February 26

How to Talk to Your Spouse About Retirement Planning


Are you ready to talk about retirement planning with your spouse, but you aren’t sure how to bring it up? Or maybe, you have tried to talk to them about it, but they blow you off and tell you “you’re not old enough to worry about that yet”, or they will “work until they die.”

“According to a survey conducted by Fidelity Investments, 36% of couples report that they haven’t even thought about planning for retirement, and 47% of couples don’t agree on how much money they will need when they do retire.”

Planning for retirement is essential, and the sooner you start putting money away, the better. Getting old isn’t cheap. If you want to maintain your current lifestyle when you retire, you’ll need to save up your annual salary for the number of years you expect to live after you retire.

What if you want to travel when you’re retired, but your current salary isn’t enough? In that case, you would need to save up more than your current salary to have the extra for vacations. As I’m sure you’re starting to see, planning early is crucial if you want to be able to save up that kind of cash in enough time to retire while you can still enjoy it.

Let us show you how to start the discussion about retirement planning with your spouse.

Tips to Help You Talk to Your Spouse About Retirement Planning

Planning for retirement doesn’t have to be a painful process. There are a few things you need to do to make sure you are prepared for the situations you’re likely to face as you age. 

The first place to start is by taking a look at your current financial situation to see where you are now. Once you know where you are, you can make plans for where you want to be.

Follow the tips below to help you plan for your retirement, so you can continue enjoying life with your spouse as you age.

Review Your Finances

Gather up all your bills and take a look at your bank account. You need to know exactly how much money you and your spouse are bringing in and how much you’re spending. 

Do you have any debts? How much is it going to take to pay them off, and how long will it take you? Do you find yourself having extra leftovers you can save every payday, or are you barely scraping by? 

Depending on your unique situation, retirement planning could be pretty challenging. 

If you find yourself not making enough to put any back into savings, you will need to find ways to increase your income or decrease your expenses in order to put money back for retirement.

How soon you start saving makes a significant impact on how much you can afford to put into savings by the time you retire. Someone who waits until they are in their 40’s to start planning for retirement is going to have a much harder time putting enough back to get by on when they can’t work anymore.

Recommended Reading: Planning Ahead: Evaluating an Early Retirement Offer

Do the Math

Once you have a clear picture of the state of your finances, you can determine how realistic your goals for retirement are. You might have aspirations of traveling and seeing the world after you retire, but can you really afford the expense?

It’s ok to dream big, but be honest with yourself about what you can feasibly achieve. A good place to start is by taking a look at your expenses. Do you have a lot of credit card debt? Consider taking out a personal loan to consolidate your debt and save cash on the interest.

How good is your credit? If you have personal loans, automobile loans, or a mortgage, you might benefit from refinancing. Positive changes to your credit score help you secure a lower interest rate when you refinance. Just make sure you don’t increase the length of the term of your loan. Doing that will cost you more in interest.

Do you have any unnecessary expenses that you can do away with? For example, subscriptions you forgot to cancel that you don’t use anymore, or that daily cup of Starbucks coffee on your way to work? Take the money you were spending on them and put it into retirement savings instead.

Recommended Reading: Making a Healthy Transition to Retirement

Talk to Your Spouse

Now that you know the state of your finances and you have a realistic view of the future approach your spouse and initiate the conversation. Tell them what you’ve been doing and enlighten them on what you’ve discovered.

Ask them for their input and tell them that you would like to make plans for your future together. Tell them what your vision of the future is and ask them to share theirs. When they see all the work and thought you have put into it, they’ll know you are really serious.

Follow these 5 tips to help you communicate effectively with your spouse:

  1. Don’t get stuck on the need to prove that you’re right. Be open to admitting when you’re not.
  2. Initiate the conversation when your spouse has time to talk. Don’t expect them to drop whatever they are doing at that moment to talk to you. Let them know if they want to take time to think about it and talk about it later that you’re ok with it.
  3. Stay focused on the conversation you want to have, and don’t get caught up in petty fights about things that aren’t important. It doesn’t matter who did what. What matters is how you handle it from here.
  4. Don’t interrupt your spouse when they are talking. Be an active listener. Don’t just listen to react and reply. Take the time to understand what your spouse is trying to tell you.
  5. Take a time out if things become heated. Don’t yell at your spouse or call them names out of anger. If you feel yourself getting to that point, tell your spouse you need to take a break to cool down before you come back to the conversation.

