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Financial discussions can save your relationship


When was the last time you and your partner talked about finances? It's not a sexy topic, but it can save your relationship. Seventy-one per cent of people, in a national survey by Credit Canada, revealed the leading financial reason that led to a break-up is financial dishonesty. The next highest factor was poor money or spending habits at 48 per cent, and just 13 per cent felt income inequity contributed to ending the relationship.

And if there are financial disagreements in the relationship, you might want to resolve them before Valentine's Day.

"The negative emotional impact of, you know, financial infidelity can, absolutely, rear its ugly head at a day like Valentine's Day," said John Lee.

Lee and his wife Megan Ngo have been married for 10 years and there have been many discussions over the years about finances.

"It can cause a lot of stress," added Ngo. "It had a lot to do with the pandemic where we were stretched a little thin."

The couple has two children and a third is on the way.

BlueShore senior financial advisor Scott Evans has some advice about how to head off problems before financial issues fester and become deal-breakers.

He says to begin financial discussions early on in the relationship to understand each other's approach to money and relationship with it, including their values growing up about money.

"And find some common ground there," Evans advises. "And I think you're going to have much more in-depth and positive conversations when you have that foundation, rather than just talk about today, ‘Hey, how much did you spend on your credit card last month?’"

"It's not a romantic discussion. Nobody sits down with a glass of wine and wants to talk finances with their loved one," said Lee.

That is true, but you can arrange money talk dates over a cup of coffee.

You need to establish transparency and establish common goals for the future and have regular check-ins to make sure you are on track to achieving them.

When Lee and Ngo first met and decided to move in together, they had to have "the talk." Lee was working, he owned a home, but he admittedly had some debt.

"It was something that, like, I really had to swallow my pride up front and really be honest with Megan about it."

And who is the spender in the family?

"Oh, I think I'm the spender. I spend a lot of money on the kids," Ngo added. "At the end of the day, we're always worrying about the kids and whether or not we can give them all the things that we never got when we were kids."

They have a plan for the future and their children are their focus.

"We just try to remind each other that we should stay on the plan that we both agreed on," she said.

There are many ways to handle finances in a relationship. If each person is working, you may want to keep accounts separate and pay household expenses in a joint account. Or, if one partner makes more than another, they may proportionately contribute to shared expenses. Some couples go all-in and pool all their money.

If disagreements happen and things go off track, you may want to seek professional help from a financial advisor, but remember they are not marriage counsellors.

"Often, as a financial professional, I feel like we do a little bit of both," joked Evans.

Previous relationships can also affect how you organize your finances, but both people need to understand and agree on the parameters. Above all, honesty is key.

"You're going on a bit of faith with the relationship, other than, you know, asking to see their credit bureau pulled or something like that, which again is probably not a first date request," said Evans. Top Stories

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