Married Couples Better Prepared For Retirement

February 13, 2013

Married couples tend to be better prepared for retirement than singles or divorced individuals, according to ING’s just-published “Marriage and Money” report.

Married couples tend to have higher savings levels and are more confident about being prepared for retirement than divorced individuals or singles, according to consumer research from ING U.S. Retirement Research Institute.

However, while married people say they are “better prepared, that’s not to say they’re adequately prepared” for the realities of retirement, said Deb Dupont, director of the ING Retirement Research Institute.

Married individuals save more for their retirement independently – $40,000 more on average – compared to those who are single. Despite being an average of five years younger, based on the survey of more than 4,000 individuals, married people also have greater retirement savings – $11,000 more per person – than those who are divorced.

Marriage may provide an extra savings edge for men, Dupont said. According to the survey, the average retirement savings for married men was 51 percent greater than single men and 8 percent greater than divorced men.

Married women also out-saved their single counterparts, but by a smaller margin of 28 percent.  Married women have virtually the same retirement account balances as divorced women, the research shows. Married women who participated in the survey were seven years younger, on average, than divorced women.

“While the financial advantages of marriage may not be surprising for many, our hope in sharing this research is that it helps all Americans, regardless of age or marital status, to make a greater commitment to their personal retirement savings,” Dupont said in a release. “It’s essential for everyone to assess their unique life situation and goals – whether single, married or divorced – and commit to creating a plan that is designed to lead them to a greater state of retirement readiness.”

Forty-two percent of singles and 39 percent of divorced respondents feel that they don’t know how to reach their retirement goals, compared to 34 percent of married people.

Dupont attributes the difference between those groups and singles to the age differential in the study; single respondents to the survey were slightly younger than married or divorced participants. Slightly less than a third of married and divorced individuals get help from a financial advisor; just 23 percent of single women and 16 percent of single men use advisors.

Divorced women tend to be the most financially vulnerable, Dupont noted. Few have stored away the recommended level of emergency savings.

Many avoid discussing life insurance and 45 percent of married individuals said they rarely or never discuss what would happen to the family finances should one spouse pass away. “It’s hard and people tend to avoid discussing it,” Dupont said.

While they may not discuss life insurance, a majority own life insurance as part of their overall financial holdings. More than 85 percent of those surveyed have life insurance. Married men, at 95 percent, were most likely to have life insurance; single women were least likely, at 84 percent.

Married men also had the most life insurance. On average, that group has life insurance valued at 4.5 times their annual incomes. Married women have 3.5 times their income; divorced men 3.4 times; divorced women 3.2 times; single men and women have 2.7 times their income, the study found.

The ING research report is the latest of several based on a survey conducted in late 2011. The study included employed individuals with incomes of at least $40,000.

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