Spouses might think they know each others’ money facts and attitudes, but when push comes to shove, they can find themselves worlds apart.
That’s according to the Fidelity Investments 2015 Couples Retirement Study, which found that not only do spouses often fail to know how much their other half earns, many have no idea how much they’ll need to retire—or disagree on the amount.
The biennial survey found that, although the vast majority of couples (72 percent) said they communicate exceptionally or very well on financial topics, that wasn’t the case at all.
Close to half (43 percent) couldn’t say with accuracy how much their partner makes—and that’s on the increase, since in the 2013 survey just 27 percent fell into that category.
What’s frightening about it is that 10 percent of those ill-informed spouses were off by $25,000 or even more.
Going further down the scary path, 36 percent of couples disagreed about how much their household had in investible assets. Almost half of respondents (48 percent) said they had “no idea” how much they’d need to retire while keeping their current lifestyle, and 47 percent disagree about how much that actually is.
The disagreement is greatest among boomers, who are closest to retirement (and who, one might hope, would be a little more on top of the situation).
Asked about how much they might expect in Social Security benefits, more than half of couples were clueless (60 percent). Another scary fact: 49 percent of boomers have no idea how much they might receive, despite the fact that they could check it out on the Social Security website.
And then there’s retirement itself. Couples can’t agree on that either—what their lifestyle might be like, for instance—and a third disagree about how comfortable that lifestyle will be for them.
And they’re worrying more, but planning less. Seventy-four percent are worried about how they’ll manage to pay unexpected healthcare costs in retirement, with 51 percent afraid they’ll outlive their savings. Both of those percentages are up from the last survey, with a hefty bump in the number of those worried they’ll have too many years left at the end of the money; in 2013 42 percent expressed that particular fear.
Planning? Not happening. Just 21 percent say they have a plan to avoid running out of savings in retirement. And the number of planning procrastinators is growing; in 2013, 28 percent said they hadn’t even thought about making a plan, but this year 36 percent were still putting it off.