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Ajax, Ontario
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Debt Advice Before Marriage: How to Bring Up Financial Matters

Professional debt advice may be just as important as premarital counselling, especially for couples who don’t share the same views about money and spending before tying the knot. Since money disagreements are cited as a main reason for divorce filings, it might be wise to have an honest discussion about your financial habits before saying “I do.”

Love and money

A CIBC poll recently found that almost all common-law partners and couples about to marry believe discussing finances before entering a committed relationship is at least somewhat important. However, only 35 per cent of couples admit to having discussed finances in detail before marriage, and 40 per cent state they mentioned finances briefly. In addition, two-thirds of those polled said they would be entering into marriage or a partnership with debt. These stats speak to potential marital disagreements due to differing money habits. Couples who enter marriage with debts or financial disagreements will often have more trouble meeting milestones such as home-ownership, starting a family or travelling.

How to get on the same page

Before planning a wedding or moving in together, it is important to know how your potential mate deals with their finances and, more importantly, how you will deal with finances together. So, pick a date where you can both speak uninterruptedly in a casual setting, and get ready to have “the talk.” Here are some ways to get the ball rolling:

  • Show and tell
    Inquire about each other’s income levels. If you are planning to pay for a wedding, you’ll both need to create a budget based on your incomes. If you are combining households, will you keep your finances separate? Who will pay for what? Creating a joint budget can be beneficial.
  • Savers or spenders
    Does your partner like to spend or save? This may be in contrast to your own habits. Speak openly about how you envision your combined finances and try to find some common ground. Even if you both wish to keep separate budgets, you may each wish to contribute a specific amount to a joint savings account each month to plan for the future.
  • The four-letter word
    School debts, consumer debts and/or car loans can add up. Combining these debts in a marriage or partnership might also make for a stressful companionship. As newlyweds, you likely don’t want to be surprised by your partner’s unpaid debts. Lay all your debts on the table before marriage and brainstorm ideas to reduce debt so you won’t need to worry about it during the honeymoon phase. Credit card consolidation is one option for combining high-interest balances with a debt consolidation loan or a consumer proposal to reduce your debts and pay them back over a specific term. Compare your options using a debt repayment calculator.

Next steps

Beginning a marriage or relationship with debt weighing you down can add stress and create conflict. Tackle your debts as a team by creating a budget, saving for emergencies and reducing debt either through budgeting, or speaking to a professional such as a Licensed Insolvency Trustee or credit counsellor for debt advice. You might also consider taking a financial literacy workshop together through Durham College or another community outlet and visiting the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) for financial literacy resources.

Could you and your partner benefit from professional debt advice? Visit the FCAC to test your financial literacy and begin to reduce debt together. You can also share your debt story on Twitter using the hashtags #LetsTalkDebt #BDODebtRelief



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