by Paul Katzeff, Investors Business Daily

One of his clients is a married man who carries about $20,000 in debt on a credit card that socks him with a 20% interest rate on the balance each month, says Brian Cohen, a financial advisor in Melville, N.Y. The interest and penalties cost his client $4,000 a year, almost enough money to max out annual contributions to an IRA. But instead, the client keeps his wife totally in the dark.

And that couple is not alone. Couples have little problem sharing their retirement dreams with their partners. But sharing information about retirement savings? Un-uh. Keeping secrets is the norm for many.

And couples have another bad habit too: Many couples stash their retirement cash in slowpoke bank accounts instead of investments that grow much faster over time.

“Those are wasteful things to do,” Cohen said. “Not sharing financial information with your spouse and using low-return investments — except in the short term if you’re going to need the money — can keep you from achieving all of your retirement dreams.”

Seventy-six percent of Americans who are married or in a live-in relationship where at least one partner is saving for retirement have discussed retirement planning issues like target age for retirement, where they want to live in retirement and what they want to do, according to a newsurvey from NerdWallet conducted by Harris Poll.

But many couples draw a line at sharing nitty-gritty details. Consider these figures for Americans who are married or living together, where at least one partner is saving for retirement:

  • 23% do not know how much their partner contributes to such long-term retirement accounts as an IRA or 401(k).
  • 21% do not have even a general idea of their total value of their partner’s retirement account.
  • 43% of those people who have a brokerage account do not consult with their partner before making trading decisions for their account.

The survey also found that more Americans in a relationship use a bank savings account than an IRA for long-term buildup of a retirement nest egg. That’s despite the fact that an IRA offers tax breaks and investments that tend to grow much more over time than cash does.

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