I know that Joe and I are a little weird and definitely not like most other couples with the way that we talk about money. It's part of our every day conversations, there is no part of it that's off limits for discussion and while we have our disagreements and rough patches, talking about our finances is an enjoyable conversation in our marriage. Other people may not talk about their money situation as much as we do, but I always thought there were basics that every couple knew about each other other's money. That's why when I heard this marriage and money statistic last Friday, I was a little shocked. I made note of it in my phone and told Joe about it when I remembered later and he seemed surprised as well.
In 2007, Fidelity Investments launched a biennial "Couples Retirement Study" and two weeks ago they posted the results of that study on their website. I like this infographic breakdown of the key findings from the study. The statistics related to retirement are interesting, but that's a topic for another day. The thing that really struck me is the fact that 43% of individuals don't know how much money their spouse makes. This is 16% more than was reported on the study two years ago. An article about the study on CNN Money addressed the two things that I was most confused about.
I understand that off the top of your head, you many not be able to answer a question about your spouse's salary and get it right down to the penny, but a good chunk of people who got the question wrong were off by more than $25,000. To me, that says that a lot of them were just making their best guess. John Sweeny, the retirement and investing expert at Fidelity, was quoted saying, "If you don't know your household income, it makes it difficult to know how much to save and how much to plan for the future." I would add that if you don't know what your income is as a couple, you aren't able to successfully budget your money for the present either. And I guess if you're not able to properly distribute your money now, you won't have any saved for later. Maybe those 43% have chosen not to combine finances in their relationship. It's not something that research and experts suggest, and it's definitely not something that Joe and I have chosen to do, but that's a discussion for another day and something that I addressed last year in my mini series on Combining Finances in Marriage.
As a Family Life Educator, if I were teaching couples about money and discovered that they don't share income information with each other, I would give them these three suggestions:
Start Talking More Openly About Money
Money can be a rough topic and cause disagreements between spouses, but the more you talk about it, the easier it gets. Joe and I aren't immune to arguments about our finances, but because we talk about everything money related with each other, including dumb little purchases that don't really matter, it isn't as difficult to bring the bigger, tough stuff up when they become an issue. If you start
Put Together a Budget Now
Joe and I just started using Every Dollar last month and we love it so far! We start each month fresh with a plan for every dollar of our estimated income and as the month goes on, we adjust as needed. Having a budget will help you plan together and hold each other accountable to the decisions that you made.
Plan and Prepare for the Future
When putting together your budget, don't forget to set aside some money to save for your future. You'll want to think about retirement, home maintenance, future vacations, and even possible emergencies. You can find more ideas for preparing for your family's financial future here.
Whether you feel like you and your spouse are on the same page money wise or not, check out this great article from Fidelity Investments. They have a list of four money discussions you should have with your spouse and a short quiz that both of you can take.
This was not a sponsored post, just something that I became aware of this past week and thought was really important to talk about. Search #FinancialBliss on Twitter for links to more great articles and discussion from a Twitter chat earlier this week about this topic.