How to Discuss Retirement With Your Spouse

Couples need to set retirement goals together and take joint steps to meet them.


There is no doubt that financial issues can cause a lot of grief within a marriage. That is a shame because couples should really be able to rally around their money issues as a team to bring about retirement success. Here are some tips for finding agreement with your spouse about your retirement savings goals.

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Set aside time to discuss your desires for retirement. Plan to have a talk with your spouse about your retirement hopes and dreams. Keep the conversation light and high-level. You can easily find a retirement planning worksheet online to use for your meeting. Work through different questions and scenarios to gain an understanding of what your partner desires for life after full-time employment. Do you want to travel in retirement, live in an RV, retire abroad, or stay close to home? Do you want to reduce your lifestyle or live lavishly? Get to know your spouse's hopes and dreams for the long haul.

Discuss happiness and safety, not money. Many money disagreements happen because you aren't speaking the same language as your spouse. When you talk about money with your spouse, you really need to understand what type of financial life will bring you both happiness and safety. If you can clearly define what happiness and safety are for your spouse, then you can begin to have a healthy conversation about money. Even as you are living out your daily financial life with your spouse, remember to show respect to their needs for safety and happiness.

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Create a plan together to achieve your goals. At some point, it is necessary to have an action-oriented meeting about retirement where you set specific goals. Even if one spouse has a more long-term approach to your financial situation, it doesn't mean that spouse should do all of the planning. You should really create a plan together with full knowledge of what is going to make your spouse feel safe and happy, both now and in the future. The end result of this plan should be to clearly define what your retirement needs will be, what sources of income will be available to meet these needs, and how you specifically plan to get there. Of course, compromises will need to be made, and you may each play a different role in the process. For instance, one spouse may be the sole bread-winner, while the other spouse may manage the retirement accounts. Either way, you should both be involved in the actual saving process. If there are areas where you find that you can't make compromises, the help of a professional might come into play.

[See 5 Tips for Affordable Travel in Retirement.]

Invest in an independent adviser. As your retirement nest egg grows, it may be worth it to sit down with a professional financial adviser to discuss your retirement plan. This independent, professional voice should be able to help find a compromise for you and your spouse. A good adviser will factor in these differences and come up with a plan that finds a good middle ground.

Philip Taylor is the author of 104 Ways to Save Extra Money. Read his popular blog, PT Money: Personal Finance for more insightful money tips, like his recent suggestions for the best online checking accounts.