Vice-President of Sands & Associates and Licensed Insolvency Trustee Blair Mantin was a guest on CTV Vancouver’s ‘News at Noon’ today. Although finances don’t often play a part in couples Valentine’s Day plans, one in three couples do say that debt is a major source of their stress. Blair shares some key Do’s and Don’ts for couples to keep in mind all year-round, to help their relationships withstand the financial stresses of life.
Watch the clip here, and read more below:
- Communicate: Set aside time to talk about where your finances (shared and separate) are at. Be honest with your partner about your financial situation. Couples may have very different levels of financial literacy – don’t be intimidated if you feel overwhelmed; start to make it real by writing things down. A shared budget can be an excellent tool to ensure monthly over-spending does not turn into a bigger issue over time.
- Share some financial intimacy: This piece of advice will vary depending on where you are at in the relationship and how much you are willing to share (again, honesty is our recommendation!). Assuming you and your partner are both prepared to be open about your finances, one of the best ways to truly get a picture of the overall financial health of the couple would be for each person to pull their credit report to review together. Credit reports can be accessed for free once a year, and we have a free credit report request form here.
- Bonus benefit: This is also a great way to ensure your credit report is accurate and that you have not been a victim of identity theft. With so many data points on literally every adult Canadian in Canada, it’s rare to see a credit report that wouldn’t benefit from at least a little cleaning up of old or just plain wrong information.
- Understand what you owe and what you don’t owe: Many people believe that when you marry someone, you marry their debt. This is 100% false! There is no automatic liability that spouses accrue just by being married. For example, if I owe the bank $10,000 and I get married, the bank is not suddenly able to collect from my spouse for a debt that is clearly mine. Unless you have cosigned a loan with your partner you are not responsible. Keep this in mind before you consider paying off the debts of one spouse with the assets of another. You may be giving the creditors a greater return than they could otherwise achieve, at the expense of the financial health of the couple.
- Play the blame game: Regardless of how the problem arose, the important thing is what you do about it. There’s nothing to be gained by blaming a financial problem on one partner or the other. There’s much to be gained by working together to understand how the debt problem arose and what can be done to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future. Money is a sensitive subject for many people and starting to throw in blame and shame is likely to just make things worse.
- Suffer alone or in silence – help is out there: Most people have no idea the options that are available to them to deal with their debts. If you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t suffer in silence. A Licensed Insolvency Trustee will meet with you at no charge to help you find a way forward. A Consumer Proposal can be a great way to get your finances sorted – it provides immediate relief of collection activities, reduces the debt down to what you can actually afford to pay (usually about 30% of the debt) and gives you a period of time to pay off this reduced amount. All without the need for bankruptcy.
With over 29 years of experience, Sands & Associates is BC’s largest firm of Licensed Insolvency Trustees focused exclusively on assisting individuals and small businesses achieve their “debt free” goals.