Don’t forget your spouse in retirement planning

Including a spouse in retirement plans tends to lead to less conflict and stress when couples spend more time together when they give up work.

A study has found that if spouses have different views of how to while away those long hours in each other’s company, they will spend more time arguing that relaxing.

In the report, by the University of Missouri, retirement is likened to planning to become parents for the first time.

Angela Curl, an assistant professor in the university’s school of social work, explained that new parents think about how their relationship will develop when they have a child.

“Retirement is a lifestyle upheaval in the same way as having a child is,” she said. “Retirement has a far reaching effect on many day to day issues that people often do not realise while they are still working.”

Enjoying retirement

The research tends to support the view that those that plan together will stay together and gain more enjoyment from their retirement.

Also, an overriding feature of the study was that couples aged over 45 years old who were still working tended to influence each other in their retirement plans – even though husbands led the way.

“Retirement is pictured as an endless holiday, punctuated by golf, travel and relaxing in exotic locations,” said Curl. “This is an unrealistic notion for most individuals and couples should be more realistic about their level of retirement savings and what they can really achieve with it.

“Both spouses need to have the same vision of retirement, so talking to each other about what to expect and when to retire will reduce arguments and stress in the relationship.”

The study also revealed the white Americans tended to have retirement plans – both for lifestyle and income – while others had no plans for the transition.

Realistic goals

“Retirement is something for everyone, although people earning different amounts of money and levels of savings will have expectations that don’t match those of wealthier individuals,” said Curl.

Other research by the university also showed that a lack of retirement planning made the transition of giving up work harder and often led to depression.

“Many people do not understand what retirement actually means to their lives,” said Curl. “They need to have realistic goals and plans that they lay down in advance to gain the greatest enjoyment.

“For instance, they might want to continue part time work or volunteer their services, but rather than leaving their intentions open-ended, they need to think about the organisations they want to work with and how much time they want to give them.”

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