CROPS Survey | The taboo of money in couples is over

Most 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 conducted for the Chambre de la sécurité financier (CSF), but not enough to plan. financial plan in case of separation.

Posted at 7:30 p.m

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube

Discussing money as a couple has been a minefield until recently. Times are changing, as evidenced by a survey by the Chamber of Financial Security (ČSF), especially because the new generation feels freer and uninhibited to talk about salaries and investments.

The score is very high among survey respondents. No less than 90% of respondents feel that they talk about finances with their partner as equals. Talking about debt with your better half is not a problem for 71% of people who say they are comfortable with it, as is discussing investments (70%).

However, one element is still difficult to solve: a financial plan in the event of a breakup.

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

The openness of the discussion therefore has its limits. What couple in love wants to plan for a possible breakup? Coming up with a financial plan in the event of a breakup is daunting for many. In addition, half of Quebecers (50%) have never thought about the economic consequences of separation.

“When things are going well, we don’t think about it when it’s easier to talk about these topics. When we know that one of the two couples is at risk of separation, not talking about it can have serious consequences,” warns the lady.E Marie Elaine Farley.


ME Marie Elaine Farley, CEO of the Financial Security Chamber

“Especially because there are misconceptions about the regime that applies between spouses,” she notes. Common law people will often 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 the right questions of their financial planner. »

Marriages last an average of 15 years, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, which does not have accurate information on common-law divorces. With rising interest rates and rising home values, unbundling is becoming even more difficult than in the past. Many ex-spouses no longer have the means to buy out a share of the family home, while accommodation with five or more rooms is difficult to come by and expensive.

Storing in secret

While popular culture often portrays married couples spending in secret, the survey highlights a fact that is rarely talked about: secret savings. Thus, 27% of respondents admit to saving without their husband’s knowledge. Among the youngest (18-34 years), this figure rises to 50% and among the richest it reaches 56%. One in two people (43%) secretly save money 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 secretly put money aside, and there may certainly be good reasons for that. Nevertheless, it is clear that some people are trying to foresee 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 even in 2022, the 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 so (70%) when they earn roughly the same salary.

Lack of financial empathy?

However, a third of cohabiting couples choose to split expenses, either paying half equally (47%) or contributing in proportion to their income (46%). However, this way of dividing expenses leads the lowest earners to overspend, 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,” the expert illustrates. The person earning the highest salary would choose a package in proportion to their income, $5,000, while the other member of the couple would choose a package for $3,000. They will separate in proportion to their income, but the proportion shared will increase. »

The same question can arise when dining. Does the higher-earning spouse lack financial empathy, sensitivity, courtesy, or selfishness? Again, food for thought.

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

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