In most families one spouse has assumed the primary responsibility for managing the family finances and planning for retirement. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with one person taking the lead on such matters, Savvy families ensure that although one spouse may be handling the day-to-day management, the other spouse has a say in charting the financial course and most importantly, has access to all pertinent information such as account numbers.
As you might suspect, in my family I have the primary responsibility for the day-to-day management. I use Quicken and the RWR Simple Retirement Workbook – comprised of multiple worksheets, including the Spending Planner and Retirement Planner worksheets, focused on different aspects of our retirement plan – that contains all the information related to our financial accounts and retirement planning.
My wife and I sit down on a regular basis to review this electronic portfolio. Should something happen to me, she is fully aware of all aspects of our finances (e.g. account numbers, beneficiaries, etc.) and has the requisite access to our various accounts.
With respect to retirement planning, we talk nearly every day. While we don’t necessarily have a detailed discussion and change our plan daily, weekly or monthly, we talk about various studies or reports related to personal finance/retirement planning, the economy and how what is happening around us might impact our plans. After all, we are still 10+ years away from retirement. A number of things can, and will likely, change. A retirement plan is not static. It has to be dynamic, just like the world around us.
Unfortunately, too many couples, even couples in their late 50s and 60s – those rapidly approaching retirement – talk about everything (children, grandchildren, vacations, home improvements, etc.) but their own retirement. Perhaps it is an assumption that they will agree on everything or that things will ‘just work out.’ Of course that simply isn’t true. Like the tag line of this blog notes, you live better through planning…which requires talking!
The best way to avoid potential issues that are sure to arise at some point is simply to talk to each other. Each spouse should speak honestly and openly about their thoughts on how your nest-egg should be built and your individual needs, wants, hopes, fears and dreams for retirement, such as where to live and what to do.
In the event you and your spouse don’t see eye to eye about building a retirement nest-egg and how to spend time in retirement, focus first on the areas in which you agree. Although I am not a huge fan of financial planners, and believe they are generally not worth the expense, you might consider such an individual to help bridge the gap on the areas in which you disagree.