The makeup of Canadian families is changing, bringing new complexities when it comes to managing money and finances, says TD Bank.

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While married couples still make up two-thirds of all families in Canada, other family arrangements, such as common-law couples and lone-parent families, are gaining ground. A TD survey shows one in five Canadians who are separated, divorced, living common-law, remarried or widowed have either started over with a new partner or are thinking of doing so. The 2006 Canadian census shows one in 10 children live in stepfamilies, about 40% of which involve blended families. For Canadians who are considering starting over with a new partner, more than half (54%) said they place a high priority on making decisions about blending their finances.

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“Most people entering into a new relationship already have an established financial routine which will need to be aligned with their new partner,” said Cynthia Caskey, Vice President and Portfolio Manager, TD Wealth Private Investment Advice.

For those couples who consider blending their finances a priority, the top issues to be resolved are organizing their daily finances, cited by 71% of respondents, followed by finding savings and budget efficiencies (60%). Nearly two in five cited opening a joint bank account as a priority, but only a third (32%) said maximizing their investment opportunities as a couple was a top concern.

Make sure you check in with a client who is going through a change in relationship status, and ensure his or her new partner is taken into account in investment strategies, maximizing savings, debt repayment and household finances.

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To maximize efficiencies, couples can consider streamlining by making savings automatic with pre-authorized transfers into a TFSA, RRSP or a child’s RESP, or towards an extra mortgage or credit card payment. Above all, work with new-couple clients to develop a common vision towards such things as investing for retirement, putting money aside for their children’s education, paying down debt and everyday spending. You will also need to ensure they create a safety net in the event that the new family unit encounters an unexpected life event such as a job loss.

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