Are You in Agreement with Your Partner About Retirement Plans?

Most (82%) respondents to a Fidelity survey say that they and their partners disagree about key planning issues, such as the age at which they'll quit working and the lifestyle they plan to maintain.

Recent economic conditions—mass layoffs, home-equity plunges, and pension freezes—make getting retirement planning in sync even more important. Create a retirement plan with your partner for a better chance at a retirement that will please you both.

Questions to ask:

What are key retirement issues and what's important to us?

Brainstorm individual wish lists, then compare notes to get on track. When do you want to retire? Will you work part time? Where would you like to live? What kind of lifestyle do you want? Do you or your spouse have aspirations of starting your own business, traveling, or learning a new skill?

How much do we have?

It's imperative for couples to know the value of their own retirement accounts as well as the value of their partner's accounts. In the Fidelity survey, about half of respondents didn't know the balance in their own 401(k) accounts. Only 37% of husbands and 21% of wives knew the value of their partner's accounts. Take time to sit down together with your most recent retirement statements and review details.

Are we investing in sync?

Many couples make the mistake of not looking at their asset allocation as a household. Looking at each other's investments can help each of you decide if you have proper asset allocation. You'll be able to see if you're exposed to more risk than you should be and if you have overlapping investments. A good move is to choose a household allocation that caters to the growth needed to cover the younger spouse's life span. Each account does not have to be set up exactly the same. For example, possibly the more conservative spouse may feel better holding a larger amount of bonds vs. stocks. Also, be sure to examine the benefits of each of your work plans - look at employer matches, investment choices, and fees.

Will money affect timing?

Almost 60% of couples disagree about when they'll leave the work force, although when to leave work can have a huge impact on what type of retirement lifestyle you'll be able to afford. If you or your spouse will be getting a pension, review details of payouts and what will happen if one of you dies. To estimate your Social Security benefits, use the Social Security Retirement Benefit Estimator.

Talk to our helpful financial adviser for ideas about ways to make the most of your financial resources.

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