Recommended Reading: 6 Sanity-Saving Tips to Help You Care for Your Aging Spouse

Create Achievable Goals as a Team

How do you and your spouse envision living out your retirement? Do you plan to spend all your time at home, or do you have dreams of vacationing in different parts of the world? What types of activities do you imagine yourself doing?

Where are you going to live? Do you plan to stay living in the home you’re in now, or do you intend to downsize when you retire? 

What if something happens to you, and you can’t safely live at home alone? Can you afford in-home care or an assisted living community?

What are you going to do if your spouse dies first and vice versa? Do you have life insurance? Is it enough to pay off the bills and for the surviving spouse to get by?

These are all things you need to think about and discuss together when you come up with goals for your retirement. Don’t wait until something bad happens to take action.

We don’t like to think about ourselves or our spouses passing away, but it’s something we just have to do when we’re planning for old age.

Recommended Reading: Long-Term Care Policies: Worthwhile or Not Worth It?

Create an Action Plan and Stick to It

Determine how much money you need to put away to realistically afford the lifestyle you want to live when you’re retired. Do you need to make more money than you are making to afford your plans? You might need to get creative.

When you and your spouse are already working full-time jobs, getting a second job to save up for retirement is not ideal. Side hustles or cash-paying hobbies could be beneficial in this situation.  

Do you crochet, knit, paint, or do woodworking projects? Try selling some of your work and stick that extra cash you make in your retirement fund. 

Are you a writer? Get paid to write blog posts for companies online or submit your work to literary journals or magazines. You could even start a blog of your own and monetize it.

Are you good with computers? Take on side gigs and fix computers for clients for a fee.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Don’t get discouraged if something pops up that prevents you from achieving your savings goals. Life happens, and there might be months where you can’t manage to put anything back. Don’t let that stop you from saving anything at all.

It’s better to put back something than nothing, and there could be times where you have extra cash coming in. 

When that happens, don’t spend it. Put it into your savings to make up for the times you were short on your goals.

Consider creating a vision board and hanging it on your wall where you can see it every day. Fill it with pictures that represent the things you want to be doing when you are retired.

Vision boards serve as excellent motivators when you need that extra push to stick to your plan. Find whatever works for you and stay with it. Consistency is key.

Consult an Aging Life Care Manager

Are you ready to talk about retirement planning with your spouse, but you aren’t sure how to bring it up?

Are you worried that you won’t be able to save up enough money to retire? Does your financial situation look bleak, and you aren’t sure what to do?

An Aging Life Care Manager can help. We will meet with you and discuss your situation together as a team. Our Aging Life Care Managers facilitate conversations while providing the resources and experience needed to successfully navigate the challenges of aging.

“Bette Davis once said, “Getting old is not for sissies,” and it is as true for the aging person as it is for their family. When my mom developed dementia, my family slowly became overwhelmed. At the advice of a friend, we contacted AOS, and we are so grateful that we chose a Care Manager. Our care manager has been there for my mom and my family every step of the way. She possesses a perfect blend of compassion, humor, wisdom, and rock-solid competence, experience, and professionalism that immediately convinced us that we were in the best of hands. She developed a wonderful rapport with my mom, and she has been our advocate, advisor, counselor, confidant and essential guide through this difficult journey. Through the many challenges of aging, she has allowed my mom and our family to walk this path with dignity and grace and has given us a peace of mind that is priceless.”

Laurie Lutz, AOS Client

Request a free consultation to speak with one of our Aging Care Managers about planning for your future with your spouse.

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Life over 50 is complicated. From illnesses to general aging-related difficulties, there's a lot to learn and a lot to cope with. We understand and we're here to help answer questions and provide guidance on your options.

About the author

Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

President & CEO, Aging Life Care™ Manager

“I am dedicated to working with older adults and their families to maintain dignity and enhance their quality of life.”