How My Wife And I Talk About Money

published on 11 May 2022

Tonight is Life Dinner.

For those following me for a while, you may remember me mentioning "Life Dinner" once or twice in the past. It’s one of the cornerstones of our monthly routine. This week, I thought I’d get into the nitty gritty and share what I actually mean by Life Dinner.

Life Dinner is a designated space for my wife and I to talk about our finances.

We do discuss other areas of our life too, but for the purpose of this article, I want to focus on the financial aspect.

I first heard about Life Dinner through a Tim Ferris podcast guest named Brad Feld.

Brad is a serial entrepreneur and investor from the US whose marriage almost collapsed because he was addicted to work.

In an effort to carve out more quality time with his wife (and less time cuddling his iPhone), they came up with the concept of Life Dinner.

Life Dinner is not date night. This is something different.

There are 3 main components to Brad’s Life Dinner:

  1. A repeating monthly event in the calendar - preset indefinitely into the future
  2. A gift exchange - it can be a small token or a huge gesture. He once gave his wife a Range Rover...
  3. A fun night out together (usually dinner...the clue is in the name!)

We have taken this format and tweaked it to meet our needs, but the philosophy behind our Life Dinner remains very similar.

Life can be all consuming and move at a furious pace. Go, go, go!

Work can spill over into evenings and weekends, life admin has a tendency to pile up, throw kids into the mix, squeeze in a gym session, sprinkle in meet up with friends, and before you know it, you can’t remember the last time you just sat down to talk to your partner.

We can all get swept away by the demands of life.

Life Dinner allows my wife and I the time to pause, take a step back, check in with one rather, listen, be empathetic, share a few laughs and deepen our connection.

But most importantly, it acts as an anchor to check on our finances and discuss if anything has changed.

Our Life Dinner

We have set up a recurring monthly calendar invite (sexy, I know;). We selected the 25th of each month, it was a super random pick to be honest.

As you can see from the picture below it’s in the diary indefinitely into the future (September 2022 and beyond). Set it up once and it works forever. By doing this we both know it’s on the horizon and we avoid the classic "Oh sorry, it wasn’t in the diary" excuse 😃...which I have a tendency to use a lot...

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Sometimes the 25th for us falls on an awkward day, middle of the week, or on a statutory holiday. No fuss, we always move it to a Friday evening or a weekend. The key isn’t to miss it.

However, we are not perfect. We have missed some months or changed the date. The idea is to get it right the majority of the time versus trying to be perfect.

We’re really big foodies so we either decide to go out to a restaurant (a great excuse for us to eat our way through London) or I will whip up a fancy meal at home (less stir-fry and box wine, more oysters and champagne).

The day before Life Dinner we will both dive into the TOMII platform, update all of our financial information (i.e. investment and pension balance, debt, saving accounts balance, etc.) and calculate our net worth. It sets the tone for the financial chat the next evening.

It’s fun to look back and see if our net worth has gone up or down. We’ve been tracking ours for a while, so it’s quite exciting to see progress over the last few years (yes, we have a chart!).

We track our numbers individually as well as combine our finances to see our net worth. Combining our net worth together gives us a good insight if we’re on track to reach our shared financial goals. But we also track individually - it can be super empowering to see individual growth as well. It’s totally okay if you have a separate financial goal from your partner!

Once we start popping bottles, we discuss how we are feeling about the direction we are headed financially:

Has our net worth gone up or down?

Any reason for that?

Are we happy with where we are and what we are doing?

Is our emergency fund still sufficient to cover our needs in the event of an emergency?

Do we need to make a change to our investments or habits?

Are we still happy with our investment strategy?

How was our spending been this past month (heavy, light or somewhere in between)?

Are there any big upcoming financial commitments? (This can include travel, weddings, large purchases, etc.)

Any financial grievances or animosity between each other?

Sometimes this can be quick if not a lot has changed. Other times it turns into a really long chat. For example, over the last few months we’ve been discussing our plans to travel to Canada for several months to visit family across the country. We have had to make some changes to our finances and work life to make this a reality.

The conversations at Life Dinner are meant to be just that - a conversation. It’s not meant to be an interview. These are just some examples of the type of things we discuss. We personally like to look back at the last 30 days and look ahead to the next 30.

Our conversation isn’t all heavy and technical either. We also try to keep it light and fun. It’s exciting to dream about our Rich Life together and how we want to design it.

We’ve also found this to be a great setting to bring up some more challenging conversations. Relaxing, over dinner, with a nice glass of red wine is the exact space we use to air our grievances, be empathetic, and try to over communicate about money.

And finally the gift exchange. This is something that Basia and I are not very good at. I have on occasion got her flowers or something small. However, nothing like a Range Rover Brad gifted his wife (sorry Basia!).

To be perfectly honest, it’s something we did the first few times, and the gift exchange has completely fallen off our radar.

The magic of the evening is in the ritual. Every month this is something I look forward to. I never check our investments during the month. I leave it for Life Dinner and it builds up the excitement to see how well we’re doing, (or not doing), depending on how the markets performed.

We’ve found it to be the grounding moment in our hectic lives.

The Impact

The great thing about Life Dinner is you don’t need to be married or in a relationship.

Grab a friend, your cousin, a close work colleague, sibling, or parent. Talking openly about our finances is still considered very taboo. However it can be enlightening, even freeing to open up and discuss real numbers.

This ritual has done wonders for us and our relationship. It has:

Helped us to get better at communicating openly and honestly about our money issues

Defused many trivial arguments about money during the month

Allowed us to spot problems earlier and make necessary changes (before boiling point!)

Managed to make us more empathetic about the other persons financial habits or quirks

Helped us learn more about where our money habits were derived (you’d be surprised at how many golden nuggets we uncovered)

Money is one of those hot button issues in relationships. Depending on what study you read, money is usually either the 1st, 2nd or 3rd top reason for divorce.

By having Life Dinner regularly, it has no doubt strengthened our relationship, while simultaneously helped us dream big for the future.

It’s been hugely impactful.

A ritual I hope stays for many years to come!

❤️ Patrick & TOMII Tribe

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What We're Launching 🚀

Offering Financial Coaching to individuals

Over the past few months we have seen a huge interest from individuals who want financial coaching. If you are interested in financial coaching for yourself, hit the link HERE to be join our waitlist. Your wallet will thank you :)

What We're Doing 🤩

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Where We Are Going 🧳

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What We're Reading 📚

Brad Feld - Life Dinner

The short article that inspired us to start our own Life Dinner.

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