With Valentine's Day around the corner, what better time to sit down with your sweetheart to discuss all of your aspirations and goals for when you reach retirement? To help protect your lifestyle in retirement — and protect against the risk of outliving your savings — you and your partner can develop a holistic financial plan for every stage of your financial life.
While it might not seem the most romantic of ways to spend the day, this Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your retirement plans to help you reach the dreams of a lifetime together. Here are some tips on how to discuss retirement planning for young couples, middle-aged couples and couples nearing retirement.
Young Couples: It's Never Too Early To Start Planning
If you and your partner are at the start of your careers and life together, your financial concerns might focus on balancing immediate matters, such as buying your first home and starting your family, and paying down debt from student loans. Most Millennials are concerned with keeping up with the cost of living as well as the cost of meeting their children’s financial needs. Student loans, credit card debt and mortgage debt round out the top five.
Saving for the future should not take a back seat to your current expenses. Time is on your side if you use the power of tax-deferred compounding. Make an effort to start early and maximize your contributions on your 401(k)s and traditional IRAs. If both of you are working, be sure that you work together to save for retirement.
Compare the funds in your employers’ qualified plans and work as a team to select the best investments for your shared goals, instead of making these choices on your own. If one partner is not working outside the home, a spousal IRA may allow you to make contributions on their behalf. If one or both of you qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA), this can be a way to save for future medical expenses while reducing your current taxable income.
Middle-Aged Couples: Protect Assets to Protect Against Outliving Savings
By now, you have had several years of planning and setting money aside for retirement. Both of your careers are on track, you’re earning more, you’ve built equity in your home, you’re saving to send your kids to college.
To continue on the right path, have you considered using dollar-cost averaging to build wealth over time? Dollar-cost averaging requires the investor to invest the same amount of money in the same stock on a regular basis over time, regardless of the share price. The number of shares purchased each month will vary depending on the share price of the investment at the time of the purchase. The idea being when the share value rises, your money will buy fewer shares per dollar invested. When the share price is down, your money will get you more shares. Over time, the average cost per share you spend should compare quite favorably with the price you would have paid if you had tried to time it.
As you both progress towards your retirement years, concerns about protecting your assets may rise. Especially as volatility starts to feel like the new norm. Roughly two-thirds of pre-retirees expect volatility to increase in the next 12 months!
It's always important to meet with your Fiduciary financial advisor to work on a strategy that's built for you and your unique needs and goals as a couple. As your portfolio becomes more conservative, including more fixed income, you might consider asset location as a strategy to enhance your returns.
Couples Nearing Retirement: Income Now and for Life
At this point, you and your partner should already have a strategy to maximize your qualified accounts such as Social Security. It helps you maximize benefits as a couple if the higher-earning spouse waits until full retirement age, or later, to begin collecting.
In many cases, this means the lower-earning spouse can start collecting benefits as early as age 62, then apply for spousal benefits later when the higher-earning spouse begins collecting. With smart planning, a couple can secure higher benefits the longer the high earner waits — and this could also mean higher survivor’s benefits for the spouse who lives longest.
To complement Social Security, you could convert a portion of your portfolio into a guaranteed income stream by investing in a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA). This is also the time to consider “turning on” the income stream from any annuity you have available to you.
Another vital aspect for when you're nearing retirement is factoring in healthcare. If you retire before age 65, you have several options for health insurance until you reach eligibility for Medicare. Which options you are eligible for and are best for you depend on your individual circumstances. You may enroll in the state health insurance marketplace, continue your employment-related benefits through COBRA or state continuation, enroll in your spouse’s health plan, or apply for Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made health insurance coverage when retiring before age 65 a much less challenging situation. This is especially true for people with medical conditions or limited finances—both of which could be obstacles for early retirees seeking coverage in the pre-ACA era.
If you're unsure where to begin, it's always best to consult with a trusted financial advisor.
For ALL Ages: Communication is Key
The first step in creating a retirement plan is communication.
Couples who work through later-in-life decisions with respect and care for each other have a solid retirement communication plan. They will find that their golden years can often be happier because they know themselves better and can find peace together. With the increased likelihood that couples will reach and surpass their 50th wedding anniversary, keeping marriage harmonious by resolving conflict with a team approach will yield great contentment and increased satisfaction in companionship.
Undoubtedly, there will be difficult conversations and compromises that need to be made on your journey. Couples planning for retirement may experience many challenges as listed above. Open honest communication can transform your relationship as you enter the next phase of your lives. Each of you should discuss your expectations as a married couple for retirement to ensure that both of you are on on the same page. Once you have both communicated about your retirement expectations, it’s time to move onto the financial aspects of retirement with your Fiduciary.
Retirement planning for couples involves navigating the waters together and it could, possibly, be the most challenging period of your relationship. This Valentine’s Day, don’t just dream about a lifetime with the one you love. Make the initiative to be proactive and work together as a team with your partner and your advisor to ensure that you are financially prepared for the future.
At Agemy Financial Strategies, finding the right financial advisor that fits your goals and lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard. The trusted team at Agemy is here for you every step of the way to make some real progress on your journey to retirement.