By: Samantha K. Wolfe, Esquire, LL.M. in Taxation
My grandmother loves the beach, so usually every year my grandparents would travel to the Outer Banks for a week during the summer months. There was always an open invitation for my family to come down and spend that week at the beach. The only problem—my dad hates the beach. For several years my entire family, including my dad, would travel to North Carolina with my grandparents. My dad was such a good sport. Oh sure, complained incessantly about how hot it was, how crowded it was, or how, once again, he had sand in places he didn’t want sand, but he endured. When my sisters and I entered the teenage years, my dad decided he had enough of the sand and decided that if we wanted to go to the beach with my grandparents we were old enough that he didn’t have to endure the horrors of the beach.
One particular summer just my mom and I went to the beach with my grandparents, two aunts and uncles, and four cousins. It had been a few years since we had made the annual trip. Both my mom and I love to read, especially romance novels, so we packed a handful of books to read on the beach. My idea of a great vacation revolved around parking myself in a beach chair, under an umbrella, reading a great Nora Roberts book. The most important part of my vacation, however, means that I don’t have a schedule. It is vital that I not be required to be at any location at a designated time. I want to wake up when I want, read when I want, and sleep when I want. Needless to say, my cousins had other ideas of what a vacation should include; it didn’t involve a beach chair, umbrella, or a romance novel. They wanted to build sandcastles and play volleyball at the resort gym all on a specific timetable. They nagged me to be at the gym at a certain time or build my sandcastle a certain way. It was a long week.
Perhaps if my extended family and my mom and I had discussed what we planned to do while on vacation before we arrived at the beach, it would have saved me and my cousins some aggravation. I know I would have finished my Nora Roberts book; I am much nicer on vacation if I have the opportunity to read my romance novel. The discussion needs to occur when planning for retirement.
It surprises me how often I meet with a married couple on the cusp of retirement who haven’t even discussed their retirement plans and, assuming that you want your partner to share in your glory years with you, it might be a good idea to make sure you both are on the same page. Does one spouse want to travel the world, while the other plans to park him or herself next to the shuffleboard court?
When I enter discussions with clients about their shared plans for retirement plans, the financial aspect fades into the background a little. The financial side of retirement is the objective aspect of retirement planning. The subjective nature of retirement planning involves the goals, dreams, and desires of both spouses. There is no mathematical formula to help you calculate the correct answer. Instead, both spouses have to have an open dialogue and be willing to compromise a little, if needed. The most important thing to remember is this: It is always best to start your retirement years on the right foot and with the correct expectations. Make sure you know if your spouse expects you to be at the volleyball court at 8 a.m. or if you can sleep late and read a romance novel.
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