A Money Coach in Canada

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218317068_0e367bfc72_m.jpgSheila is a single mom with three kids. She lives in a the GT area. Her income is solid enough to keep her in reasonably solid financial shape. She does watch every penny though.

Sheila’s bf of 14 months is in a different tax bracket – he earns about $40K more than she does. And he doesn’t have kids. During the first months of love, this didn’t seem to be an issue. She was willing to be more extravagant than usual, and he also picked up the tab a lot.

Now, the difference is starting to bubble up to the surface. His lifestyle simply does include lots of weekends across the border, upper-scale dinners out at least a couple times a week, and a generally more easygoing way of spending his money.

Sheila is quietly starting to resent feeling obliged to rearrange her budget to afford this lifestyle – even though he does help defray the costs quite a lot. Lately her bf has also made an offhand comment or two about being willing to help pay for dates with her, but not if the kids are involved (eg. going out for pizza and a movie together – something she would do as a treat, not a regular event).

After affirming Sheila’s right to set financial boundaries, we came up with a few approaches on broaching this thorny topic. At this point, the starting place is simply opening the conversation, more than coming up with specific financial strategies. A couple “rules of engagement” included:

  1. Remove any judgment. Her bf is allowed to have the lifestyle he wants; she’s also allowed to put boundaries on her spending. He’s not being extravagant and she’s not being cheap.
  2. Give themselves permission for the conversation to be awkward and possibly go badly. It may take a few tries before talking about money, much less coming up with an M.O. that works, starts to come naturally.
  3. Assume the best possible outcome: that they can come up with ways that feel good to both of them that take into account both his lifestyle and her budget.

Readers: how have you started conversations about money with people close to you? Did it feel awkward? Did it get better? Did it create a wedge between you, or open the channel of communication?

photo credit: Rick

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Shortly after my fiance and I got engaged he made the decision to leave his job and relocate with me (I already had a new job lined up). He assumed that he would be able to find work until we could both relocate but that didn’t happen and I became the “breadwinner.” We started by discussing a food budget which grew to discussing an overall budget for expenses. It’s still difficult at times for us to handle our feeling towards money and one another but we continue to talk about it and address the issue which alleviates any problems that may arise.


    Mar 30, 2008
  2. kudos to you both for broaching the topic. In my experience, it’s a skill that develops over time (as long as, like piano lessons, you don’t reinforce bad technique! like blaming etc.). Money is suuuuuch a loaded topic; it’s no wonder it’s a tricky conversation topic.


    Apr 01, 2008
  3. I dated someone in the same earning bracket for a year (theoretically) but in his case, his parents helped him out a lot, while my own scholarship money was dwindling. Dating him put me in serious debt.

    I am currently hanging out (not dating, but just hanging out) with someone else with whom I had this discussion, and we agreed to cut expenses (even though he’s earning a lot more than I am). We both thought it was smart to cut expenses, period.


    Apr 02, 2008
  4. Monkey

    Where there’s no deep love, trust and desire for the same goals, conversations that require you re-evaluate or adjust how you’ve lived and want to live can come across as judgemental and downright nasty. Luckily my fiance and I have managed to work through his debt and lack of savings from his years of singledom, and are on track for building “our” financial life. We manage to do it without attacking each other or responding with defensiveness, and continue to be open with each other with any concerns and questions that come up.


    Apr 09, 2008
  5. how do you come up with all these fascinating topics?!

    i have not really lost but experienced significant distance when it became clear that my lifestyle was different from that of at least two good friends. part of it was money. both of them live on a very limited income, don’t have children, don’t have my spending habits (which, while very frugal compared to most of my peers, are still extravagant compared to these friends. e.g. when i feel like having a steak, i’ll buy it. that’s not an option for my friends.) so we’ve kind of drifted apart.

    however, someone else comes to mind, a close friend of mine who was on welfare when she met her now spouse. he earns $100+ K. they communicate well and talk about these things openly. currently, he is being promoted, probably to something close to $200+ K and she just started a retail job at one of the big book stores. interestingly enough, they both have grown children, so i wonder how much of a difference that makes. they are an extraordinarily happy couple and have been together for close to 10 years.

    i rarely hear about financial relationship problems from my clients. i wonder why that is. statistically speaking, it’s a huge problem. hm.


    Apr 10, 2008
  6. @raul Good for you for starting the conversation, even if you’re not dating. If you feel safe talking about it with anyone, it can be a template for times when the stakes are higher.
    @monkey I’m impressed. I’m glad you look at it as a shared economic life. The more you can think like a team, the better off you’ll be.
    @Isabella maybe they don’t talk to you, ’cause the ones where money is the issue, they come to me? lol. Do you miss those friends from whom you’ve drifted? I know when I started my business, I drastically (!) cut down on my spending, and have drifted from a number of friends. I miss them (not desperately, or I’d make things happen). The previous connection points -eg. beers after work – were no longer something I wanted to invest in, so we lost touch.


    Apr 10, 2008

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