Our personal relationships take commitment, loyalty and attention to sustain, but the payoff of having a stable partner for life is well worth it.
The relationship that we have with our finances is no different. Managing our money, paying our bills and tracking our budget may take time and even feel overwhelming at times, but all of these actions make our financial standing richer in the end.
And just like turning to a therapist when working through difficult moments in your romantic relationship, you can also seek the advice of a financial therapist when your relationship with money takes a toll. In fact, according to Nicole Iacovoni, a Pennsylvania-based financial therapist and licensed couples therapist with 17 years of experience, people should treat their relationship with money almost exactly like they would a romantic relationship.
To start, it's as easy as going on a date: "One piece of advice I always give couples is to have date night," Iacovoni tells CNBC Select. Applying this same approach used in couple's therapy to your finances, Iacovoni suggests you should set up specific times to unplug from your busy life and check in with your finances.
It might sound unconventional, but personifying your money helps you see it for what it really is in the long-term: a lifelong partner that's with you through all of your major decisions.
Just like scheduling a date with a romantic partner, "dating your money" means setting aside time to sit down and pay attention to a certain part of your finances so that you can be more intentional about your money.
"Instead of stuffing bills in the back of my drawer hoping they would go away, I started to play an active role in my finances," Iacovoni says of her own experience "dating" her money. If you are looking to build a relationship with your money or re-examining yours, Iacovoni provides money date ideas inside a free downloadable "Date Your Money" planner.
Each money date can focus on something different so you aren't setting aside chunks of hours at a time. Schedule 45 minutes to an hour each week. Depending on where you are in the month or certain financial milestones you are approaching, you may want to hone in on different financial aspects.
Here is a breakdown of different kinds of money dates and when you should have them:
Though you may not be applying for new credit that often, it's still important to make a routine of keeping an eye on where your credit stands. This can be a quicker money date to schedule for those busier weeks since it doesn't take much time, and credit monitoring services make it even easier.
Plan a money date where you sign up for a service like CreditWise® from Capital One that can help bring you into a better relationship with your money by offering transparency. Consumers receive an updated VantageScore credit score from TransUnion every week and credit report updates from TransUnion and Experian in real time. The free service also offers an added credit score simulator tool and security protections like dark web scanning and social security number tracking. Once you sign up, the weekly credit score update can be a new ritual to look forward to.
TransUnion and Experian
If you're really invested in making a lifelong practice out of checking your credit, you may want to opt for a more robust service even if it comes with a fee.
For the most accurate credit score updates, FICO® Advanced offers three monthly plans (Basic, Advanced and Premier) all with access to 28 versions of your FICO score, including scores for credit cards, mortgages and auto loans. Prices vary depending on your plan. Because FICO scores are used in over 90% of lending decisions, this service may be well worth signing up for during a money date when you are planning to open new credit.
$19.95 to $39.95 per month
Experian for Basic plan or Experian, Equifax and TransUnion for Advanced and Premier plans
Yes, for Advanced and Premier plans
Yes, up to $1 million
Just like having date night with your partner helps fortify your relationship, making a habit of dating your money helps to strengthen your knowledge of your finances and to be more intentional about your money.
It's about being proactive and working toward financial milestones similar to how you work toward goals in a relationship.