Love, Money & Marriage: Pandemic giving Canadian couples something to talk about, RBC poll finds

Finances are a hot topic for Canadian couples who recently tied the knot or are thinking about getting married, with the pandemic prompting more money conversations, according to the RBC Love, Money & Marriage Poll.

The survey checked in on finances with Canadians planning to be engaged or married during the next five years, as well as those who were engaged and had to alter their wedding plans or got married during the pandemic.

While the majority (68%) of those surveyed said they were talking more about finances with their partner since the start of the pandemic, nearly half (47%) admitted finances are one of the biggest stressors in their relationship. And for many respondents, wedding finances is a big source of stress.

  • Just over one-third (35%) described planning wedding finances as stressful, rising to 50% among those who said only one partner was making these decisions.
  • While 58% say they are making wedding finance decisions with their partner, 31% responded that their partner had significantly higher wedding expenses in mind.
  • Men are more likely than women to say their dream wedding was important, regardless of costs (38% vs 28% respectively).

For the majority (88%) of respondents, having similar financial goals and habits and also being aligned on how to spend and save money were deemed to be important for a healthy long-term relationship. The poll also found that even though money conversations were on the rise, discussing finances as a couple wasn’t always easy.

  • One-third (32%) found it hard to talk about finances with their partner and also were not comfortable discussing each other’s current financial situations (32%)
  • More men than women expressed discomfort talking about finances (38% vs. 25% respectively)
  • Just under one-third (30%) reported they only talk to their partner about finances a few times a year, with 5% saying they never do.

“It’s not uncommon to find couples don’t always have the same comfort level when it comes to finances. We also know, however, that being on the same page financially and making money decisions together can go a long way toward reducing stress and helping couples build a strong future together,” says Stuart Gray, Director – Financial Planning Centre of Expertise, RBC.

Gray also pointed out a new factor since the onset of the pandemic: 53% of non-married respondents said the money they had been saving for a wedding is now going to other financial priorities, including buying a home, starting a family or downsizing their wedding ceremony.

  • 71% believe buying a home is more important than having the ideal wedding
  • 64% would delay their wedding to buy a home sooner
  • 44% feel having a child is more important than having the perfect wedding
  • 21% have now considered a backyard/at-home wedding as a result of the pandemic
  • 14% have considered eloping
  • 13% have considered a city hall ceremony or holding an outdoor/socially-distanced wedding.

“It’s also important for both partners to take the big picture into account when considering any major expenditures,” adds Gray. “Taking on debt can limit what you can achieve financially together. It’s a good idea to talk through how any big expenses could affect your future finances.”

Whatever the financial decisions couples are facing, Gray has the following tips to help them say yes to their finances together:

  • Check out online articles: There’s a lot of advice pieces online that you might find helpful. As a few examples: Re-doing the I DoThe Marriage Money Talk You Need To HaveShould You Say I Do to Debt When Planning a Wedding? and Five Money Vows to Make Before Tying the Knot.
  • Get an outside perspective: Seek out good financial planning advice from an expert. An advisor can help you and your partner take the stress out of conversations around your financial future, as you discuss what’s important to both of you and get a clearer picture of each other’s finances. An advisor can also help you set up goals and create a detailed financial plan to help you build a financial future together.
  • Take advantage of digital resources: With all of life’s priorities, it can be hard to carve out time to stay on top of your finances. Using the extensive tools and resources available online can help. RBC clients can take advantage of a suite of NOMI capabilities that use predictive technology to take the effort out of helping you save, budget and manage your money. RBC’s MyAdvisor allows you to create personalized plans online and use interactive scenarios to see the potential impact the financial decisions you make today could have on your financial tomorrow.

RBC Love, Money & Marriage Poll: National, Regional and Gender Findings

1. Having similar financial goals & habits is important for healthy long-term relationship.88%84%90%86%88%94%83%93%
2. It’s important my partner & I are aligned on how we spend and save our money.88%89%89%89%85%93%85%92%
3. Since the start of the pandemic I have talked about finances more with my partner.68%69%74%70%59%71%69%67%
4. Finances are one of the biggest stressors in our relationship.47%52%50%50%37%43%50%43%
5. Planning financially for our wedding is causing/caused stress in our relationship.35%33%38%38%32%17%42%26%
6. I find it hard to talk to my partner about our finances.32%36%35%30%30%36%38%25%
7. We’re not comfortable discussing each other’s current financial situations.32%36%32%32%28%33%38%25%
8. My partner wanted/wants to spend significantly more on wedding than I do/did.31%30%37%33%27%20%43%17%
9. I want/wanted the wedding of my dreams regardless of what it costs.34%24%43%36%30%24%38%28%
10. My partner & I are making/made wedding financial decisions together.58%53%60%56%64%65%49%70%
11. We’ve discussed how much we want to spend on our wedding.58%61%57%58%58%51%57%59%
12. I talk to my partner a few times a year about our finances.30%28%28%30%37%22%34%26%
13. I never talk to my partner about our finances.5%6%4%4%5%9%5%5%
1. Money I’ve been saving for my wedding is now going to other financial priorities.53%51%54%56%50%50%57%49%
2. Buying a home is now more important to me than having my ideal wedding.71%78%66%72%67%63%68%73%
3. I’d rather delay our wedding to buy a home sooner.64%65%57%68%62%62%61%67%
4. We have to scale back wedding finances to have enough to consider buying a home.53%56%45%61%45%47%56%50%
5. Having a child is now more important to me than having the perfect wedding.44%44%40%43%51%39%48%40%
6. A backyard/at-home wedding.21%25%24%22%13%30%18%26%
7. Eloping.14%17%17%15%8%16%12%16%
8. A city hall ceremony.13%15%11%16%7%12%11%15%
9. An outdoor/socially-distanced wedding.13%16%10%12%13%15%13%12%

* M/F = Males/Females

About the RBC Love, Money & Marriage Poll
These are some of the findings of a Leger poll conducted on behalf of RBC. A total of 1,000 surveys were completed online among Canadians aged 18+ who were married during the pandemic, became engaged during/before the pandemic and had to alter their wedding plans, or those who plan to be engaged or married within the next 5 years. The survey was conducted between June 22 and July 5, 2021, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, a probability sample of 1,000 respondents would have a margin of error of ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20.