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Study: 43 percent of people don't know their spouse's salary

Recently, we discussed the importance of couples talking about finances before they get married. Having similar values around money and goals for how to spend and save it are important factors in a marriage. Honesty about finances during the marriage is crucial also. Finally, if the marriage does end, it's important to know what your spouse's financial situation is.

Surprisingly, a 2015 study found of over 1,000 couples found that some 43 percent didn't know what their spouse's salary was. Not only didn't they know, but 10 percent of those surveyed were off by $25,000 when they guessed.

A Fidelity executive postulated that one reason that couples hesitate to discuss salary is income disparity. She notes, "One person might think that if they don't make as much as their spouse, their opinion doesn't hold the same weight when it comes to financial decision making."

Salary wasn't the only source of income that the couples were in the dark about. The study showed that almost half of those nearing retirement did not know how much they would be receiving in Social Security benefits. The percentage was even higher (60 percent) for all of those surveyed.

Being open and honest about your financial situation and your goals is essential for all couples. It can make a marriage stronger. However, if you decide to go your separate ways, it's also essential to know things like your spouse's salary and other sources of income as well as retirement plan balances, investments and debts. This can help you and your attorney seek the best terms for your divorce.

Source: AARP, "Why You Should Know Your Spouse’s Salary," Janice Holly Booth, Sep. 03, 2015

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