DID YOU KNOW? Only 38% of couples are planning together and 2/3 of couples don’t agree on when they will retire, according to a 2013 study from Hearts and Wallets. CNN Money published an insightful article this week offering advice on how to discuss retirement with your significant other.
Before jumping into discussion with your spouse, separately sit down and write out a list of all of your own desires for retirement. This will ensure everything is brought out into the open when you discuss the topic. Also prepare yourself to overcome the “all-me” attitude. Plan to listen without interrupting, repeat back responses to make sure you understand and are understood, and avoid criticism.
Once you sit down face-to-face to discuss retirement desires, focus on what will make you both happy. Ask yourselves, “What are our goals for that stage of our lives, and what will fill our time?” This will help you figure out what retirement means to both of you, whether it be the time to kick back and relax, spend more time with your families, or travel the world together.
Don’t be afraid to openly discuss your concerns, as challenging as this may be. The toughest topics in this area may be age differences and life expectancy. Younger partners may want to work for years after their spouse retires, and women should consider the statistic that they tend to live longer and may outlive their husbands. Repeat your spouse’s points to demonstrate you appreciate their view, and provide your contrasting opinions in a way that feels collaborative.
Understand the realities of your budget and plan accordingly. Openly discuss current and future debts and investments. Some couples may want to sit down with a financial planner who can help serve as an advisor as well as an arbiter to keep emotion out of the discussion.
Focus on the “why” versus the “what” when considering future plans, purchases, and your retirement budget. Ask yourselves “WHY should we do this?” when considering making special purchases or investments. Keeping this focus will help push you toward compromises that are in tune with both your heart’s desires, and are within reach of your finances.
Overall, when discussing retirement with your spouse, maintain the emphasis that you are both moving forward toward a happy and fulfilling life together. Although you may not agree on a few specifics just yet, concentrate on your similarities and keep the focus on your wants and needs as a couple first.
And remember, as with any financial plan, there should always be flexibility. Nothing is set in stone, so revisit your retirement plans as often as you would your investment portfolios.
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