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Is Debt Causing Issues In Your Relationship?

Manulife Bank survey reveals money issues have an impact on Canadians’ relationships and mental health

  • Manulife Bank survey reveals two in 10 married/common law Canadians confess their significant other does not know how much debt they are in
  • 12 per cent of Canadians with debt hid a large purchase from a loved one
  • Four in 10 Canadians with debt confess their level of debt is negatively impacting their mental health.
  • Half of Canadians in debt are stressed about their level of debt and worrying about debt keeps one-in-three up at night.

July 27, 2018


TORONTO – When your finances are overwhelming, do you always confide in your significant other? Not necessarily, according to a new survey from Manulife Bank of Canada.


While four in 10 married or common law Canadians often talk about money with their partner, half said that such conversations can cause tension in their relationship. And two in 10 confess they try to ignore money issues altogether, taking an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to their finances.


It’s not just talking about money, either. One in 10 in-debt Canadians have completely hidden the cost of a large purchase from a loved one, according to the survey, with an additional one in 10 saying they lied about the cost. The bulk of these purchases (63%) were under $1,000 and shockingly, eight per cent of men surveyed have hidden a purchase worth $15,000 or more.


“Conversations around money and debt can be one of the most difficult things couples ever discuss,” said Rick Lunny, President and CEO, Manulife Bank. “The trick is to get these issues out in the open and having an open and frank discussion about them.”


There are also mental health risks to not talking money with your partner. Forty per cent of Canadians with debt said debt negatively impacts their mental health – which jumps to 70% for those living with lots of debt. Nearly half say they’re often overwhelmed by their financial situation, with one in three stating they are kept up at night worrying about their debt.


Those under 35 and those who say they are in a lot of debt are more likely to say their debt is causing issues in their relationship; men, those under 35 and those in a lot of debt are most likely to say their partner doesn’t know how much debt they are in.


In addition to impacting their relationships and mental health, debt impacts the ability to save for retirement of more than half of the respondents with debt, and over half say they would struggle to handle unexpected expenses.


“Our solutions are focused on making our customers’ lives easier,” said Lunny. “For example, Manulife One is an all-in-one mortgage, line of credit, savings and chequing account that gives Canadians financial flexibility, which could save them thousands of dollars over the long-term.”


Half of Canadians have experienced an unexpected change to their financial situation, and three in four of those said it was difficult to deal with, including a quarter who said it was “very difficult.”


Unsurprisingly, those who say they have a lot of debt are more likely to express negative feelings about their debt. Respondents who reside in the Prairies, renters, those concerned over rising interest rates, women, and those under age 55 are also more likely to have negative feelings about their debt.


“We want Canadians to feel empowered in making financial decisions and having conversations about money with a financial advisor can be a simple step,” said Lunny.


However, not all Canadians are having the conversation or are aware of all the financial tools available in helping manage their money. Two in 10 Canadians are currently using products/features that allow for flexibility to help manage cash flow if rates increase, with an additional two in 10 who said they are interested. However, only one in 10 Canadians have spoken to their advisor about how rising interest rates would impact their financial situation and three in 10 said they don’t have an advisor.


About the Manulife Bank of Canada Debt Survey
The Manulife Bank of Canada poll surveyed 2,003 Canadians in all provinces between ages 20 and 69 with household income of more than $40,000. The survey was conducted online by Ipsos between May 11-14, 2018. National results were weighted by gender, age, region and education. This survey has a credibility interval of +/- 2.5%.


About Manulife Bank
Established in 1993, Manulife Bank was the first federally regulated bank opened by an insurance company in Canada. It is a Schedule l federally chartered bank and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manulife. As Canada’s first advisor-based bank, it has successfully grown to more than $22 billion in assets and serves clients across Canada.


About Manulife
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. We operate primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2017, we had about 35,000 employees, 73,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 26 million customers. As of March 31, 2018, we had over $1.1 trillion (US$850 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made $26.9 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.

Media Contacts:                               
Shabeen Hanifa