It’s important for couples to be ‘on the same page’

Published 4:49 pm Friday, February 10, 2012

There’s hardly a working person today who doesn’t dream about retirement. Many envision a time of leisure and luxury with the freedom and the funds to do whatever they please. As you may have read before, achieving that vision takes hard work and planning, with a financial advisor who understands where you want to go. Some couples, though, neglect to share their visions of retirement with each other. It’s probably because they presume they both want the same things. However, that’s not always the case. Your financial advisor can help you get on the same page, so the three of you are collectively working toward common goals.

Seems simple, right? That depends. Establishing your retirement priorities in concrete terms is an exercise in compromise and tradeoffs. Spend some time with your spouse to decide what your top priorities are as a couple. And, start the conversation early so neither of you is blindsided by fundamental differences as you get closer to retirement.

Ask yourselves, would you rather …

1. Retire sooner with a lower projected income — OR — continue working for several more years to achieve the retirement lifestyle you want?

2. Maximize the income you can take from your portfolio throughout retirement — OR — plan to leave an inheritance to family members or charities?

3. Purchase a second home — OR — reserve funds to cover any unexpected medical expenses down the road?

There are no easy answers to these questions. It’s human nature to want it all, but that may not be possible. The point is to decide which aspects are most important to you and your spouse. The priorities will differ for each couple, even each individual. But it’s important for you, your spouse and your advisor to thoroughly discuss — in concrete and realistic terms — what takes precedence when it comes to retirement. That way, if adjustments need to be made, you’ll all understand what aspect of retirement you’re willing to sacrifice as a couple.

It’s also important to ensure you’re both involved in making decisions throughout the retirement income planning process. As you near retirement, your priorities may shift or you may need to account for unanticipated expenses.

For example, given the current economic climate, increasing numbers of baby boomers find themselves contending with adult children moving back home. That scenario can divert retirement resources to pay for increased food and utilities costs, and perhaps even car and health insurance. Regardless of what you face as you get closer to retirement, keep the conversation going between you and your spouse, then share any new insights or developments with your financial advisor.

This material was prepared by Raymond James for use by its advisors. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

Stephen P. Poitevint is a Registered Principal and Financial Advisor with the firm of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, and is located at 908 Tallahassee Highway, Bainbridge, and can be contacted at (229) 246-7208 or www.poitevint.com.