Should couples have financial secrets?

Regardless of a couple’s net worth, how a partner spends or invests money can cause friction in a relationship. This brings up issues of control and trust which cut to the core of any union. Money is a sensitive subject and one that many couples would prefer to avoid—until a situation arises, such as divorce or death, that forces the issue. Often this brings unpleasant surprises. For those couples who are ready to tackle communicating about money, here’s one way to make the experience more playful and a lot less stressful.

Here’s how to play…

Either as a couple or individually, open four separate accounts:

  • Account #1: Income This is where you will deposit earnings and make bill payments. (Treat contributions to RRSPs, TFSAs, and RESPs as “bills”.) Next, withdraw ten percent of your total income from Account #1 and make three equal or unequal distributions to the remaining three accounts.
  • Account #2: Financial IndependenceThe only rule associated with this account is you don’t touch the principal. This account sends two very powerful messages to your subconscious: 1) “I always have money”; and 2) “I don’t need to tap the money.”
  • Account #3: SpendingThe only rule for this account is to spend the money in it from time-to-time. This is for guilt-free personal expenses. Do I hear spa vacation?
  • Account #4: Couple or UsSpend these funds on things that will enhance your relationship, such as romantic meals, travel, hobbies, charities, etc.

Playing for keeps

By playing the Banking Game, you’ll not only become more relaxed and confident about the wealth you create as a couple; it will also allow your net-worth—as well as your self-worth—to grow.

It’s a win-win.

Kelley Keehn is an award-winning author, personal finance educator and is the Consumer Advocate for the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC). She has written nine books on personal finance including Protecting You and Your Money; A Guide to Avoiding Identity Theft and Fraud and A Canadian's Guide to Money Smart Living. Kelley is the Marilyn Denis show’s personal finance expert, was the host of the W Network’s Burn My Mortgage, sat on the National Steering Committee on Financial Literacy, currently serves on the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s Consumer Protection Advisory Committee, the Ontario Securities Commissions’ Seniors Expert Advisory Committee, and is a member of the OECD’s International Network on Financial Education.