Couples and their finances? Study finds many don't communicate enough

Many couples don’t talk enough about financial fundamentals, such as how much they earn or their plans for retirement, a new study found.

Most of the couples in the study that was released Wednesday by Fidelity Investments said they believed that they communicate well. But 43% failed to correctly identify how much their significant other earns. Some couples were off by $25,000 or more.

Nearly half of the couples said they had “no idea” or were in disagreement about how much they would need to save to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement.

With regard to Social Security benefits, 60% were either unsure or didn’t know what amount they would receive. Half of the couples surveyed had disagreements on what age to retire, up from 43% in previous surveys.

“We are taught as people to not bring up financial issues, so it’s certainly understandable that people don’t have as much comfort talking about it,” said John Sweeney, executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies at Fidelity.

“But just like couples talk about other intimate details about a relationship, this is one of those intimate details couples should feel confident discussing with their spouse.”

The top pieces of advice that couples who participated in the survey suggested for others were to save as early as possible for retirement and to make all financial decisions together.

The survey was conducted in April by research firm GfK. The 1,051 heterosexual and same-sex couples who participated in the survey each had household incomes of at least $75,000 or total assets of at least $100,000.

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