I love January. Everything feels like a fresh start, the calendar isn’t overloaded with activities and with snow falling outside, it feels like some good ol’ fashioned reflection can happen. The other thing I love about January is that it is when my husband and I do our annual money meeting. If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know that I am obsessed with all things personal finance. So an annual money meeting is basically my version of the Olympics!
Now, you may be wondering “Sharon, what does this have to do with personal growth?” I truly believe that you can’t make growth on your personal growth journey if your financial life doesn’t reflect those goals. Before I went part-time, we needed to make the finances work. I waited until they worked to take my small business full-time. And before you make big progress on your personal goals, you really need to make sure your personal FINANCE goals are in alignment.
OK, I literally can’t wait any longer – let’s get into this!
Our annual money meeting was first inspired by Kelsey Wharton over on her blog, Rising Shining. Her and her husband called their meeting a “Financial Summit” and their practice inspired mine. My husband and I had our first annual money meeting in 2015 and haven’t missed one since.
A money meeting can be whatever you want it to be. For my husband and I, it’s a chance to do a deep dive into our finances to make sure we’re all on the same page and working towards our family’s priorities. In our family, I do the majority of the budgeting and general finance stuff. Because of that, it’s important to me that my husband knows the big picture, in case there was ever a reason I couldn’t continue to do the finances. My favorite part of our annual money meeting is that it’s a chance to celebrate how far we’ve come in 365 days. A lot of times, we pay something off, or hit a goal, and just keep trucking. It’s nice to actually sit down and see all that we’ve accomplished in one place.
OK, so how do we make this magical money meeting happen? It takes some prep, that’s for sure! The first thing we do is get a babysitter. Typically, we can talk my parents into taking the girls for 3-4 hours and we go to a local library and rent a study room. That way, we’re right down the road from my family, but we can have private conversations without anyone listening in.
We usually start our meeting around 9am and wrap up by lunch time. Whenever we can then pull off a lunch date, it’s an added bonus! I always make sure to bring my MAP Book notebook system with me so that I can take detailed notes. This helps so much a few weeks after we meet to remember what we discussed.
Before our meeting, I do some leg work so that we’re not spending time together crunching numbers that I could have already taken care of ahead of time. At the start of the meeting, I am prepared with the amount of money in all of our accounts, the amount of money my businesses brought in the year before and the balances of any loans that we have. Having that information handy saves a lot of time! Before our meeting, I also ask him to think about anything he wants to discuss. I do this so that our conversations are productive and we walk away feeling like we worked out a lot of details.
You know me, I love a good agenda! The first money meeting we had, we had no agenda and we had a great conversation. We decided on our family vision, adjusted our budget accordingly and everything went great. The following year we tried to do the same thing and it was a disaster.
Since then, we’ve used a rough agenda to focus our conversations and it’s been immensely helpful to do just that. Like everything, this is just a rough outline and we get off track more than I’d like to admit. It is nice to have a starting point though!
The first item on the agenda is a celebration of our financial achievements of the year. For a few years, that was a successful maternity leave or paying off a loan. Other years it’s a trip or a big home purchase that we’re celebrating. More recently, it’s been a successful first full-year in business. We try to celebrate and acknowledge the financial successes of the year to start the conversation off on a positive note.
Next, we do what I lovingly call a Status of the Accounts. It sounds very official, but basically I just run through our credit cards/savings accounts/loans and let my husband know where we stand. Generally, this is where we start to get into conversations about things we want to pay off early, future projects we want to do, etc.
This is a nice segue into reviewing our family vision. As mentioned in episode 27, we revisit our family vision every year to make sure our finances are in line with our priorities. In 2021, my husband and I began to have serious conversations about purchasing a second home, so that conversation will probably come up when we’re discussing our family vision this year.
The next step, after we discuss the big picture in our annual money meeting, is to review our monthly budget. As I mentioned in episode 13 about budgeting, my husband is a teacher and I am a small business owner. Because of that, we have to be on top of our monthly budget to make sure nothing is overlooked. My husband gets paid 10 months out of the year, so in January I really need to make sure we’re set up for success. We need to make sure we can pay our mortgage over the summer!
After we review our monthly expenses, this is usually where we start to create some action steps. An example of an action step might be making a list of utility companies that we need to call to review our rates or changing our withholdings with HR. We draft a list of changes here and start to make decisions about our summer budget so we can adjust spending accordingly in the spring to be set up for success.
Finally, our last agenda item is to evaluate and change any goals that no longer seem to fit with our family vision. Some years, this is anticlimactic, other years this is the bulk of our conversation. In discussing the strategy of buying a second home, I have a feeling we’ll be making some changes to our financial goals. Eek!
Do you have five minutes? Right now, decide if a money meeting feels right for you. Maybe it’s by yourself, maybe it’s with someone you live with. If you decide that it is, mark a date on the calendar when you would like to accomplish that meeting and write down a quick agenda of topics you’d like to cover. Even if your first few meetings don’t follow an agenda, you’ll still walk away feeling accomplished and productive, I promise!
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Spotify or YouTube so you don’t miss next week’s episode, where we are going to shift gears a little bit and talk about how to set yourself up for success with monthly planning.
If you want to connect between episodes, be sure to give me a follow over on Instagram – @sharonlegercoaching. I would love to support you on your personal growth journey!
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And finally, you can also check out these related episodes that I think you’ll be obsessed with: