Most couples-to-be haven’t discussed their finances, study finds

While Canadians about to enter committed relationships say managing their finances together is important, few actually discuss it before the big day

A new CIBC poll reveals that even though Canadian couples-to-be realize the importance of planning and managing their finances together, less than a third of the ones about to get married have not actually discussed it seriously.

"While couples will spend several months planning, in great detail, their 'big day', our poll reveals that very few people actually broach the topic of how to plan and handle their finances once they begin their lives together," says Jamie Golombek, Managing Director of Tax and Estate Planning in the CIBC’s Wealth Strategies Group. "When you're caught up in the bliss of getting married, talking about money isn't particularly romantic, but, it shouldn't be a taboo topic."

The report, entitled “For richer or poorer: Financial Planning Tips for Newlyweds”, uncovers several other disjoints between professed financial awareness and actual planning and discussion. For example, 46% of those planning to marry or live common law identify saving up for a trip or vacation as their top financial goal in their first two years of marriage despite 66% of them entering the relationship in debt.

One-third (35%) say they’ve had the money talk in general, and 40% of that group say they’ve only discussed how to manage finances together “briefly”. Among the ones who have not discussed money at all, 83% said they didn’t know either how or when to broach the topic, or said they would “play it by ear”.

"Perhaps the springboard for having the 'big talk' about money is identifying your and your partner's philosophies on handling finances," suggests Golombek. “You and your partner don't need to have the same personality for your relationship to be successful, but discussing your personality differences in advance may prevent tension and stress down the road.”

The report also includes other financial tips for couples and couples-to-be, which include discussing expenses, having a joint account, planning out savings goals, and speaking to a financial advisor.

"There's a reason why it's called a marriage 'contract,' but unlike typical contractual arrangements, marriage comes with emotion," says Golombek. "[M]oney can be a delicate, very emotional topic, so it does really help to talk to someone who can be impartial, like a financial advisor, to help with difficult questions and concerns."

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