5 Questions to Kickstart a Discussion About Retirement with Your Spouse

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For many people, retirement is one of those things that has always been on the horizon at just enough distance not to warrant any real concern related to what to do about it in practical day to day terms. That is, until the horizon is upon us and the more pragmatic aspects of the retirement phase of life need to be addressed. Here are some facts to consider when thinking about your retirement and what it may look like.

Demographics (Source: Census Bureau)

  • With as many as 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, the lack of retirement planning in this generation has become a broader societal issue
  • The leading edge of the boomer generation starts turning 70 on January 1, 2016

Longer Life Expectancy (Source: Social Security Administration)

  • A man reaching age 65 this year can expect to live to an average age of 84, while a woman the same age can expect to live until 85
  • From 1980 to 2010, the number of Americans 90 years of age or older has nearly tripled
  • A quarter of 65-year-olds are expected to live past age 90; 10 percent to at least age 95.

Personal Challenges

  • Catastrophic illness or disability – chronic disease can lead to disability in old age
  • Escalation of healthcare costs – health care costs are expected to increase an average of 5{d0e74b8a3596e4326b45924d39792f257a1f9983beed4201831d386befd3d18e} a year for the next 10 years (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)
  • Death of a spouse – managing the emotional and practical issues alone can be difficult
  • Caregiving demands – The estimated prevalence of caring for an adult is 16.6{d0e74b8a3596e4326b45924d39792f257a1f9983beed4201831d386befd3d18e}, or 39.8 million Americans. (Source: National Alliance for Caregiving)

Having the Conversation

Most conversations about retirement planning fall into the “need to” column as people continue to put off the complex discussions about what retirement will look like for them. Where will I live? How will I spend my time? Have I planned adequately for the financial costs of retirement?

Chances are that if you ask a couple to make a list of their retirement plans and rate them in terms of importance, you are likely to find that the list is quite different for each member of the couple – an obvious sign of a lack of discussion about what those retirement years will look like.

Research from Voya Financial says that for 60{d0e74b8a3596e4326b45924d39792f257a1f9983beed4201831d386befd3d18e} of retirees, the timing of retirement was somewhat or completely unexpected. Another study conducted by Fidelity found that one in three people don’t agree on an expected lifestyle in retirement, and more than 60{d0e74b8a3596e4326b45924d39792f257a1f9983beed4201831d386befd3d18e} didn’t know or disagreed with a spouse on what their Social Security benefits would be in retirement. Maybe most disturbing was that 36{d0e74b8a3596e4326b45924d39792f257a1f9983beed4201831d386befd3d18e} of couples surveyed didn’t know how much investable assets they had.

Most couples like to think they communicate about retirement and finances, but the data show that’s just not the case. Many times, emotions and our thinking are the real roadblocks to getting where we want to be in planning our retirement years.

5 Questions to Kickstart Your Conversation

  • Where will you live – will you relocate or stay put?
  • Are there family considerations – is being close to relatives important?
  • Is travel a part of the equation – will that require more income in retirement?
  • Are there health care limitations – will health status limit retirement options?
  • What are your leisure avocations – hobbies or volunteer interests to be considered?

Some Resources

AARP Retirement Calculator
Kaiser Family Foundation
Money/CNN Retirement Calculator
The Retirement Café

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