Are money conversations the key to couples’ staying power?

Ahead of Valentine's Day, survey explores how Canadians in committed relationships differ from those who’ve called it quits

Are money conversations the key to couples’ staying power?

While spending money on your partner during special occasions is no doubt important, a new survey from TD suggests that regular financial conversations may be crucial for couples who want a long-lasting relationship.

Drawing from the Love and Money survey conducted in December, TD found that while Valentine’s Day is indeed a red-letter day for Canadians in committed relationships, they tended to spend more on their significant other during more personal occasions.

Canadian males in a relationship said they typically spend $55 on their significant other for Valentine’s Day, while females said they typically spend $33. Both groups reported that they typically spend more during their anniversary ($122 for males, $69 for females) and their significant other’s birthday ($143 for males, $120 for females).

The survey also found generational differences in spending. When asked how much they spend on their significant other on Valentine’s Day, Millennials cited a typical amount of $54, while Gen Xers and Baby Boomers answered with $42 and $35, respectively. That trend also persisted for questions on anniversaries ($103 for Millennials, $97 for Gen X, and $85 for Baby Boomers) and birthdays ($150 for Millennials, $127 for Gen X, and $115 for Baby Boomers).

“In my experience, the longer a couple has been together, the less likely they are to spend money on occasions such as Valentine’s Day. It can cost a lot of money to woo someone,” said Melissa Leong, speaker, television personality, and author of the award-winning personal finance book Happy Go Money. “Also, you focus on different things at various stages in life. Millennials who may have had a delayed start when it comes to starting a family and owning a home, might spend more on their partners.”

The survey also looked into the conversational habits of Canadian couples and divorcees.

Not counting divorced respondents, 25% of Canadian males said they start money discussions with their partner, in contrast to 27% of females. Within that same group, 48% of Canadian males said they’re extremely comfortable talking about money with their partner, as opposed to 53% of females. Across both segments, 57% of Canadians who weren’t divorced said they agree with their partner on what expenses count as a “want” and a “need.”

“When I recall the earliest conversations that my husband and I had about money when we were dating, it amazes me. In many ways, we are still having the same kinds of money talks more than 15 years late,” Leong said. “Money talks should happen early and often in a relationship. They tackle so much that is key to a successful partnership — fairness, common values, shared goals.”

Looking at the frequency of money conversations, 85% of Canadians who weren’t divorced said they discuss money with their partner at least monthly; 55% said they do it at least once a week, and just 2% said they never do.

As for arguments over money, 20% of Canadians who weren’t divorced say they had disagreements over money with their partner at least monthly, and 8% said they do it once a week. Notably, one third (32%) said they never argue over money.

“The pandemic put finances at the forefront of people’s minds and financial discussions may have become unavoidable amongst couples, but that doesn’t mean they all need to be stressful conversations,” Leong said.

Among divorced Canadian respondents, money conversations appeared to occur more infrequently. Within that group, just 54% said they used to talk to their partner about money at least monthly; 27% said they used to do it once a week, and 12% said such conversations never happened.

As for arguments, 29% of divorced Canadian respondents said they would argue with their partner at least monthly; 11% said they used to argue once a week, and 31% said they never used to fight about money.


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