Sitting down and talking about your financial values is going to help your relationship be much more open now and in the years to come. Discussing finances early on in your relationship is one of the best ways to make sure you both can get on the same page.
It is important to understand each other’s financial status, expectations, and habits when it comes to money. You can then make informed financial decisions based on mutual agreements.
Francyne Myers, Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Allan Marshall & Associates speaks to the importance of having these difficult money conversations with your partner. She advocates for the ‘sooner rather than later’ approach that could save relationship problems down the road.
Francine also speaks about:
- The important questions to ask your partner about their financial values
- The honeymoon stage early in relationships and the importance of having financial conversations
- Power struggles around how to spend money
- Advantages and disadvantages of having separate accounts
- When your kids become adults and evolving your role from parent to consultant
Licensed Insolvency Trustees are considered some of the best financial advisors in the country and the only ones licensed by the federal government of Canada. With their knowledge and expertise you can be assured they will give you the best unbiased advice.
Read the Transcript
Wayne Kay 0:03
Welcome to the Debt Matters podcast where we help Canadians find solutions to their debt with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada. I’m Wayne Kay. Today we have got a great discussion about financial intimacy and how to talk to your partner about money.
Joining me to discuss this Francyne Myers from Allan Marshall and Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee with offices in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Francyne, thanks for coming back to the show.
Francyne Myers 0:35
Thanks for having me, Wayne.
Wayne Kay 0:36
We have great discussions when you are here and this one, I think is wonderful, because unfortunately, couples get together and they don’t have the same thoughts when it comes to money.
When I got married, when I got engaged, my wife had told me at that point, you better be debtless. And if you’re not, you’re selling the motorcycle, and you’re selling that toy, and you’re coming in here, debt free.
Francyne Myers :55
I like her already.
Wayne Kay 1:00
Everybody seems to like her. So she had a plan. And I’m glad we did. So once again, she had a financial plan and was thinking about that stuff when I was thinking about toys. So yes, this is a common thing that’s been happening for years and years.
Francyne Myers 1:27
Yes, it definitely has. How I approach this, I want to make sure first of all, I say to people, okay, what are your financial habits? What are your values, people? You ask them that question, they don’t even really understand what it means. So I kind of break it down.
I say, Okay, what’s, what’s important to you? Is it things like security, freedom, flexibility or spontaneity? Is it being altruistic – giving to others? Is it living simply, there’s a minimalist movement? If you had noticed the tiny home? Everybody’s heard about that.
What are your values? What do you want to do with your money? What does financial success mean to you? It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. How do you feel about saving? How do you feel about spending? Do you know where your money comes from? Where does it go?
And here’s an interesting one, what does budgeting do? Does it make you feel in control? Or does it make you feel controlled? So that’s always wanting to kind of sit down and say, well, let’s kind of figure out what your habits values are.
Once you’ve identified and you would do this, your own exercise as well, because a lot of people have not actually sat down and thought about this. Once you identify your own financial values, if unlike you and your spouse, you have not taught your children and discussed this, – from being toddlers, which most people have not. It’s a really new exercise for most people.
You’ve got to identify your financial values that really kind of underpin your psyche. You have to improve your ability to set and achieve goals. You’ll find it much easier to prioritize budgets, save and you just feel better about money as you go along and investing. If you can’t talk about or think about money yourself, you’re not going to be able to really talk about finances with someone else. You have to figure out yourself where you sit with everything. But remember, people are very different,
Wayne Kay 3:34
But I think she’s really awesome. I really like her. Right? There’s always that side.
Francyne Myers 3:41
I can’t believe you said that. That’s exactly what was crossing my mind. Love is all we need.
Wayne Kay 3:48
That’s all we need. Exactly. We’ll get through it.
Francyne Myers 3:52
Why yes. Why do I need to talk about money? Right? So let’s talk about a thing called the honeymoon stage, which you and I are probably out of at this point in time.
