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5 Conversations You Need To Have With Your Partner Before Retirement

Entering into retirement comes with lots of hopes, dreams, emotions, and expectations. Unless you talk with your partner, you may be surprised to find that those expectations look very different for the two of you. It’s not uncommon for us to sit down for financial planning with a 50-something couple, only to find he wants a cabin in the mountains, while she dreams of retiring in Spain. 

It’s perfectly ok to have strong, and even conflicting, views on retirement. But the sooner you are aware of it, the sooner you can begin working toward a compromise. The two most important topics to address for couples approaching retirement are health and finances. Within those two themes, there are other, related conversations that need to happen. So why not put on some coffee, play some quiet music, and talk about your future? You’ll be glad you did. 

Getting On The Same Page With Your Partner - Retirement Planning Conversations

Start by discussing some of the most obvious questions around planning for retirement. And remember, your spouse’s answers may not match yours. The goal is to be upfront and intentional about the decisions you make separately and together.

1. When do you want to retire?

Whether it’s 52, 62, or 72, most of us have an idea of what age we’d like to retire. What’s your ideal retirement age, and what’s your partner’s? How does each person’s current age factor into that? Another thing to think about is whether you and your partner want to retire at the same time. If so, are you prepared to go through these changes simultaneously?

2. What do you want to do in retirement?

We all have different dreams for our ideal retirement lifestyle. Yours may look very different from your partner’s—and you don’t necessarily have to do everything together. Make sure you talk openly about your views, plans, and hopes when it comes to:

If you haven’t already, create a retirement map to help you define your goals for your time in retirement. 

3.  How much money will you need to retire?

The answer to this question will depend on your desired lifestyle and timeline above. Connect your retirement goals to your financial situation—if you want to buy a boat and sail around the world, how will you pay for it? How much extra money will you need to put into your retirement savings account, and by when? Think about where and how you want to live (abroad vs stateside, urban vs rural, luxurious vs rustic, etc.) and how that affects the cost of your retirement. 

With your retirement saving goals in mind, review your budget and monthly spending plan. Adjust accordingly. If you need help with this, a financial advisor such as a Certified Financial Planner® can help. 

4.  What will happen if one person passes away? 

This is a tough conversation, for sure. But it’s important. Getting key information now will save one of you a lot of stress later. Talk to your financial advisor about how your pension plan benefits, Social Security, and other income sources would be affected by the loss of one partner. What will need to happen in order to keep the surviving partner on track? Be sure to consider both possible scenarios, since there’s no way to predict who will pass away first. 

5.  How will you handle risks? 

Unexpected risks can, and will, pop up along your retirement savings journey (2020 has proven that). Volatility will happen and markets will shift, but the best investment strategy remains a consistent one. If one partner wants to abandon ship every time the wind blows, it can be unnerving for the other—not to mention costly for both. 

Talk with your partner about how you’ll handle unexpected health care costs, inflation and taxes, and other bumps in the road. It may help you avoid disagreements down the road. This is another situation where talking to a financial advisor can play a role in getting your priorities and perspectives in order. 

Build a Retirement Plan Based on Shared Values 

You may discover that bigger questions arise: who am I, who are you, who are we? How will we share the financial decision-making process? In that case, let this be the first of many candid couple talks. Don’t let lack of communication lead to friction—or worse, inaction—between you and your partner when it comes to retirement planning.

After this initial conversation, you should have a better picture of your partner’s, as well as your own, retirement goals. From there, you can begin to create a shared vision for your future. For more tips and tools to help you prepare for retirement (and bring your vision to life), get Retirement Secrets.

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