Almost Half of Couples Don’t Know This About Each Other

A large percentage of people in committed relationships are clueless about a basic detail of their partner’s financial life. Find out what it is.

Household income is a basic piece of financial information. But many people who are married or living with someone in a long-term relationship have no idea how much their partner makes.

Forty-three percent of couples failed to correctly guess their partner’s income in Fidelity Investments’ 2015 Couples Retirement Study.

Among those 43 percent, 10 percent were off in their estimates by at least $25,000.

John Sweeney, executive vice president of Planning and Advisory Services for Fidelity Personal and Workplace Investing, tells CNN Money:

“We were surprised how many missed the mark.”

For the study, market research firm GfK polled more than 1,000 couples — more than 2,000 individuals — who were married or in long-term committed relationships and living with their partners.

In addition, 36 percent of couples disagreed about how much the household had accumulated in investable assets.

Despite those findings, large percentages of the couples believed they communicate well:

  • 90 percent felt it was not difficult to start conversations about topics such as household budgets, savings and investments, and will and estate planning.
  • 72 percent felt they communicate “exceptionally/very well.”

Other findings that underscore these couples’ financial disconnect include:

  • 48 percent had “no idea” how much money they need to save for retirement to maintain their current lifestyle.
  • Among couples who did have an idea how much they need, 47 percent disagreed with their partner about the dollar amount. Disagreement was highest among baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964.
  • 52 percent had”no idea” how much money they expected to receive in monthly retirement income.
  • 36 percent “don’t know” what their Social Security payment will be. An additional 24 percent were unsure of the amount.
  • 33 percent of those who had yet to retire disagreed on how comfortable their lifestyle would be in retirement.

The good news is the study found that couples who developed a detailed retirement plan felt much more optimistic about their retirement.

For example, they were more than twice as likely to say they expected to live a “very comfortable” retirement. They also were less likely to be concerned about outliving their retirement savings or about unexpected health care costs in retirement.

The study states:

The results strongly suggest planning for the future goes a long way to achieving greater peace of mind and alignment as a couple. By and large, couples with a detailed plan feel far better about their retirement prospects.

Do those of you in relationships know how much your significant other earns? Share what you think about these statistics in a comment below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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