There’s no question that the last year has been stressful. New research shows that financial stress can contribute to the majority of relationship stress. What do you need to know to slash stress, save money, and strengthen your relationship?

In a recent survey from The Harris Poll and Ally Bank, Americans confirmed that money was at the top of their relationship stress. Interestingly, 44% of young Americans pointed to money as the biggest stressor. Yet, only 23% of older adults said the same. 

Millennials are feeling the financial strain more than Baby Boomers.

While we can’t wave a magic wand and make costs disappear, or make money grow on trees, there is hope. There are things you can do to slash stress and keep finances from ruining your relationship.

Get Smarter 

If money is tight for you and your partner, it doesn’t need to ruin your relationship. One of the first steps is to learn about financial stress. The Mayo Clinic offers a powerful 4-A approach to managing stress.

The A’s stand for avoiding, alter, accept, and adjust. Using this method, you can explore actions to reduce stress around financial management. 

If you are stressing about finances, educate yourself first about managing stress. Be gentle and kind in the process. You may have old habits about managing money that needs to be updated.

Communicate More Often

Speaking openly about money may not be familiar to you or your partner. Perhaps in your family, growing up, or in other relationships—money was a taboo topic.

If speaking about money sends you towards a difficult conversation, start with small moments. Rather than waiting for the perfect setting or the ‘big talk’ little conversations can open up connections.

Relationship experts recommend speaking about money early on in relationships and doing so regularly. Using this approach, partners can explore financial strategies and make decisions together.

Lighten Up 

Many people, both young and old, have high standards for their finances. Do you think that this may be true for you and your partner? 

Now may be a good time to look at how you share expenses and share standards. As you go through the numbers, practice staying objective. Focus on making “I” statements. Make an extra effort to avoid critical comments or speaking in a judgmental tone.

Keep looking for opportunities to stay connected, in touch, and tuned in to your partner. Some of the choices you’ve made in the past may not have turned out the way you imagined. It’s natural that even with the best intentions, that along the way, you will make some mistakes.

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Are you holding yourself to impossibly high standards? Do you expect your partner to do everything the way you do? You may want to look at ways to lighten up your financial responsibilities at the same time you light up your attitude. 

Reevaluate Your Options

In talking about options, take a close look at all your resources. Do you have options that you may not have explored? Look around your home. Examine any objects, toys, or equipment that could be languishing in the garage or basement. Take a further look at services and subscriptions that could be more than you need right now.

Perhaps you are a homeowner and can check out a home equity loan. Living in San Diego? You can search HELOC credit union or HELOC San Diego. Living in Boston? Do a quick Internet search for HELOC Boston. Often homeowners find that a credit union has more favorable terms, lower interest, and greater benefits.

If you are considering a home equity loan, crunch the numbers. It could be a wise move to consolidate debt, lower interest rates, and most importantly—slash financial stress. 

Is it possible you have other tangible assets that you can sell? Many people sell luxury items such as boats, second cars, and unused technology.

Perhaps there are services to evaluate. Take a look at objects and services that you’ve considered ‘essential’ are actually ‘optional’ in the light of your current situation. These changes can help you and your partner get in control of your finances. 

Sum Up

As you examine ways to slash financial stress, practice these four strategies. Get smarter about stress. Communicate openly. Lighten up your burden and your attitude. Reevaluate your options. Keep your eye on the prize of reducing your financial burden, and supporting a healthy relationship.