Are you and your spouse approaching retirement? Maybe you’re hoping to retire together and take an extended vacation abroad? Or, perhaps one of you never wants to retire. When reaching retirement age, many seniors wonder if they should retire together or if one spouse should continue working. What are the pros and cons of each decision? There is no single correct answer, but there are several factors to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the retirement transition and the effects it can have on you and your spouse’s life.
The Case for Retiring Together
Most couples navigate their lives together. Moving, starting a family, and choosing career paths are often undertaken together – or at the very least, these are joint decisions. When you and your partner choose to retire at the same time, you’ll be able to make time to pursue your hobbies and enjoy vacations without the added stress of work. With a simplified daily schedule, you’ll also be able to enjoy daily outings and help each other drive to and from appointments and other events. When you retire together, you can focus on your retired life – together.
The Benefits of Staggered Retirement
While many couples retire together, others choose to stagger the process over time. So, why shouldn’t couples retire together? Well, like many issues in life, retirement brings with it both the good and the bad. While one spouse continues to work, a couple will be able to expect the stability offered by a steady paycheck, health insurance, and potentially increased Social Security benefits. Retirement is complex, expensive, and uncharted territory. By staggering the process, couples can reap both financial – and emotional – rewards that can make the transition easier.
Plus, a few extra years of work can make a huge difference for financial stability. Those who continue working for just a few extra years can typically boost their savings. Those additional years of work might just make enough of a difference to allow seniors to delay their Social Security benefits or let other assets continue growing undisturbed.
Retirement introduces major psychological changes for many people. As retirees leave the workforce, they may lose their sense of career identity. While some couples are able to make this transition easily, others face a new challenge: they find themselves at home together all the time without their previous daily routines. With such a sudden shift, they may find themselves pressing up against each other’s boundaries. For the sake of maintaining a positive relationship, it may be wise to have one spouse retire before the other. If both spouses retire at the same time, they might build unnecessary friction as they struggle to find new paths for themselves.
Managing the Transition
Everyone knows that one of the most important factors in a healthy relationship is communication. Just as this rule applies to a couple’s decisions in general, it is also crucial to a successful retirement transition. Both spouses need to discuss what their lives will be like after one of them enters retirement. What will each spouse expect out of the new arrangement? Will the retired spouse do more housework? How will spending patterns and budgeting be affected?
No matter what you and your spouse decide to do, make sure to discuss your concerns and expectations with each other. Although retirement is a major change in life, it does not have to be stressful. Rather, do your best to prepare yourself for a financially secure and relaxing retirement. We suggest talking to your financial advisor to help create the best plan for you and your significant other.