Retiring together: When is it a good idea?

Couple who discussed whether retiring at the same time would align to their financial and personal goals.

Deciding whether to retire with your spouse can be more complicated than you’d think. As with many things, the right approach varies from couple to couple.

Barbara Delaney, Principal of StoneStreet Equity in Pearl River, NY, recommends considering these pros and cons.

Option 1: Retiring together

Pro: Retiring together provides plenty of time for enjoying each other's company and traveling while you're both on the go.

During the first 10 to 12 years of retirement, most retirees are "still healthy and vibrant, able to get up and move around, which is great for traveling," Delaney says. "Once you hit your 80s, there's generally a significant slowdown in mobility."

Con: More time together can be great, but suddenly spending all day, every day may be too much to handle.

Plus, Delaney says, some people struggle with an abrupt jump from a full-time job to full-time leisure. "I see a lot of people who say they wish they had done it gradually," Delaney says.

Option 2: Staggering your retirements

Pro: Having one spouse retire first gives them time to get used to a different lifestyle while the other continues to work and save for retirement. "It provides time to get a better handle on your income and assets," Delaney says.

Staggered retirement also can be beneficial if the working spouse’s employer covers health care costs. An added bonus: "If you're in good health, you can increase your Social Security benefits by putting off retirement up to age 70," Delaney says.

Con: If one spouse retires and the other doesn't, the retired spouse may be frustrated with the working spouse's inflexible schedule or inability to travel. And the working spouse may resent the leisure time the retired spouse enjoys.

Regardless of what retirement decision you and your spouse make, carefully considering the options now can help ensure many happy years to come.

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