Couple enjoying coffee, sharing a laugh. They are sitting in sunny room surrounded by plants

Key Takeaways 

  • Know your partner romantically and financially.
  • Discuss factors that could impact your finances with your partner, such as debt, children, and career trajectories.
  • If you're planning to get married, work with a Certified Financial Planner® professional or Qualified Associate Financial Planner™ professional first.

Talking about finances early on in your relationship can help you avoid tension and arguments later on.

There are few adventures in life that are more meaningful than falling in love and getting to know your romantic partner. Unfortunately, there's one important area of life that often gets left out of early relationship conversations, and that's finances.

This common omission raises an important question: when, exactly, do you ask your partner about their credit card debt or how they plan to save for retirement?

How Financial Transparency Leads to Happy Relationships

“It might seem trivial, but it’s not. Marriages have floundered on this issue,” said Robyn K. Thompson, President of Castlemark Wealth Management Inc. and a CFP® professional.

Any couple planning to share their lives should make a point of getting to know each other financially, as well as romantically. This process doesn't just lay the groundwork for milestones like home ownership and (if it's part of your plan) having kids. It's also been shown to reduce a major source of marital tension.

Thompson, the former co-anchor of Investment Television, notes that many younger couples get too caught up in the rosy glow of romance to talk about money. Often, they believe that “things will look after themselves” in the future. “The fact is, they won’t,” she says.

Have the Money Talk Early

Thompson recommends that couples engage in candid financial conversations early in their relationships  especially if they're planning to get married.

The start of a relationship should be a happy time, she say. And day-to-day life will be smoother for couples who get the money talk out of the way.

To start, Thompson says couples should figure out the division of labour when it comes to financial matters. Who will balance the chequebook, pay the bills, and manage accounts?

In some cases, couples pursuing marriage may wish to discuss a pre-nuptial agreement. This is especially when there are significant pre-existing assets or other complex financial arrangements involved, such as trusts. This is a highly specialized area that should be discussed with both a lawyer and a CFP professional or QAFP® professional, according to Thompson.

Couples planning to merge their assets should also discuss the following:  

  • Their debts
  • Plans for children
  • Homeownership
  • Career trajectories
  • Travel plans
  • Wills
  • Life insurance
  • Savings plans

Make Your Financial Plan Unique to You

Couples should ensure they develop a personalized plan that takes all aspects of their shared financial circumstances into account. To achieve this goal, seek the advice and support of a CFP professional or QAFP professional. These experts possess the technical knowledge to assess your financial goals from all possible angles. They must also follow a set of professional standards that ensure your interests always come first. Like any strong relationship, the one you build with a professional financial planner should be built on trust and a shared vision.

Of course, relationships don’t always work out as planned. Thompson also works with clients entering their second or third marriage. In these cases, a “getting-to-know-you period” with a planner is beneficial, especially as these relationships often come with added considerations.

“Financial planners remain carefully neutral about romantic relationships,” says Thompson. “But we have a lot to say about the financial traps and pitfalls to watch for in complicated, blended, or stepfamily arrangements.”

The precise financial questions you and your loved ones confront will vary based on the complexity of your situation. But for every couple, the critical lesson is the same: without transparency and a sound financial plan, even our most straightforward financial goals can be difficult to reach.

As with financial success, strong marriages don’t happen by chance. They, too, take planning.

To find a CFP professional or QAFP professional who can help guide you and your partner financially, use our Find Your Planner tool. 


Related insights

May 30, 2023

Why Some Couples Rarely Argue About Money

young adults
Woman sitting outside looking at computer - golden hour