MCLEAN, Va. (4/1/14)--Couples say they discuss retirement planning about 14 times a year, according to a telephone survey of 1,008 adults sponsored by Capital One ShareBuilder, an online investing site (USA Today March 16).
That's the good news. Not so good: While respondents believe they should be saving 12.1% of income toward retirement, they actually put away about half as much (6.4%).
And despite the reported frequent discussions, Dan Greenshields, president of Capital One ShareBuilder, suggests these may be passing comments instead of in-depth planning conversations.
If you're saving less than 10% for retirement, especially in your 40s and 50s, Greenshields says that's not enough. Ideally, at that age, he recommends you should be saving in the mid-teens to 20% of your income. But he acknowledges that most Americans can't hit that mark because they have so many financial demands.
Greenshields says it's important that couples discuss the lifestyle they want to have and where they want to live. You can live in some rural communities on half the assets it takes to live in many big cities, he points out.
St. Louis psychologist Diane Sanford often counsels couples struggling with money issues. She says, "If you compile a budget for six months of all your expenses ... you'll see what you need to save to create the lifestyle you hope to have in retirement." The budget provides a neutral way of starting the retirement savings conversation.
Sanford says she sees couples where one partner is involved in retirement saving and the other isn't. "It's important that both of you are informed and know what your assets are." One of the worst mistakes partners can make is to blame each other for spending too much. It's better to work together than "pick each other apart," she says.
Couples who fear they won't have enough to retire may feel particularly deprived. In those cases, it's easy to blame the other person when no one is really at fault, says Joe Burgo, a psychologist in Chapel Hill, N.C. "Coming together as a team, agreeing upon and sharing the sacrifices, will help them weather the disappointment of living on less than they had expected."
For related information, read "Who Goes First? For Couples, Retirement is All About Timing" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.