Money Matters: How to keep financial issues from ruining a relationship

Money Matters: How to keep financial issues from ruining a relationship

Financial problems are the leading cause of relationship breakdown. In fact, a Bank of Montreal poll found that fighting over money was the top reason for divorce among Canadians, even ahead of infidelity. A recent BDO Canada poll found that many Canadians are hiding financial secrets from their partners. In a world that survives on dual income households, it has never been more important for Canadians to be open and honest about their finances.

3 in 5 Canadians wish they could change their partner’s financial habits

The BDO poll found that most Canadians say there’s something about their partner’s finances they wish they could change. Overspending, not saving and not keeping track of spending were the most common complaints. Unfortunately, many might not be communicating these concerns—the poll found that 36 per cent of Canadians rarely or never talk about money with their partner. Only 70 per cent say their partner knows everything about their finances, while the rest are keeping secrets.

Women seem more worried about their partner’s savings

Another stat that stood out in the poll: 42 per cent of women wish their partner would save more for retirement, compared to 29 per cent of men. Women are also more likely to find their partner lacking overall financial skills. Nearly one quarter say they don’t admire any of their partner’s money habits.

The days of men being the sole breadwinner and women the stay-at-home spouse are over. With dual incomes, partners need to communicate regularly and discuss money honestly in order to avoid financial problems.

Breaking the mold – How to talk to your partner about money

If you and your partner aren’t on the same page financially, the first step is to schedule a financial date night and bring everything out in the open. Be prepared to talk about all your earnings, spending and savings and dive deep into your expenses, including any monthly bills, debt payments and credit card statements.

This would also be a good time to create a monthly budget, if you don’t already have one. A budget will keep track of all your earnings and expenses, and set monthly spending limits on all the things you buy (food, clothing, entertainment, etc.) Once you both know where your money is going, you can start to get on the same page and work together toward common goals, like saving for retirement.

It’s clear that not all couples will agree about money, but burying your head in the sand and avoiding the issue is not going to fix things. Being open and honest is the best way to talk about finances with your partner and can help prevent more serious financial and marital problems down the road.

About André Bolduc

André Bolduc is a Senior Vice-President and Licensed Insolvency Trustee with BDO Canada. He oversees BDO’s insolvency, credit counselling and debt help practice for Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. André has helped thousands of people resolve their financial difficulties, with an emphasis on avoiding bankruptcy. Clients with complex debt situations, including marital separation, self-employment and tax debt are often referred to André by other professionals.