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May 26, 2021
Before you got married, you probably discussed where you wanted to live, whether or not you would have kids, and your general hopes for the future.
Before you bought a house, you and your spouse talked about where would be best, what size home you hoped to acquire, and more.
Before you had kids, you hopefully discussed discipline philosophies, educational goals, and roles and responsibilities for raising them.
As you approach and enter retirement, the big conversations are not over. While there is an awful lot to discuss with your spouse, research suggests that couples aren’t talking. A survey by Fidelity Investments found that finances and retirement planning are extremely difficult subjects for married couples. In fact, the survey found that:
Here are eight discussions you should have with your spouse before you retire. Let’s start with what should be an easy one:
Many people don’t discuss or even think about their long-term goals and aspirations, let alone what their spouse might want to do.
It is perfectly fine for one spouse to follow the other’s lead. You can certainly think of spouses who picked up golf because their partner plays, or found a way to love camping because their spouse loved the outdoors.
However, it is good to think about what you really want out of this time of your life, sit down, share, and then prioritize as a couple. Not sure? Here are a few resources to help you figure it out:
It is not unusual for one spouse to want to retire long before another. In fact, less than 20% of all couples stop working in the same year. However, you both need to be on board with the financial strains that retirement may cause, never mind the marital stress.
“Research shows that marital stress increases during the initial two years of retirement, especially when the husband retires first. Jobs, like kids, can be buffers in a relationship. Once the structure of work is gone, unresolved issues rise to the surface,” said Stephanie Coontz, a social historian, to AARP.
These difficulties can be eased if you’ve discussed your retirement date and are in agreement with your overall plans. And, if you are in disagreement, use a retirement calculator to try different scenarios. The NewRetirement Retirement Planner makes it easy for you to see exactly what happens to your overall finances with any one change.
Have you ever dreamed of living in a shack on the beach? Closer to grandchildren? In an apartment in the big city? Anywhere else than where you are now? Does your partner know about these dreams?
Retirement is a really unique opportunity to uproot your life and live the way you have always wanted. And, because housing is typically the biggest expense for most families, relocating can have a huge impact on your overall finances.
Try out different housing ideas — downsizing, upsizing, getting a reverse mortgage, and more — in the NewRetirement Planner.
No one wants to think about — let alone discuss — the possibility of a long-term care event.
However, the reality is that one of you is likely to experience an event like a stroke, diabetes, or plain old age that will require you to need help with your care. Forty-two percent of people over the age of 65 require or will require long-term care and neither Medicare nor Medicare supplemental insurance cover the costs of these services — neither in your own home nor in a nursing facility.
Without a clear plan in place, the burden of your care will fall on your spouse. Though many individuals consider it an honor to tend to their loved one, you might want to clarify each of your thoughts on this subject and budget appropriately — can you afford assisted living or in-home assistance? Furthermore, what happens to the remaining spouse after one of you has passed. What is the plan for the surviving partner?
You can explore 10 alternatives to long-term care insurance.
A study from Hearts & Wallets reports that only 35% of couples actively engage in retirement planning together. This is unfortunate since money issues are perhaps among the most important to figure out. Terri Orbuch, the author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great, told Money Magazine, “Money disagreements are the most distressing and the most likely to persist unsolved.”
Money issues become even more critical when you retire and are living off of a fixed set of resources for 20–30 years. After you have discussed what each of you wants out of this time of your life, you will really need to dig into the details to see if your finances make what each of you want at all possible.
You’ll want to look at every financial detail when you retire.
A retirement calculator can be a great way to facilitate a meaningful discussion about your finances in an organized and unemotional way. This kind of session is ideal for getting the two of you on the same page. Good calculators, like the retirement planning calculator, will ask you important questions and guide you through the process. Schedule a couple of hours with your spouse and go through the calculator as a couple.
Just be prepared to communicate clearly and compromise fairly.
As part of your overall retirement financial planning, you will need to agree on some ground rules and values that will govern your retirement finances.
“Even in the best relationships, money can stir up intense feelings that complicate the retirement decision,” says Dorian Mintzer, coauthor of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle.
Some people are willing to take more risk with their money than others. As a couple, you’ll need to agree about how much — if anything — you are willing to potentially lose.
Do you want to guarantee adequate retirement income through something like annuities? Or are you willing to hope that nothing happens to the financial markets that would cause you to live below your desired lifestyle?
There are lots of people who simply would never quit working while they still have debt. What do you do if your spouse is one of those people and you are not?
How will you, as a couple, handle unexpected expenses like an aging parent or child who needs money? A natural disaster?A car accident?
It is likely that one of you knows more about personal finance than the other. However, this can only complicate planning since it may sometimes feel like you are each speaking a different language.
When you were working, your monthly spending could flow more freely than it can in retirement. Depending on your finances, you may need to adhere to a strict budget. Some people are naturally good at this, others take a more freestyle approach to spending. If you and your partner are not of the same budgeting style, it can get tricky and stressful.
To resolve some of these nitty gritty and complicated issues, again, you may want to walk through a retirement calculator together where you can see the immediate and long term impact of each viewpoint.
You may also benefit from meeting with a financial advisor to help you navigate these matters and forge a compromise that both makes sense and feels right to each of you.
The economy is always in flux. Hardly a day goes by without a disturbing headline about the stock market, inflation, taxes, healthcare costs, the collapse of Social Security and more. Never mind that your own personal situation will evolve.
It is therefore important for couples to sit down periodically, quarterly at least, to discuss and update your overall retirement and estate plans.
The NewRetirement Retirement Calculator is one of the only tools that saves your information for you so you can easily log in and look over the results together and then play with ways you can improve your plan.
A retirement plan is not all that you need. You also need to forge a mutually agreed upon estate plan.
A financial advisor can be a tremendous resource for setting up a thorough and reliable estate plan.
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There is no right answer for whether to purchase long-term care insurance. In fact, long term care insurance pros and cons are pretty balanced. Many people opt not to purchase it because it costs too much or they simply don’t know enough about it. While others want to assurances that they will be taken care…
Retirement calculators designed for couples have special features to make results reliable and useful. Find out what you need.
An important study from the Boston College Center for Retirement Research has found that husbands ignore (maybe overlook or under think) their wife’s retirement income needs when making decisions about when to start Social Security benefits. Widows (and widowers) are entitled to switch to Social Security Survivor benefits and receive their spouse’s full benefit amount…
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