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A recent survey suggests that 16 per cent of people are keeping a financial secret from their partner. This will end badly.

In compiling this newsletter over the past couple of years, I have read a lot of commentary about how people are increasingly putting a high value on finding partners who have their finances well in hand and are not swamped by debt. Maybe it’s a sign of the financial stress some people are under today. Negative financial surprises are most unwelcome.

And yet, a Rates.ca survey timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day found that roughly one in six people has a financial secret, and that 17 per cent of this group says the value of their undisclosed money stash (debt or savings) is $10,000 or more.

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Here’s some reason for hope that you can get past the disclosure of a financial secret with your partner – it’s the story of a woman whose partner revealed $10,000 in debt that he had previously kept hidden. They got past it and ended up creating a debt-free lifestyle together. But the longer you wait to be honest with a partner about a hidden financial issue, the harder it’s going to be to get past it. You may find the problem becomes more manageable when the energy and resources of two people are applied.

Here’s a sampling of the financial secrets most often reported in the survey: Hidden purchases, poor credit scores, hidden cash, a secret bank account, a secret line of credit or long-term loan and hidden credit cards or investments. If you’re keeping secrets like this, make an investment in future marital harmony and come clean.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Want romance? Stay home

An argument for making a romantic dinner at home on Valentine’s Day instead of buying an “overpriced prix fixe menu chased with an overpriced bottle of wine and a refrigerated chocolate dessert.”

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24 pro tips on being more efficient in the kitchen

A recent edition of the newsletter focused on food waste. These tips on saving time and effort in the kitchen may help you make better use of the groceries you buy.

How to put your ETF investing on autopilot

Instructions on how to create a hands-off, automatic investing plan using one of the greatest investing innovations of recent years, the asset allocation exchange-traded fund, also known as the balanced ETF

What to do with your windshield wiper blades in a snow or ice storm

The question is this: Blades up, or down? Getting this right will improve visibility and save money on replacement wiper blades.

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Ask Rob

Q: What is the best way for the average investor to invest in emerging markets?

A: I don’t know if this is the best way or not, but it is a good one. Find a low-cost emerging market exchange-traded fund like the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets All Cap Index ETF (VEE), the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets IMI Index ETF (XEC) or the BMO MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF (ZEM). Keep your expectations in check – each of these funds has a five-year annualized return of only between 4 and 5 per cent.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

Best bank accounts for newcomers to Canada

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Video of the week

Carrick Talks Money: How not owning a home may affect your retirement

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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