4 things an LIT can teach you about love and money

Love and money don’t always coexist in perfect harmony. Indeed, financial difficulties are often cited as one of the top reasons why people separate, and are also closely linked with other tensions, like lack of communication, constant arguing and feelings of inequality. The subject of money can be a minefield that many couples try to avoid, hoping perhaps to keep the peace. But when couples encounter financial problems, like unmanageable or hidden debts, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) can help them resolve the financial strain and give them a fresh start.

What is an LIT exactly? Think of an LIT as a debt solutions expert. Their job is to help people resolve their debt issues. Because of the nature of their profession, LITs are keenly aware of the obstacles that people face when it comes to love and money. They often meet couples who are going through tough times.

We recently spoke with two BDO Licensed Insolvency Trustees — Rebecca Sudano in Kingston, Ontario and Laurier Richard in Quebec City — about what they’ve learned about love and money over the course of their careers. Here are four helpful tips.

1) Talking about your financial past

For couples who have a hard time broaching the subject of money without getting into an argument, Rebecca suggests talking about your financial past.

“Communication is definitely key, but I would say that listening is far more important. Understanding why someone has a particular relationship with money is a fundamental part of being able to relate to your partner on a deeper level. When I help a couple with their finances, I encourage them to sit down and open up about their money habits. A good way of breaking the ice is to explain to each other your financial backgrounds. How did your parents handle money decisions? How would you have done things differently? When people are able to take a step back from their financial problems and reflect on how money influenced the way they were raised, they become more self-aware and better equipped to look at their own situation more clearly.”

Rebecca Sudano, BDO LIT, Kingston, Ontario

2) Sharing financial responsibility

There is nothing simple about money management. It involves a wide range of decisions that range from managing grocery spending to planning for retirement. When household responsibilities are naturally divided between partners, it’s wise not to let money decisions lie within the purview of one person. Laurier thinks that it’s essential to talk openly about money, even if there are some disagreements.

“I often help couples who have distinct roles when it comes to managing all the responsibilities within a household. Sometimes this works fine. But oftentimes, when one partner is left out of the financial decision-making, there can be the potential for financial secrets, which can not only derail a family’s finances, but create walls between spouses or partners and cause a lot of stress. My goal is to find a debt solution that fits their needs, and also teach them the basics of managing a budget so they can work together to limit their reliance on credit and track their spending. But let’s be honest: sharing the responsibility of household finances can be stressful, too. It can mean disagreements that may be unpleasant or awkward. But these differing viewpoints are essential to the financial health of the relationship. When it comes to money, I really believe that two heads are better than one.”

Laurier Richard, BDO LIT, Quebec City, Quebec

3) Making up for financial inequalities

Whether the household finances are handled separately or jointly, most partners will have at least some common financial goals. This does not mean, however, that they will be contributing in exactly the same way. There may always be some inequality in a relationship. For Rebecca, the resentment that arises from these imbalances often comes from the assumptions we have about our partner.

“When it comes to love and money, there is that there is no set playbook. Every relationship is different and most are constantly evolving. It’s impossible to say how a couple should divide financial responsibilities. I especially have noticed that problems arise when assumptions are made about who should be paying for what. It’s why money talks should be happening on a monthly or a weekly basis. Especially now, when so much work is done on a contractual or freelance basis. Couples should be constantly reviewing their budgets and readjusting them to suit fluctuating resources. Asking your partner, “Are you okay with how we’re handling our bills?”, “Do you think we need to adjust certain things?” is a great way of checking in with the person you love and making sure you’re being supportive.”

Rebecca Sudano, BDO LIT, Kingston, Ontario

4) Growth from surviving tough times

It’s not all doom and gloom. Many couples are able to repair their differences after overcoming financial adversity. While LITs often meet with couples who are struggling, Laurier finds joy in being able to guide them towards an achievable goal and give them very clear steps in their financial recovery.

“It’s true, that as an LIT, I see a lot of people separating because of money issues, but there is a silver lining too. When faced with a debt problem, many couples are very supportive of each other’s financial situations. And when they come see us, they see themselves and their household at their most vulnerable. The initial consultation is often a bit like therapy: individuals and couples are opening up for the first time about the state of their finances and the reasons behind their difficulties. I see many couples whose bond is strengthened by going through this process and taking the necessary steps they need to. Together. This happens a lot and is very heart warming.”

Laurier Richard, BDO LIT, Quebec City, Quebec

Talking about money with your partner can be difficult, but meeting with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to go over your debts is easy. An LIT is an impartial third party who can explain your debt relief options with clarity and empathy. If you are interested in learning more, join our conversation on Facebook or on Twitter #LeaveDebtBehind