Weddings and marriages are in the foreground for me nowadays.
A few weeks ago my niece got married and in another two months my nephew will get married too. Both weddings had been postponed due to the pandemic from the previous year. Another nephew has just sent me an appointment for next spring.
Celebrating love and family feels like this right now. I bet you feel the same way.
Wedding parties make me smile. They make me hopeful and, well, grateful too.
I believe in the combined strengths of two who tackle this world together. At my niece’s wedding on a beautiful New Jersey beach, my husband and I were asked to give a reading and we chose the lyrics from a song by Bruce Springsteen. “If I should fall behind. “
On July 4th, my husband and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. And my sister and her husband will be 40 years old at the end of June.
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Couples and money
However, these joyful events, magical as they are, remind me of the critical role money and financial communications play in the lasting strength of a marriage over the decades – which is at its core a business relationship.
I know it’s unromantic, but it’s true. And as a personal finance writer, I can’t help it.
This week, Fidelity Investments released the results of its latest Couples & Money Interviewed 1,713 couples (3,426 people) conducted between March 25 and April 22, 2021. Respondents were required to be at least 25 years of age, married or in a permanent partnership and with their partner and have a minimum household income of USD 75,000 or more At least $ 100,000 in investable assets.
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Here’s the scuttlebutt. Many couples, 1 in 5, say that money is their biggest challenge in the relationship. That sounds about right.
The average retirement age of those already retired is 60.5 years, while the average expected age of those not yet retired is 62.5 years. However, almost half (48%) of all couples surveyed disagree on the actual retirement age.
More than half disagree about how much money they need to meet their retirement goals, but nearly 77% envision a comfortable retirement.
And although 7 out of 10 (71%) of the partners stated that they communicate at least very well with the other half, almost 4 out of 10 (39%) of the respondents could not correctly see how much their partner earns for a salary. About 6 in 10 (61%) couples say they talk about their finances at least monthly, a number that’s down astonishingly from 2018 (65%).
As for their ideal retirement, the majority, 6 in 10 of all couples, plan to stay in their own state after they retire, a trend that has been increasing since 2015. Hmm … so much for my column thinking about moving into retirement?
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In retirement, spending time with family and friends is the top priority, followed by relaxation and tranquility at home. That is in line with some of the results I wrote about in this column who examined a new study, The Four Pillars of the New Retirement: What a Difference a Year Makes, conducted by Edward Jones, the major investment and financial services advisory firm, in partnership with Age Wave, a think tank and consulting firm.
As I read through the survey, I was reminded of some of the advice I often give to newlywed couples and, of course, my niece and nephew.
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If possible, first spend your money on joint ventures, be it on trips, to a concert, to a play or to a wonderful restaurant. Creating and collecting shared memories lasts a lifetime. The intangible value multiplies over the years.
Now for one of my favorite pieces of advice, and perhaps the most difficult one for couples. Have routine money conversations about your big picture, your current snapshot, upcoming expenses, dreams you have that may result in a cash outlay.
And take the time at least once a year to meet with a financial planner who will take a holistic view of your accounts and help with realigning and considering possible new investments.
It’s hard to do this without that third party, trust me. It takes discipline. You and your spouse may be on the right track here, but I have found it thought provoking to sit down with our planner / advisor and reassure us that we are fine.
Teamwork is dream work
After all, a successful marriage depends on teamwork.
Money is power. For example, if one person bears the financial weight to pay the mortgage and other fixed bills, the one paying the bills may feel unspoken resentment and the other may feel lurking guilt. Try to talk about these feelings as they arise.
“This study clearly shows that couples who work as a team to build strong financial futures are better equipped to handle whatever life has to offer,” said Stacey Watson, senior vice president of life event planning at Fidelity . “That is why it is so important for newly married couples to be openly involved in discussions about money right from the start.”
“Take some time to work together to make sure you have discussed important financial issues as a couple and make sure that you both have a strong understanding of where you are financially and what remains to be achieved,” added Watson . “Those who learn early on to communicate well about finances will likely be rewarded for their efforts in the years to come.”
As Springsteen wrote: Now everyone dreams of lasting and true love
Oh but you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear so that others can see
And I’ll wait for you, and if I should fall back, wait for me. “
Kerry Hannon is an expert and strategist in work and career, entrepreneurship, personal finance and retirement. Kerry is the author of more than a dozen books, including Great Pajama Jobs: Your Complete Guide to Working From Home