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I grew up in a household where financial stress was the norm. I remember the stack of unpaid bills that sat next to our radio, the phone calls from the bill collectors and the tense whispers of my parents. When those fraught conversations escalated into loud arguments, I bore witness to how financial stress can eat away at a relationship. 

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My parents’ struggles aren’t unique. According to a recent study, 78% of people reported that money is a significant source of stress in their relationships. 

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Financial stress can manifest in a relationship through increased arguments about money, evasion of financial topics, or noticeable changes in spending behaviours. These signs often indicate underlying tensions and anxieties about money, which, if left unaddressed, can escalate into more significant relationship issues,” says Kayden Roberts, relationship coach and CMO at CamGo 

We all enter into relationships with our unique experiences, feelings and habits around money – our “money blueprint.” This can also be a source of conflict.  “Differences in financial values and habits can create substantial tension as they often reflect deeper values and life goals. For instance, one partner may prioritize saving for future security while the other values spending on life experiences,” shares Roberts.  

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While we can’t erase our past experiences with money, we can change how we communicate about it with the people we love.  

If you feel like your relationship could use a financial tune-up, here are some expert tips to consider.  

Discuss your money mindset 

“When partners have different financial values and habits, it’s like navigating two ships heading in different directions,” says Naomi Strong, a finance expert and writer at  

Getting on the same page starts with communication. Strong encourages couples to sit down and have an open, non-judgmental conversation about each other’s respective money mindsets.  

Explore individual life goals and priorities together as a couple. What lessons did you and your partner learn about money growing up? How do you feel about money now? What are your financial goals as a couple? Get curious. 

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“By understanding where each other is coming from and finding common ground, couples can create a roadmap that honours each of their values and paves the way for smoother sailing ahead,” says Strong.  

 It’s also important to approach these discussions from a place of problem-solving rather than confrontation. Roberts suggests, “Using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ statements can help avoid blame and make the conversation more about shared goals rather than individual faults.” She adds, “Listening actively and validating each other’s feelings and perspectives is crucial, as it fosters mutual understanding and makes problem-solving more collaborative.”  

Set up shared financial goals

Whether you plan to get out of debt or save for a big purchase like a home – or both – it’s important to have some common financial goals. “These goals serve as a roadmap to shared dreams, providing focus and direction,” says Strong.  

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Make a list of your goals and identify what steps you each need to take to reach them. While this process may feel foreign at first, it will benefit your relationship in the long run. “Goal-setting reduces financial stress by providing clear objectives and benchmarks and enhances intimacy by requiring ongoing collaboration and communication,” says Roberts.  

Have regular money dates

Having the “money talk” isn’t a one-time deal. Like other areas of a relationship, learning to manage financial stress together requires consistent communication. Krystal Walter, founder of Krystal Walter Matchmaking, suggests couples make it a habit to have ‘money dates’  to discuss their financial goals and progress.   

Life is busy and it’s so easy for constructive conversations about money to fall by the wayside, so having a dedicated, uninterrupted time to discuss money is key. “Especially during stressful times, finding a relaxed, neutral setting like a cozy coffee shop can work wonders. It’s amazing how a change of scenery can lighten the mood and make tough conversations feel more manageable,” says Strong. 

Lastly, don’t wait until you’re married or cohabitating to discuss your finances. Walter encourages couples to be upfront about their financial situations, including debts, spending habits, and goals early in the relationship.  

While talking about money may feel unsexy, “Navigating financial matters together is as crucial to a love story as any romantic gesture,” says Walter. She points out, “Starting a financial conversation with your partner shows that you are serious about the relationship and are committed to deepening your connection.” 

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