Talking to your spouse about retirement

Investing & Retirement

Build a shared vision by first figuring out what will make both of you happy

You’ve probably looked forward to retirement for your entire career. But do you know if your vision for retirement matches your spouse’s? Many couples assume they see retirement the same way—only to discover otherwise once they get more serious about planning.

“By then it may be too late,” says Roberta Taylor, a psychologist and co-author of The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle. “Couples grow in different ways, and they may never talk about how that affects their retirement plans. In fact, they may be nervous about having the conversation at all. People often worry, ‘What happens if we don’t agree?’ ”

Taylor’s advice? Press on anyway. Differences of opinion about retirement savings are perfectly normal. As in many parts of marriage, flexibility and communication are key to finding common ground.

Consider your priorities

The first step in making retirement decisions is to think separately about your priorities. Taylor recommends that each spouse take time alone to write down their dreams and plans for retirement before sitting down together. Be sure to include thoughts about when you want to retire, where you’d like to live, and how often and where you want to travel.

Consider the more difficult issues, too, such as whether you want to leave an inheritance, and where you’d live if you’re no longer able to care for yourself. Thinking about your own priorities first prepares you to speak clearly and openly with your partner.

Be prepared to compromise

Once you’ve each committed your retirement dreams and plans to paper, set a time to sit down together for a conversation. You may not need a strict agenda, but you should plan to express your thoughts and goals. Then, work together to craft a shared plan.

Taylor advises both partners to come to the meeting prepared to compromise. At the same time, you can agree to disagree on certain issues, such as smaller budget items or activities each person can do separately. With a little thought and creativity, you can even accommodate big differences, too. Instead of buying a beach house, perhaps you settle on renting one for a month each year.

Fine-tune your plan

Once you have a rough plan in place, make sure to review it with your Truist Wealth advisor so they can help you develop a detailed strategy to adequately fund those retirement goals. Together, you’ll determine how much you need to save, how to invest, and at what age you’ll be able to comfortably retire. Your advisor also can help you make sure you have enough to cover out-of-pocket healthcare costs, assess your life and long-term care insurance needs, and work with you to address any estate planning needs.

Keep the conversation going

Once you and your spouse have created a plan and discussed it with your advisor, don’t forget to review the plan annually. Keeping the dialogue open is the best way to meet both partners’ needs as your lives evolve and change throughout retirement. “Creating a shared vision for retirement means negotiating and compromising,” Taylor notes. “Couples may never have done this before, but it’s a real opportunity for growth.”

Need help in crafting a retirement plan that meets both you and your spouse’s needs? 

Talk to your Truist Wealth advisor.