Survey: Retirees in relationships have fewer financial planning regrets

Written on Feb 12, 2019

New data from Global Atlantic Financial Group’s Retirement Spending Study shows that retirees who are married or living with a significant other have fewer financial regrets than those who are single.

While two out of three single retirees (64%) report having retirement planning regrets, fewer than half of retirees in relationships (49%) do. Nearly half (45%) of single retirees regret that they did not save enough money (compared to 30% of those in relationships). Nearly three in ten retired singles (28%) regret relying too much on Social Security (compared to 15% of those in relationships).

“The findings may speak to the human tendency to want to plan better when the wellbeing of a loved one is involved,” said Paula Nelson, president of retirement at Global Atlantic. “Regardless of relationship status, individuals who are saving for retirement would benefit from working closely with financial advisors to assess their retirement income needs and consider different strategies for generating that income.”

One differentiating factor is that retirees in relationships appear to have more diverse income streams than single retirees. One in four (24%) retirees who is married or cohabiting reports having an annuity, compared to only 15% of single retirees. Those who are married or cohabiting are also more likely to collect income from pension plans (50% vs. 34%); 401(k)s or other defined contribution plans (33% vs. 17%); investment portfolios (39% vs. 19%); and savings accounts (58% vs. 42%).

Perhaps reflecting the benefits of diverse income streams, the survey found that retirees in relationships are more likely to maintain their lifestyles, with fewer cut backs on discretionary expenses during retirement, such as:

  • Restaurants and entertainment (39% vs. 56%)
  • Travel and vacations (33% vs. 43%)
  • Charitable giving (23% vs. 28%); and
  • Housing (14% vs. 33%).

“While those in relationships may have some financial advantages, single people can absolutely thrive in retirement,” Nelson added. “They can mitigate the risk of facing financial regrets by diversifying their income streams. For example, they may consider annuities to add protected income streams that they can collect for the rest of their lives.”

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