Is Matrimony Good for Retirement Saving?

They say that two heads are better than one – and that certainly seems to be the case with retirement planning.

For example, married men and women are more likely than unmarried men and women to report having saved for retirement: 7 in 10 married workers have saved for retirement, compared with just under half of unmarried workers (48%).

And, according to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), married workers are not only more likely than unmarried workers to report having money in a DC plan or individual retirement account (IRA, including a rollover IRA), they are far more likely than unmarried workers to (26% compared with 10%) to report having accumulated at least $250,000.

Preparation Stations

Married workers (46%) are more likely than unmarried workers (32%) to have tried to calculate how much they will need to have saved by the time they retire so that they can live comfortably in retirement. Nor is this influenced by gender; women, married or unmarried, are just as likely as men to have attempted a retirement savings calculation (41% of all women vs. 40% of all men).

Married workers are also more likely than unmarried workers of either gender to report having taken other steps to plan for retirement at a household level, including:

  • estimating how much monthly income is needed (43% vs. 30% unmarried);
  • estimating expenses in retirement (38% vs. 28%); and
  • calculating how much will likely be needed to cover health expenses in retirement (24% vs. 17%).

Married workers are more likely to say they have spoken with a professional financial advisor about retirement planning (27% vs. 18% unmarried), but similarly low shares of both married and unmarried workers have prepared a formal, written financial plan for retirement (12% vs. 10% unmarried).

There are areas where marital status doesn’t seem to matter. Men and women, married and unmarried, are equally likely to say that they currently feel mentally or emotionally stressed about preparing for retirement, according to the report. Three in 10 workers feel stressed (31% overall, 32% among women, 29% among men, 30% among married workers and 32% among unmarried workers).

Statistically, there is also no difference in the age at which workers plan to retire by gender and marital status: All groups have a median expected retirement age of 65 – although that is an assumption that many find doesn’t play out in reality (see 6 Assumptions That Can Wreck a Retirement).

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