their finances and had a monthly or weekly time to sit down and look them over. It appears I was wrong, which I guess shouldn’t be a big surprise to me since more than half of millenials have less than $1000 in savings. My wife and I are in a better financial state than that, but money is still a stress sometimes (and especially since I am an entrepreneur now!). It was easy to not think about money when I was working fulltime because it was always there and we knew what we could spend (and could splurge on spending pretty often). Things has changed.
I hated Finance Night at first. Money has always stressed me out, but I’ve set up systems over the years to make sure that I am saving (when I worked fulltime, transferring a set amount from every paycheck automagically into a savings account) and not overdrawing (getting a text message alert when my balance got low). I did this because I’ve had times in the past (as a poor college student) where I literally didn’t have enough in my bank account to make a withdrawal. That was the worst feeling in the world, but instead of being hyper-vigilant about money, I chose to ignore the problem and focus on just making money. In hindsight this wasn’t a terrible idea because now I know how to make money when I need it, but ignoring it is rarely a good solution to any problem you have in life.
When my wife proposed the idea of Finance Night, I didn’t want to do it. So, she made it fun by proposing that every month when we do it, we either make or buy a special meal and then sit down with a glass of wine to open up Mint.com and go through it. Finance Night is kind of a non-romantic date night, if you will.
Finance Night has two goals:
- Review our finances and transactions from the past month, looking for any charges that shouldn’t have happened or charges that need to be reimbursed by her company or mine
- Set budgets for the next month
Every month is different. A lot of people stress out about their money each month simply because it might be a more expensive month (holidays/birthdays/etc) or they have something coming up like a vacation. Finance Night solves this.
With Finance Night, we are able to plan out every month ahead of time so we know how much we have to spend on different areas that month, working backwards from our monthly income. For example, for January we realized that it was going to be a fairly expensive month and thus we couldn’t spend money on things like outdoors equipment. We also realized that we were spending too much money on food/dining out (caused because I am getting a startup off the ground and my wife commutes to Mountain View 2–3 days a week from San Francisco), so this month we have cut back and tried to think smartly about our expenses dining out. As a result instead of blowing out our food budget, we actually were under it and therefore were able to put some money into our F*ck Off Fund.
Finance Night is also awesome because it doesn’t constrain you. It actually makes you free to say yes to things and happily because you know it is within your budget and you do not need to wonder if you can afford it. It’s in the budget, so you can afford it — now go have fun with it.
Have you ever considered Finance Night? Let me hear your thoughts on it on Twitter @dohertyjf or as a response here on Medium! And if this post was valuable to it, I’d love it if you’d turn that Recommend heart green and share it with your friends.
I’m the founder of Credo, a marketplace that connects businesses and growth/digital marketers. A growth marketer by profession based in beautiful San Francisco, California, I am formerly marketing lead at HotPads and Trulia Rentals and a former online marketing agency Distilled senior consultant. I travel the US and world to speak about growth marketing, connect with agencies and consultants looking to grow their businesses, and consult with some businesses on how they grow. In my spare time I rock climb, ski, cycle, and constantly seek to expand my knowledge and my network of people.