September 27, 2012

Singles Need Financial Planning Support: MetLife

People in first marriages better off than remarried couples

As more households are headed by single people, financial well-being is suffering, MetLife Mature Market Institute found. A report released in September found single people are less likely to have taken steps to protect themselves financially, like working to lower their debt, meeting with a financial advisor and saving for retirement.

Their retirement security is at risk, too, the survey found. Forty-six percent of single people said running out of savings was a “major” or “significant” concern. Among couples, 35% of those with children and 36% of those without said the same.

The fact that singles, and to a lesser extent childless couples, are more likely to worry about depleting their savings may be a result of the belief that children will help care for their parents in their old age. Just under a quarter of respondents said children are expected to help their retired parents (although just 19% said they would ask for help). About 72% of all respondents had children, the survey found.

MetLife surveyed adults between the ages of 45 and 80 for the report. “Single” people include those who are divorced and widowed, as well as those who never married. Couples include people in their first or second marriage and those in unmarried domestic partnerships.

Over half of all respondents haven’t estimated how much monthly income they’ll need in retirement, but of those who have, single people with children estimated the lowest need at $2,536 per month. Couples with children made the highest estimate at $3,561.

The vast majority of respondents aren’t working with a financial advisor, with little variation when looking at different family structures. Seventy-six percent of couples with children and 78% of couples without have no advisor. Singles are even less likely to have no advisor, as 85%, regardless of whether or not they have children, are planning for retirement on their own.

Families led by couples suffer the same problem as those led by single people, but less often, the report found. MetLife also noted that couples in first marriages tend to be better off financially than those in second marriages. According to MetLife, couples in first marriages tend to have higher levels of education, higher average income and higher home ownership rates.

Second-marriage couples are less likely to feel strain from inflation, market fluctuations and, among those without children, worries over depleted retirement savings, the report found. They’re more worried about working as long as they planned and finding work in retirement.

Among all respondents, just 28% have already achieved or are on track to meet their retirement goals. Fully 22% don’t have any goals and 24% are “significantly behind.” Worse yet, 10% haven’t even started saving yet.

Single people are more likely to have no retirement goals (27%) or to have not started saving yet (20%). That’s compared to over a third of couples who have already achieved or are on track to meet their retirement goals.

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