Tuesday nights at our house are not very exciting after we put the kids to bed. There is no romance, no binge-watching our favorite shows, not even chit-chat recounting the funny stories from the day. Every Tuesday night, Matt and I convene at the kitchen table for what resembles a weekly staff meeting.
It started off as a night for us to review the budget together after years of quasi-successful attempts at building up our savings and has expanded to include home renovation project updates, a review of our calendars for the coming week and anything else we need to touch base on. There is an unspoken agenda and we each bring a list of things we want to discuss. I realize that it sounds awkward and unconventional to bring a common business practice into a marriage, but you know what? It’s been one of the greatest things we’ve ever done. Here’s why:
We’ve built up our savings.
The first thing we always do at our weekly meeting is review our financial transactions from the previous week to make sure they are in the correct budget categories. Then we review where we are with each of our budget categories and what outstanding expenses are left for the month. We do this in Mint (I’m a really big fan of their mobile app), but you can use other programs, manually balance your checking and credit card statements or use the cash and envelope method. This encourages transparency about spending habits within our marriage and ensures that both of us at all times know where we stand with our budget. We plan our grocery lists together, plan fun outings together, loosen the purse strings, rein things in and hold ourselves accountable together. Talking weekly about our short and long-term finances has allowed us to live below our means and put away money into our retirement and kids’ college savings accounts in addition to giving more than we ever have before.
It gives us time to communicate and plan without interruption.
With a six-year-old and a two-year-old in the house, it can sometimes be hard to form a single coherent thought, let alone accomplish an entire conversation around who is going to take the two-year-old to his dentist appointment next week. Over time, we have found ourselves setting aside little questions for Tuesday evening like:
- Do you want to purchase the kid’s school pictures?
- What do you think about taking a camping trip this summer?
- Do you have time to pick up a birthday present for ______________?
- Can you pick up the kids from school on Thursday so I can work late?
After a long day at the office and getting the kids through the homework/dinner/bath time/bedtime routines, I am mentally fatigued. I have no ounce of strength left to respond to even such mundane questions, but I’ve found that I can mentally prepare to tackle these little things that pile up one night every week. And it’s a lot more efficient than trying to talk over the kids…
We actually accomplish things around the house!
These routine check-ins have allowed us to address projects around the house bit by bit. We review work estimates together, talk about when we can run to Lowes to get supplies, plan fun things for me and the kids to do so they’re not underfoot while Matt is replacing the doors to the master bedroom, etc.
The first big project we tackled this way was cleaning out our garage and turning it into a gym. We broke it into manageable steps: marking things to save, donate and trash with color-coded sticky notes; putting items out for bulk trash pick up; taking items to the donation center; requesting estimates from garage door companies; reviewing estimates; looking at samples with the garage door company, etc. It took a while this way, but after putting it off for years, this felt like a manageable way to tackle it. Sometimes we worked together on Tuesday nights and sometimes we took assigned tasks and completed them independently. The results were brilliant!
Other time spent together (when it can be found), is spent doing fun things.
Tuesday nights are reserved for productivity, but that leaves us six more nights a week that aren’t. Now admittedly, some of those other nights are spoken for with my women’s Bible study and our daughter’s gymnastics, but you get the idea. We sit and share funny stories, videos or Tweets (Matt loves saving up favorite Tweets from the week to share with me), watch one of our favorite shows or just chat about family, friends and work. Sometimes we even get a little crazy, hire a babysitter and go on a date! And we can enjoy that time without me wondering if he’s called the lawn care company yet. Because that’s what Tuesdays are for!