To celebrate the wedding season, the Fool has a gift for you: our advice on how to mix love and money into a successful marriage. Take a look at all of our marriage and money articles.
You know The Newlywed Game, right? The show was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, with Bob Eubanks asking questions of couples to see how many answers they agreed on. The questions were usually very profound, such as: "If people could trade body parts, my husband would want me to trade my _____ for whose?"
Now fast-forward with me to 2007. I don't think this show is on the air anymore, but a recent Fidelity Investments study made me think of it. Get this:
The results showed that although couples generally agree on which retirement products they own, they often differ on their plans and expectations for retirement. In fact, Fidelity found that in more than 30% of couples, husbands and wives gave completely different answers when asked what age they will retire, their expected lifestyle in retirement and whether they intend to continue working in retirement.
Think about what this means. You may be hoping and planning to retire early, while your spouse may be expecting to work until age 68. If so, you each may be confounding the other's plans at least a little.
Here are some specific examples from the study:
- Only 39% of spouses offered the same answer when asked whether savings, pensions, or Social Security would be their primary source of income in retirement. If your loved one is counting primarily on Social Security, he or she may not be making full use of a 401(k) plan at work. That's not too good.
- Most couples (58%) disagreed on who their spouse, if widowed, would go to for financial advice. This is rather meaningful, too. If you haven't shared with your spouse what a space cadet your neighbor is when it comes to his investments, your spouse might end up seeking guidance from him. Yikes!
- If that's not bad enough, fully 22% of couples "could not even agree on whether they use the services of a financial advisor to help them plan for retirement." That's not great communication!
- Another problem observed was that although many people might know what they owned (such as an annuity, pension, or life insurance policy), they often didn't know how it worked, when they could tap it, and what they could expect to receive from it.
What to do
If you've got a loved one under your roof, and you aren't on the same page about how your golden days are going to unfurl, it's time to take some action. Dig through your papers or call your financial managers for details on how your various financial resources work. Talk with your loved one about all this, so that you both understand where you stand.
Make a plan. Take time to figure out how much you need for retirement, and then crunch some numbers to see where you are today and what you need to do to accumulate any more needed moolah. You might be in pretty good shape, overall, but perhaps could invest some of your money more effectively. If you've got money you don't plan to tap for 20 years, it will probably grow faster in a simple broad-market index fund than in CDs. That said, you still need to make sure both of you are comfortable with your decisions. If high-risk, high-reward companies like Rule Breakers picks Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU ) and Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE ) make one or both of you lose sleep at night, consider an index fund with well-known blue chips like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , AT&T (NYSE: T ) , and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) .
If thinking about your finances makes your head spin, and your spouse is also looking woozy, you might want to talk to a financial planner about this. You can locate a planner via the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors -- and you can also tap the services of ... us.
That's right, I invite you to take advantage of a free month-long trial of the retirement reference I use most often myself, our Rule Your Retirement newsletter service. You'll be able to access all the past issues, which feature, among other things, a host of "Success Stories" profiling people who retired early and are willing to share their strategies, and some solid stock and fund recommendations to boot.
Start talking more to your loved one, and just wait -- if they launch a "Not-So-Newlywed Game" in the future, you might be in a position to win a set of dining room furniture!
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Microsoft and Coca-Cola, which are both Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. For more about Selena, view her bio and her profile. Baidu.com and Blue Nile are Rule Breakers selections. Try any one of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.