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CROP survey | Ended the taboo of money in couples



The majority of Quebecers are now comfortable talking about money with their significant other – a taboo subject that has always been taboo in couples –, reveals a new CROP survey carried out for the Chambre de la sécurité financière (CSF), but not enough to plan a financial plan in case of separation.

Discussing money within the couple was until very recently a minefield. Times are changing, as evidenced by the survey of the Chamber of Financial Security (CSF), especially since the new generations feel more free and uninhibited to talk about salaries and investments.

Among the respondents to the survey, the score is very high. No less than 90% of respondents feel that they discuss finances as equals with their spouse. Talking about debt with your better half is not an issue for 71% of people who say they are comfortable doing so, as is discussing investments (70%).

However, one element remains difficult to address: a financial plan in the event of separation.

“It’s good news that survey respondents are discussing finances. What is surprising is that they did not talk about the consequences of a separation on their finances, ”says Ms.e Marie Elaine Farley, President and CEO of the CSF.

Openness to discussion therefore has limits. What couple in love wants to plan a possible breakup? Concocting a financial plan in the event of separation puts off many. Moreover, half of Quebecers (50%) have never thought about the economic consequences of a separation.

“When things are going well, we don’t think about it, when it’s easier to talk about these subjects. When we know that one in two couples is at risk of separating, not talking about it can have serious consequences, ”warns Ms.e Marie-Elaine Farley.


Me Marie Elaine Farley, CEO of the Chamber of Financial Security

“Especially since there are false beliefs about the regime that applies between spouses,” she notes. Often common-law people will think they have the same rights as married couples, when they don’t. It is important to alert and educate consumers so that they are aware of this and can ask their financial planner the right questions. »

A marriage lasts an average of 15 years, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada, which does not have precise information on the separations of common-law couples. With interest rates rising and home values ​​rising, separating becomes even more complex than in the past. Many ex-spouses no longer have the means to buy back the share of the family home, while accommodation with five or more rooms is difficult to access and expensive.

Saving in secret

While popular culture often depicts spouses spending in secret, the survey highlights a fact that is rarely talked about: saving in secret. Thus, 27% of respondents admit to saving without the knowledge of their spouse. Among the youngest (18-34 years old), this figure rises to 50% and among the wealthiest, it reaches 56%. One in two people (43%) put money aside secretly when their spouse earns just a little more, the report says.

“We don’t have data on why certain categories of people are more likely to put money aside secretly and there certainly may be good reasons to do so. Nevertheless, it is clear that some people try to anticipate the economic consequences of a possible rupture,” explains Hélène Belleau, Ph.D., sociologist and full professor at INRS, who participated in the analysis of this survey.

This phenomenon raises questions, because still in 2022, a majority of women in couples report having lower incomes than their male partners.

This pay gap can have an impact when it comes to paying family expenses. The survey results show that 57% of couples pool their income, and even more (70%) when they earn roughly the same salary.

Lack of financial empathy?

However, one-third of couples who live together opt for splitting expenses, either paying half in equal parts (47%) or contributing proportionally to their income (46%). However, this way of distributing expenses leads the person who earns the least to spend beyond their means, warns Marie Elaine Farley of the CSF.

“Let’s take a couple who wants to go to an all-inclusive in the South, where one earns $100,000 and the other $200,000, illustrates the specialist. The person who earns the highest salary will choose a package in proportion to his income, at $5,000, while the other member of the couple would have chosen the package at $3,000. They will separate in proportion to their income, but the proportion of what is shared will increase. »

The same question can arise when dining out. Does the higher-income spouse lack financial empathy, sensitivity, civility, or selfishness? Again, there is food for thought.

The Chamber commissioned this survey to understand the current financial dynamics within couples so that its 32,000 members can better advise them.

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