George Bernard Shaw said that “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” While it’s an interesting bit of advice for couples in general, I feel couples’ finances, and in particular retirement planning are perfect victims for this shared “illusion” that both are on the same page.

A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll shows the extent to which many couples are in fact not on the same page in their retirement savings. According to the survey, around one in five (21%) of those whose partners are saving for retirement don’t know how much their partners are contributing. Of those who have a brokerage account, 43% don’t consult with their partner before making trading decisions.

The above figures can be compared to the following: 76% of couples shared that they have discussed retirement planning generalities, such as what age they plan to retire, where they want to live, and what they want to do. Predictably, when it comes to what couples are most likely sharing during their discussions of retirement planning, there is a tendency to focus more on more on the big-picture things, or even the things people want to talk about, rather than the details that need to be discussed.

Possibly more damaging than not communicating with your partner about savings decisions is the possibility that your money isn’t connecting with the right retirement product. The survey also showed that after the standard company 401(k), the second most common savings vehicle is a bank account, which generally offers a fraction of a percent interest on the money placed there. The variety of products that are available, such as Roth and Traditional IRAs, or even other brokerage accounts means there is definitely an option that matches your needs. A little research or professional advice that connects you to the right product can mean the difference if tens of thousands of dollars—or more—over time compared to a simple savings account.

Finally, the survey results show that a majority of couples have only one individual contributing to retirement savings: 67% of couples report only one individual contributing, compared to only 24% of couples reporting contributions from both. While there could be a wide range of reasons for only one individual contributing, the figure lines up with the overarching findings of the survey—that couples can usually benefit from reassessing the degree to which they are cooperating for retirement savings.

How about you? Are you and your partner confident about your retirement planning outlook? Miramontes Capital specializes in going beyond the numbers by addressing the needs of each individual client, which is just what you need if you’re a couple planning for retirement. Give us a call today.

[1] Yochim, Dayana. “Study: Money Secrets and Sluggish Savings Put Couples’ Retirement Dreams at Risk.” Accessed Aug. 31, 2016.