Money conversations for couples

If you’re getting married or moving in together, discuss money matters early. Try and get a full understanding of each other’s financial situation and approach to money. This will help you make better financial choices together. It will also help you avoid future disagreements about money.

Be honest. Hiding debts, for example, could put stress on your relationship.

1. Talk about what you own and what you owe (assets and liabilities)

Discuss what you own, or your assets.

These may include:

  • savings
  • property
  • investments

Talk about what you owe, or your liabilities.

These may include:

  • credit card debt
  • lines of credit
  • mortgages
  • car loans
  • student loans

Use the Assets and Liabilities Worksheet for Couples to help you identify what you owe and what you own.

Learn how to pay down debt and make a plan to be debt-free.

2. Talk about your current financial obligations

Discuss any financial obligations you have.

These may include:

  • student debt payments
  • loan or mortgage payments
  • child support payments
  • other ways you support a child (for example, Registered Education Savings Plan contributions)
  • spousal support payments
  • caring for an ill or elderly relative
  • maintenance of another property
  • regular travel costs to visit family

Learn how to make a budget as a couple.

3. Talk about your credit history

Your individual credit histories will affect your ability to get a loan, line of credit or credit card together. Lenders use your credit history to decide how risky it would be to lend you money. If one of you has a poor credit history, it may be more difficult to borrow money.

How you arrange your finances together may affect your individual credit history.

For example, if you share a credit card, only the primary cardholder develops a credit history by paying it off on time. Consider having credit cards or loans in each of your names.

Learn more about credit reports and scores.

Learn different ways to share a joint credit card.

4. Talk about your shared financial goals

Set your savings goals together. Discuss goals you’d like to save towards.

For example, you may want to:

  • create emergency savings
  • buy a home
  • pay off debt
  • take a vacation
  • save for retirement
  • buy a car
  • have children

To reach your goals:

  • write them down
  • put them in order of importance
  • plan how much money you’ll need for each goal
  • review your budget as a couple to find ways to increase your savings
  • decide how much you’ll each contribute to reach your joint goals

Review your goals every few months. Measure your progress. Revisit your goals when your financial situation changes.

Use the Financial Goal Calculator to help create a savings plan or make a plan to pay off your debt.

5. Talk about your financial personality

Discuss how you approach your finances. This will help you understand each other’s attitude toward money.

Questions you can discuss:

  • Are you the type of person who finds it easy to make a budget and stick to it?
  • Would you prefer to save for purchases or borrow?
  • How much risk can you tolerate when you’re investing?
  • What do you like to spend money on?
  • What don't you like to spend money on?

Make a list of things you need and things you want. This will help you understand each other’s financial personality.

6. Talk about your current financial arrangements

Take a look at how your finances are organized.

Consider your chequing account, credit card and savings accounts. Look into how much you're paying in service fees.

Use the Account Comparison Tool to find accounts with the services, products and fees you want as a couple.

7. Talk about your financial roles

Decide how you're going to share financial responsibilities, such as paying monthly bills and monitoring spending habits. It may help to consider some examples of how other couples handle their finances together.

Learn how to manage your money as a couple.

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