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November 27, 2012

Retirement planning for couples

If you think your marital hurdles are over by the time you hit retirement age, think again. According to a Wall Street Journal article from April 2012, many couples are in disagreement about what age to retire.  A recent study by Fidelity Investments found that well over half of couples—62%—disagree on the timing of their respective retirements.

These Times Are Different

The days when a husband automatically retires at 65 with a corporate pension and his wife dutifully follows him to a golf course in Florida are officially over. Most women approaching retirement age are now working, and many have their own retirement savings and viewpoints. “Many women have entered the work force later and are at their peak when men slow down and want out,” says Dorian Mintzer, co-author of “The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle.” “The timing can create some struggles.”

Only about half of couples retire within two years of each other, says Richard Johnson, a senior research analyst at the Urban Institute, a social-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. Men approaching retirement age are, on average, almost four years older than their spouses, he says. And the larger the age difference between spouses, the less likely they are to retire at the same time.

Retirement Talks Are More Sensitive

The talks about when to retire seem much more sensitive and difficult than the question of where to retire. The question of when involves focusing on money, age differences, job satisfaction and gender roles. Often times, it’s all these these factors at the same time. Therapists, not surprisingly, stress the importance of planning, clear communication and compromise. In order for it to work well, each person needs to clarify their own vision of what’s important and learn to talk with each other.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, 4/19/12

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