Love and marriage (and money)

February 7, 2012 | Last updated on February 7, 2012
2 min read

It’s a sure sign that Valentine’s Day is a week away: a second survey about money and how it can make or break relationships.

Read: Until debt do us part

The majority of Canadians (92%) believe that dating someone with a similar outlook on money is crucial, according to a recent Angus Reid survey, commissioned by ING Direct. This is especially true for women, with 58% saying it was “very” important, as opposed to men (43%).

The survey revealed that couples avoid talking about money.

“Money isn’t always something couples discuss when they fall in love, but it is certainly something that should be on the radar,” said Preet Banerjee, personal finance columnist, blogger and financial expert on the W Network. “Having dramatically different views about financial wellbeing can cause major issues in a relationship down the road. Money shouldn’t be a taboo subject for couples.”

Canadian couples do avoid discussing finances early on, but the status of their partner’s finances was indicated as important. Still, one in five Canadians (19%) know next to nothing about their partner’s money matters, and only half of Canadians said they were deeply knowledgeable about them.

“We can’t expect people to treat [relationships] like a business. However, as you become more involved with someone, money is a subject you should keep in mind,” said Peter Aceto, president and CEO of ING DIRECT Canada. “Couples need to discuss what each partner is bringing to the table in terms of their finances, and decide how they’re going to manage those finances going forward.”

Canadians shared a lengthy list of money topics they feel they need to discuss before committing to a serious, long-term relationship. These include topics such as debts (42%), how expenses will be shared (36%), and a list of monthly expenses (33%). Only 21% of Canadians mentioned the importance of discussing if and how finances would be merged.

Read more about debt management in Stephanie Holmes-Winton’s column.

On a positive note, Canadians do seem pretty content with their partners when it comes to their money habits. Almost half of Canadians (49%) say they have no financial-related pet peeves about their partner. Canadians in a serious relationship, but who remain unmarried, were slightly more passionate; 14% of their significant others were tagged as too frugal, with an equal number being blamed for making expensive and impulsive purchases.