Your retirement planning should not be done in a vacuum. If you are married, you should definitely include your partner in the process. You would be surprised at the number of couples who are blindsided by differences over retirement dreams, plans, and expectations. It is no wonder that the rate of divorce among couples fifty-five and older is greater than the general population.
Paul Reeves, Retirement Specialist at Gale and Phillipson, says “It’s really important to consider the early years of retirement and the adjustment to your lifestyle. Time will appear abundant as couples first settle into retirement and, as is the way, more money gets spent when people have time. My advice is to never underestimate the cost of those early years and plan – not only for a happy retirement but one where you are not restricted entirely by a lack of money.”
Below are Paul’s ten questions to ask your spouse to make sure you are on the same page and to bring your retirement plans into better focus.
1) Where do you want to live?
One of the most basic questions you will need to answer is where you want to live. Do you want to stay put or move to another house, county, or country? As you ponder this question, think about the types of things you plan on doing during retirement. The more you have discussed your options, the better off you’ll be.
2) What do you want to do?
Think about what your ideal day in retirement will look like. List out your top three priorities and ask your partner to do the same. If your top priority is lounging at the beach and your partner’s is golfing with friends, you’ve got some work to do. Ideally, if you have some time to go before retirement, you should spend your holiday time doing some of the things that each of you are dreaming about. Have fun, but use those trips to plan, discuss, test, evaluate, and yes, maybe even compromise.
3) Who do you want to do it with?
Too often we take family and friends for granted. If you’ve lived in the same house, in the same town for thirty years, how would you really feel about moving to a new house a bit further away? Would you be close enough to friends and family? How often will you be able to see them? Thinking through this issue and handling the move properly can help avoid any potential loneliness or regret.
4) How much will it cost?
As you can probably tell by now, your answer to any one of these questions is heavily dependent on your answers to the others. This is certainly true with question four. Too often people make the mistake of retiring based on their birthday instead of their bank account. Think through your answers to the above questions and begin crafting a retirement budget. How much money you will need in retirement is a function of what you plan on doing and where you plan on doing it. Make sure that the plans you are making with your partner are compatible with your financial resources. If not, what does that mean? Do you need to change your plans? Work longer? Have a phased retirement?
5) Where will the money come from?
Your retirement income will likely come from several different sources, such as personal savings, investments and possibly a pension. How you tap those accounts and when you claim state pension benefits can greatly impact how long your money lasts and what benefits your partner may be entitled to if you die. It’s usually a good idea to meet with a professional adviser to make sure your retirement plan is sustainable and you are maximising all sources of income and benefits.
6) Assuming the money is there, when do you want to retire?
Some people can’t wait to leave their working years behind. Others derive a lot of meaning and satisfaction from work and plan on continuing at it as long as they are physically and mentally able. If you tend more towards the former and your partner the latter (or vice versa), you can see how conflict could arise. This is especially true if the job in question and the ultimate retirement destination are miles apart.
7) How healthy are you?
It will come as no surprise that health care and long-term care are major expenses and considerations during retirement. Talk with your partner about how healthy and physically fit each of you are and how that will impact where you can live or what you can do. Discuss family history and life expectancy and how that might impact not only retirement plans, but also decisions like life insurance. This isn’t necessarily a fun topic to discuss, but it is important.
8) What concerns or fears do you have about retirement?
Retirement is a major transition, and many of us aren’t wired to handle change well. Are there worries about money, moving, leaving a meaningful job, being further away from family, or other transitional issues? Discussing each of your fears and concerns and taking steps to alleviate them can go a long way toward easing the move into retirement.
9) Is there anything you absolutely want to do before you die?
The regrets of our youth are typically based on things we’ve done while regrets later in life revolve around things we’ve failed to do. Is there anything that either you or your spouse wants to do, see, or accomplish before you die? Make a list and be as intentional as possible, so you can both spend your remaining years in pursuits that bring meaning and satisfaction.
10) Are your answers to the above questions compatible?
How did you do? Did both you and your partner have similar answers to the above questions or were there major differences? If it’s the latter, what can you do to reconcile your planning? The sooner you iron out differences the sooner you will be able to put your plan in place and move into one of the most meaningful and rewarding periods of life.
To find out if you will have enough for the retirement you want, contact our team of Retirement Specialists on 0191 4682500.
Take a look at our 5 step plan for retirement.