It's Your Money  

Time to have the talk

Have you and your spouse had “the talk” lately?

Money is a tough subject to discuss for most people and they simply don’t seem willing or able to talk about it properly.

To test if you and your spouse are overdue for a chat about your finances, see if you can answer these questions:

  • How will you pay the bills if the primary income earner is injured and off work for the next 12 months?
  • What age are you planning on retiring and how much annual income do you plan to have in retirement?
  • Are you planning to help your children out with university and by how much?
  • What is your target value for your retirement account?
  • How much money do you want to put into your savings each year?
  • What is your plan for your mortgage and other debt if one of you passes away unexpectedly?
  • Do you have current wills, power of attorney and health representative agreement documents?
  • When do you plan to start taking your CPP and other pension income out?   
  • Do you plan to downsize in retirement and how much will that cost/save?
  • What do you want to do once you retire?

Most Canadians probably can’t answer all these questions for themselves. They likely have even less idea how their spouse would answer many of the questions.

If you don’t know the answer to each of the above questions for both you and your spouse, it’s time to have “the talk.”

Having this conversation is not nearly as hard as you think it will be. But the real challenge is getting started. Use the above list of questions as a starting point and see what each of you has to say.

You might be surprised to hear that your spouse has some very different ideas from your own.

That’s OK as long as you identify these thoughts now and work to meet your investing, debt management and retirement goals.

When a couple has different spending and saving habits, it can lead to unfilled dreams and cause marital tension. A simple conversation can go a long way to avoiding these financial and emotional downfalls and reducing the stress in your life.

The same talk should be considered with your parents as well. The failure to discuss estate plans with your parents can cause sibling dissension which leads to unnecessary legal fees and the potential to divide family relationships beyond repair.

Having “the talk” with your spouse and other family members is something you simply can’t afford to avoid any longer.

Block off some time in your calendar, turn off the TV, leave the smartphones and iPads in another room and come prepared and with an open mind.

You’ll be surprised how easy the conversation can be once you get started.

If you still feel like it’s too hard or you don’t know where to begin, enlist the help of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional to help guide you through the process.     

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About the Author

Brett, designated as a chartered investment manager and certified financial planner, is the regional director (Okanagan) for IG Wealth Management.

In addition to his “day job," Brett was appointed to the board of directors of FP Canada (formerly FPSC) in 2014, named as the board’s vice-chair in 2017 and will take over as board chairman in June. 

Brett has been writing a weekly financial planning column since 2012 and provides his readers with easy to understand explanations for the complex financial challenges that they face in every stage of life.

Enhancing the financial literacy of Canadian consumers is a top priority of Brett’s and his ongoing efforts as a finance writer and on the regulatory side through the FP Canada board focus on this initiative.   

Please let Brett know if you have any topics that you’d like him to cover in future columns by emailing him at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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