On your wedding day, you took your partner’s hand and promised to be by their side every day for the rest of your lives. And so far, that may be exactly what you’ve done. But now, with retirement looming, you’re readier to take that leap than your spouse. So, what are you supposed to do?

There are a lot of considerations when it comes to something big like your retirement. To help you get the conversation started, here are three things every couple should talk about when one is ready to retire but the other isn’t.

Financial Considerations

Having one of you transition into retirement is sure to have a whole host of financial consequences. For starters, you’ll no longer have two incomes. So, before one of you leaves a paycheck behind, do the math, and communicate your retirement goals. While you may think you want the same things, in actuality, couples are rarely 100% on the same page when it comes to retirement lifestyle wants and needs—especially when you have to figure out how to pay for that lifestyle.

Maybe your spouse’s income is enough. If that’s the case, there might not be much to discuss. But if it’s not, you’ll need to supplement your income somehow.

Depending on your age, that may come from Social Security. You can start drawing Social Security benefits as early as age 62, although, delaying until age 70 will increase the amount you’re eligible to receive. If your spouse’s salary is enough to get you by, waiting until you turn 70 to start taking Social Security benefits can net you more money down the road.

Additionally, once you turn 72, you’ll need to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your retirement accounts like 401(k)s, 403(b)s or IRAs. Starting at 3.9%, these distributions get bigger over time and increase based on your life expectancy.

However, it’s not enough just to figure out where the money is coming from; you also need to think about what it’s being used for. It’s one thing to discuss the type of lifestyle you want to live, but you also need to plan for things like health care. If you and your spouse are in good health, this can get overlooked, but if something were to happen to you or your partner, you need to make sure you can pay for it.

Personal Considerations

While it might seem obvious, when you retire, you’re left with a lot more free time on your hands. This might be exactly what you’re looking for, but many retirees aren’t prepared for it—especially if their spouse is still working.

If you’re at home alone all day, it’s possible to feel bored and listless. You might have thought you’d have more time to do what you want, but it can be overwhelming transitioning from working 40 or more hours a week down to not working at all. That’s why many retirees find part-time jobs or “gig work” to get them out of the house and doing something productive—and it can be a great way to help pay the bills!

But now might also be the perfect time to explore your hobbies and passions. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take up woodworking or write a book. Now, you have enough time to do it. And with your spouse still heading to work every day, you don’t have to deal with distractions that might pull away your focus and attention.

This could also be a good time to reevaluate who does what around the house. With your extra free time, maybe you and your spouse decide it’s best for you to pick up some slack and take on more household chores. It could be yardwork, cleaning or cooking, but with you now at home, you could see more of the housekeeping responsibilities fall on your shoulders.

Relationship Considerations

Your retirement is a big change for you and your spouse, both financially and emotionally. You might be at different stages in your lives, but you’re still a team, so you still need to be on the same page.

Maybe you want to spend winters somewhere warmer, but your spouse wants to be closer to family. Or perhaps your spouse has always dreamed of traveling across Europe, but you want to open a small business to pursue a passion you’ve never had the chance to explore. Talk it out and decide where you need to compromise before you take that first step into retirement.

Besides planning your finances and adventures, there’s also an emotional component of which you need to be mindful. With you at home enjoying retired life, your partner could feel jealous or resentful—especially if retiring was always something you had planned on doing together. Check in regularly to make sure that your spouse is still feeling good about the situation, and if not, maybe you both need to make some alterations to your retirement plan.

Communication is Key

Pretty much everything you do in retirement will have an impact on or be impacted by your finances, your relationship and yourself. Make sure you and your spouse agree on every part of your retirement plan to avoid any conflicts or bumps in the road.

This focus on communication also extends to your financial advisor, so be sure to keep them in the loop. They can help you plan for the life you and your spouse want so all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your retirement.

Mark Williamson

Mark Williamson

Vice President, Financial Advisor

Series 7 Securities Registration,1 Series 66 Advisory Registration,† Insurance License Mark brings decades of experience in both financial services and information technology to his current role as financial advisor at Wealth Enhancement Group. He enjoys helping his clients understand how their values can shape their financial plan for retirement and estate planning strategy. He works closely with our Roundtable team of specialists to ensure that his clients’ plans...Read More