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Couples Disagree About Retirement, Finances

Sexes agree ... on worry about the future

Surprisingly, the survey also revealed that only 15 percent of couples surveyed were confident that either spouse could manage retirement finances alone if the other died. In 2007, 21 percent of couples were confident about both spouses’ ability to do so.

Another surprising finding was that more couples in the new survey were concerned about the prospect of inflation cutting into retirement savings—41 percent compared with 28 percent in 2007—but fewer worried about medical bills. This year, 57 percent of couples said they were concerned about unexpected major health care expenses in retirement, compared with 70 percent in 2007. Yet Fidelity estimates that medical costs in retirement will average $240,000 for couples age 65 who retire this year and are covered by Medicare.

The survey, released June 10, questioned married couples with household income of at least $75,000, or with assets of $100,000 or more in investments (excluding primary residences), and with one or both people working. Other findings include:

  • 40 percent of couples say one or both spouses will work part-time in retirement.
  • 51 percent of husbands and 61 percent of wives called themselves a saver rather than a spender since the market crash.
  • 54 percent of wives and 41 percent of husbands say they’re less risk-tolerant now as a result of market turmoil.

“There’s a real call to action here when 39 percent don’t agree on whether they own an annuity,” Skillman said. “That’s less about disagreeing and more about not being informed.

“It’s time for people to take stock again of where they are with their retirement account balances, expectations on Social Security and other fixed-income sources. Make sure to have a plan within five to six years of retirement,” he said. “Agree on objectives, lifestyle, how long you want to work—this will allow you to put a plan together that will allow you to actualize that dream.”

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at theAARP Bulletin.

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