First Person: Our Gen-X Couples' Retirement is Complicated

Yahoo Contributor Network

My husband and I are typical Generation X'ers. We are individuals who don't defer to the other spouse when it comes to managing our personal finances such as retirement savings. I recently read a study about the differences between baby boomer women and Generation X and Y women when it comes to handling their personal finances in a marriage. An article by Forbes cited the Fidelity Investments Couples Retirement study as a warning sign that Generation Y women might be in trouble because they let their husband handle the finances. It turns out 12 percent of Generation Y women are the primary decision makers compared to 17 percent of Generation X women and a whopping 25 percent of baby boomer wives. I personally don't think it's such a bad thing for Gen-Y women to defer to their husband.

Emasculating men with control

According to the article, Generation Y women need to "communicate, collaborate and control." As a woman who has been happily married for almost a decade, I don't plan to look to baby boomer women as role models in the areas of personal finance or marriage. According to one McClatchy article, baby boomers are divorcing at alarming rates. In fact, while divorce rates decline for the rest of us, an unprecedented number of senior citizens are divorcing. I don't intend to emasculate my husband by taking over his retirement accounts. At the same time, I'm well-educated in the area of personal finances and enjoy trading stocks. I also don't intend to turn over my retirement accounts to him.

Getting professional advice

I'll admit, I was surprised to learn that wealthy people in my Generation X as well as members of Generation Y tend to use financial advisors. A recent article by The New York Times points out that most Gen X and Y millionaires use advisors compared to only two-thirds of baby boomers. While I take the do-it-yourself investing approach, my husband only invests with the help of advisors. Considering I'm not a millionaire, I might want to follow the same path as my husband in order to get there by the time I retire.

Trading as opposed to investing

My husband doesn't trade stocks. He simply invests in mutual funds with advice from his broker. On the other hand, I'm more of a stock trader. The report by Fidelity showed almost three-quarters of the younger generations surveyed make an average of 30 trades a month. I definitely "micro-manage" my investments, making trades Monday through Friday as part of my daily routine. I keep most of my retirement money with a discount brokerage firm that has an online trading site. I've been trading stocks since about 1996.

I have to admit, I'm always curious when my husband's annual retirement statement comes in the mail. It's amazing to me that he only cares to see his progress once a year. He has been pleasantly surprised this past year after continuing to save through the Great Recession. On the other hand, my feelings about my retirement money are on a roller coaster since I check my account frequently as an active trader. The best advice a woman ever gave me about investing mirrors what my husband does already. A retired woman told me to simply allow 10 percent to be taken out of my paycheck and invested in to mutual funds within a 401(k) or other retirement account. It's simple, almost too simple. But, maybe that's why it's not worth it for couples of any generation to have power struggles over investing.

More from this contributor:

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Investing Again After a 401(k) wipeout

Fighting Fair About Money


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