Fidelity Study Finds Disagreement between Couples on Retirement and Money Matters; Four Essential Financial Questions Every Couple Should Answer
BOSTON – If you're looking for a conversation starter with your significant other at dinner this Valentine’s Day, try this: how would you like to spend our retirement? Although that may sound unromantic, Fidelity Investments®' fourth Couples Retirement Study finds that approximately 4 in 10 working couples (38 percent) disagree on the lifestyle they expect to lead in retirement. And many couples aren’t just disagreeing about their future; more than half (51 percent) admit to arguing either frequently or occasionally about money. Of that number, 38 percent never actually resolve their argument in a mutually agreeable way.
Even if couples rarely fight about money, that doesn't mean they are in sync when it comes to financial priorities. The Couples Retirement Study also reveals more than one-third (36 percent) do not both know where important household financial and legal papers are kept, and approximately one-third disagree about who the primary beneficiary is on their life insurance policies (31 percent) and retirement accounts (27 percent). Furthermore, the findings reveal a great deal of confusion when it comes to retirement matters: 32 percent of non-retired couples disagree on the role working will play in retirement, and 38 percent either haven't put a plan in place to manage rising health care costs in retirement or didn't know they had to.
"The fact that many couples disagree about money isn't surprising, but the realization so many don't actually resolve their financial squabbles is cause for concern," said Lauren Brouhard, senior vice president of Retirement at Fidelity. "When it comes to making your relationship a financial affair to remember, even the closest of couples have opportunities to get more on the same page. Just as you plan for everything else in life, it's important to make financial planning a regular part of your conversations. In some ways, the greatest Valentine's Day gift you can give is to ensure your other half is fully equipped to keep the financial house in order, should the unexpected occur."
Four Essential Financial Questions Every Couple Needs to Discuss
To get the conversation started, Fidelity suggests asking—and reaching agreement on—the following financial "essentials":
- Are you truly equal partners when it comes to handling the finances? This isn’t the case for everyone. However, even if one person has assumed the role of family financial planner, it's important both are prepared to take over as the "family CFO" if necessary, because you never know what the future holds. A bit of contingency planning now can help you avoid a larger problem down the road.
- Do you both have a handle on the insurance and brokerage accounts? Make sure you both know who the beneficiaries are on the life insurance policies or brokerage accounts, because there are legal implications if beneficiaries are not assigned. Discuss what retirement, savings and insurance is in place, and where important documents are located. This can help avoid family squabbles and unnecessary tax penalties in the years ahead—and ensure greater peace of mind.
- Are you jointly maximizing your savings potential? There's power to having two become one, so make sure each of you, if eligible, is contributing to tax-advantaged savings accounts, such as your company’s workplace savings plan or an IRA. And, make sure to allocate your joint assets properly. Establishing and maintaining an age-appropriate asset allocation that adjusts over time is critical to savings success.
- Do you have a shared vision for what your retirement might look like? According to the Fidelity Couples Survey, many couples don't. Are you looking to travel the globe, or simply tend the garden at home? Talk it over. If you are not on the same page about your goals, it's hard to put the right plan in place.
Want to Know Where You Stand?
Fidelity offers an interactive Couples Quiz to help couples learn more about their financial personalities. Upon completion, a Conversation Starter guide is available to help couples easily navigate the retirement process together. The quiz is available for desktop, tablet and mobile users at www.fidelity.com/couplesquiz.
Fidelity also offers resources at no cost, including a Fidelity Viewpoints article on "What to talk about on Valentine's Day," which provides financial conversation starters by generation. Other related Viewpoints articles include "Five financial tips for newlyweds" and "Who manages the money in your family?" In addition, online retirement guidance and planning tools provide easy ways for couples to tell if they are on track to meet goals. People can discuss short- and long-term savings strategies with a Fidelity investment professional at one of Fidelity's 183 Investor Centers or by calling 1-800- FIDELITY (1-800-343-3548) for a consultation.
About the Study
The 2013 Fidelity Investments "Couples Retirement Study" analyzed retirement and financial expectations and preparedness among 808 couples (1,616 individuals). Respondents were required to be at least 25 years old, married or in a long-term committed relationship and living with their respective partner, and have a minimum household income of $75,000 or at least $100,000 in investable assets. This online, bi-annual study was launched in 2007, and is unique in that it tests agreement of both partners in a committed relationship on communication, as well as their knowledge of finances and retirement planning issues. Fidelity Investments was not identified as the sponsor. GfK's Public Affairs & Corporate Communications division executed the study, which was fielded in May 2013. For more information, an executive summary and infographic can be found on Fidelity.com.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity Investments is one of the world's largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of $4.6 trillion, including managed assets of $1.9 trillion, as of December 31, 2013. Founded in 1946, the firm is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit www.fidelity.com.
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