Quick, how much does your spouse make?
If you don’t know the answer you’re not alone.
According to a recent Fidelity survey, forty-three percent of couples could not correctly identify how much their significant other earned.
This was despite the fact that 72% of the couples thought that they communicated very well or exceptionally well about money. Both men and women were equally clueless with 43% of men and 43% of women being unaware of how much their spouse brought home.
Without knowing how much money is coming into a household it’s nearly impossible to create a plan for financial success. And salaries were just the tip of the iceberg. The Fidelity survey found that couples were not on the same page about a variety of topics.
Thirty-six percent of couples, for instance, disagreed on how much much their household held in investible assets. Forty-seven percent of couples disagreed on how much money they needed to save to maintain their current lifestyle in retirement.
“If gaps exist around basic questions like salary, couples might have other opportunities for improvement on the financial front, such as sorting through and tackling important issues together around the next big milestones in their lives, how and where to spend retirement and later-in-life issues involving eldercare and estate planning. By taking time to engage in conversation and plan, your chances of creating a strong foundation and achieving your goals are greatly enhanced,” explains John Sweeney, executive vice president of Retirement and Investing Strategies at Fidelity
Communication is the key to a strong marriage.
Not only will consistent communication about your money make you more financially successful, it could also make your marriage a happier one.
A recent TD Bank Love and Money Study revealed that those couples who regularly talk about money are happier in their relationships than those who talk about their finances less often.
“Couples who are hesitant to talk about money should be encouraged to see that doing so could result in a happier relationship,” explains Ryan Bailey, Head of Deposit Products, Payments and Non-Real Estate Lending at TD Bank.
Set aside time each week to get together as a couple to discuss your finances. You don’t have to tackle all of your financial problems in one session, but over time, you’ll find ways to conquer all of your major financial challenges.
Among the questions that Fidelity suggests that couples discuss include:
1. What are your next big financial goals?
Identify what you want to accomplish financially and create a financial plan together for getting there.
2. Have you set aside an emergency fund?
Emergencies happen. Couples should discuss a plan for saving at least three to six months of income for emergencies.
3. Do you have a shared vision of what your retirement might look like?
What do you want to do when you retire? Do you want to travel, move to another city or country, or embark on a new career or hobby? By having a vision, you as a couple can start preparing now to make sure your retirement dreams become a reality.
4. Are you prepared for the unexpected?
As a couple you should know how you will address the inevitable. Have you, for instance, put a will, durable power of attorney, or health care proxy in place?
BMWK, do you know your spouse’s salary. Are you and your significant other on the same financial page?