Retirement Planning is More Than a Numbers Game

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BeachAlmost from the day we are born, Americans are taught that if we work hard, systematically save a portion of our income, and invest wisely, we will one day be able to retire and use our carefully crafted nest egg to replace the income generated during our working years.  For many of us, the desire to achieve this level of ultimate freedom is so deeply ingrained that we yearn to retire earlier rather than later.  However, other than day dreaming, very few of us have ever spent much time planning what our lives will be like in retirement?

As Financial Advisors, we have spoken to many people who think of retirement as the time in their lives when they don’t have to work anymore, and finally have time to enjoy doing whatever they love.  For some that means more time with their family and the ones they love.  Some have desires to travel the world, while others dream of spending more time on a hobby.  However, the discussions surrounding retirement planning should include much more than the financial aspect.

In a recent national conference for financial advisors, Texas Tech University Professor Michael Finke discussed some important statistics that most people don’t consider as they near retirement and, unfortunately, due to lack of planning or even acknowledgement, they are unsatisfied and in some cases suffer from extreme depression during retirement.

Not surprisingly, Finke’s research confirms that having more money typically brings more satisfaction in retirement.  In fact, the Professor presented research indicating that people with more money live longer, underscoring the need for savings and prudent investing.  However, what most people don’t think about until it’s too late is the importance of couples being able to get along and enjoy their increased time together during retirement.  Professor Finke suggests couples should “practice being retired,” he advised, taking long vacations and spending more time together prior to retirement.  “Why spend all that time and effort planning around money for retirement if you don’t have a satisfying relationship with your spouse?”  If you have been married for any amount of time, you know that a long term relationship such as marriage must be continuously cultivated.

“Maintaining a good relationship with your spouse is constant work, and it should never stop,” says Marriage and Family Therapist David Dastrup, M.S.  When most people think of retirement planning, they only consider the financial aspect.  However, the often overlooked issue of planning for, and cultivating the relationship with your spouse is equally important, and in most cases essential to satisfaction during retirement.  Just as your nest egg will not magically appear when you decide to retire, your spousal relationship will not magically improve upon retirement.

The discussion surrounding retirement planning should be more than just a numbers game.  In fact, a truly comprehensive retirement plan should include a series of discussions with loved ones, your financial advisor and in some circumstances a family counselor or therapist.


Also see our Blog post “The Other Side Of Retirement Planning For Couples” for more tips to consider when you and your spouse are planning for retirement.

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