People Do Not Consider Their Spouses' Behavior When Saving for Retirement to Their Detriment, Study Finds

A study finds people do not consider their spouses’ behavior when making saving decisions, which means households with two earners end up not saving enough for retirement.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College report says the findings show the importance of educating spouses on the necessity of saving for two. The study analyzed 401(k) contribution rates and found a married person’s total contribution was typically 8-9 percent of their earnings, no matter what the saver’s spouse is doing. According to the findings, those who should have the highest saving rate - those with an earning, non-saving spouse - have lower saving rates than other groups.

The study’s authors suggest married individuals should consider 401(k) plan features that auto-escalate contributions or set default rates with marital status in mind. The authors also suggest individuals consider auto-IRA programs.