Even though their financial health may have been seriously impaired by the economic downturn, most couples are not in agreement when it comes to their retirement plans, Fidelity found in a survey of 502 married couples between the ages of 45 and 72. To qualify, they had to have household income of at least $75,000 and investable assets of $100,000 or more.
Only 38% make decisions together about their retirement savings plans and only 15% are confident that in the event of their own death their partner would be able to assume financial responsibility.
Sixty percent have a different goal for their retirement age, up from 56% in 2007; 44% are not in agreement over whether they will continue working in retirement, up from 42%; and 42% disagree as to whether they will be financially sound in retirement or just eking by, up from 37%.
Couples are not on the same page, and in some cases, they are not even reading the same book, said Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity. At the very least, both need to agree on basic assumptions that impact financial planning: when they plan to retire, whether they will continue to work part time, and what lifestyle they hope to maintain.
The survey also found that people are increasingly in denial about some of the chief concerns that hit old age, namely with only 57% of couples agreeing that unexpected healthcare costs could be a problem, down from 70% in 2007. Only 19% agreed that there is a risk that Social Security benefits could be reduced, down from 23%.
On the other hand, 41% now agree that inflation could be a roadblock, up from 28%.
Both men and women added one year to their working lives, with husbands now planning to retire at age 64 and wives at age 63. People also appear to be more realistic about returns, with overall risk tolerance falling in light of the stock markets decline over the past year and a half. Fifty-four percent of wives and 41% of husbands are now less willing to take on added risk.
Fidelity recommends that investors, particularly couples, talk regularly and openly about their expenses, budget and financial situation to assess their time horizon, risk tolerance and asset allocationespecially during highly volatile markets. They should also jointly research their healthcare options, understand the Medicare application process and assess their need for supplemental insurance. They should also jointly arrive at a Social Security strategy, Fidelity said.