This Valentine’s Day, Be Financially Open With Your Partner

If you're in a serious relationship, your partner should know where you stand financially before making any major decisions.

02/14/2018 10:27 EST | Updated 02/14/2018 10:40 EST

Couples hiding money secrets from each other is more common than most of us think.

A recent online survey from Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council found that 34 per cent of respondents kept financial secrets from their current romantic partner.

The most common forms of financial deception included credit card spending sprees, lying about income, making major purchases without informing a partner and hiding a bankruptcy.

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It's sad to think that financial transparency is so difficult, even in our intimate relationships. But it's not surprising, given the overall climate of financial indifference that seems to thrive in Canada.

We've done a lot of research into how reluctant Canadians are to openly talk, and think, about their finances.

Last year, we found that Canadians love comparing flights and hotels, but don't bother comparing their financial options when making making major money decisions such as getting a mortgage. Some 72 per cent of respondents in our survey said they always compare their hotel options before taking a vacation. But when buying a mortgage, only 42 per cent research their choices — a shocking figure for what is often the biggest financial decision a person will ever make.

Canadians also aren't very financial literate, with the majority of Canadians failing a test of 15 basic financial questions we gave to them, even as 64 per cent rated their financial knowledge as "good."

Unfortunately, amidst this financial indifference, many Canadians are struggling with their financial health.

It's clear we need to change, and our romantic relationships are as good a place as any to start.

Statistics Canada has found that for every $1 in disposable income Canadians have, they carry an average of $1.68 in debt. That has made us some of the most indebted people on earth.

It's clear we need to change, and our romantic relationships are as good a place as any to start.

This year, we're encouraging Canadians to be more open about their finances with their partners. Sit down and talk about your debt, your savings and how much you make. Share your credit score with your partner, and learn what theirs is as well, as we find out too late, like when we're declined for a mortgage application.

If you're in a serious relationship, your partner should know where you stand financially. It's when people attempt to hide their finances that they can find themselves with debt loads that spiral out of control or depleted savings.

We're taught to feel a sense of shame if we're struggling financially. It's not easy to admit that you've taken on more debt than you can handle, or that your income can't support the lifestyle you had hoped for you and your partner.

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But it's harmful to hide these things. The Canadian Payroll Association found in a recent survey that half of Canadians are now living paycheque to paycheque. It's concerning to think many of them may be hiding that fact from their partner.

Being honest about your finances and sharing issues like debt, income and credit score can help ease the financial burdens. It can help you start on a path to financial wellness. But it won't happen without being more open.

This Valentine's Day, give the best gift of all: financial transparency. Your partner will thank you.

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