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Husband vs. Wife: Will Your Spouse Derail Your Retirement?


It’s easy to talk to your spouse about where to go on vacation, what color to paint the living room or how the kids are enjoying the car you bought them. But when it comes to talking about planning and saving for retirement, many couples are staying mum, a new survey by Fidelity reveals. And it’s no wonder: Money ranks as the third most likely topic to spark a fight between a couple, according to a survey of 3,000 couples by home insurance company Esure.

But even at the risk of a tiff, it may be time to rethink your tight-lipped policy on talking about retirement, the Fidelity survey reveals. That’s because most couples are not on the same page when it comes to when, where and how they’ll retire – a fact that can create both emotional and financial strains ranging from arguments and mistrust to savings shortfalls and ineffective retirement income plans, experts say.

Here are a few of the areas where couples don’t see eye to eye:

• 62% of couples approaching retirement don’t agree on their expected retirement ages.

• 47% of couples approaching retirement don’t agree on whether they will continue to work in retirement.

• 73% of all couples disagree on whether or not they have completed a detailed retirement income plan.

• 33% of couples either don’t agree, or don’t know, where they plan to retire.

What’s more, just 17% of couples are completely confident that their spouse is prepared to assume responsibility of their joint retirement finances, if necessary.

So what’s a couple to do?  For one, it’s time to get those lips flapping. “Couples should sit down long before they retire to discuss key financial topics, such as when they plan to retire, where they want to live, whether they plan to work and what lifestyle they hope to enjoy,” Kathleen A. Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity, said in a statement. Secondly, the couple should jointly meet with a financial adviser — something that just over one-third of couples said they did, according to the survey – to talk through their goals and create a retirement plan that will help them fund these.  For more tips on how to talk to your spouse about retirement, click here.

Readers, how often do you and your spouse talk about how you’re planning for retirement?  Do these talks tend to end up in arguments?


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About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.