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Key takeaways:

  • You can build financial trust by speaking with your partner.
  • Discuss your financial expectations with your partner to get on the same page.
  • Talk about your short- and long-term financial goals together so you can make an action plan.
  • Figure out your own financial rules and don't be afraid to revisit them.
  • Approach your partner with empathy and open lines of communication when it comes to money issues.

Just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to money. Between your savings goals, debt and spending habits, getting your personal finances just right can be tricky — multiply that by two when you’re part of a couple.

If you’re looking for advice about how to talk about money with your partner, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more about money in relationships and how to have the right conversations to put you on the same financial path.

The impact of money on relationships

Everyone has feelings about money. Some are good, like how it can give you a sense of security or help you have exciting experiences. Negative money emotions — like stress, anxiety, and fear — are also common. The way you feel about money affects the choices you make about it, and the same is true for your partner.

The best way to build trust and intimacy around money is to have open and honest conversations.

Look at your spending and savings habits

Different people have different ways of handling money. Ask yourself, are you a saver, putting a little away until your reach your money goal, or do you spend your paycheque as soon as it comes in? What about your financial goals? Are you planning now for a healthy retirement fund or would you rather put it off for later?

And what about your partner? Are your styles different or similar?

A great way to take a look at your personal spending and savings habits is to use Scotia Smart Money by Advice+, which you can find on the Scotia app. 1 It gives you access to different money management tools in one place, including a budget feature that tracks your spending and tells you how you’re doing on a monthly basis against the budget targets you’ve set up. Having an understanding of where you are at with your spending can help you be in a better place to share that with your partner.

Prepare for financial stress

Everyone has financial stress at some point. If you talk to your partner before stress happens, you can face money issues as a team.

Share with your partner your financial priorities – do you want to focus on saving for more short-term things like a car or save more long term for retirement? Discuss situations that might cause you stress, like if you are working to pay off debt.

Talking about money worries can seem intimidating, but it’s important to remember these conversations are part of being a team. They will help you get to know each other’s feelings about money so you can face whatever comes together. 

Setting financial goals

Setting your money goals is the first step in making your financial plan. Here's your chance to imagine everything you want to achieve together and make a plan to get there. 

Short-term goals

Anything you think you can get done within a year is considered a short-term goal. Some common ones are paying down a small amount of debt, saving for a vacation or building up an emergency fund.

When you decide on your short-term goals, be realistic. It can be hard to stick to a plan if you aren’t seeing the results you want. You can always revisit your goals and adjust them as need be.

Long-term goals

Talking about long-term goals can be exciting because it involves mapping out your future as a couple. You can think about whether (and when) you want to buy a house and if you want to help save for your downpayment with a First Home Savings Account. If you’re planning on having children, you might put away money for their schooling in a registered education savings plan (RESP). Plan for your golden years now and save what you’ll need to realize your dreams in a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

What sort of retirement is your dream? You might want to travel a lot, buy a cottage or focus on leaving money behind for loved ones. Your vision might not be the exact same as your partner’s. Having that conversation early will help you avoid surprises and see how to work together on a future that suits you both.

Financial rules for couples

The first rule of finances for couples is that you make the rules. Every couple is different. Your job is to find what works for both of you as you plan your financial future as a couple.

How do you split money in a relationship?

You and your partner need to discuss what you do with the money you earn. It might help to think about how much your salaries are, and if either of you has debt. Some couples choose to split money and expenses 50-50 while others come up with other agreements.

Whatever you decide, it’s a great idea to make a couples’ budget.

Who should pay the bills?

Talk with your partner about how you’ll pay the bills. Maybe you want to split things 50-50, but maybe not. A different arrangement might work better if one partner has debt from student loans or credit cards, or has a higher salary. Maybe one person pays the mortgage while the other pays for groceries. Whatever you choose, make sure it works for both of you.

Now is also a good time to think about whether you want to have separate bank accounts. While you might want to largely keep your finances separate, having a joint savings account for household expenses can help keep things organized.

What about debt?

Debt is stressful, and while it might be tempting to ignore it, don’t. A relationship is a partnership — so your partner needs to know about any debt you have because it may affect the financial goals you’ve set together. Carrying debt can reduce how much you can save, and it can also affect your credit score, limiting your ability to access loans or a mortgage. Tell your partner, then make a plan together. A Scotia advisor can help you create a plan to tackle your debt and save for the future. 

How to deal with money issues in a relationship

By now, you probably know that communication is the key. When money issues come up, your first step should be a chat with your partner. Discuss the issues openly and with empathy so you can look for solutions together.

If the issue is cash flow, look at your budget. You might be able to make adjustments to meet your needs. Don't be afraid to revisit your financial agreements and goals and see if they still work for you. Circumstances change all the time in relationships, so you need to be flexible. 

Bottom line

When it comes to your finances as a couple, you’re the experts on what works best. But you can also get help from a Scotia advisor to work together as a team on how to reach your financial goals as a couple. 

Ready to get your finances on track for your future? Come in and speak to a Scotia advisor today