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Couples show their love for one another in various ways -going on romantic dates or weekend getaways, buying flowers or preparing home-cooked meals together.
While these are the classic displays of affection, the truth is, realizing a common future together may be the ultimate sign of love—and establishing long-term financial goals is a key step in making that envisioned life a reality.
Unfortunately, many couples disagree about their financial future together. Or worse, they don’t speak about it at all.
Are You Both Planning for Retirement?
Need some proof? According to Fidelity’s fourth Couples Retirement Study, nearly four in 10 couples disagree about the lifestyle they want in retirement.
What’s more, 51% admit to arguing either frequently or occasionally about money—and 38% never resolve these arguments in a mutually satisfying way.
While it’s no surprise that couples argue, it’s a shame so many are strained because of financial issues that never received the benefit of a clear outcome.
The solution to this problem is fairly obvious. Set aside some time as a couple to talk about financial matters—and do so before problems have developed, not after.
By spending some time talking about and aligning future plans with your finances, couples stand to strengthen their fiscal and personal relationships.
At the very least, you’ll establish lines of communication that will make it easier to address financial problems that inevitably will arise.
Working Together for Your Retirement
To ensure a productive conversation, it’s important to bring a few ideas to the table. Here are some topics for couples to consider:
- Milestone Events. Discuss “big” events early, like buying a house or starting a family. This takes pressure off making those important decisions down the line without giving it much thought.
- Plan Together. Only 45% of Gen Y (born 1978-1888) women say they are a joint decision maker when it comes to retirement savings, and 36% of Gen Y-ers say their partner is primarily responsible for decisions regarding their retirement. This generation has time on their side, and can build a solid retirement savings account by starting early and saving as much as possible.
- Financial Styles. Make sure to get to know each others’ planning and investing style. Are you on the same page about your risk tolerance and goals? Knowing what financial accounts and insurances policies you own as a couple is important for maximizing long-term growth potential.
- Today and Tomorrow Funds. Buying school supplies for the kids, saving for college, and taking family vacations are all important, but make sure you’re setting enough aside for retirement through a 401(k), an IRA or other tax-advantaged savings vehicles. The earlier you get started, the bigger the long-term impact.
- Work Resources. Make sure you’re both making the most of your employer’s retirement plan—at least up to any company match—and other benefits like health savings accounts.
Covering key topics like these will help make you more aligned with your partner.
It’s also a nice foundation to bring up broader discussions regarding your future life plans together, which shows a long-term commitment to the one you love.
Are you are your partner financially compatible? And if you have any personal experiences to share, let’s hear them!
When was the last time you discussed finances with your partner and what was resolved? What did you talk about and what are some useful tips to avoid arguments?
Lauren Brouhard is the senior vice president of retirement at Fidelity.