Is Planning for the Future Easier if You’re Single?

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” It seems that this old adage is appropriate for married people planning for retirement, who look over the fence at their single counterparts and imagine how much easier it must be for them. According to a recent article in the New York Times, “More than half of married Americans, and more than two-thirds of singles, say they believe it is easier to make major financial decisions for retirement when there is no spouse in the picture.”

We all know, however, that the wisdom of this adage comes from the fact that things are not always as they appear. The same is true, it seems, when it comes to perceptions about the difficulty of retirement planning for married couples vs. single individuals. The findings of the Charles Schwab & Company survey quoted by the NY Times article reveal that “85 percent of married Americans were saving for retirement, compared with 67 percent of singles, across all age groups. Thirty-eight percent of married Americans expressed confidence in their retirement readiness, compared with 32 percent of those who were single.”

The numbers aren’t all that surprising when you consider that while it may be easier to make decisions about money when you’re on your own, it’s easier to sock money away in a savings or retirement account when you have two incomes to draw from.

Furthermore, having a second person in the picture can actually serve as an incentive to stick to your savings plan. “While everyone wishes they didn’t have to compromise, a spouse is also a sort of ‘buddy system,’ in terms of staying on track for savings… If one person tends to be a spender, a spouse who has the opposite tendency may help the couple stay on track toward savings goals.”

The important thing—whether you’re single or married—is that you’re ready for whatever the future may be. Having a retirement savings plan, and protecting that plan for yourself and your family, is of the utmost importance.

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