How to Ditch Your Debt TogetherFeb 13, 2018
Have you ever noticed that when you’re the only one who takes out the trash, you fixate on how quickly it accumulates? Or if you sweep the floors, you notice every speck of dust? Well, finances — and especially debt — can be much the same.
If you’re the only one tracking your spending, saving for a vacation, or paying down a credit card balance, it can seem like thankless work. And it may mean you and your spouse aren’t always on the same page when it comes to issues like your debt load, spending habits and financial responsibilities.
The fact is, Canadian couples aren’t always in sync about their finances.
According to our new poll more than one-third of Canadians rarely or never talk about finances with their significant other. Up to 20 per cent of people living with someone or married didn’t even reveal their debt until after they unpacked their bags and moved in together.
Another startling finding from our poll: Canadians are keeping secrets from their partner. Three in 10 Canadians confess to keeping at least one financial habit or behaviour hidden. The most common secrets: spending habits and credit card debt.
If this sounds like you and your spouse, it’s time to get important money issues out in the open and perhaps shake up your financial routine.
Look for ways to make managing your finances a team effort.
If you’ve ever let the kitchen garbage overflow out of stubbornness, you know what it means to want a little appreciation for a job (usually) well done.
Finances can be the same. We tend to take on roles or create routines that make our lives run more smoothly on a day-to-day or monthly basis. Maybe you have always managed the “gifts and holidays” savings account. And your partner always pays the monthly utility bills.
Over time, you might feel like you’re the one making the most sacrifices or efforts towards your shared goals. And it might seem like your partner is freestyling, but that might not be the case.
Try some of these bias-busters to motivate you and your significant other to work together on your debt elimination plan:
- Freaky Friday: trade your usual financial tasks. If you usually track investments while your partner pays the bills, switch it around for a few months. It’s important that each of you understand all aspects of your personal finances.
- Keep track of your spending and expenses for two or three months — including all your personal and joint spending, and your essential and non-essential expenses. Review whether either or both of you have slipped off your debt reduction goals and whether you need help with your debt.
- Schedule regular money talks. Review your financial goals and revise them if need be.
- Revisit your thoughts about big life events, like buying a new home, renovating, expanding your family, caring for aging parents. Would you like to put more effort (and savings) towards something now? Have your priorities changed? Do you still have the same plans for retirement? Will you reach your retirement savings goal?
Read more about the factors that impact how much you need to retire in Rona Birenbaum’s blog, Caring for Clients.
- Brainstorm ways to celebrate your financial successes! If your budget has room for it, take the time to pat yourselves on the back — otherwise your motivation to spend wisely or keep saving will dwindle. Plan something special like a date night or a reasonable purchase to celebrate your hard work.
Sometimes, debt and financial problems can arise out of frustration, fear or a lack of communication. Start the conversation with your partner and stay open and honest. Create goals and revisit them regularly to stay on track together.