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Debt Confessions: Do You Talk Openly About Your Money?

Couples who are beginning their financial lives together may feel a little nervous when sharing their financial history to one another. New evidence shows that Millennials are most likely to talk about debt and finances early on, whereas baby boomers have a little more trouble. Our most recent poll interviewed Canadians in relationships to see what they also had to say about their partners’ financial habits. Here is what we discovered.

The moment of truth

As mentioned, millennials tend to be more honest with their partners when it comes to talking about money than boomers and Gen-Xers. However, of all the Canadians who participated in the poll, 36 per cent said they rarely ever discuss financial matters as a couple. Those couples are also the most likely to be battling heavy debt loads and hiding financial behaviours from their partners.

Canadians also weighed in on how they feel about their partner’s financial habits:

  • 57 per cent said they wish they could change at least one of their partner’s financial habits.
  • 21 per cent said they would change two habits
  • 22 per cent said they want to change three habits or more.
  • The top three habits they would change are: Overspending/lack of a budget, inability to save for future goals, and not keeping track of spending.

How to prioritize financial conversations

Many couples begin their lives already carrying debt from student loans or credit cards. Once they are living together or married, they must decide whether they will combine their debts and assets and contribute equally or keep things separate. Couples who have been together long-term may also have developed poor habits and avoided financial conversations to keep the peace. Here are some ways to get the conversation going so you can both be on the same page:

  1. Set a date – Choose a time when you’re both prepared to share. Perhaps you’ve been hiding purchases or you’ve been less than honest about how many loans you have. Now is the time to get it out in the open. No judgement, just honesty. Ask your partner to do the same.
  2. Q and A – Ask yourselves, what have been your biggest financial challenges so far? What strategies did you use for tackling those challenges? What financial habits would you like to change? What are you and your partner’s money personalities? Are you spenders or savers or both? What upcoming expenses can you anticipate such as home purchase, renovations, starting a family, retirement? Are you financially prepared for these events? Think about these questions as they may influence your perspective and future financial goals.
  3. Set goals – Make a budget that includes all your monthly expenses so you can both maintain your spending accordingly. In addition, talk about your long and short term financial goals. How much should you be saving each month to meet these goals? If necessary, speak to a credit counsellor or Licensed Insolvency Trustee to help you go over your debt options. Dealing with debt sooner than later can mean you’ll have more money to meet other important milestones.

In the course of your relationship, you’ll have many financial decisions to make together. Make financial conversations a priority by checking in regularly and finding solutions to your financial challenges. Use available online tools such as debt calculators, debt options calculators or test your financial health with this quiz.

Do you and your partner talk openly about debt and spending? How will you make time for financial talk this month? Share your thoughts with us via Twitter. #DebtConfessions #LoveAndMoney #DebtSolutions

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