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Joint Money-Management Can Boost Leisure Pleasure: Study

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Research among older couples finds 36% reported that one spouse is the dominant financial manager.

The study of pre-retirees and retirees, conducted jointly by the Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab, divided respondents into 4 financial-management styles.

Researchers labeled 17% of this population as “Drivers”, which handle all financial matters of the household, and 19% as “Passengers”, who are minimally involved or completely hands-off from financial matters.

Managers that shared responsibility were divided into 2 types: One, where each partner was equally involved in all aspects of financial management for the household, consisted of 53% of those surveyed. These “Joined at the Hip” managers do not divide or delegate financial tasks, choosing to make every financial decision and take every action together, according to the Hartford/MIT report.

The other shared-responsibility type consisted of 11% of respondents who said they split their financial duties. These “Divide and Conquer” couples gave each partner the lead on some aspects of the household finances, with each playing a secondary role on other aspects.

Of the 4 financial planning styles, respondents who practice “Divide and Conquer” stood out from the other groups in a number of important ways, according to researchers.

For instance, 45% of Divide and Conquer planners were had prepared a contingency plan to assure the financial security of the surviving spouse vs. 32% for Joined at the Hip, 27% for Passengers and 8% for Drivers.

Significantly, 38% of Divide and Conquer managers had saved at least $750,000 for retirement, vs. 16% who had achieved that savings level among Joined at the Hip, 25% of Passengers and 17% of Drivers.

This translated into a higher reported enjoyment of retirement. Among Divide and Conquer managers, 46% are enjoying retirement more than expected, vs. 29% of Joined at the Hip, 23% of Drivers and 18% of Passengers.