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Retirement Planning: Conversations to Have With Your Spouse

When couples talk about these topics, they can avert problems ahead


(Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Acts Retirement-Life Communities.)

There is plenty to consider when you’re headed into retirement. You need to establish a plan to support the rest of your life, the years you’ve looked forward to enjoying through countless clock punches over the last several decades. If you have a spouse, it’s a good idea to make these considerations together. Here, we’ve collected a few simple ideas for conversations to have with your spouse as you prepare for retirement.

Talk About Setting Up a Monthly Budget

As you move into retirement, it’s wise to think about your budget. Even if you are counting on using your retirement fund, Social Security or other investment options, it’s never a bad idea to stay on top of your finances. Financial conversations can tend to present some complications.

Start talking with your spouse about your plans for life. Maybe you and your husband or wife have been excited to travel in your retirement. If so, begin by talking about what needs to happen in order to make that feasible. Framing your budget in the context of considering what it adds to your life, rather than what it takes away, makes the discussion that much easier. After all, if you’re in constant worry that you’re going to run out of money, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy all the other benefits that the retired life brings.

Click here to read how much money do I need to retire?

Figure Out a Plan for Your Social Life

Staying busy and active in your community is one of the most challenging aspects of living the retired life. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the perks of having more time, freedom and flexibility throughout the week. However, you want to be sure that you don’t let your social life take a back seat to other interests. Even if you were socially active before retirement, it’s all too easy to de-prioritize this aspect of life in retirement.

Thankfully, when you have open lines of communication with your spouse, it’s easier to ensure that you keep up with your social life. Talk to him or her about taking up new hobbies together or joining a new community organization. When you have the gift of free time, it’s wise to take advantage of it. Not only can retirement help you reorganize your priorities, it also frees you up to blossom a rich and vibrant social life.

Discussing your ideal level of community participation with your spouse is helpful. Do you want more or less social interaction? The conversation can provide you with the motivation and inspiration you need to follow through on maintaining a healthy social life. If you’re having trouble reaching common ground, try starting out by discussing mutual interests. Furthermore, allowing the space for solo activities is also encouraged.

Decide Where You Want to Live Long-Term

Looking to relocate or downsize your home in your retirement? Always dreamed of living on a waterfront post-career? Whatever kind of environment you’re planning on living in during retirement, it’s important to make plans with your spouse in advance. It’s certainly tempting to make an impromptu decision about your living situation. But planning things out gives you much more control and agency over your choices.

Small details matter. Do you want to be closer to friends and family? Are you looking for a home that has room for a garden in the yard? Don’t be shy when voicing your preferences to your spouse.

If your spouse wants to stay in the home you raised your family, while you worry about the amount of space as you age as well as level of upkeep, have an open and honest conversations about how your needs may change as you age. When you explore your options in advance, you are far more likely to reach a decision that is satisfactory to both of you.

Click here to read about the pro’s and con’s of aging in place.

Many retirement communities offer affordable rates and access to a wealth of fun, engaging activities and social opportunities.

Talk About Social Security

Some couples may find it difficult to discuss the ins and outs of finances in retirement, but it’s important to do so. While discussing your retirement funds, pensions and investments is certainly productive (it was the first item on this list for a reason), it’s also wise to assess your plans regarding claiming on Social Security.

First, assess your current Social Security statements. If you’re not sure how to access your statements, you can do so by contacting the Social Security Administration by phone. Alternatively, you can also make an account online at http://www.ssa.gov, or visit your local Social Security office.

Once you’re clear on your statements, you can begin to work them into your budget. It may take a bit of number-crunching. Work with your spouse to determine the optimal time to start claiming your Social Security benefits. There are different reasons for different timing.

Click here to read about how to apply for, and start collecting, Social Security.

What Kind of Lifestyle Do You Want to Live?

You can expect to have plenty of conversations with your spouse as you plan your retirement. However, none of them are as important as determining what kind of lifestyle you want. Retirement presents so many possibilities it can begin to feel overwhelming. However, this freedom is also what makes retirement so fulfilling. For many people, retirement gives them the chance to live in a way they never could before.

What kind of goals do you want to achieve when you retire? Who do you want to associate with? How do you want to spend your days? All of these questions are productive when you’re speaking with your spouse. Addressing these issues both as individuals and as a couple creates a healthy environment for a measured discussion.

If you have a strong urge toward personal health goals, it’s important to communicate this to your spouse. If you are more interested in traveling the world together or catching up on a lifetime of reading or learning how to woodwork let him or her know. Being clear on your desired lifestyle is the best way to ensure you enjoy your retirement without any regret.

Click here to read about staying active after retirement.

Make a Plan. Start Today

Planning for retirement isn’t always easy. While the process can help you evaluate your personal challenges, it can also help you clarify your vision for your life. By having the right conversations with your spouse, you give yourself the chance to take full advantage of the perks of retirement, together.

For more information on retirement, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities:

By Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit actsretirement.org.

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