Debt and Dating

Debt and Dating

Talking about debt and money issues can be difficult at the best of times. If you are in the midst of dating someone that you really like, this topic can be difficult. How can you determine if your prospective life partner is on the same page as you when it comes to debt and finances? Are there any warning signs? What can you do to ensure that the months and years ahead do not produce a financial catastrophe? Debt and Dating can be tricky.

One of the most common underlying causes of financial difficulties across Canada is due to relationship breakups. In turn, one of the common causes of relationships ending is arguing over money. If you are starting to spend more time with someone and are wondering what their attitude is about debt and money there are some indicators to keep your eye on.

Warning Signs

If you are concerned that your prospective partner has bad habits when it comes to money, and views finances differently from you, here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • There is a lot of unopened mail sitting about
  • Debt is not treated as if it is a big deal
  • Collectors are calling asking for payment
  • There are repeated visits to payday loan stores
  • There is no remorse for being in debt and no change in behaviour
  • There is no plan to get out of debt
  • You are asked to put debt into your name because you have good credit (this is a bad one)

If you are seeing some of the above points in action, you should have a serious conversation to determine whether that is something you are prepared to live with. From our experience, we see patterns continue. As a result, the pattern of running a monthly deficit will more than likely result in an unmanageable debt load somewhere down the line.

How to Talk About it

There is a saying that love is blind. In fact, there was also a TV show about it. The saying goes that love is blind because you are unable to see your partner’s faults. As a result, even if there are bad financial habits evident, you may not be able to see them because you have been blinded by love.

If your friends and family are suggesting that this is a matter of concern – pay attention! They know you the best and can often see when your new partner has a different attitude towards finances.

Once you realize that there are significant differences it is best to talk about it. This is easier said than done. Often we find the people who struggle with debt and finances often don’t want to talk about it. Instead, they take the ostrich approach of putting their head in the sand and pretending not to see the problems.

We would recommend approaching the topic as follows:

  • Choose a time of low stress: avoid bringing it up at the end of a work day.
  • Try to not cast blame or be critical.
  • Talk about what is important to you
  • Suggest working together to plan for a better future
  • Make a list of wants versus needs and discuss which points have the highest priority
  • If things are going well at this point, draft out a rough budget. Even better would be to track your expenses for a couple of months so the budget could be more realistic

Hopefully, once the conversation starts flowing, talking about finances in the future will become easier.

Talking about finances with your partner is a necessary part of a good relationship. But it can be an uncomfortable experience. This podcast gives some great advice about how and when to have ‘those conversations’.

What if I am the Wealthy One?

If you are a person with high net worth, you may want to get some legal advice at some point before getting married or living with another person for too long. Habits are difficult to change. If your prospective partner is getting you to pay for everything, and has some of the warning signs mentioned above, odds are that it will continue or get even worse in the future. Talking with a lawyer will help to ensure you don’t lose half of your capital to a broken relationship in the future.

Is There Any Financial Counselling Available?

There is an abundance of counselling services available. Many people don’t realize that they have access to free counselling through their employer. This can be very useful in order to gain some advice and tools to use just talking about your relationship in general. Sometimes this topic can become emotional and having access to someone trained in relationship counselling can be very helpful.

There is also pre marital counselling available. Discussing budgeting and handling debt would be discussed.

If the financial situation is already dire, the Federal Government has two programs to help a person re-organize their finances. Filing a Consumer Proposal has become the most popular way to consolidate unsecured debt in Canada. This has to be filed via a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (that’s us!)

As part of a Consumer Proposal, or a Bankruptcy filing, there are two mandatory financial counselling sessions. During these private sessions we help people set up a budget and provide advice about handling their finances in the future.

Next Steps

Dealing with debt and finances is better done sooner rather than later. By waiting you are just letting pressure build up which can lead to an explosion.

If you, or your partner, are carrying an uncomfortable debt load, please reach out to one of our convenient offices to schedule a free initial assessment. We will take a look at your situation and provide some advice as to what to do next.

Filing a Consumer Proposal or a Bankruptcy in Canada is designed to provide the honest unfortunate person a fresh financial start. Contact us to set up your appointment today and we will take the time to answer all of your questions.

Len Hiquebran, CPA, CA, LIT

After completing my articling at a local accounting firm, I spent some time working in industry as a controller of a logging company. Subsequently, I joined Derek L. Chase & Associates Ltd. in 2017 and began working in the insolvency field. In June 2020 I completed my studies and was granted a license by the Federal Government to be a Licensed Insolvency Trustee.