A recent Fidelity survey highlights a key to success for couples: make finances a team sport.
Fidelity recently published a survey (link opens in new tab) about couples and money, called the 2021 Fidelity Investments Couples & Money Study, which “analyzes retirement and financial expectations and preparedness among 1,713 couples (3,426 individuals)”.
For financial success, make money a team sport
A key finding from the survey really resonated with me: “For financial success, make money a team sport.”
Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not a sports enthusiast, especially not a team sports enthusiast (much to my football- and basketball-loving husband’s chagrin). Sure, I like waterskiing and snowboarding, but these are not really “team” sports. But what I love about this finding is something I see all the time when I work with couples on their financial situation: being aligned about finances can help a couple in many other aspects of their relationship too, including feeling more confident about making money decisions now and feeling good about their future.
Real life situation: Jake and Andrea
I recently met with a couple for the first time; let’s call them Jake and Andrea. They both agreed on the many things they’d like to do with their money: retirement, a vacation, bathroom renovation (much needed in their 100-year-old home), college savings for the kids. But they hesitate on taking any action because they aren’t sure about what is reasonable for them to plan for, and they have different expectations about what’s sensible regarding spending.
Here’s an example Andrea gave: “Recently we tried to plan a weekend getaway, heading to a nearby town for the weekend while my parents watched the kids. The problem was finding a place to stay. I found a great hotel, with amenities and breakfast included, which I got for a good price. But Jake thought it was too expensive. He found another option, more like a motel, that was about 1/4 the price of the place I found. Part of the getaway weekend fun for me was staying at a nice hotel. Jake’s hotel wouldn’t feel like a vacation treat to me. Ultimately, we stayed home because Jake was worried about the cost and I didn’t think it was worthwhile to spend money on a place that wouldn’t feel like a treat.”
A disconnect between couples can interfere with financial goals
This couple may suffer from something that the Fidelity survey mentions, a disconnect between couples when it comes to money and financial goals. The survey says, “24 percent of people say they are often frustrated at their partner’s money habits but let it go for the sake of keeping the peace” and “34 percent disagree on their family’s next big savings goal.”
More survey findings among couples who make money decisions jointly
- 75% more likely to say they communicate very or exceptionally well with their partner.
- 84% more likely to feel confident in their partner’s ability to assume full responsibility of planning for retirement and other long-term goals.
Work with a professional to bring you and your partner into financial alignment
Interestingly, the survey offers a potential solution to help bring couples more into alignment: working with a financial professional. The survey says, “Couples that work with a financial advisor are more likely to agree on their vision of retirement, find it easier to start money conversations, and feel confident about their financial health.”
If you’d like to explore whether working with a financial advisor might be a way to increase alignment around financial goals for you and your partner, reach out!