Sync up your Retirement Views

If you’re not on the same page as your spouse when it comes to retirement, it may seem like a difficult road ahead. However, couples don’t always have to see eye to eye. It’s ok for you to have differences, but discussing those differences and seeing things from your spouse’s perspective can go a long way.

Here are six steps for getting in sync with your spouse about retirement.  

#1: Set goals for yourself first

It’s important to know your own goals for retirement. A lot of people haven’t clearly articulated what retirement means to them, and there’s a different range of things it can mean. If you don’t have clear goals for yourself when it comes to retirement, it will be hard to articulate what you want to anyone else.

#2: Make your goals clear and specific

People find retirement planning daunting because it’s too broad of a goal. Instead, you should hone in on exactly what you want and how you plan to spend your time.

For example, instead of saying, “I want to save for retirement,” say, “I want to retire at age 60, I want to spend $80,000 a year, I want to be able to visit my grandkids and go on vacation.” That’s a much more concrete goal that you can set concrete steps to achieve. Moreover, having clear and well-defined goals really helps you internalize what you’re saving for.

#3: Share your goals with your spouse

Once you know what you want, you can start the discussion with your spouse to see where your goals match and where you may need to compromise. This discussion boils down to lifestyle choices: Where will you be living, what kinds of activities will you be doing? Ultimately these answers help determine how much you need to save. Furthermore, having the conversation early and often allows you to work on ironing out your differences long before you actually retire.  

#4: Implement a plan

Once you’re aligned on how you’ll spend your retirement and how much you need to save, it’s time to start planning. How much you save is only one of many levers to pull. You can increase how much you’re saving today, you can retire later, you can work part time—there are all these different variables you can adjust to compromise and make sure you’re on track.

#5: Decide where you compromise

If you’re having difficulty finding common ground or are arguing over what you should be doing to save, discuss each of your priorities so you can decide where to compromise. Not everybody is going to see eye to eye on everything, so it’s better to be upfront about the things you really aren’t willing to compromise. This might mean adjusting expectations for where you’ll live and how much longer you’ll stay in the workforce.

#6: Keep communication open to retirement and beyond

Lastly, it’s important to remember that financial discussions don’t end once you reach retirement. You still have a lot of financial decisions to talk about, and you have to maintain that openness and transparency. As such, make sure that talking about money isn’t an off-limits discussion in your household.