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Financial Focus: Talk to your spouse about your retirement vision


If you’re single, your retirement goals are your own – you don’t really have to consult with anybody, and you can change your plans whenever you like. However, if you’re married, you and your spouse should develop a joint “vision” encompassing all the key areas of your retirement lifestyle. These are a few questions you may want to address first:

Where should we live? Once you retire, you may need to consider two key aspects of your living situation: the size and location of your home. Regarding size, you may look around one day and realize you have more living space than you actually need. This is especially true, of course, if you have children who have set out on their own. If you have a large single-family house, you may want to consider whether you should move into a condominium or even an apartment, either of which might be more cost-effective for you.

As for location, you may decide that retirement is the perfect time to move, either to seek a more favourable climate or to be near grown children and grandchildren. In any case, moving to a different area is a major financial decision, so you and your spouse will certainly want to discuss all the aspects of relocation.

Will either of us work? Retirement no longer means the cessation of all work. You or your spouse – or perhaps you and your spouse – may want to use your skills and experience to do some consulting or even open your own business. Adding a source of earned income will almost certainly help your financial picture during retirement, but if either you or your spouse are planning to do some work, you will want to be sure this activity doesn’t disrupt other plans that may be important to you, such as traveling. Also, any source of earned income during your retirement years may well affect important financial decisions, such as when to start Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits and how much to withdraw each year from your retirement accounts. Again, it’s essential that you and your spouse be on the same page about any type of employment during retirement. 
How will we spend our time? Aside from possibly doing some type of work during your retirement years, how else might you spend your time? Would you like to travel extensively? Or would you rather stick close to home and pursue your hobbies or volunteer? These don’t have to be either or – hopefully, you’ll be able to explore many pursuits during your retirement. Keep in mind though, that there will be different costs for these various activities, so you and your spouse may need to prioritize your choices to ensure they fit in to your overall financial strategies.

As you can see, you and your spouse will need to discuss some key decisions about the financial aspects of your retirement. However, with some careful planning, you can make the decisions that can help you work toward your common retirement vision.