It’s not at all uncommon for married couples to have significant age gaps—differing in their ages by several years, in some cases even a decade or two. This can present some challenges to the retirement planning process—though not anything that is insurmountable. No, savvy retirement planning is more than possible for couples with an age gap, so long as they approach it prudently and strategically.
Guidelines for Age-Gap Retirement Planning
Here are a few tips for doing effective retirement planning and remaining mindful of that age gap.
Choose the age at which you each want to retire. Will you both retire at the same time, or will you stagger it? There are pros and cons to both options. If you and your spouse retire at the same time, that means you get to enjoy more time spent together, to travel, and to pursue other interests. The downside is that the younger spouse will miss out on some earnings and on some opportunities to build interest and develop a retirement nest egg. The younger spouse will likely have a longer retirement this way, too, which is another planning obstacle. There is no right or wrong way here; it’s simply important to plan ahead and consider all variables.
Be strategic in Social Security withdrawals. Sometimes, it makes the most sense to wait until you hit 70 to withdraw Social Security, which ensures bigger monthly checks and bigger checks for the surviving spouse, should one pass away. This is something to bring up with your financial planner.
Hold off on withdrawing money from your retirement account. Just because you can start taking money out of your IRA doesn’t necessarily mean you should; the longer you keep that money in your retirement account, the more it can work to grow and earn on your behalf. If you have other savings or a separate nest egg to live from, that may be preferable to pulling from your retirement account.
Think about healthcare. If one spouse retires before reaching the age for Medicare eligibility, you’ll need to find another option for health insurance. Make sure you factor this expense into your retirement plans.
Don’t forget about estate planning. For couples with an age gap, estate planning is something to handle as early as possible—and to review and revise as often as needed.
Start all your retirement planning early—and contact one of our financial planners to ensure you’re on the right track!