Retirement readiness takes getting in step

Published 5:28 pm Friday, March 10, 2017

By Stephen Poitevint

Spouses often disagree on when, where and how they’re going to retire.

When Fidelity Investments asked couples how much they think they will need to save for retirement to maintain their current lifestyle, 48% had “no idea.” Forty-seven percent disagreed on the amount needed (the disagreement highest among those closest to retirement). In some ways, that’s not surprising – many couples disagree on financial and lifestyle matters long before they’ve stopped working.

The time to resolve retirement differences is not once you’re already there but long before. Let’s consider a few key areas where couples should find common ground.

WHEN AND WHERE

Spouses often have different time frames for retirement, an issue that’s exacerbated when one is significantly older. Of course, the retirement nest egg is a factor. If you’re planning to downsize or move to a location that’s warmer, or nearer your children, that will affect your timeline. If one spouse is set on a certain location, try to take a long vacation (or several) there together, then discuss how you each feel about a permanent move.

RETIREMENT LIFESTYLE

Some people see retirement as a time to do very little; others see it as a chance to do everything they dreamed of during the nine-to-five grind. These are individual choices, but they affect the other spouse and your joint financial planning. You and your spouse should be in general agreement on how you’re going to live in retirement and what that lifestyle will cost – an expense estimate you should arrive at long before retirement begins.

RETIREMENT FINANCES

This is a major topic, including items such as monitoring and managing expenses; how much you can withdraw from your retirement portfolio annually; what your income sources will be; how long your money has to last (be sure to add a margin of safety on this one); what level of risk you can jointly tolerate; how much you plan to leave to others; how much you’re going to set aside for emergencies; who is going to manage the money; what happens if that spouse dies first … this list goes on, too.

You don’t want to spend your retirement years worrying about money, but not planning ahead is one way to ensure you will. All of us will have to make some tradeoffs and adjustments – as we have throughout married life – and it’s important to remember that the earlier you discuss your options, the better your chances of achieving the retirement you’ve both worked to achieve.

NEXT STEPS

• Have a discussion with your spouse about your ideal retirement, including where and when.

• Find areas of agreement first, then tackle the differences.

• Run your ideas past your advisor to determine if they’re realistic or may need to be adjusted.

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