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Planning for Retirement With Your Spouse

By Trilogy Financial
July 2, 2019
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Retirement is a big deal, and there are a lot of moving components to plan out. Those issues multiply when there is another individual added to the mix. My definition of retirement is the financial freedom to move into the next chapter of your life, and that next chapter is different for everyone –especially spouses! This is not the time to assume the two of you are on the same page or decide that the two of you will figure it out later. Most people know that I’m a big proponent of talking to your spouse about everything financial, and retirement is no exception.  Be sure to take the guess work out of this process so you can enter the next chapter of your life in harmony.

It’s not uncommon for couples to not see eye-to-eye on retirement. About half of couples don’t agree on what age to retire[i]. Less than 10% of surveyed couples retired at the same time[ii]. And 47% disagreed on how much they would need to save for retirement[iii]. With so many areas to disagree, from where to retire to how to spend your days, how do spouses work together to achieve their cumulative goals?

I always like to recommend the couples start off by taking my financial compatibility quiz. Not only does this show the areas you may not see eye-toe-eye on, but the quiz generates a lot of conversations. Continue these conversations at monthly financial date nights to make sure that the two of you continue on the same path towards the same goals. Talk about the details – at what age do you want to retire, how do you want to spend your days in retirement, and how much of that time will be spent together. Keep in mind that most people have spent over 40 hours a week away from their spouse for decades. Retirement frees up all that time, which can be too much “togetherness” for some couples. This is why I like to take my clients through a discussion on “your time, my time, and our time,” well before it is actually time for retirement. Discussing these things in advance can allow you to compromise on issues before emotions flair and make a world of difference between living together happily in retirement or, in worst cases, filing for divorce.

Once you have an idea of what your retirement goals are, you need to formulate a plan. An experienced financial planner can be a great resource at this time, bringing up things you may not have touched on and running “what if” scenarios for you to see how your retirement dreams can be converted into actionable goals. Please start these discussions early because financial independence takes many forms, but you can’t figure out when you’re going to get there until you plan your route.

Marriage is many things, but ultimately, it is a partnership. The two of you work together to move the household forward. You may not always agree, but you find common ground by talking and sharing and compromising. If you plan ahead and plan together, you can find the right way to your coupled vision of retirement.

Take our FREE Financial Compatibility Quiz here.




The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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Mike Loo, MBA
June 21, 2018

Regardless of where it comes from, getting an unexpected chunk of change usually makes for a pretty good day, week, or even year. But if you aren’t intentional about what you do with your extra cash, you could follow in the footsteps of many lottery winners who squander their winnings and end up unhappy and broke.1  Even if the gift you receive isn’t a significant amount, you’d be amazed at how some smart planning can make a big difference down the road. Let’s look at some ways you can you use your raise, refund, or windfall to get ahead financially.

  1. Pay Off Debt

Big debt, small debt, it doesn’t matter. Debt is debt. Start with high-interest debt and work your way down. Did you know that the average American household carries over $16,000 in credit card debt and pays an average of $1,292 in interest annually?2  Sure, using your extra influx of money to reduce debt isn’t as fun as going on a trip, but think of the satisfaction you’ll feel when you see your balance decrease, knowing that you are saving yourself thousands of dollars in interest in the long run.

  1. Beefing Up Your Retirement Savings

Even if you diligently contribute to a 401(k) or IRA, chances are you aren’t maxing out those accounts. Let’s say you receive a $3,120 tax refund, the average amount according to the IRS.3  You then deposit that $3,120 in an IRA and see a 7% rate of return annually. In 20 years, you will have earned approximately $8,000 on that investment due to compound interest. Let’s go a bit further. If you invest your tax refund every year for 20 years, your retirement savings could see a boost of almost $150,000! If you’ve received a raise, use some of it to increase your contribution percentage right away. That way, you won’t get used to living with that extra money and it puts you ahead for the future.

