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Hey, millennials and members of Gen Z. Go ask your parents how much time they spent talking about money when they first got serious about each other. Zero minutes, I bet.

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in personal finance in the past 20 years is the amount of importance put on young couples talking about money and finding common ground on debt, spending and saving. Improving financial literacy is part of this trend, but so is the tough economic environment for young adults.

Post-secondary education costs more, houses cost way more and temporary work without benefits or a pension is common. Also, thanks to the internet and social media, there’s more pressure than ever before to spend freely.

Comparing attitudes about financial matters has always been important, but the stakes are higher today. Because of what’s happening in the economy, there’s a greater likelihood of people coming into a relationship with debt and differences in not only income, but prospects to make more money down the line.

In the second season of the Stress Test podcast I’m working on with Globe and Mail personal finance editor Roma Luciw, we dig into the subject of couples and money. One question we cover is whether it’s better for couples to split household costs and each pay on their own, or to pool their finances in a joint account.

There’s no definitive answer – a lot depends on the life experience of people in a relationship. Here’s an article highlighting the benefits of splitting finances, and here’s one more on the benefits of sharing. My wife and I share our finances – we have a joint chequing account and our own savings accounts. Our 29th anniversary is coming up in January, so our system is obviously working.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

40 kitchen reno mistakes

Lots of people are pouring money into their homes these days. Read this before you upgrade your kitchen to avoid design blunders likes the kitchen desk, the half backsplash and fluorescent lighting.

Another money expert says delay the start of your CPP retirement benefits

One of the liveliest debates in personal finance is when to start your Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits. Should you start as early as 60, wait for the standard age of 65 or delay as long as age 70? CTV’s Patti Lovett-Reid covers the benefits of delaying CPP here. The Globe and Mail Retirement Forum recently took on the question of when to start CPP and more than 200 people commented. If you click on the forum link, you’ll find mentions of articles by other experts advocating CPP as late as 70.

Searching for an edge when renting a home

You’re probably heard stories about who hoped to get an edge in a bidding war to buy a house by writing an endearing letter to the sellers. According to a real estate agent, writing this type of letter is more effective when you’re a renter trying to impress a landlord.

For income-hungry investors eying covered call ETFs

An investing blogger outlines his skepticism about covered call ETFs, which use an options-based strategy to generate investment income. I’m not a fan, either.


Ask Rob

Q: The majority of investments I have are in mutual funds through various employers I have worked for. They have performed quite well over the long term. As I am 56, I was wondering if this is the best way for me to investment my money going forward.

A: If you’re getting good value from your mutual funds, stick with them. Workplace investment plans sometimes include funds that have lower fees than those available to the general public. A bigger issue than what you’re investing is your mix of stocks and bonds. A major tilt to stocks makes sense in your 30s and 40, but by 56 you should take a fresh look at things. Here’s an article discussing whether the old default portfolio mix of 60 per cent stocks and 40 per cent bonds still makes sense. Your question suggests to me that you might benefit from a retirement consultation with a financial planner who charges an hourly of flat fee. Here’s a directory.

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

Unable to resolve a complaint against an investment adviser or some banks? The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments will take a look at your situation and possibly recommend compensation. To help initiate and monitor their complaints, OBSI has created an online consumer portal.


The money-free zone

I just finished Missionaries by Phil Klay, an ex U.S. marine. Strong, smart writing about characters caught up in the Afghanistan war and a conflict in Colombia. Don’t’ be shocked, but there’s a futility to it all.


ICYMI

What I’ve been writing about
  • Au contraire: Maybe now is the right time to buy a condo
  • The stock market rally puts seniors making year-end RRIF withdrawals in a good spot (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
  • Money is pouring into bond ETFs despite painfully low interest rates – here’s why (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

Subscribe to Stress Test on Apple podcasts or Spotify. For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

Even more coverage from Rob Carrick:

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