Wayne Kay 4:02
Francyne Myers 4:06
There was also a movie years ago, and I’m dating myself, with Marilyn Monroe called The Seven Year Itch – for good reason. Here’s what happens. You think the other person is wonderful. All You Need Is Love. Well, that might work for the first few years, maybe not even that long. There are little annoying financial habits of maybe not paying their credit card off all the time, or maybe going over limit or not paying the power bill on time or being a little bit spontaneous. It may be very attractive at the beginning but starts to wear thin after a while.
When you’re down to year 10 – you’re like, you know what, you can’t handle money, and that’s where the problems start. Really, Wayne, you should have seen the signs right at the beginning, when we don’t want to really look at them, because we’re so in love.
At the beginning, a young couple – whether it’s your child or, this is what I’m going to say to my child. And I would hope that people would say to their child, observe the other person. How do they handle money? Have a conversation with them about it. You have to have the hard conversations.
What a lot of young people will do is just start off and fly by the seat of the pants. There’s no plan. No, there’s absolutely no plan, because love is all we need. But you really need to talk about money as early on in a relationship as reasonably comfortable. I mean, you don’t meet somebody a week later start to ask about their RSP or anything. But you know, where it started?
Wayne Kay 5:47
That might be a little bit too much. You don’t put that on a dating profile – send statements and tax.
Francyne Myers 5:54
No, exactly. But maybe some people should. But you do want you know, when it’s starting to get a little bit serious, or you move in together or something. Even before you move in together, you should be sitting down and talking about money, especially if you’re starting to put your money together. Again, the little habits that you’re kind of okay with – if you’re a saver and the other one’s a spender. Well, you’re going to have problems, 10 years down the road, even five years down the road, if you don’t compromise.
Now, I do meet people who totally squeak when they walk. And then I meet people who, money burns a hole in their pocket. It might be good if they each temper each other a little bit.
Wayne Kay 6:43
So it’s money, it’s okay. That’s what we’re, that’s what we’re living for. So it’s perfectly fine.
Francyne Myers 6:53
It’s okay as long as the bills are paid, and the priorities are taken care of. And when you are 25 years old, now’s the time to start thinking about retirement, not 45. Okay, now, don’t get me wrong. Anytime is a good time. You know, when’s the best time to plant an oak tree? 20 years ago? When’s the second best time – today.
So as soon as you realize it, you start, but it’s much better if you started talking about this years ago. What’s the two things you think that couples fight about the most?
Wayne Kay 7:32
I’m gonna say, Well, money will definitely be there. And yeah, it’s probably got to have something to do with sex.
Francyne Myers 7:40
Could be – spoken like a true man. I’m saying – kids.
Wayne Kay 7:46
But kids – they were because of that, so I guess I’m right.
Francyne Myers 7:50
There you go. But you know what? That’s true, too. I hadn’t put that on my repertoire. But you’re absolutely right.
Wayne Kay 7:57
But I’m an evolved man, who’s done a lot of training. And so I will say, the fight is actually not about sex. It’s about something different, which is probably regarding the kids or the other life situations that are going on. So kids and money, big fights.
Francyne Myers 8:15
Big fights in power. Power struggles.
Wayne Kay 8:18
Regarding over who’s in control
Francyne Myers 8:21
Power struggles, exactly. This power struggle comes up a lot. It’s butting heads on parenting styles, because everybody’s different, and how to spend money. No matter who you are, you’re a couple – you’ve got two adults, you’re going to have conflict, that is normal. Show me a couple who knows how to deal with conflict – I’m not talking about fighting, you’re throwing dishes around the table, around the kitchen or anything. But a couple who understands the rules of engagement, because there’s going to be engagement.
Most conflicts are around a lot of times, yes, the kids and money. You’ve got to know how to talk about it. And if you’ve talked about it early on, and you understand the framework, nothing prepares you for kids and teenage years. I know that. But if you’ve at least talked about money, and you’re on the same page, you’ve got a framework and you’re working together towards a common goal. That will go a long way towards you also working together regarding the children. Even if you think the husband is too hard on them, and the husband thinks the wife is too soft on them, which is pretty typical – because that’s kind of how it boils down to.
It’s a hard conversation, talking about money. Like I said, especially if you didn’t grow up with it, in your house. I always suggest young couples, don’t go in with the atom bomb. Go in with talking about things like, Are you a saver, how do you feel about money? Do you think that money is a means to an end? Does money burn a hole in your pocket?
