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Debt Confessions: What Your Age Says About Your Money Secrets

Two thirds of Canadian couples enter a new relationship with debt. Some couples may hide this information from their partner or lay it out on the table. A recent BDO Canada poll found which Canadians are more open to talking about money—and it might not be who you think.

Are Canadians hiding financial secrets?

Our poll found that Canadian couples aren’t exactly on the same page when it comes to debt, spending, or saving money. Over one-third of Canadians admitted they rarely or never talk finances with their partner, while 59 per cent wish they could change some of their partner’s financial habits. While most Canadians say they’ve never hidden financial secrets from their partner, this changes for those with a lot of debt—only 53 per cent say their partner knows everything about their finances.

Millennials vs. Boomers

According to our poll, there’s a big generational divide in attitudes toward money and debt. Millennials tend to be much more honest with their partners early on in their relationships, compared to boomers and Gen-Xers. They discuss their debt, income and spending more freely, with 50 per cent talking to their partner about debt within the first six months of a relationship. Boomers, on the other hand, are less likely to disclose their debt to their partners, possibly due to stigmas about money when they were growing up. Nearly one quarter of baby boomers have never told their partner about their debt.

The big reveal

Debt shouldn’t be a secret, especially from your partner. Since February is the month of love, it’s time to make a date with your partner to talk about money. No, debt isn’t a sexy subject, but paying down your debt and working toward a common goal can bring you closer as a couple. Here are some tips:

  • Discuss debt early – If you’re in a new relationship, broach the subject of debt when you feel comfortable, but it’s best to do it sooner, rather than later. Get to know your partner’s money habits so you can both plan for future goals and align your finances accordingly.
  • Set a financial date night – In marriage, things can get pushed aside easily. Set a time to talk about how to reduce debt, save for goals, and any other financial topic that needs attention. Use the FCAC’s goal-setting module to help create realistic money goals.
  • Budget together – No matter your salary or debt level, a budget keeps you organized. And, it can help you stay on the same page as a couple. Use an online budget calculator, worksheet or download a budgeting app to get started.
  • Explore your options – Debt doesn’t need to be a fact of life. If you feel your debt becoming unmanageable, contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) to go over all your available debt relief options. You can also compare your options using this calculator.
  • Save for goals – Share your dreams. If you’re saving for a big goal, such as a vacation or a new home, automate your contributions to help save more. Open a joint high-interest savings account that will allow you to transfer money at any time, or set it to auto-withdraw from your chequing account after every payday. You can also use this strategy to grow your emergency fund.

Don’t keep your partner in the dark about your debt. Talk often and openly about your finances so you can work together to create a great financial future. For money motivation, follow Taya at Simply Frugal. She can show you how to save big and live well on a budget.

What will your financial date night look like? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter. #DebtConfessions #DebtSolutions #LoveAndMoney

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