Are you planning to retire?
Creating a retirement plan that suits both people in a relationship can be extremely difficult! This is probably why couples often avoid the conversation, perhaps dealing with the financial issues but not the important lifestyle matters.
Most long term relationships have their share of communication black spots. You learn to navigate around them, sharing day-to-day life comfortably but avoiding the issues that you suspect are likely to cause conflict or discomfort.
Then suddenly the concept of retirement looms. Someone asks you outright “When are you retiring?” or worse still “So what is your retirement plan?” Mild panic! How to respond? You mutter something generic then go away and find your mind is running riot with thoughts of how you are going to spend the next phase of your life. Do we have enough money? Will we travel? Where will we live? What do we want out of life? And perhaps the biggest (often unspoken) question of all….How can each of us make sure we are choosing a life that will make us content?
Whilst it might be easier to live within your comfort zone, not bringing up these issues for discussion, the reality is that you need to come to some agreement on them. The sooner you know the direction you are going the sooner you will be able to start taking steps to get to where you want to be.
Have you discussed these important issues?
Retirement Plan Issue #1 – Finances
If you have been working with a financial planner, or already have a strong understanding of your financial situation and the strategies you are using to achieve your financial goals, then this won’t be an issue.
However if you haven’t been communicating about your overall financial situation then it is vital that you do so. Once you stop your income-producing work your nest-egg suddenly takes on a huge new role in your life. For some it will be large enough to provide your living costs, but the majority of Australians are going to be challenged to live the life they’d like in retirement.
According to accountancy giant Deloitte, Australian males aged 60 – 65 have, on average, a superannuation balance of $114,000, while women of the same age average $94,000. This is frightening when you consider that for a basic retirement lifestyle men will need around $340,000 and women $370,000.
It is very worrying to note that the USA Federal Reserve’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2019 reported that among all adults, median retirement savings was $60,000.
This Deloitte Insight paper – “Retirees of the future: Increased worries about income security and growing inequality” – gives an excellent insight into the financial issues surrounding retirement around the world.
What will you need as a couple to live the life you’d like? Do you need to find a way to improve your finances or to change your expectations?
Retirement Plan Issue #2 – Timing
Do you know when you want to retire? Do you share goals about this, or is timing going to be an issue? What impact does the timing of your retirement have on your tax commitments for that year?
If one of you wants to retire earlier than the other, how will you manage the lifestyle changes? Will your everyday roles and responsibilities change? This might sound basic but, let’s face it, it is often the little things that get us down. If one person in the relationship has always been the one who did the grocery shopping or the house cleaning, is that still how it should be? Habits are hard to change, but we are talking about a major change in your lives now and the beginning of a whole new chapter, so everything is open to new practices. Yes, even planning to retire can come down to the question of who does the washing up!
Retirement Plan Issue #3 – Housing
Where you choose to live is closely related to the previous two issues. Your money will obviously dictate the level of housing you can consider. Your timing will dictate whether you make a move at all, and when it suits you to move.
But beyond those issues are the big questions of how you want to live. Are you going to stay where you currently live, or will you move to a different town or area? Do you want a free standing home, an apartment, or some other form of housing? Would you like to live in an “over 55s” complex? How important is it to have family and friends close by? If you chose to move to be near family and friends, will they still be there in 5 years? Can you really afford the sort of home that you want?
It’s all about what you want in your life.
Retirement Plan Issue #4 – Interests
Many couples share interests and that makes planning your retirement activities quite easy. You can enjoy doing more of the same together.
But what about the couples who don’t have interests in common? Planning to retire can turn into a battle ground. They can have happily co-existed for years, respectful of the other person’s interests but not remotely keen to be involved. Time and money are the two problems here. If someone is passionate about a hobby they are likely to view the time and money spent on that hobby to be perfectly justifiable. Their partner, who doesn’t share the passion, can easily resent both the time and money. That’s a BIG conversation!
Keeping your conversation alive
When you are working it is easy to have conversations about what you did at work that day, the people you spoke with, even the politics at work. Once work stops that topic of conversation doesn’t exist any more. If you have lots of interests, together or separate, then at least you have those interests to discuss. Without interests that matter to you the conversation can start to focus on very mundane things. Retaining and developing some interests, together or separately, is not only important for your own well-being but to the vibrancy of your communication.
Retirement Plan Issue #5 – Travel
Thoughts of retirement usually turn to thoughts of free time; having the freedom to work through the bucket list. For many people this means travel. Where to go? What to do? How to do it? Travel brings up so many possibilities but if you are travelling together there are likely to be compromises. Would you both enjoy going on a cruise? What about being a grey nomad? What level of luxury do you require? Would you like to travel a lot in less luxury, or just a little, but in more comfort? I hope this is a series of conversations that brings you lots of pleasure.
UPDATED APRIL 2021 because 5 reasons are not enough!
Retirement Plan Issue #6 – Additional Income
An important discussion in many households revolves around wanting a traditional retirement vs wanting to keep working. Creating a hybrid life combining retirement and work is increasingly common. Technology has enabled us to work from home so easily. Covid19 has demonstrated this. It has also indicated the wisdom of having an additional stream of income that can continue while normal living is affected by something beyond our control. This has resulted in many older people creating their own business in retirement, often motivated by the stimulation of developing new skills as much as for the financial rewards. Many other retirees choose to get a part-time job, providing social interaction and purpose as well as extra funds.
Not Planning Together Can Lead To Divorce
Are you aware that the rate of Grey Divorce is on a sharp rise in the western world? This leads to many major problems, not least of which is poverty. Have a look at this infographic – Senior Poverty and Divorce – which might underline the importance of communication with your partner about your retirement plans.
BoomersNextStep examines these issues to help you to start planning to retire and to live a truly fulfilling retirement lifestyle that meets the needs of both you and your partner. Contact Us.
How will you spend your time during retirement? Think about the big picture. Your goals. The better you plan the better the outcome, so start your retirement game plan now! We created “Create a Future You’ll Love” our comprehensive Retirement Planning Guide to help our readers decide and plan the retirement lifestyle of their dreams and also plan how to achieve it. Download it now!
You can view an infographic summary of this blog post.