There’s no right or wrong because we’re all learning. And we will learn from each other. And it’s a negotiation process that you need to brainstorm with your partner. Both partners need to feel safe. It should never turn into one session of one partner, dictating to the other. The partner who makes sometimes a higher income, dictating to the other where the money will go, because that, Wayne, is a kiss of death in a relationship.
Wayne Kay 10:34
Francine, you deal with couples all the time who run into financial trouble, to a point where they have to look at some serious options. Maybe it’s Consumer Proposals, maybe it’s Bankruptcies, but oftentimes they are there together. Generalizing, is it something that you can say was because couples didn’t talk about money – they had totally different ideas? Does that happen? Is that it? Are you seeing this?
Francyne Myers 11:05
So here’s what typically happens. Couple ‘A’ and ‘B’ come in. ‘A’ was totally absent from dealing with any money and didn’t want anything to do with it. That could have been male or female, it really doesn’t matter. That does happen. Because when you don’t deal with it, you can’t be responsible for it. ‘B’ has been trying to keep things together and pay bills. But there hasn’t been a lot of communication and a lot of talking.
What will happen is the person who has totally abdicated any responsibility will start blaming the other person. Well, if you were better with money, you handled the money. So if you’d been better, we wouldn’t be here. That’s absolutely not true. So I’m really frank with people, because you need to get real in the moment, right? And it really comes down to guys, you’re here. Now, we need to put this behind us. And really, you can’t blame him or her because you didn’t help.
Wayne Kay 12:09
Right. You’re both in it.
Francyne Myers 12:12
That’s exactly the point. So let’s work together, go forward on how we deal with this and change the old money behaviors?
Wayne Kay 12:23
If there’s a couple that’s listening and maybe they are a little bit on opposite ends of the spectrum – is it ever advisable to keep your accounts kind of separate, but yet live together? Or is it always better to be the team, like my wife and I have everything go into one pot?
Francyne Myers 12:45
Either one will work however a couple wants to handle it. The more traditional role is what you just mentioned, it goes into one pot. Perhaps your wife, or traditionally it’s the woman, actually pays the day to day bills, keeping track of that. Traditionally, that is the way it does work.
A lot of time when you see two professionals coming together, or people who perhaps get together later in life, or people who’ve been through a bad relationship and do not want to have their income compromised again – they will keep very separate accounts. I will pay the rent or the mortgage, or what have you. You are responsible for the groceries and they try to split down the middle. That does work for some people, and then your own money is your own money, it makes sure that the bills are paid.
Now, the problem with this is sometimes some people don’t pay the power bill. And the other person doesn’t know. So there’s pros and cons for everything. That is a more uncommon way for people to handle their money. I find it with people who have come together later in life and are more independent anyway.Traditionally, it is done where you put everything together. And then you work together. That can have his problems as well, when you have one person handling the money. Because the other person may not know what is going on.
So it has to be, I think, the best – this is just my personal opinion. I think yes, the one person should be handling the day to day in paying the bills, because if not, it gets very confusing. Well, did you pay the power bill? No, I thought you did. That’s not a good way to do it. You’re responsible for paying the bills. And as long as the person accepts the responsibility and doesn’t feel beat upon, that’s great. Okay, that works out really well.
But for larger purchases, you should never have what’s happened to me one time in a previous relationship. You should never come home and find a new car in the driveway,
Wayne Kay 14:55
Okay, yes, no kidding.
Francyne Myers 14:58
Not a good seat. So there’s a couple of things, not discussing big purchases with your spouse, showing a lack of respect for the other person’s opinion, and really making a purchase, that’s probably going to affect both people. Because now you’ve got this extra payment that the other didn’t expect. So large purchases like that should always be discussed and come to a compromise.
Wayne Kay 15:25
Yes, surprising conversation.
Francyne Myers 15:29
A hard conversation, yes.
