BUSINESS
02/14/2019 15:04 EST | Updated 02/14/2019 15:19 EST

Canadians Should Have 'The Talk' ASAP To Avoid Financial Infidelity

And nearly half of Canadians see huge credit card debt as a first-date deal-breaker.

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Whether you're single or in a relationship, it's crucial to have "the talk" with yourself or a partner about your finances, or suffer the (often unintended) consequences.

It turns out that not dealing with a big Visa bill, for example, can affect your dating life.

A recent survey by financial comparison site Ratehub.ca found that nearly half (46 per cent) of Canadians would consider major credit card debt a deal-breaker on a first date.

Watch: How to talk about money with your significant other. Story continues below.

Luke Sheehan, Ratehub's vice-president of marketing, told HuffPost Canada the availability of credit scoring tools have heightened expectations in new relationships.

"It's a sign of a good relationship and a good partner to come if they have things like their credit score and their bills all in order," he said.

Sheehan said the longer people put off talking to their partners about debt, the more difficult it's going to be to address things like mortgages and joint credit cards as the relationship progresses.

The survey also found that an overwhelming majority of Canadians (89 per cent) would trust their significant other with their credit card.

However, more than half (55 per cent) don't know their partner's credit score, and almost a quarter of Canadians (23 per cent) aren't aware of their significant others' credit card spending.

Financial infidelity can spell 'significant loss'

A study released last year by Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council found 36 per cent of Canadians have lied about a financial matter to a partner.

Credit Canada CEO Laurie Campbell told HuffPost Canada that financial infidelity and financial abuse can lead to "significant loss" for Canadians.

"What individuals have done to each other to break trust, and in some cases it could be as innocuous as taking $20 out of the other person's wallet without letting the other person know, or it could be as significant as using another person's credit card and getting credit out under that person's name," she said.

Credit Canada recently compiled stories of several Canadians who had fallen victim to financial infidelity. They include:

  • "My ex used our credit card to wine and dine the woman he was having an affair with."
  • "My ex-husband left me with a lot of debt! He drained the bank accounts and maxed out the credit cards before we separated."
  • "Partner used the credit line!!! I never used my credit line...."
  • "I broke up with a girlfriend after I found money missing from my wallet!"
  • "My mom let her boyfriend take all the money out of her bank account that she worked so hard for."

Campbell said it's important to keep credit cards separate and protect your own credit rating. But her top tip to avoid financial infidelity is to go into relationships with your "eyes wide open."

"If someone tells you that they adore you and they love you right off the bat, be wary. If someone says that they're short on cash because something happened to their bank account, be wary," she said.

"If you're uncertain, again, trust your gut, talk to your family, talk to your friends. Ask them if this seems reasonable. They'll be the first ones to tell you if it doesn't."

It's very much a case of honesty is the best policy, just put all cards on the table, and then you'll at least know what you're getting into.Luke Sheehan, Ratehub.ca

If you're not comfortable talking to your friends and family, Campbell suggests going to a professional like a certified financial planner.

But if you are ready to have "the talk" with a partner, both Sheehan and Campbell say it's best to have the conversation as soon as possible.

"It's very much a case of honesty is the best policy, just put all cards on the table, and then you'll at least know what you're getting into," Sheehan said.

The Ratehub survey polled more than 1,000 Canadians who were single, in common-law partnerships, or married. The Credit Canada study was conducted online among 1,550 Canadians from Jan. 2-5 in 2018, using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb.

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