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Til Debt Do Us Part2 tracked down budget-loving financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade—host of Slice's Gemini-award-winning hit lifestyle show Til Debt Do Us Part—for a little fiscal one-on-one.


Illustration of a man and a woman thinking about a loonie.2: How important is it for a husband and wife to deal with their finances upfront, instead of death by a thousand budgets?
Vaz-Oxlade: There are two ways in which money and finances interact. The first is that the finances are really crappy, and it just erodes the relationship. It starts with, “Oh, we’re fine,” but then you get bills you’re not expecting or you can’t pay. You start snapping at your honey for every little thing until you can’t stand each other. The second is that we are not fine, we have some significant relationship issues, so what we are going to do is punish each other financially—drinking, gambling, buying lots of clothes, things to subvert our security to bring about the end, that is the way we are going anyway.

2: What are the most important things to talk about after the honeymoon is over?
Vaz-Oxlade: Maybe how much we make. I can’t believe the number of couples who don’t know how much each other makes. And debt, how much debt you are carrying. And maybe what your priorities and vices are. We need to talk vices, and what are the most important things to you. Differences need to be negotiated.

2: So you need to compromise with each other?
Vaz-Oxlade: I hate the word compromise; I love negotiation. Compromise means walk all over, because ultimately one does more compromising than the other, but negotiation is a strong couple word.

2: Every time couples talk about this stuff, the air leaves the room, palms get sweaty. What’s with that, why is it that money is so taboo?
Vaz-Oxlade: Where is money not taboo? Did your parents talk to you about it? Money is the last bastion of secrecy. People are perfectly fine talking about who they are spreading their legs for, but not about what they are spending their money on. The one service we are providing with the show is that people are now talking about it. People see mistakes are made, and it is not easy. It is damn hard, but you can do it.

2: Any suggestions on making discussions pertaining to money more, well, interesting?
Vaz-Oxlade: You can’t have sex until you’ve had the meeting. No nookie until you talk about the money. Or cover bills in chocolate and lick it off, I don’t know. It is just life. You don’t like cleaning toilets either, but you do it.

2: For those who are buying their first home, starting their careers, still carrying debt from school and being told to invest in RRSPs—how are they supposed to afford it all?
Vaz-Oxlade: I know, it seems like a lot of priorites at once, but it is all about balance. It is kind of like having a table: If you don’t have all the legs of the table in place, it can fall over.

2: How much should couples be saving every month? What is a good figure to shoot for?
Vaz-Oxlade: Ten percent is the golden rule. Of course, if you are 46 and haven’t started saving yet, 10 percent won’t cut it. And I define savings as money that’s never spent unless destitute or you have so much money that it doesn’t matter anymore.

2: Isn’t society really to blame for convincing us that we have to buy everything to be happy?
Vaz-Oxlade: That is a stupid statement. Society hasn’t made those decisions, people make those decisions. Where is the void in your life when those things become so important to you that you would mortgage your future, mortgage your children’s future, for the sake of more stuff?