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Talking to spouse about retirement often overlooked

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Sep 9th, 2013 @ 8:26am

SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to your retirement, you can talk to planners and you can talk to experts. But recent studies show people need to talk to their spouses to make sure they're working toward the same goal.

A recent study from the University of Missouri shows that spouses who plan their retirement can have "more success and less stress when they leave the workforce."

This may seem obvious. But financial planners in Utah say many people aren't doing it.

Even people who are obviously smart and should probably know better can fail to plan for their retirement. Take, as an example, doctors.

"They're notorious for being poor at the process," said Utah Medical Association Financial Services Vice President Patrick Brady.

Brady said physicians run into the same problems a lot of other people do when they're setting money aside for the future. Many of them lack the discipline they need to set a financial plan and stick to it.

Plus, money can be a tricky subject to talk about, so many couples avoid it. That can blow up into a big problem later.

"Often times, when I'm sitting in the middle of a couple that just isn't getting it, one of them becomes very offended that they're being accused of not behaving properly," Brady said.

There are some key things Brady said people need to sit down and discuss before they stop working.

  • Do they want to travel a lot? Brady said it's not uncommon for the man to want to take as many vacations as possible, while his wife is content with staying at home.

    "You get couples that have a tendency to have different travel desires," he said. "They really never connected on it."

  • Where does the couple want to live?

    "Do they want to be around grandchildren or do they want to be where it's warm? I find that is a common issue. A lot of them want to stay here, and others say, ‘You know what? I'm ready for my second home,'" Brady said.

  • Do they want to serve a mission? Here in Utah, many retired married couples want to serve missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But one person may want to serve many missions, while their spouse only wants to serve one.

    Brady said he has seen this become a source of contention for some people since they never discussed it until they stopped working full-time.

The most important thing couples need to do is talk about their every day expenses after retirement. People are used to spending a certain amount of cash as they're out and about. But when retirement hits, the couple will be on a fixed income and daily spending habits will have to change.

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