The Retirement Calculator for Married Couples (or Any Couple)
Retirement planning is complicated. Retirement planning when you are married – or part of any kind of committed couple – is doubly complicated. If you are married, you need to use a retirement calculator for married couples, or a retirement calculator for couples.
When you are part of a couple, there are double the financial considerations. Furthermore, your values and priorities may diverge and this all plays a big part in your retirement planning. If you are attempting to plan your retirement online and you are a married couple or a couple who are planning your retirement together, it is very important that you find a retirement calculator that enables you to account for each of you as individuals – and then calculate it all together.
Here are tips for finding and using a retirement calculator for married couples or any couple.
Questions a Retirement Calculator for Couples Need to Ask
A good retirement calculator will give you separate fields – one for you and one for your spouse or partner – for each of the following topics. It is very important that a retirement calculator document each of these items separately for each individual in a couple:
Your current ages/birth dates and gender:
This data impacts your projected longevity dates. Both of you want to have enough money for as long as each of you live.
You might retire years before your spouse of vice versa.
Social Security start dates and benefit amounts:
There are a variety of Social Security claiming strategies for spouses that maximize your benefits, but it is unlikely that you are both starting at the same time, not are you likely receiving the same benefit amounts.
These are owned by you as an individual. IRAs and 401(k)s are never joint accounts due to age requirements for minimum distributions.
What are each of you earning and how is the income used? It is unlikely you are earning the same amounts, with the same benefits and retirement savings contributions.
Other retirement income, duration and cost of living adjustments:
Will you or your spouse have a job after you retire, or any other individual sources of income?
Do one or both of you have a pension. What are the start ages and cost of living adjustments for each?
Your medical costs need to be calculated individually since you have different health needs and life expectancies.
If you have or are planning on annuity income, this too needs to be documented as an individual because payouts are based on your longevity. (Be sure to also designate survivor benefits if desired.)
Are You Single or Married? How to Answer the Marital Status Question on a Retirement Calculator for Couples
Whether you are you single or married is a common question asked by retirement calculators. If you encounter this question, and you are planning your retirement with a partner, but you are not married, go ahead and answer “married.”
If it is a sophisticated calculator that covers taxes, then you might need to take results with a grain of salt, but most of the results should work whether or not you are actually married or just committed.
Why a Retirement Calculator for Couples Can Really Help You
If you are in a relationship, you are familiar with two important concepts: compromise and communication.
Even so, a survey by Fidelity Investments discovered that many married couples have an extremely difficult time discussing retirement planning and other financial planning subjects. In fact, the survey found that:
- Only a small percentage of respondents expressed confidence in their partner’s abilities to manage their finances.
- Less than half of couples make routine financial decisions together, such as budgeting and paying bills.
- Only 38 percent jointly discuss their investment and savings strategies for retirement.
A retirement calculator can actually help you to have a meaningful discussion about your finances in an organized and unemotional way. The good calculators will ask you important questions and guide you through the process. Retirement calculators can be a great thing to use as a couple.
How Couples Can Use a Retirement Calculator
To get started, couples might want to use a comprehensive and detailed retirement calculator on their own and then go through the results together. The NewRetirement Retirement Planner 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.
Think About These Concerns Before Using a Retirement Calculator for Couples
Before sitting down to do a retirement calculator, you might want to first discuss your goals for retirement.
My husband and I were recently at a dinner party. The conversation turned to thinking about the future. I announced that I intend to buy a small resort on a tropical island for retirement. He laughed and declared that we would be spending too much on airfare and maintaining two households since he is planning to move to a small town in Colorado or Idaho.
The good news is that we are now trying out both scenarios in the retirement planner and discussing the pros and cons of each option.
Find agreement with your spouse on these retirement questions:
Some calculators will touch on goal setting, but most do not. You will want to agree to some kind of plan with your partner about:
Where: Where you want to live? Housing is likely going to be your biggest expense and (if you own your home) your most valuable asset. So, where you live is a hugely important question. Not to mention that your community is a huge factor on your quality of life.
What? How you want to spend your time and with whom?
Spending: How much money you are willing to spend? This can be a big area of contention. Some people want to dramatically cut expenses and retire earlier. Others want to worry less about what they spend and are willing to save more or work longer to reduce financial anxiety.
Healthcare: How much money do you want to set aside for healthcare?
Care giving: What are each of your expectations if one of you have a long term care need? How do you want to be cared for and by whom?
Priorities: What is really important to each of you individually and as a couple for this long, last stage of life
Legacy: Is leaving a financial legacy for your heirs important to both of you?
Planning your retirement involves more than finances and your lifestyle decisions will impact your financial health. As such, it is important to look for retirement calculators that go beyond just savings and investments. The NewRetirement Retirement Planner helps you assess your Social Security, downsizing, and healthcare decisions, among others.
The Best Retirement Calculators for Couples
Here are a few of the best retirement calculators that enable you to input information for your spouse or partner separate from your own information. Each of these calculators works slightly differently from the others, and while not all of them necessarily have all of the important questions and results specified above, they are each more detailed than most online retirement calculators.