Lifestyle • August 11th, 2020

Should You and Your Spouse Retire at the Same Time?

Stephanie Faris

Key Takeaways
  • Retiring as a couple can be enjoyable, but it may also mean that you take a significant cut in pay.
  • It’s important to consider health benefits and Social Security eligibility when deciding whether both of you can retire at the same time.
  • Also consider the lifestyle changes that retirement will bring and whether you’ll pursue interests together or individually.

You work most of your life for the day you can toss out your career wardrobe and enjoy life. But while retiring is the dream, it’s also a big decision, especially if you have a family. If you’re married, you have not only your expenses to consider, but also the cost of running your entire household.

For many couples, having just one spouse retire initially can be the best option. But when only one spouse retires, you do give up a few things. We’ll walk you through making one of the most important financial decisions of your life.

Considerations for Retiring at the Same Time as Your Spouse

The truth is, only you can decide whether retiring together is the right choice. But before you make that decision, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible. Here are some factors to consider as you plan your future.

Can you afford to retire at the same time?

The biggest question about retirement is what money you’ll need to live on when you are no longer on salary. First, do a full assessment of the retirement savings you can draw from, as well as estimating the Social Security payments you’ll see. Then tally your expected expenses to see how far you can stretch those funds. The best way to create your own retirement calculator for couples retiring at different times is to do this tally individually, then compare the impact if you retire together versus separately.

What’s the hit to our Social Security benefits?

The Social Security Administration has a sliding scale based on your retirement age. Unless you were born before 1960, your minimum age to receive full Social Security benefits is 67. You can retire as early as age 62, but that will reduce the benefits you receive for the remainder of your life.

In other words, waiting until you’re 67 will earn you more money. Retirement with a younger spouse means that your husband or wife may find that they have to take a reduced amount. If you both hold off until you reach full retirement age, it will mean a higher monthly retirement paycheck for your household.

Where will we get health insurance?

If you or your spouse has health insurance through work, your retirement date will definitely be affected. The minimum age for Medicare is 65 unless you have a qualifying disability. That means if both you and your spouse are 65, you can retire and apply for Medicare. Otherwise, your spouse may want to remain employed and insured for now.

Are you both ready to stop working?

This is where you both need to be honest with yourselves. Leaving the workforce is a big adjustment for many, especially if you’ve worked most of your adult life. Compound this with the fact that you and your spouse will be spending more time together than you likely ever have. There’s always the option of working part-time or pursuing a hobby that keeps you occupied, but consider what retirement will really be like before you make the leap.

Planning for Retiring at the Same Time

For a married couple, retirement savings is only part of the picture. You’ll need to carefully plan your post-retirement plans, starting with your income and expenses. But also spend some time discussing your individual visions for your retirement. What will a typical day look like? Will you pursue separate or joint hobbies? Will you have the funds for those hobbies, especially if they’re pricey ones like traveling?

Negotiating How a Single Retirement Might Work

What happens when your husband retires before you? If you’re the husband, what happens if you’re retiring while your spouse keeps working? In advance, work out how that will go, including how much your spouse expects you to do around the house. You may find more of the housekeeping burden falls to you, even if you’re pursuing hobbies. Discussing this can help prevent surprises.

Bottom Line

Retiring is a big life change, but by preparing in advance, you can ensure things go smoothly. Whether you and your spouse retire together or at different times, you can come up with a plan that works. We recommend meeting with a Certified Financial Planner® as far in advance as possible to explore all your options and make sure you have all your finances in place.

Author

Stephanie Faris

Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a writer for a credit card processing service and has written about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on Money Under 30, The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, E-commerce Insiders, and GoBankingRates.