Wayne Kay 15:31
You can see from both sides, somebody wanted to do something really nice. But it’s such a big financial thing that you have to discuss it. And still, hey, when you work for something and save up for it, and you buy it, there’s still that joy and happiness regarding it, as opposed to just going out and getting the instant gratification and then having to pay for it after.
Francyne Myers 15:52
That’s exactly the way it is. I have got to tell you, it’s all this impulse spending. Saving up for something, and then buying it, or even financing a portion. But having a big down payment gives you much more gratification and a feeling of self sufficiency than just charging it or just financing everything.
Wayne Kay 16:14
Yes, even smaller things. You don’t have to have it all right now. So it’s all good. Here’s a question as a parent – you have kids then become getting into relationships. We don’t quite know what the relationship is, what their financial states are. Do I say, here’s a financial book, I’d like you both to read it. How does a parent approach a young couple getting to that point where they need to discuss money?
Francyne Myers 16:45
I think that’s a very slippery slope. Perhaps if it isn’t approached properly – you want to ensure that your child is autonomous and makes their way through life and not to keep parenting them. But you put yourself I would say, not a parent, but you’re the consultant.
I have one on the cusp of university, almost an adult, not a problem – makes a lot of her own decisions. If we see she’s going to gouge out an eye I will say something. But for the most part, she kind of needs to make her own decisions – kind of needs to make a few bad decisions. Like she says, As long as she doesn’t end up in a cult or something. It’s all good, right?
But we see our role, kind of evolving now from parent to consultant. And I think if you kind of approach your children or teach them say – look, yes, we are your parents. But now we come alongside you not as a parent, but as older, wiser people, who have your best interests at heart and would like to just give you our experience. You don’t have to take our advice. Yes, it is totally up to you. You are adults. But can we speak into your life, you have to be given permission to speak into another adult’s life. If you don’t, it will not go well.
Wayne Kay 18:23
That could almost be an entire show. Maybe we should schedule that one – maybe it’s getting ready for leaving the nest, going off to school, going to university, or just going to start life. I know a lot of parents who are in that place.
In fact, I was having a discussion with somebody today who said, I don’t think my son will have any clue of how to take care of anything financially. And she was quite nervous. Because they did a calculation. They said, Well, your gas is this, your cell phone is this, your insurance is this, but you’re only making this much. He’s said, Oh, it’s fine. I’ve got savings.
Francyne Myers 19:01
I think it’s just somebody who has not quite understood because they’ve lived at home. Yes, that’s a very normal reaction for someone who hasn’t really been out on their own and experienced the ups and downs of life.
That’s where a parent again, has to come alongside the child and say, yes you could go into your savings but if you do, here’s what possibly could happen. Now just explain the situation. And again, when children become adults, you have to respect them as adults. And if they don’t want to take your advice and don’t want you to speak in their life – you can’t force them.
Wayne Kay 19:43
Okay, we’re wrapping up financial intimacy, how to talk to your partner about money. This has been a wonderful discussion. We know we need to discuss it. I’ve never actually heard about financial values before and analyzing those. So if I go back in my mind to pre-marriage, I was thinking pre-med and marriage, it wasn’t even something I was really thinking of. So I think that’s just great advice. What’s your final words of advice for us?
Francyne Myers 20:10
Oh, just make sure you have the hard conversations. Don’t be afraid to have them because you know what – those hard conversations are what brings people closer.
Wayne Kay 20:21
Yes. And you know what, I think when you’re on the same page, you achieve so much more. Francine pleasure as always, thanks very much for being on the show.
My guest today Francyne Myers and you can schedule a free consultation with Allan Marshall and Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee through their website at wecanhelp.ca. And if you want to learn more go there, wecanhelp.ca
That’s it for today’s Debt Matters podcast. If you know somebody that really needs to learn from these shows, please pass on our address. Let them know about the show and subscribe where you get your favorite podcasts from. And of course, we always have things up on our website at debtmatters.ca Thanks for listening.
About Francyne Myers
In 2012, Francyne left her 23 year public service career and joined Allan Marshall & Associates where she completed her education and became a Licensed Insolvency Trustee in 2013. Alongside with her work she is actively involved in her local Trustee Association. In her spare time Francyne can be found fishing and spending time with her family.