Median net worth for households in 2008

The secret to success in retirement planning is marriage, according to recent findings from the National Bureau of Economic Research released in August.

The study explored retirees in single and married households and how much in assets they held between 1993 and 2008.

“A rather large fraction of the original single-person households have low income judged by the income poverty thresholds,” the Bureau economists said in the study. “We find that 12.1 percent are below the poverty threshold and have no financial assets, and that 23 percent are below twice the income poverty line and have no financial assets.”

Wealth was greatest among two-person households, according to the study.

Fifty-two percent of single-person households had annuity income less than $20,000 and financial assets less than $20,000, while only 26.3 percent of married couples were lacking.

The success of a married household is more than just having two incomes, said Jacob Sybrowsky, certified retirement counselor and the director of the personal financial planning programs at the Utah Valley University.

Sybrowsky says a married household is more efficient than a single-person home, which is the reason for the gap.

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“You have two people making investment decisions and budget considerations,” Sybrowksy, who is raising his 2-year-old daughter with his wife, said in a phone interview. “You have a check and balance system, which may lead to fewer mistakes and errors.”

The study found that 46.1 percent of people die with less than $10,000 in financial assets.

That staggering figure is an indication that many people aren’t thinking long term, but the likelihood of planning for the future is greater in a marriage relationship, Sybrowsky said.


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