Study Finds Couples at Odds Over Retirement

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Money squabbles are a perpetual source of friction among couples. New research by Fidelity Investments illustrates how differing expectations when it comes to retirement planning may be adding to that stress.

Fidelity surveyed 648 married couples, ages 46-75, to find where husbands and wives agreed, or didn't agree, on their knowledge, expectations and opinions about retirement. As part of that research, its financial advisers are also offering some advice to help ease potential friction.

A study by Fidelity Investments shows retirement-related conflicts couples need to resolve.

Finding: One-third of couples (33%) surveyed don't agree on lifestyle expectations in retirement.
Advice: Determine what you both want from retirement. Will you continue to work and live your current lifestyle? Do you dream of traveling? Where will you live?

Finding: More than three in five couples (62%) differ on their expected retirement ages.
Advice: Discuss with one another what age you would like to retire. Are you working toward an early retirement?

Finding: Almost one-half of couples (47%) surveyed don't agree whether they'll work in retirement.
Advice: Before you can put a realistic retirement plan in place, it is important to understand if you will need to supplement retirement income with part-time work, or if you would like to work in retirement by choice.

Finding: More than half (58%) of couples surveyed say one of the best pieces of advice they would give to newlyweds is to make all financial decisions together.
Advice: Be an active partner and joint decision-maker when it comes to financial planning; don't leave it all to one spouse.

Finding: More than half (58%) of couples surveyed agree they are working with a financial professional to help them reach their retirement saving goals.
Advice: Sharing ideas and working as a team with a professional, as well as your spouse, to plan for retirement can help lay the groundwork and ensure you stay on track to achieve your retirement goals.

Finding: Sixty-three percent of couples surveyed have worked on a detailed retirement income plan to ensure they do not outlive their savings.
Advice: Both spouses should acquaint themselves with the key components of a successful retirement income plan (budget, asset allocation strategy, withdrawal strategy) and what makes it successful. Work with a financial professional, or develop your own plan particular to your individual retirement time horizon, risk tolerances and goals.

Finding: Fifty-seven percent of couples don't agree about the frequency with which their retirement portfolio reviews take place.
Advice: Monitor and rebalance your portfolio at least once a year to make sure you are comfortable with the level of risk. Proper asset allocation becomes more important during times of extreme market expansion and contraction, as asset classes grow at different rates and lose value at varying levels.

Finding: Forty-two percent of couples surveyed are concerned about inflation cutting into savings and 19% are concerned that their Social Security benefit will be reduced.
Advice: To supplement an income beyond a pension and Social Security, annuities can provide a guaranteed income payment to help cover essential fixed expenses.

Finding: Roughly a third (31%) of couples surveyed agree that unexpected major health care expenses is among the top concerns in retirement.
Advice: Fidelity estimates that a couple retiring this year at age 65 with no employer-provided health care coverage will need $230,000 in savings to fund out-of-pocket medical expenses in retirement. Understand Medicare and how any employer-sponsored health benefits will work with Medicare in retirement. If you will need health care coverage between your retirement date and when you are eligible for Medicare (generally age 65), find out the cost of coverage under COBRA and various individual or association programs, if you qualify.

-- Written by Joe Mont in Boston.

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