In today’s world, two-career households are as common as two-car garages, which means that there are likely two retirement portfolios in the family as well. Usually this results in different investment decisions regarding the respective portfolios. Over the years I have run into working couples who have different comfort levels with risk and thus very different portfolios. When I talk to couples, I stress the concept of planning their investment goals as one and therefore their investment portfolios as one. This is useful especially if planned retirement dates are different and/or if income characteristics are different.
Working couples should look at all of their finances and investments as one. This doesn’t mean you agree on everything, but by being clear on what your goals and desires are, you can effectively create a plan to achieve them. When it comes to your retirement nest egg, you should look at it as one asset that you both will be relying on for your future needs and comfort. Some things to consider:
Review all of your retirement resources. Plan to take the maximum advantage of your social security benefits. The rules have recently changed, so become familiar with them long before your planned retirement date.
Plan as a unit. As I stated before, your respective 401(k), IRA, and other retirement accounts should be managed as a unit. You both should have a clear understanding of your respective retirement goals, desires, and risk tolerances before making decisions about investment strategies within the portfolios. It is not unusual for one to be more conservative than the other. Talk about this so you can both agree on your investment choices. It is perfectly practical for one to house the more aggressive investment strategies while the other contains the conservative choices. Review and rebalance your investments annually. Use a retirement planning professional if you need to.
Factor in differences. If there is a significant difference in age and/or planned retirement dates factor this in. Will the earlier retiree being drawing income from the retirement assets? This may affect your strategies and the portfolio allocations.
Consider your insurance. Is your insurance program up to date? Life insurance, retirement health benefits, and long-term care coverage should all be considered. Is the life insurance adequate to cover a shortfall of one of your incomes, now or in retirement if needed? Also make sure you are not paying for more insurance than you need. Assess your income needs regularly. Retirement health and long term care coverage are more expensive as you get older.
Looking at a couple’s retirement plans as two separate entities is a mistake. Both need to be considered to get the full picture of a family’s retirement and both should be working together to attain retirement goals. If you have any questions or would like advice on reviewing separate retirement plans, please reach out. I’d be happy to help.