TRADITIONAL RETIREMENT PLANNING FOR COUPLES OMITS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: GOOD COMMUNICATION
DID YOU KNOW?
36% OF COUPLES SAY THEY HAVEN’T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT A RETIREMENT PLAN[I]
47% OF COUPLES DISAGREE ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY THEY’LL NEED IN RETIREMENT[II]
Let’s say you’ve done everything right. You’re on a relatively traditional retirement track. You worked your 30+ years, you’ve saved, raised the kids, bought the house, and you’re still with your spouse. It sounds like your retirement is set and ready to launch. You have earned the right to enjoy it in the way you’ve been thinking about it for years. There’s just one little detail that may have been overlooked. Have you discussed your ideal retirement with your spouse? Do you know what theirs is?
Traditional thinking on retirement planning for couples fails to take into consideration the vital need for communication in order to remain happily married through retirement. As people are living longer and desiring more from their retirement, couples who aren’t synched up may find themselves disappointed in their own retirement reality. In this article, we outline some opportunities and suggestions that can help you and your spouse talk about your future together in a respectful and meaningful way.
Where traditional retirement planning is flawed
IT IS OFTEN ASSUMED THAT:
ALL COUPLES STILL LIKE AND KNOW EACH OTHER AND ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SPENDING MORE TIME TOGETHER
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE RELATIONSHIP MAY CHANGE, BUT THERE IS NO OUTLINE FOR HOW OR WHEN THAT WILL HAPPEN AND WHO WILL DO WHAT.
THAT RETIREMENT SAVINGS WILL BE SPENT ACCORDING TO WHAT EACH SPOUSE FEELS TAKES PRIORITY.
THAT EACH PERSON HAS THE SAME LEVEL OF HEALTH, THE SAME INTERESTS, DAILY ROUTINE AND NEED FOR SOCIAL INTERACTION
Talk Before You Retire
Putting aside time for each other to have a truthful discussion about your upcoming retirement is very important. Both of you should have a clear understanding of what you have and what your budget is. From there you can discuss how you wish to and will be able to spend your time. These discussions can be exciting – providing an opportunity to be fanciful, adventurous, and creative in your thinking. If you want to travel, where would you go? How long would you stay? If you want to move, where are your ideal destinations and what style of home? This should be a safe space to explore all the potential the future holds. The more you talk, the more you will understand what your spouse desires and also yourself.
There can be things that come up in these conversations that can also be uncomfortable. Some couples discover that their version of retirement is in stark contrast with that of their other half. When one would like to move closer to grandkids and the other wants to get a condo near the golf club, there certainly is much more to discuss, work through and probably compromise on.
DID YOU KNOW? 80% OF BABY BOOMER COUPLES DON’T HAVE A WRITTEN PLAN ABOUT THE EVERYDAY LIFE ASPECTS OF RETIREMENT.
It is also important to discuss timelines. When one spouse retires before the other, the couple may find a disconnect with how each other’s time is being spent and what priorities and household responsibilities should be. There are positives too though. With only one of you working, you won’t just be ships passing in the night. Dividing up the household duties will leave more time for you to spend together during off-work hours. Understanding what your daily routine will be and having a game plan for what everyday life will be like for you and your spouse when you retire will temper any confusion about what role each partner is playing in this new lifestyle.
Having a timeline of who will retire when, a clear understanding of what each person wants out of retirement, a schedule and routine for what your days will look like and an agreed upon plan for how, when and on what money will be spent will serve you well as you enter this new stage of life.
For those who find these discussions extremely challenging or if you cannot seem to find a solution that works for both of you, you may want to consider inviting in a third party to help you look at all sides objectively and help you come to an agreement that can and will work for both you and your spouse.