| TORONTO, Sept. 22
TORONTO, Sept. 22 "I told you so."
Those are four words no spouse wants to hear from their
partner, especially when it comes to investing and retirement
Just ask David Rothberg. Rothberg, 59, and his wife heavily
invested in tech giant Cisco way back in the mid-1990s. She
wanted to shift money into bonds instead. But that's not
Rothberg's style. "I'm an aggressive investor, and the market
was going up 30 percentage points per year, so why would I
invest in something that would get us six percent?"
As the technology boom went bust, Cisco's revenue fell for
the first time in the company's history. By the summer of 2001,
sales were down one-third compared to six months prior. Cisco
stock had lost 68 percent of its value in 10 short weeks.
"I should have listened to my wife, but I didn't," says
Rothberg, an ophthalmologist based in Clearwater, Florida.
Are these verbal jousts between couples hindering financial
decisions? According to new research from Charles Schwab Corp,
The survey revealed that a majority of Americans, single or
married, believe that planning for one's golden years is smooth
sailing for the non-married cohort.
Among the survey's findings:
-53 percent of married Americans and more than two-thirds
(69 percent) of singles believe financial decisions are easier
to make when single.
-58 percent of those who are married say the decision about
when to retire would be easier if they were single, while 62
percent believed deciding where to retire would also be easier
without a spouse.
-More than one-quarter of married clients surveyed (27
percent) said they bounced financial decisions off someone
other than their spouse.
Indeed, advisers tend to agree, saying that risk tolerance,
age differences and overall health and lifestyle considerations
only complicate the planning process.
"I do a lot of marital counseling, not by choice and not on
purpose," says Wayne Copelin, president and founder of Copelin
Financial Advisors in Sugar Land, Texas.
"Married people have similar concerns, but for a single
person, it's not only easier, it feels easier. If you have a
husband and wife, you're putting the mortality of two people
Over the past 50 years, there has been a sharp decline in
marriage across the United States.
In 1960, two-thirds (68 percent) of all twenty-somethings
were married, but in 2008, just over a quarter (26 percent)
walked down the aisle, according to data from the Pew Research
Center. The most recent data from the Census Bureau shows that
for the first time in history, married couples account for
fewer than half of all households (48 percent).
And while the general perception may be that singles have
it easy, those going solo are falling short when it comes to
getting their financial houses in order.
According to the Schwab survey, 85 percent of married
Americans are already saving for retirement, compared with 67
percent of singles across all age groups. More than one-third
(38 percent) of married Americans express confidence in their
retirement readiness compared to just 32 percent of those who
SINGLES SAVE LESS
"There are occasionally people who save more because
they're single, and they don't have the responsibility of a
spouse or children. They're able to have that discipline, but
typically, we've found single people don't save as much because
they're out trying to do more on their own," says Gordon Tudor,
principal at Wealth Analytics, an advisory firm in San Diego,
The numbers are even more startling for single women. About
40 percent of female baby boomers are single, which represents
a rise of 10 percent from 1989, according to AARP. Among
unmarried women over 60, nearly one in six lived in poverty in
2008, according to the Center for American Progress.
As a single mother, Jerri Will, 59, says most of her income
and time went to raising her two daughters.
"At 50, when they were out of the house and married, I
started saving for my retirement fast and furiously," says
Will, an entrepreneur and Schwab client.
Will has been investing aggressively for the past nine
years, dividing her assets between dividend-paying stocks and
rental properties to ensure she has a steady monthly income -
an important consideration for singletons.
One single person in retirement spends 70 percent to 75
percent of what a couple spends, according to a report from the
American Academy of Actuaries. On a per-person basis, the cost
of living for singles is 40 percent to 50 percent higher than
that for married people.
"It's statistics like these that highlight how important it
is for women, especially single women, to take control of their
retirement future," says Colleen O'Brien, vice president and
branch manager at the San Ramon, California Schwab location.
"If you polled most women, they're all writing the checks
to pay for expenses in the home. They're capable of making sure
the bills are paid. But when it comes to the investment piece,
they hand it over to their husbands because it's intimidating,"
she says. "The longer they go on like this, the less say they
have in the conversation."
While it may be easier to plan for retirement with only one
person to consider, a second opinion can be just what your
After 2002, Rothberg began investing more in fixed-income,
and his wife took the initiative to educate herself by joining
an investing group.
"I did take her advice," he says. "Eventually."
(Editing by Lauren Young)