What's love got to do with money? More than a third of Canadians are victims of financial infidelity
A national survey, commissioned by Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and Credit Canada in time for Valentine's Day (February 14), reveals more than one third (36%) of Canadians are victims of financial infidelity.
The two non-profit organizations co-sponsored the Financial Infidelity Survey – a Leger poll that asked Canadians the following question: "What is the worst form of financial infidelity you have been a victim of from a former or current partner?"
Here are some of the standout findings:
• 34 percent of those in a relationship keep financial secrets from their current romantic partner
• 36 percent of those in a relationship have lied about a financial matter to a partner
• Younger adults who are not married, aged 18-54, tend to be victims of financial unfaithfulness
• Women and men are equally likely to become victims of financial infidelity (men: 35% vs. women: 37%), keep financial secrets from their partner (men: 35% vs. women: 34%) and lie about a financial matter (36% both)
"Talking about money can be difficult for an individual, but when in a relationship, whatever issues each of them has is exacerbated," said author, personal finance educator and FPSC's Consumer Advocate, Kelley Keehn. "For example, 50 percent of Canadians are $200 away from not being able to pay their bills and we owe $1.71 for each dollar we bring in. That means we owe a lot more than we'd like to think about and that can lead to a great deal of stress and strain on a relationship."
"Often individuals going into a relationship do not discuss money matters," states Laurie Campbell, Credit Canada CEO. "It doesn't seem romantic. As such there may be a lot you don't know about your partner. You may not know how they handle money, their values around money, or their thoughts on credit and debt. This leaves room for miscommunication and at worst dishonesty and possibly financial abuse of their partner."
Kelly Keehn's 6 Step Conversation
Use the following questions and to-dos to get financially naked with your spouse and ensure you are on the same page:
1. What are our goals?
2. Write a needs and wants list
3. Where are we now?
4. How are we going to get there?
5. Are there any changes?
6. Develop an action plan
Also, asking open-ended questions like: What are your financial goals in the next five or 10 years? If one wants to get another degree and travel the world while one partner wants to settle down and buy a home, there's going to be a major disconnect. Or, ask, what does money mean to you? If one says "Freedom" and the other "Security" – you can guess which one is likely the spender and which is the saver – and can guess at the friction that will cause in the future.
Laurie Campbell and Credit Canada's Tips to Combat Financial Infidelity
• Regular cash withdrawals
• Unaccounted purchases and expenditures that cannot be explained
• Partner lies about purchases and expenditures, to you and/or to others
• A change in behaviour, either in spending habits or attitudes towards you and money, in order to deflect attention away from themselves
• Spending more, on themselves and/or others
• A change in mail, such as regular statements or promotions from credit cards you don't normally use, or investment firms you have never dealt with
• Less frequent mail from your regular financial services and creditors
• Partner is very concerned about the mail and doesn't let you to see it first
What To Do:
1. No surprises. Have regular discussions with your partner about money, as well as your individual assets and debts, whether in savings, chequing or credit accounts.
2. Keep a detailed budget and spending plan. So you know exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out (and on what).
3. Do not sign any document without reading it first. They say love is blind, but you don't have to be. Read everything before signing anything. If you're not sure what something means seek the advice from a professional or expert.
4. Maintain separate accounts. Have one joint account for all household expenses, which each partner contributes to in proportion to their respective income.
5. Individual credit cards in your own names. Don't run the risk of someone else ruining your good credit. Plus, two good individual credit histories are better than one joint history when you apply for a loan. And if one of you has a blemished credit record, the other's clean record can be an asset.
6. Speak to a certified credit counsellor. Some non-profit credit counselling agencies can do a free soft inquiry on your credit report to check for any inconsistencies. You can also see a credit counsellor as a couple for advice on managing money together and setting future goals.