Retirement for a married couple can be tricky. First, husband and wife need to be on the same page financially. Second, the couple should have a shared vision of what their retirement lifestyle will be like. Third, husband and wife should reach some understanding as to when retirement will begin for each of them. A recent survey reported by Fidelity Investments indicates that there are retirement problems ahead for many couples, in all of these areas
This helps explain, then, why fewer than 11% of married couples have created the most fundamental part of a retirement plan: a retirement income plan.
Can you imagine the stress that can be created in a relationship between baby boomers if the couple cannot even agree on when each spouse should retire?
The changes in retirement sentiment from 2007 to 2009 are also significant. Consider these findings from the survey:
- Married couples are more out of sync about the wife’s retirement age: 40% of couples don’t agree in 2009 vs. 30% in 2007.
- Nearly double the couples expect both spouses to work in retirement: 20% in 2009 vs. 12% in 2007.
- Fewer couples expect to have a comfortable retirement: 56% in 2009 down from 63% in 2007.
Source: Fidelity Retirement Study
These findings are disturbing. If a married couple do not enter their final pre-retirement years with a joint vision and plan for making retirement happen, how can it happen in a way that will result in contentment for both of them? If a husband and wife move or lurch) toward retirement along separate paths, is it possible to achieve retirement success as a married couple?
What should a married couple do to create a joint retirement vision? This CNN/Money article has some suggestions: How retired couples can plan on spending their savings One of the suggestions is something I have written about previously: Attending a retirement seminar or workshop.
The starting point needs to be identifying the areas of agreement or disagreement and working on them. To do this, I would review the questions asked in the Fidelity Retirement Survey with your spouse and talk about the answers you each would give. I would specifically ask yourself if you know what your spouse is thinking about retirement finances and lifestyle, then compare answers. That should give you an agenda to work on.
Find a joint retirement vision, sooner rather than later. Good luck.