Retiring at the Same Time

When people talk about retirement planning, they generally mean “planning” in the financial sense.  That kind of planning is a big job, and it’s not uncommon for couples to leave their focus there and neglect to plan for what they want day-to-day life to be like during retirement. 


If you’ve had a good financial planner, he or she will have talked with you about the kind of lifestyle you’d like to lead after you retire.  But the closer you get to actually retiring, the more important it is to look beyond those general lifestyle goals and plan for how you actually want to spend your days.


Many who neglect this type of planning retire and immediately find themselves bored or frustrated, especially if they retire at the same time as their spouse.  Some reach the first day of retirement and look at each other and say, “OK, so what are we going to do today?”  Others wake up on day one and say, “You mean you’re doing that today?  I thought we were going to…”


Essential non-financial retirement planning


There are two keys to being well-prepared for the daily living of retirement beforehand.


First, talk with your spouse and develop a shared vision for what you want life to be like.  This is especially important if you will both be retiring at the same time.  For some people, the very idea of retiring at the same time implies that you’ll be doing most things together.  But you and your spouse may have different ideas about how you’ll spend your days once you retire. 


Are you both going to the quilting bee or to the golf course?  Or will you each do your own thing?  I personally recommend that couples not plan on doing everything together.  If you are together 24/7 and doing the same thing all the time, how will you ever have anything new to talk about?  This, of course, is a personal decision, but whatever you decide, the most important thing is that you reach the decision together.


Second, share your vision with your loved ones so they know what to expect.  You may have family members who, unbeknownst to you, assume that your retiring will have specific  implications for them.  If so, you could find yourself constantly occupied with things other people expect, and not having enough time to do what you envisioned you’d do when you retired. 


For instance, for people who have grandchildren with parents who work, it can sometimes be easy to become an unpaid nanny.   We know several people who retired specifically so they could look after their grandchildren, and they couldn’t be happier!  But they are happy about it because it was their plan and their choice. 


Whatever your choices are, share them with your family.  Managing others’ expectations will help you avoid having your days taken in a direction you didn’t choose and ensure you live the fulfilling golden years you’ve always dreamed of.

Sandra Cleveland

Sandra Cleveland

Sandra Cleveland CFP®, CCPS is a Partner and Wealth Manager at BCR Wealth Strategies.