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Financial Security Is Sexy: Merrill Edge

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Except for the youngest adults, financial security is outweighing the less tangible benefits of being “head over heels” in love with one’s partner.

So says the latest edition of the Merrill Edge Report, which not only finds that 56% of Americans say they want a partner who provides financial security more than they want to be swept off their feet — majorities of both men (54%) and women (57%) say so — but Gen Z feels a little differently. Those born between 1996 and 2000 are the only generation to choose love (54%) over money (47%).

This study of the mass affluent also revealed that respondents prefer a partner who is career-focused (63%) over socially conscious (37%); frugal (55%) more than philanthropic (45%); and a saver (83%) rather than a spender (17%).

But in seeking out all these outward signs of financial security in a partner, that doesn’t mean they’re talking about their own financial situation. In fact, not only do respondents rank nearly all major relationship milestones above discussing their finances, including meeting the family, being intimate, traveling together and discussing politics, they procrastinate on having the “money talk” with significant others.

Among the topics they’re close-mouthed about are debt (60%), salary (57%), investments (55%) and spending habits (51%).

But they’re saving money at record rates, the report says, with respondents saying that they’re willing to stash away an average of $18,000 annually for saving and investing — even more than they’re willing to spend on rent and mortgage payments ($16,000), their children’s education ($12,000) or travel ($8,000).

Many don’t admit to any obstacles to their saving, with 24% saying nothing is constraining their ability to save for the future and 73% thinking they can have everything they want in life, as long as they save and budget accordingly.

One glitch: Amid all this saving, they’re not planning. Most say they have no monetary goal in mind for many of life’s major milestones, with 67% unsure how much they should save before having a baby and others lacking savings targets for getting married (64%); sending children to college (54%); or putting a down payment on a house (51%). And half haven’t a clue on a retirement goal; 42% have no will, despite 93% saying it’s important.

— Check out Sweetheart Scams & Retirees: What Advisors Need to Know on ThinkAdvisor.


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