Managing money is top of mind for many mass-affluent married couples, more so than the election, work, sex, and even their kids. Thats one of the most striking takeaways from the Bank of Americas latest Merrill Edge report on mass-affluent consumers, those with $50,000 to $250,000 in total household investable assets.
Almost seven in 10 mass-affluent couples (69%) discuss their finances at least a few times a month, covering everything from debt reduction to saving for college and retirement. Thats more than what many spend talking about other topics, such as home-improvement projects. More than one in three (34%) say they spend more time discussing their finances than their sex life. Almost one in four (24%) talk more about their finances than their kids.
Mass-affluent consumers are not just talking. Theyre taking on more financial responsibility, with 38% managing their own investments and planning for their retirement on their own, according to the survey findings.
In recent years, this segment has taken on a lot more financial responsibility and that will likely only continue to grow, Dean Athanasia, president of Preferred and Small Business Banking at Bank of America, said in a video.
Mass-affluent consumers are also seeking expertise. Almost eight in 10 (76%) are seeking some type of guidance to help them manage important financial tasks. The three top tasks for which theyre looking to experts for help include allocating their portfolios (29%), creating an overall financial plan (28%) and saving for retirement (25%).
The survey found that half (52%) of mass-affluent Americans have saved less than $250,000 for retirement and that 56% are planning to retire later than they were compared to a year ago. They cite the increased cost of living and healthcare, rather than their lack of savings or economic uncertainties, as the biggest obstacles to the life they want to live during their retirement years.
An overwhelming majority, 84%, are most concerned about the rising cost of healthcare, followed by concern that their retirement assets will not last throughout their lifetimes. Worries about both these issues, however, have subsided since April, when the semiannual survey was last conducted.
Rising college costs are another big concern for many mass-affluent Americans, with four in 10 saying its their greatest financial worry. Almost one in five, 19%, do not believe that the cost of a college education is worth the return on their investment.
Still, parents continue to support their childrens education, with 58% dipping into their own personal savings to pay for the childrens college. Half of mass-affluent parents with children who did or will attend college wish they had started saving for their first childs education earlier.
Despite these concerns, saving for their childrens college is one of the least discussed topics among mass-affluent couples, with only 12% citing it as such.
The survey, which is conducted semiannually by telephone, canvassed 1,001 mass-affluent Americans (investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000) between August 20, 2012 and August 28, 2012.