Survey: Is money the root of all arguments?

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More than a quarter of Britain’s couples over the age of 40 say that money is the biggest cause of arguments in their household.

The new research from Prudential raises fresh concerns that British couples are sleepwalking into retirement without properly discussing their financial arrangements.

The figures suggest that the state of their finances is more likely to cause couples to fall out than disagreements over housework, staying out late or their partner’s choice of friends.

The study, which looks at how co-habiting couples over the age of 40 are planning for their retirement, also found that nearly one in five (17 per cent) say that they don’t feel comfortable talking about finances with their other halves.

The awkwardness that couples feel around having conversations about their finances also appears to shape their attitude to retirement planning.

Twenty per cent of those surveyed have never had a conversation with their partner about the income they think they will need in retirement. And while the majority of couples have discussed their pension incomes in the last year, a third (34 per cent) of them only talked about it for half an hour or less.

When couples were asked if they knew what level of income they would need to lead a comfortable retirement, more than half (56 per cent) admitted to having no idea.

Vince Smith-Hughes of the Prudential, said: “There is no hiding from the fact that sometimes our finances are a tough topic to talk about. It is all too tempting to put off conversations about the money we’ll need in the future.

“There can be tangible financial benefits, however, for couples who bite the bullet and have a frank and open conversation about their plans for the future. Agreeing on a joint approach to pension provision could boost their overall incomes when the time comes to retire.

“There are also potential savings to be made from using personal tax allowances after retirement – a retired couple have a joint allowance of almost £20,000 of tax free income available to them.

“A conversation with a professional financial adviser should help couples to make better decisions about pension savings during their working lives, ensuring that their income continues to support their lifestyle in retirement and that they benefit from all available allowances.”

The Prudential study also reveals that 16 per cent of couples have never had a conversation about improving their financial circumstances, and a quarter of those surveyed have not done so in the past year.