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“The Money Talk” — From Awkward to Empowered


Published May 8, 2024 • 3 Min Read

Chances are, you learned early on that talking about money was taboo, creating a sense of awkwardness when opening the subject with friends or partners. With money issues being one of the top reasons for divorce in Canada, it may be time to remove the stigma and break the silence. “The Money Talk” is an important step in helping couples cultivate financial alignment and transparency and a healthier, stronger financial future.

Whether it’s a few months, a few years or longer, it is best to sit down for an honest financial discussion. By working towards shared financial goals, it may become a topic that brings you together instead of driving you apart.

Where to begin

As you start to think about planning your first financial discussion, the most important ground rule is to approach the Money Talk with openness and honesty. Other steps to help ensure a successful dialogue might include:

  1. Choose a neutral setting without distractions so you can discuss your finances or any financial concerns you may have.

  2. Express your intentions for the conversation ahead of time, allowing both partners to come into the conversation in a good headspace.

  3. Start your conversation on a broad level by openly discussing topics such as income, debt, spending habits, budgeting, and savings.

  4. Identify shared goals by collaboratively exploring both short and longer-term money goals, such as saving for a down payment on a home or other major purchases.

You’re a team. You’ll need to collaborate on building your shared future goals. If possible, make the experience enjoyable. You could write down your top questions before each conversation and take turns pulling on from the jar for discussion.

Here are some questions to help guide your conversations.

  1. What did you learn from your parents about money growing up?

  2. Do you have a budget?

  3. How do you view and manage debt?

  4. What debts do you currently have, and can they be managed together?

  5. What’s your current income?

  6. Do you have any financial obligations (i.e., supporting family members)

  7. When you think about the status of your bank account, what words or feelings come to mind?

  8. What are your individual spending habits? Would your family consider you a saver or a spender?

  9. Do you have any indulgences you like to spend your money on?

  10. How do you handle your credit cards? Do you pay it off in full, or do you usually carry a balance?

  11. Do you plan for financial emergencies? How much do you feel should be in your financial safety net?

  12. What is your risk tolerance when it comes to investing?

  13. How do you envision managing money as a couple?

  14. Do you prefer joint bank accounts, separate accounts or a combination?

  15. Are there any significant purchases you plan to make in the near future?

  16. How do you want to approach financial decisions on significant purchases?

  17. Is there a threshold you feel is acceptable for one partner to make a purchase without discussing it with the other?

  18. Do you have an understanding of each other’s credit scores?

  19. What are your expectations regarding financial contributions to household expenses?

Remember: The Money Talk doesn’t need to be an awkward conversation. You came together by believing in the future. Ensuring alignment and transparency with your finances is no different. In fact, working together as a team to achieve shared financial goals may even help form a stronger bond between you.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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