  1. Invest In Education

Most of us dream of our kids going to a great school and getting a solid foundation for their future career, but have you considered how much of an investment it will take to get them to that point? The numbers can be daunting. These days, a high school graduate can expect to pay upwards of $200,000 for an undergraduate degree at a top school4 and over $10,000 each year for in-state tuition alone at a public institution.5  The costs will vary depending on room and board and other educational costs, but either way, it’s a lot of money.

One option is to open a 529 account with your tax refund and, once again, let compound interest help you get ahead. Not only will your investment pave the way for your child’s future, but it could also give you a tax break.

  1. Build Your Emergency Fund

An emergency fund provides you with a cushion for those times when life gives you lemons. If you don’t have readily available savings, something as simple as an unexpected car repair or medical bill could derail your finances. Or, if you know you have a large purchase or a life milestone approaching, such as welcoming a baby into your family, having an emergency fund will help you avoid digging into long-term savings or going into debt to cover costs. You can’t put a price on the peace of mind that an emergency fund will give you, so think about investing some of your tax refund to boost your short-term savings.

  1. Be Generous

Giving your tax refund away may not help you get ahead, but it could make a lasting impact on someone else’s life. Find a charity or cause that is close to your heart and pay it forward. Your gift could also help you when the next tax season rolls around. Just make sure to get a receipt for your contribution and itemize your deductions.

Have You Received Some Extra Cash?

It’s okay to treat yourself when you find yourself with excess income, but don’t splurge just because the money is there. Make a list of your financial priorities and then map out how your additional money could give your financial future a boost. If you would like guidance on how to use your raise, refund, or windfall, call my office at (949) 221-8105 x 2128 or email me at

Jeff Motske, CFP®
August 13, 2018

Money can be a complex thing. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the stock market or the emergence of cryptocurrencies. I’m talking about how every financial decision you make affects all the others. It sounds like a simple enough theory, but when it comes time to putting it into action, it’s often difficult to see through.

I see many clients who come in clearly stating their goals: they want to retire, they want to start their own business or pay for the children’s college education. They want to be financially independent. Yet, when we look at what they’re doing with their finances, we find that their actions may be working against their goals. That daily Starbucks habit has a different cost when you calculate how much you’ve spent in a given month that could have been used towards other expenses. For those who are constantly leasing new vehicles, those payments that never end take on a different perspective when you consider how they could have been applied to a down payment for a house.

We see it now with millennials struggling under immense student loan debt. While much of their income is funneled towards basic needs and paying down debt, little is left for necessary things like amassing an emergency fund and saving for retirement, let alone other milestones like purchasing a home. Putting off funding these other items can have a serious detrimental effect down the road. Furthermore, while millennials have grown to be the largest generations purchasing homes1, this major decision has prompted additional complications like borrowing from retirement to afford a down payment or underestimating ongoing maintenance cost. In fact, based on a survey by Bank of the West, 68 percent of millennial homeowners now have regrets about buying their home2 because every decision made truly impacted everything else.

Things can get especially tricky when decisions are being made by more than one person. Couples can have household goals, but if they’re not united in working towards them, these goals can often get sidelined. Perhaps they’re trying to save for a house, but one of them isn’t sticking to their plan. Maybe they’ve been diligently saving for retirement when one wants to take a major withdrawal to start their own business. Sometimes it can be as simple as not even bothering to discuss the household’s financial goals. Very often, if you’re not working together, you’re working against one another.

Please understand, I’m all for enjoying your hard-earned money. Sometimes, though, difficult choices have to be made. Perhaps it’s deciding to put off that trip with friends to pay off your credit card, or eating out less to build up your emergency fund. I remember being in that predicament when my family first moved into our home – we lived without furniture in two of the rooms! You see, the key to your personal financial success isn’t typically making more money. It’s really about being aware of your financial behavior and of how your daily financial decisions impact your long-term fiscal future.



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