Have You Talked to Your Spouse About Retirement? (Really?)

Bride&Groom Aside from the mutual acknowledgment that we’d both like to stop working someday,
my husband and I haven’t really had any long conversations about retirement. I
don’t have a clue how old he plans to be when he retires, and I’m positive he
doesn’t know what my intentions are. (And I’m pretty sure our “backup
plan”—winning the lottery—doesn’t count as a real discussion.) Apparently we’re
not alone.

More than 60% of couples say they don’t make decisions together about
retirement and money, according to a recent Fidelity survey. In fact, 55% don’t even
put their heads together on budgeting matters or bills. More than half don’t
agree on retirement age, and 44% disagree about working in retirement. And
couples’ ideas of what their finances will look like in retirement are all over
the map.

No surprise, really. When you think of a fun night at home with your
significant other, it probably doesn’t include tweaking a budget or checking out
your 401(k) distribution.

A few things that might help:

Align your goals. Grab a few index cards—try three each—and write down
your top money goals, then put them in order. Maybe they’re retirement related,
maybe not. Exchange cards and discuss the goals you’re going to work toward as a
couple. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that you and your spouse
are working toward the same things.

Have regular money meetings. No, they probably won’t be the highlight
of your week, but it’s beneficial to be on the same page about your finances.
Set aside an hour once a week, or every other week, to make sure you’re on track
as a couple.

Ask your spouse some questions. Maybe the subject just hasn’t come up
yet. Some suggestions:

  • How old do you think you’ll be when you retire?
  • Do you plan on working during retirement?
  • Do you think we’ll have enough money to live comfortably in retirement?
  • What are you worried about the most?

Have you talked to your spouse about retirement?

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