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Couples Communicate Poorly, Are Unprepared for Retirement: Fidelity Study

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Couples preparing for retirement not only worry about their financial health but fail to agree on many subjects involving the so-called golden years, according to a Fidelity Investments survey released Wednesday.

The Couples Retirement Study, showed that only 41% of couples handle investment decisions for retirement savings together.

That isn’t the only area in which couples aren’t exactly on the same wavelength. Fully a third can’t agree on, or don’t know when, they will retire. Almost two-thirds can’t agree on retirement age, almost half (47%) can’t agree on whether they’ll continue to work after retirement, 73% can’t agree on whether they’ve completed a detailed retirement income plan, and only 17% are completely confident that, if something happened to make it necessary, their spouse could handle their joint retirement finances.

Kathleen A. Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity, said in a statement, “Millions of American couples have worked very hard to save for retirement. However, far too many don't take the time, or have the comfort level, to jointly discuss their plans for the future.

"To ensure alignment between spouses, and the best course of action, 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,” she added.

Not only do couples fail to agree on some of the most basic retirement issues, women are at a particular disadvantage; they are less involved in retirement planning and are, and perceive themselves to be, less knowledgeable and confident about the couple’s joint needs.

Regarding that, Murphy added, “It’s essential that both husbands and wives have a voice in setting and achieving financial goals and that each is comfortable asking questions and providing input on key decisions. This is particularly important for wives because they tend to outlive their husbands and likely will need to manage their finances on their own, or work with an investment professional, later in life.”


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