Talking to your significant other about money

CI Assante Wealth Management |

Relationships depend on trust, and yet research consistently shows that couples aren’t always completely open with each other about their finances. For example, TD’s 2021 Love and Money survey found that 28% of Canadians in committed relationships had a financial secret they hadn’t shared with their partner—and 64% of those with a secret said they have no plans to ever tell their partner about it. The most common secrets involve a secret purchase (42%) or secret bank account (29%).

At the same time, money is a significant source of stress within relationships. In the fall 2023 RBC Canadian Financial Wellbeing Survey, 43% of Canadian adults acknowledged that finances were causing “significant stress” in their personal relationships. The number was highest in the Atlantic provinces (65%) and among Gen Y respondents (59%).

Open communication, without secrets, can help—but it isn’t always easy to bring up the topic of finances.

Try these conversation starters

Consider working your way through these questions with your significant other, and then discussing your answers with your advisor who can incorporate them into your financial plan:

  • What are some important experiences you’ve had related to money? How have these experiences contributed to your emotions and decisions about financial matters?
  • How do you feel about our current financial situation? What can we make better? Is there anything we can change in our monthly budget to give us more flexibility?
  • What would we do if we ran into a big unexpected cost? Is there room in our budget to start building an emergency fund? If not, can we make adjustments so there is room?
  • Do you have ideas about what we’d do if we received a big sum of money—for example, from a severance package or an inheritance? Can we put together a list of top financial priorities?
  • What’s your dream for our future? Where will we be living when we retire? What will our lifestyle be like? Are we saving enough now to make that happen?

Talking about money may not seem very romantic, but think of it as a way to get to know your partner better. You may learn new things related to your partner’s experiences in the past, concerns about the present and hopes for the future. Meanwhile, planning for the expected and unexpected can help you thrive as a committed couple through whatever comes your way—and what could be more romantic than that?