Beyond “I Do”: Planning for Retirement as a Couple

by Susan Paige
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You don’t think of the twilight years when you’re just starting out your love story. We totally get it because no one wants to think about potential endings, even if they are happy endings, when you’re at the peak of life. But what you should realize is that the most crucial time to lay the ground work for your retirement is now.

There are many retirement resources for couples that state that successfully planning for your retirement years should begin when you are young and agile.

You should aim to save the most money when you are at the peak of your career to get the biggest pay off and rewards. If you prepare too late, then you better be ready and prepared to suffer the sad consequences.

Thus, it is essential to discuss retirement details with the love of your life, so you can face your twilight years hand-in-hand without any worries. Talking about it will help you assist each other in reaching your goals. These are some key retirement planning tips you should take note of as a married couple:

1. Diligently Monitor Your 401 (k) Plan

You need to start managing your investments before you actually get into retirement. Take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) plan, which takes out a part of your pre-tax income that your employer matches and then places it into a saving account. At most, auto contribution is only 3% of your paycheck.

Discuss things as a couple and look at your family budget. If you can afford it, consider upping your contributions. As your income increases through the years, you have to add more money to your retirement fund. Putting away this money will be less painful because what you are contributing are pre-tax dollars. By monitoring your plan diligently you will hopefully avoid financial scams after retirement.

2. Consider an IRA as Part of Your Investment Arsenal

If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, go towards an IRA, especially a Roth IRA. You should even consider the Roth as a supplement to your employer’s retirement plan. With a Roth IRA, you will reap tax-free income much later in your retirement years.

Think of the Roth IRA as a way of saving an emergency fund. The nice thing about this option is that you can withdraw your contributions in case there is a family emergency without any penalties; check-out this video which helps explain the Roth IRA concept. You can even tap into this to help you and your spouse purchase your first home.

3. Discuss Retirement Planning with Your Spouse Openly

For your retirement planning to be successful, you have to be open with your spouse. Discuss how much you think you will need and what you think you will spend during your retirement years. Money is one of the biggest sources of conflict that causes the decay in many relationships, so do the hard talking.

If your communication lines are open and you are on the same page, then you can work together to ensure that your goals are reached.

When one of you has to take a backseat in your career because of child-rearing, you have to discuss how to minimize the hits this decision will make in your future earnings and retirement preparation. Just as you discuss about buying a car or a home, you have to talk about the financial aspects of retirement.

4. Accept that Inflation is a Brutal Fact of Life

You have to factor in that inflation and rising prices can take a lot from the buying power of the retirement funds that you have saved. When you and your spouse plan for retirement, you have to work with the assumption that the prices will be jacked up. Then you can make the necessary plans, so you won’t feel its effect in the future.

5. Don’t Forget your Physical Health

Health is the number one major expense when you and your spouse get older. Given the very high costs of seeking medical attention in this country, you have to focus on your physical well being now as a part of your retirement planning. Being physically fit is just as important as being fiscally healthy.

A common mistake that retirees make is they do not factor in future health care expenses. Consider supplementing with additional insurance that covers critical illness to cover this aspect. Health care expenses will become a burden to you and your family if you don’t properly prepare for it.

6. Create a Family Budget and Stick to It

As early as now, you can’t be haphazard about your spending, so you can save a lot for the rainy days. This also includes saving for your retirement. It is actually more essential to have access to money during your older years when you no longer have the steady income.

The best way to plan a budget is to know how much you actually earn versus where all your funds are going. But people don’t usually take the initiative to write down everything and make the proper calculations.

If you and your spouse cannot see the figures in black and white, you will not realize just how much of an impact these numbers hold in your life.

7. Meet with a Good Investment Professional

If you seek the advice of a doctor to stay healthy, then you should consider working with an investment professional because they have the background and experience to help you keep your fiscal health in check.

Meeting an investment professional can help offer additional insight and tools to help you boost your retirement plan. It is important to find someone you can trust, so be sure to do you research and ask around for good recommendations.

8. Factor in Travel Expenses in Retirement

When you are retired, you will have a lot more free time to do what you love, and this includes traveling. Unfortunately, not many people factor this into the picture when they go into retirement.

Travel is crucial for the soul, so including travel into your retirement plans is a smart decision.

9. Consider Paying Off Your Mortgage

When you get a financial windfall, like a bonus or an inheritance, then put it towards paying the principal of your mortgage. If possible, you have to pay off this loan as quickly as you can.

Your home is not just our family’s shelter, but it represents a significant fixed expense that you have to pay monthly. If you are able to pay this ahead of time by making smart choices, then you can actually begin living more comfortably.

10. Don’t Discount the Value of Working Longer

One of the best ways to ensure that you have sufficient funds in your retirement is to work a few additional years than your original plan, so you can save even more money.

You may be excited about heading off into retirement, but just imagine doing nothing all day, and you will be motivated to keep on working. Adding just a couple of more years of income, or adding a side-hustle to your main career, can have a huge impact on your retirement funds.

Preparing for Retirement the Right Way

As you can see, just a few small changes like adopting some financially healthy lifestyle habits can help you and your spouse be more comfortable when you reach your retirement age.

If you consider discussing things with an investment professional, it will help you stay on the right track. Most of all, it is important to always keep communication lines between you and your spouse open, so you can work together to hit those financial goals.

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