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Tips for Discussing Retirement Planning with your Partner

Couple on BeachPerhaps you’ve done some financial planning for retirement in your head or maybe you have even discussed it with your Fee-Only financial planner…but have you discussed it with the person who committed to being by your side as you both age?

CNN.com’s “Get your spouse on the same page about retirement” stresses find common ground because money can be a tough topic to tackle—even for those couples that have been together for many years. The article mentions a 2013 study in which only 38% of the couples surveyed planned their retirement together. People who may plan and discuss many other issues can manage to co-exist without really discussing finances, but it is not too late to change this pattern.

In many cases, one person will take the lead on initiating a discussion of finances and that is okay but you need to be careful to make sure it is a discussion. If you present your retirement plans as the retirement plan, this can cause friction. Jane Cullinante, co-author of The New Retirement suggests that each spouse make a list of retirement goals before having a discussion.

Rather than vetoing or criticizing your partner’s retirement goals, present your concerns neutrally. And ask questions to elicit explanations for your partner as to just why he or she wants to retire to a certain part of the country or why he or she wants to retire sooner than you had imagined.

Emphasize teamwork; while you compiled lists separately, once you start the discussion, keep momentum going by concentrating on how you can reach common ground.

CNN.com suggests: “You may want to sit down for a session with a financial planner, who can help you run scenarios (figuring out when to claim Social Security is a particularly hairy challenge) and who can also serve as arbiter to keep emotion out of the discussion.”