The Couple’s Guide to Finances & Investing

By proactively addressing financial and investing considerations together, Canadian couples can strengthen their relationships, achieve shared goals, and share piece of mind. This guide highlights some key considerations and provides a checklist at the end to help guide discussion with your partner.


Discussing finances can be a difficult and unromantic subject for couples but is vital when planning for your shared goals. Here are a few topics to consider with your partner:

Who does what?

While you may assign responsibility to one individual to have primary responsibility for certain financial tasks (filing taxes, paying bills), it is the responsibility of both individuals to be aware of and comfortable with the process, decisions and ramifications. This is especially true in the initial phase of planning to save and invest toward a mutual goal.

Debt management

Understanding each other’s existing debts, prioritizing paying off the highest interest loans, and potentially consolidating loans.

Setting goals

Shared goals (purchasing a home, having children, vacation) give you and your partner something tangible to work together on. It can not only bring you closer, but also ensure you’re on the same page when strategizing for your future.

Designating beneficiaries 

Ensuring the right people can assume your financial assets in the worst case scenario is important, and much easier to do today than after the fact. 

Household budget

Living together can allow for the sharing of many expenses (internet, rent/mortgage, groceries, utilities and appliances) and may introduce entirely new expenses (wedding, children, larger home and pets). Deciding together how to allocate income to expenses, savings, and an emergency fund will help give you piece of mind while working toward your goals. 

Tip: Unsure how to get started? Ask your partner to take a hike with you!
Research from the American Psychological Association suggests walking outdoors increases the free flow of ideas.1  Discussing your finances on a stroll is a great way of tackling a daunting subject while getting some exercise.


Joint Accounts

A simple way of tracking expenses is through a joint account. In this arrangement, couples pool their incomes and pay their expenses from a shared account. As co-owners, you and your partner would both have equal access and rights over the account. It is therefore critical to decide ahead of time exactly what the account will be used for.  

For example, a joint account may be used for household expenses (rent/mortgage payment, utilities and internet) while each person holds an individual account for clothes and other personal spending. Some couples elect to keep their accounts largely separate and decide who will pay which bills. Discuss it with your partner and decide what works best for you as a couple.

Emergency Fund

As part of the household budget you’ll need an emergency fund large enough to ideally cover 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. It should be held in a liquid, easily accessible account like a high-interest savings account.



As goals change from “mine” to “ours”, you will want to revaluate your investments to align with your partner. 

Some things to consider:

Investment Inventory

  • Listing your individual investment accounts is a good starting point to familiarize one another with your goals and the investments you made to achieve those goals.
  • You can use this as a foundation from which to grow your plans as a couple.


  • While many of your individual goals may still be relevant in your partnership (i.e., saving for a car or home), it’s important for you both to agree on which goals, if any, need to be prioritized, re-evaluated, or dropped altogether.
  • Living together, getting married, and other events often tied to a partnership should trigger a review of your finances. 
    • As life conditions change so can your ability and desire to take on investment risk and meet timelines. Re-evaluating your investments based on the goals of the partnership is critical to successfully pursuing them.

Example Goal: You and your partner retiring early

To consider:

Do you or your partner have workplace pension plans?
Do you save privately to supplement your savings (i.e., through an RRSP)?
Will you have a house or other major asset to support your retirement?
What, if any, plans do you have in retirement?
Have you considered the cost of long term care?
If you have children will you want to leave them with something?
…and much more…..

Investing Options

  • Consulting a financial advisor can help guide an assessment of your family’s investment inventory, goals, and more.
    • Advisors can provide an objective and experienced perspective on your finances and help to keep you on track to meet your financial goals.  Remember to ask your advisor about their fees and how they are compensated.
  • Pursuing the Do-it-yourself (DIY) route can give you maximum flexibility to tailor your plans exactly how you prefer. 
    • DIY Investing requires your time and effort and sufficient investment knowledge to research investments and reconsider your approach over time.

You don’t have to choose just one of these options. You can invest some of your money through an advisor and manage some of your investments yourself.  However, whatever route you choose be sure you and your partner understand the options and that decisions are made together.

Learn more about investing basics to help guide your conversations with your partner and/or a financial advisor.


Living as a married or common-law couple can affect the amount of tax you pay on both your income and investments. Learning about different income tax options may save you a lot of money. 

Find out more about federal taxes as a couple


Couple’s Guide to Finances & Investing (PDF)