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Roommates paying utility bills, late at night. Young women living together and sharing payment.
• May 4, 2023

Having the money talk can be a tricky conversation, whether you're chatting with family, friends or a romantic partner. It becomes especially difficult in uncertain economic times when your loved ones might feel a little extra squeeze on their finances.

Maru Public Opinion conducted a survey for TD and polled 1,540 randomly selected Canadian between December 2022 and 2023 on this topic.

The "Beyond Banking" survey revealed that while 82% of respondents said they are still able to comfortably pay their bills and meet their financial obligations, 75% stated that the "rising cost of living" has negatively impacted their ability to save and/or invest as much money as they would like to, with 59% of respondents reporting that finding extra money to save or invest is a challenge for them.

Living together: Sharing the cost of housing

Given that housing is one of the largest single recurring expenses for Canadians, As the cost of living rises, some Canadians are also opting to live together, according to Natasha Struminikovski, Associate Vice President, Homeowners Journey, TD Bank

According to the survey, roughly 23% of Canadians live with a roommate or family member other than their spouse/partner or child. Among these respondents, 79% agreed they would find it "very difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to be able to live on their own.

For those living with a roommate or family member, 40% of Canadian respondents cited "convenience" as their reason, and more than half (56%) said it was about saving money.

"A significant number of Canadians who were surveyed are choosing to share their living space in order to reduce their rental expenses," says Struminikovski.

"This tells us that many are making the conscious decision to prioritize saving and investing more towards their future, which can be a sound financial decision."

Living with a Partner: When would you first talk about money?

Of course, one of the advantages to approaching your housing situation as one half of a couple is that you often have two incomes to work with when making financial decisions.

For many couples, the first step to achieving financial intimacy is disclosing things like income, credit scores, debt, spending habits and attitudes toward money.

The question is, at what point in the relationship do you want to bring up finances?

According to the "Beyond Banking" survey, the majority of respondents who live with a roommate or family member (other than a spouse/partner or child) had pretty clear expectations about when they think they would first talk about money if they were to ever move in with a partner or spouse: 77% said they would have the money talk before moving in together, while only 5% said they would wait until after they moved in together.

But for those surveyed who already lived with their spouse or partner, it worked out a little differently: 54% said they first talked about money before moving in together, while 21% first talked about it afterwards.

For a small number of those surveyed, the answer about when to talk about money was never – 4% said they haven't ever had a real talk about money with their partner or spouse.

Bank accounts: Yours, mine, or ours?

When you're in a relationship for the long term, the question of how to organize and manage everyday finances with a partner or spouse is a big one. Do you want to keep separate bank accounts, have both separate and joint accounts, or share everything in one joint account?

According to the survey, 48% of respondents currently living with a roommate or family member(s) other than a spouse/partner said they expect they would have some joint accounts as well as their own accounts. Forty-one per cent said they would continue to have their own accounts only. Only 11% said they would merge their finances into exclusively joint accounts.

People who currently live with their spouse or partner were more divided about how they manage their bank accounts. When asked how they organize finances with their spouse or partner, 44% said they have some joint accounts and their own accounts.

Interestingly, the divide between total autonomy and total togetherness is split: 28% said they have joint accounts only, and 28% said they have their own accounts only.

"When it comes to joint finances, while perhaps obvious, the piece of advice I'd give is that communication is key," said Struminikovski.

"Our survey showed that nearly two-thirds (63%) of those living with a spouse/partner talk about money regularly. This leaves a significant portion of surveyed Canadians who are not having those important, transparent conversations around finances, and potentially leading to gaps in information."

Total household income also appears to be a factor in whether respondents kept their personal finances separate. Households making less than $50,000 are more likely to keep their finances separate (42%) than those making $50,000-$95,000 (25%) or more than $100,000 (31%).

How to approach finances in your relationship

That doesn't mean you can't find financial harmony. As the survey shows, personal finance is personal and there are a few different ways to approach your finances in a relationship.

But one thing is for sure: talking about how to manage things like spending, saving, investments and debt as a couple is important for any long-term relationship.

Talking to a financial advisor can help you and your partner determine which approach can work best for your joint needs, and you should review your plan regularly to see if it's still working for you and your partner.

While investing and saving remain top of mind for many Canadians, cost of housing and living, can make following through with their plans a challenge. TD has a number of tools and resources to help you understand your investment options and encourages customers to speak with their TD Personal Banker to help make a plan that best meets their unique needs.

This survey was conducted by Maru Public Opinion for TD Bank Group, undertaken by the sample and data collection experts at Maru/Blue. 1,540 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada online panelists were surveyed from December 21st, 2022, to January 4th, 2023. The results of this study have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has [with]an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

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