Happy Senior Couple Sitting on a Sail BoatIt is often said that failing to discuss retirement with your spouse is one of the biggest retirement income mistakes you can make. And yet, many people put off this important discussion for fear of triggering a fight, or simply because discussing money makes them uncomfortable. If that sounds familiar, follow these steps to a (hopefully) calm resolution of the issue.

Let the dust settle. If you recently had a disagreement about money, bringing up the topic a day later is sure to feel like nagging. Let the dust settle for a few weeks or so. This will give your spouse a chance to cool off, and you can find a different way to approach the subject.

Consider the root cause. If you and your spouse have different mindsets with regard to financial planning, consider why this is the case. Think about your respective backgrounds, current work habits, values, and so on. Seeking to understand your spouse’s mindset will help you approach the topic with their needs in mind.

Focus on goals. It’s easier to come to an agreement when you both want the same thing (or something similar). When you’re ready to talk about finances, focus on the goals you both want to achieve. Once you agree, you can discuss ways to get there.

Schedule the talk. If you surprise your spouse with “the talk” when they’re already feeling stressed or unprepared, the discussion probably won’t go well. Choose a neutral time and ask your spouse to fit a meeting into their schedule. Let them pick the day and time, if you think that will help.

Consider a buffer zone. If you worry about a disagreement, schedule your meeting with an insurance professional. It’s often easier if a third party can help to guide the discussion, because you will be addressed as a team. This can prevent a “me versus you” atmosphere.

Attend a retirement income planning course or seminar together. If you feel that your spouse is “bad with money”, ask them to attend a class with you. It can be easier to shed light on their spendthrift behavior if they see it for themselves, rather than feeling attacked.

Establish an automatic savings plan. Once you decide upon a savings goal, set up automatic deposits from your paycheck directly into a retirement account. This could prevent future disagreements, because it’s hard to spend money that isn’t in your checking account. Remember to maximize any tax advantages or employer match programs.

For more help with retirement income planning, call our office for an appointment. We can help you decide how much to save and set some target goals for your future.