Debt Confessions: Most Canadians in a relationship are not in love with their loved one’s financial habits

Unhappy Valentine’s Day? BDO Canada finds top relationship pet peeves include overspending, not budgeting, not saving enough and not keeping track of their spending.

TORONTO, Feb. 6, 2018 /CNW/ – Canadians who have concerns about their partner’s debt or spending habits might want to follow up Valentine’s Day with a financial date night. A new Ipsos survey for BDO Canada found that 59% of Canadians in a relationship (whether living separately, common law or married) wish they could change at least one of their partner’s financial habits. But their partners might be oblivious, since 36% report rarely or never discussing personal finances with them.

“It’s important to be on the same page as your partner financially,” says Doug Jones, President of BDO Canada Limited. “Hiding spending habits or debt from your significant other can cause serious financial issues that may require more formal debt relief solutions.”

BDO Canada, one of the largest debt relief firms in the country, found that those who feel they have a lot of debt are more likely to hide financial secrets from their partner. Just over half (53%) of these individuals say their significant other knows everything about their finances, while the rest have hidden or are hiding something. The most common thing they’re hiding is credit card debt, followed by other spending habits and debt from before the relationship.

Women are more worried about their partner’s saving habits

For those who said they wanted to change at least one of their partner’s financial habits, 42% of women wish their partner would save more for long-term goals like retirement and emergencies, compared to 29% of men. Women (73%) were also more likely than men (66%) to say their partner knew everything about their finances. And while men are more likely to admire their partner’s budgeting skills, more women (23%) than men (16%) say they do not admire any of their partner’s financial habits.

The good news is that most Canadians have talked about their debt with their partner at some point. 62% had the debt talk before they were married, with 31% having the discussion within the first six months of their relationship. Millennials were the most likely to discuss their debt earlier in the relationship—50% talked about it during the first six months.

Relationship goals: Pay off credit card debt

Despite the findings suggesting a rocky path ahead for some relationships, when it comes to personal finance, four out of five Canadians do admire at least one of their partner’s habits. The most admired habit was having little to no credit card debt (38%), followed by good long-term savings habits, sticking to a budget and not having any student debt. Baby boomers are most likely to appreciate a partner with next to no credit card debt, as nearly half (44%) said they admired that trait in their significant other.

When it comes to dealing with debt as a couple, Jones suggests creating common financial goals. “Take a look at all of your outstanding debts, figure out how much you owe and what the interest rates are on all of them. Then establish a debt repayment strategy that you can both follow. Creating a budget together, if you don’t already have one, is a great place to start.”

Key Poll Findings (**For full tabular results, please visit the Ipsos website at

If Canadians could change one of their partner’s financial habits, it would be…

Overspending or a lack of budget 43%
Not saving enough for long-term goals like retirement and emergencies 36%
Not keeping track of their spending 36%
Lack of knowledge about personal finance 22%
Not investing enough 20%
Using credit cards to extend their income 18%

How often do Canadians discuss finances with their partners?

Daily 5%
A few times per week 14%
Weekly 19%
Monthly 25%
Rarely 30%
Never 6%

What financial secrets are Canadians hiding from their partners? 

Their own spending habits 35%
Credit card debt 32%
Income 20%
Monthly expenses or bills 18%
Investments or assets 16%
Retirement savings 13%
Pre-relationship debt 11%
Other secrets 9%
Student loan debt 5%

BDO Canada Limited’s Financial Recovery Services practice is one of Canada’s oldest (operating since 1958) and largest debt help firms, with offices across the country. BDO’s advisors include Licensed Insolvency Trustees (Officers of the Court and licensed by the OSB) and Proposal Administrators providing credit counseling, consumer proposals and personal bankruptcy services.

BDO Canada Limited’s Financial Recovery Services practice: 

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 2 and January 4, 2018, on behalf of BDO. For this survey, a sample of 1,540 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians 18+ been polled.

SOURCE BDO Canada Limited

For further information: Media inquiries please contact: Hayley Shaughnessy at Environics Communications, 416-969-2671, [email protected]