(NewsUSA) - So much for thinking we know everything that matters about our spouse or significant other -- at least, it seems, when it comes to money.
According to Fidelity Investments' new "2015 Couples Retirement Study," while the overwhelming majority of couples surveyed said they communicate "exceptionally well" or "very well" about financial matters, a whopping 43 percent couldn't correctly identify how much their partner earned -- up 16 percent from the last time the question was asked two years ago. And 10 percent of those in the dark were off by $25,000 when they apparently tried guessing.
"We know couples don't always agree when it comes to money, but we were surprised how many missed the mark on the question of their partner's salary," says John Sweeney, Fidelity's executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies. "If gaps exist around basic questions like that, couples might have other opportunities for improvement on the financial front, including how and where to retire and later-in-life issues like eldercare and estate planning."
Feeling a bit smug because you know how much your other half makes right down to the last decimal point? Then go ahead -- if you dare -- and try asking him or her these questions to see how you stack up:
* How much do we need to save to maintain our current lifestyle in retirement? (The survey results: 48 percent had "no idea," and another 47 percent -- particularly, alas, Baby Boomers closest to retirement -- disagreed on a figure.)
* How much can we expect in Social Security benefits to help complement what we've saved independently? (The survey results: 60 percent of all couples and 49 percent of Boomers drew a complete blank, even though the government regularly mails the info out.)
* If you add up all our investible assets -- i.e., bank accounts, mutual funds, retirement accounts, and stocks and bonds -- what's the grand total? (Survey results: 36 percent of couples couldn't agree.)
* Traveling the world or staying put? (Survey results: One in three gave conflicting visions of their expected post-retirement lifestyle.)
There are additional interactive "Couples Quiz" questions on Fidelity's website (fidelity.com/couplesquiz) that you might want to try, including a fun one about what you'd do if your favorite store was having a blow-out sale.
Answering them produces your "Financial Personality," and you're encouraged to share the results with your partner and learn how to navigate the retirement process together.
A word of advice: While it pays to be honest, think long and hard about how badly you want to hit that sale.
Contact: Zack Plair
Photo submitted/ Zach Rowland, CAVS" class="img-container" src="http://www.msstate.edu/sites/www.msstate.edu/files/field/image/nwCITE_ArmoredTruck_on_Dyno_20141210_0001ZLR-rszd.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 334px;">STARKVILLE, Miss.â€”A North Mississippi-based armored vehicle company will soon manufacture a more fuel-efficient product because of improvements developed by a major Mississippi State research organization.
At the universityâ€™s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, a team of faculty and research staff members, along with graduate and undergraduate students, recently spent nearly a year developing an idle-reduction system for CITE Armored of Holly Springs. Specifically, they came up with changes that reduce fuel consumption of the companyâ€™s cash-in-transit vehicles.
The â€śidle offâ€ť system developed by the MSU team should improve a vehicleâ€™s fuel efficiency by about 20 percent.
The MSU team delivered two working prototypes to the company for field testing last December, along with system blueprints for full-scale production.
CAVS Extension, an MSU unit focused on industrial projects, partnered with the CAVS research team on the CITE project. Director Clay Walden said the CITE projectâ€™s success embodied what CAVS Extension is meant to accomplish.
â€śThis is a really excellent project, and it demonstrates how we can help Mississippi companies compete successfully using new technology and advanced resources,â€ť Walden said.
Armored vehicles made by CITE are used to pick up and deliver cash for financial institutions. The driverâ€”who must remain inside with the engine runningâ€”and a carrier make frequent stops that may last anywhere from five to 15 minutes. A constantly idling engine is necessary to maintain warm or cold air flow required for cabin comfort.
Matthew Doude, a CAVS research associate, said the team was asked to develop an electronic system that automatically turned off the engine when the driver shifted into parkâ€”but that kept the heating or air conditioning running.
â€śThe idea itself (of heating or cooling a vehicle without using the engine) maybe isnâ€™t revolutionary, but the way we did it is pretty unique,â€ť Doude explained. â€śThere are after-market bolt-on air conditioners you can get that would probably serve a similar purpose, but we integrated our system with the vehicleâ€™s existing heating and air conditioning so that everything happens automatically for the driver.â€ť
While the new system costs a little more on the front-end, Doude said long-term fuel savings should more than pay for the technology over the life of each equipped vehicle.
Ken Russell, CITEâ€™s senior vice president of plant operations, complimented the CAVS team for its work and the product it developed.
â€śIt is our goal to be the industry leader in technology as applied to cash-in-transit armored vehicles,â€ť Russell said, â€śnot only to provide customers integrated control systems, but also efficiently utilize their resources (fuel savings on the engine/idle system). CAVS provides unique, world class resources that effectively brings to fruition projects that we would not have in-house resources to accomplish.
â€śCAVS engineers, equipment and facility are a rare combination of research and hands-on skills directed at solving and creating innovative solutions. To have such a resource locally available in-state created a synergy between CAVS and CITE that would be almost impossible to replicate,â€ť Russell said.
Doude said requests for CAVS consulting by private companies like CITE, especially on powertrain engineering research, are increasing. Even those situated much closer to the Michigan automotive industry have come to MSU for research and expertise, he added.
With an international automotive industry changing so dynamically and rapidly in recent years, Doude predicted that CAVS will be ideally positioned to make an ever-growing impact on vehicle technology.
â€śI think the last five years have been the most transformative in the automotive industry since the invention of the car,â€ť he said. â€śI donâ€™t see that slowing down at all over the next 10 years. Itâ€™s an exciting time to be in the automotive field.â€ť
For more about CAVS, visit www.cavs.msstate.edu.
MSU, Mississippiâ€™s flagship research university, is online at www.msstate.edu.
(NewsUSA) - People are getting older. Not only does this mean there will be more elderly who want to "age at home," and retain their independence, but there will be those who require in-home care from age-related health problems and surgeries.
Consider this: the number of Americans 65 and up is expected to nearly double by the middle of the century, when they will make up more than a fifth of the nation's population, according to a Census Bureau Report released last year.
What this means is that it will be more important than ever to ensure that homes can be retrofitted to accommodate this demographic.
To that end, installing a stairlift may be just what the doctor ordered. For home healthcare providers or loved ones who have to care for someone who is disabled or coming off of surgery, a stairlift makes sense.
"Caregivers for disabled persons are ... becoming more aware of products to help them," Jerry Keiderling, president of Accessible Home Improvement of America told HomeCare Magazine in an interview.
While there is a certain stigma related to stairlifts of old, Keiderling said that technology developments now center on electronic components and aesthetics.
"Today's stairlifts ... have a much more pleasing look," he told the magazine. "They don't look like the service hoist at the local garage. Longevity is also a key component. Some of these systems are used quite often, and they need to last."
Experts agree, saying older people want something that is discreet and that has the ability to be stored away when not in use.
Unlike older models, new designs such as those sold by Orlando-based Acorn Stairlifts are powered by two small-12 volt batteries located under the seat. The chair and built-in footrest can be folded up when not in use, and all lifts have sensors around the perimeter of the foot platform that will stop the lift when triggered.
While cost can be a factor in the decision, experts say that the risk of a family member injuring themselves while lifting a patient far outweighs the cost of installing a chairlift.
For more information, visit www.acornstairlifts.com.