Who Holds The Purse Strings For Couples?

By Karen Demasters, April 7, 2017, FinancialAdvisor.com

LIMRA, a research organization for the insurance and financial services industries, set out more than 50 years ago to find out who makes the financial decisions for young couples.

The firm has now completed its survey three times since 1965 and found that the person making the decisions, or whether the couple makes decisions jointly, has shifted over the years. The latest survey of 1,043 households of 25 to 44-year-olds with at least $35,000 in annual income shows decision-making is somewhat evenly split among the three categories considered by LIMRA: men, women and joint decisions.

Men are the financial decision-makers in 30 percent of the households and women in 34 percent. The couples in the report made joint decisions in 36 percent of the households.

In the first study in 1965, men were the decision-makers in a much smaller percentage of the households. In only 27 percent did men make the financial decisions, while in 39 percent it was the woman and in 34 percent it was both of them.

By 1990, the numbers had shifted. Men made the decisions 34 percent of the time, women 38 percent of the time, and couples together only 28 percent of the time. The financial decision-maker is defined by LIMRA as the person who pays the bills, keeps the budget and tracks expenses.

The decision-maker is 32 percent more likely to be extremely concerned about financial worries, including saving for retirement and maintaining the current standard of living should a wage earner become disabled or die. The study also found that 60 percent of couples do not strongly agree on their financial goals. In those cases, financial advisors must talk with both spouses, LIMRA says.

To Your Successful Retirement!

Michael Ginsberg, JD, CFP®

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