Retirement Planning for Couples: The (Retirement) Talk Couples Need to Have

Retirement planning for couples can be tough to manage and execute. I mean, how is it that couples can communicate to the finest detail the events related to their wedding and their honeymoon? But ask them to tell you what the other person earns, or when they would like to retire, or how much they have saved, and watch the blank stares appear.

It is amazing to me to observe conversations between couples planning for their own retirement and hear how disconnected they are when it come to the design of their own retirement. One is planning on never retiring; the other can’t wait for age 65 and so many years of service. One might want to move to a warmer clime for the entire year, and the other, to rent a place for a few weeks in the dead of winter.

While these issues can be tough to handle, retirement planning for couples isn’t so difficult once you actually have a conversation. And one of the first things you should have a conversation about is getting set up with a financial advisor who can help you both decide what is not only viable, but also enjoyable. After all, your retirements should be a fun and exciting time in your lives!

Once the decision is made to consult with a planner/advisor on this most important subject, the disparity of their desires often makes for very animated conversations. The resolution usually requires several subsequent conversations guided by the limitations of the resources available and the level of their current income they wish to retain when they make the decision to retire.

How can we encourage this type of conversation earlier in the game? If you are within 10 years of retirement, talk about where you would like to live for the remainder of your lives. It’s usually a good idea to plan for some vacation time in these destinations to see what everyday life is like. Contrary to the lovely tourism websites, every town has its soft underbelly which rarely makes it to the “places you would most likely retire to” list. Ask the Chamber of Commerce for a packet about the area. These are very helpful to see what the standard of living is like. I know of a couple who purposely dropped into a Starbucks to talk to the locals and see what they had to say both good and bad about the area.

If you are within 5 years of retirement and expecting to stay in your own home, consider the financial needs of doing so. Once your paycheck stops, how will you live in your current abode? Will it require some updating, some retrofitting for potential aging issues? Is the neighborhood declining? Should you move now in order to sell a better home later if assisted living or nursing care is a necessity?

And of course, the financial piece is the basis on which you can make these decisions. Any website can help you do the number crunching. Please remember, the more you can define the lifestyle you want, the easier it is to see how you can make adjustments to both the timing and the asset base you will need.

It’s not a bad idea to use these tips on retirement planning for couples to kickstart the conversation over dinner tonight instead of catching the latest episode of Wheel of Fortune!

If you have any further questions before or even after your conversation, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to answer them!

Photo Credit: TraderGroup Signal via Flickr