Having the Retirement Talk with Your Spouse

Imagining retirement, like dreaming of vacation or if you win the lottery, can be fun. But what if you and your spouse are picturing very different things? Getting on the same page with your significant other early on can help you to plan a successful retirement.

Talk About Goals

You and your husband/wife/partner don’t have to agree on everything about what you expect in retirement but you do need to figure out how to weave the two dreams together. Whether you want to downsize, travel more, indulge in expensive hobbies or something else, write down your retirement vision. Then compare it with your spouse’s vision. Now think about what you would need to make those dreams a reality. Questions you want to try to answer include when you want to retire, what you see yourself doing in retirement and how much money you will need for a comfortable retirement. It may require some compromise to create a shared retirement dream.

Discuss Savings Styles

Now that you know what you are aiming for, you need to figure out how you are going to reach those goals. Basically who is going to save what. Also, what life decisions will affect how you save. If one of you plans to take time out of the workforce to raise children, you’ll need to compensate for that. Look into your retirement saving options -- including what is offered through your workplaces. If your company offers a match to 401(k) plans, make sure to take full advantage. Look into IRA options to supplement your workplace plan or in case your company doesn’t offer one.

Make Time to Talk

The best time to open this (and all) financial discussion is early in the relationship. But don’t talk about retirement once and forget it. Your retirement goals may evolve over time. Perhaps you take on a passion project that you want to continue into retirement that either makes or requires more money. Maybe early retirement is more appealing or an opportunity to continue working part time for longer. Your goals can change so set a regular time to re-assess. Maybe early on you should consider having the conversation once every five years plus at the time of any major life changes like buying a house, having a child, switching jobs, etc. Then as retirement gets closer, you may want to discuss it annually to make sure you are on track for the retirement of both your dreams.

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