Canadian currency on a table. (CNW Group/Unifor)

A special Valentine’s Day report from the BMO Real Financial Progress Index reveals that while the majority of Canadian couples are compatible in terms of financial planning discussions and approaches, spending continues to be a source of disagreement.

More than a third (35 per cent) of partnered Canadians believe their significant other spends too much money and 32 per cent say spending is often a source of conflict in the relationship. In addition, 36 per cent admit they are not always truthful about their finances to their partners and/or spouse.

The survey explores how couples approach financial planning and communicate their priorities, and found:

  • Honey, Let’s Talk about Money:
    • Among the 51 per cent of couples that believe finances should be discussed during the early stages of a relationship, 10 per cent believe these conversations should happen after the first few dates and 41 per cent believe these conversations should take place when the relationship becomes official. Nearly a third (31 per cent) say conversations about finances should take place when a couple is planning on living together.
    • 12 per cent of couples believe these conversations should begin when getting engaged and/or married.
  • Financially Transitioning from Me to We: 
    • More than a third (35 per cent) of couples believe getting engaged is the right time to combine finances with their partner and/or spouse, followed by when the relationship becomes official (22 per cent) and when moving in together (9 per cent).
    • Nearly one in five (18 per cent) of partnered Canadians do not share or integrate their finances with their partner and/or spouse.
  • Evaluating Spending: 
    • Nearly half (48 per cent) of Canadians admit to spending more money than they know they should and 59 per cent say their partner and/or spouse is the more frugal party in the relationship.
  • Compatibility Quiz: 
    • 82 per cent of couples believe they are compatible because they share similar financial goals and the same proportion have combined and/or integrated their finances with their partner and/or spouse.
    • Over two thirds of couples share equal responsibility for initiating discussions about household finances (68 per cent) and setting goals for their family (67 per cent).
    • 24 per cent admit that different levels of income have created tension in their relationships.
  • Relationship Financial Dealbreakers:
    • When evaluating their partner’s finances, partnered Canadians say they would be most concerned about their partner’s mortgage debt (47 per cent), credit card debt (38 per cent), credit score (33 per cent) and differences in income (26 per cent).

“Many couples continue to underestimate the emotional implications involved with money; this can lead to miscommunication, disappointment and conflict,” Gayle Ramsay, Head, Everyday Banking, Segment & Customer Growth, BMO. “Relationship compatibility should also include understanding your partner’s financial goals, spending habits, existing debt and financial obligations. Working with a financial advisor can help couples bridge the communication gap and develop a plan that supports their unique financial goals to help them make real financial progress together.”

Financial Relationship Compatibility for All Ages

The BMO Real Financial Progress Index also found that while Gen Z and Millennial couples are more likely to share financial responsibilities equally, there are opportunities to improve financial fidelity.

Gen Z (ages 18 to 24) couples are among the most likely to share equal responsibility for initiating conversations about household finances (72 per cent) and setting a household budget (68 per cent). However, over half (52 per cent) say their partner and/or spouse spends too much money and 42 per cent admitted they sometimes lie about their finances – more than any other generation. Similarly, nearly a third (32 per cent) of younger Millennial (ages 25 to 34) couples say they sometimes lie about their finances and 48 per cent believe their partner and/or spouse spends too much money.

When evaluating their partner’s finances, Gen Z say they would be most concerned about their partners’ credit card debt (48 per cent), credit score (47 per cent) and mortgage debt (43 per cent). Younger Millennials are the most concerned about their partners’ credit card (46 per cent) and mortgage (46 per cent) debt, followed by their credit score (43 per cent).

“It is important to communicate your financial expectations early and frequently in order to build a financial future together,” said Ms. Ramsay. “BMO encourages Canadians of all ages to have honest conversations about financial priorities, goals and anxieties early and often. Also, take advantage of convenient digital tools to create your shared financial plan and conveniently monitor the progress of your shared financial goals.”

Digital Tools for Financial Literacy

Customers can build financial literacy, monitor financial plans, and reach financial goals through BMO’s innovative digital tools and resources:

  • BMO SmartProgress: This tool helps customers learn more about important personal finance topics and build financial literacy anywhere and at any time. It is a free, online financial education platform featuring customized, interactive content, including videos and tools, on complex financial planning topics including budgeting and credit management, homeownership and investing.
  • BMO CreditView: Customers can quickly and easily check their credit scores and access new tools and advice to manage their credit profile online and on mobile.
  • BMO InsightsCustomers get help saving more, monitoring spending and account values, and spotting unusual activity with 25 BMO Insights that provide customers free, quick, and personalized views of their daily spending to help them make informed decisions. Popular online insights include:
    • CashTrack: Using artificial intelligence, these insights monitor customers’ cash flows and let them know if they will run out of money in the next seven days.
    • Spend Categorization: These insights notify customers when there has been a significant increase in a specific spending category or if a free trial has expired.
  • BMO Savings Amplifier Account: To help make saving easy and automatic, BMO’s new Savings Amplifier Account offers no monthly fees, a competitive interest rate, and unlimited no-fee transfers to other BMO accounts. In addition, its digital Savings Goals feature enables customers to set, track, and manage their financial goals.

To learn more about how BMO helps customers make financial progress, visit www.bmo.com/main/personal.

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