Should you retire before your spouse?

16 May 2019

Retiring before your spouse or life partner is rarely a couple's first choice, and may feel like an imperfect solution to your retirement planning. Certainly no one wants to feel left out - whether that's being left out of your partner's new leisure time, or the fear of being forgotten from the world of work while your spouse is still an active member. Furthermore, there's no denying that retirement is a significant life transition, and why travel this uncertain path alone when your other half is keen to do it with you?

Despite these doubts, retiring before a spouse offers many benefits and should be readily considered as an option. In this article, we'll carefully explore both the possible positives and negatives of finishing your career ahead of your life partner.

Pros of retiring before your spouse

Retiring before your spouse may have many unexpected upsides and could enable a better living situation for both of you, alongside a more comfortable joint retirement further down the road. The main pros are:

1. Continue to build retirement savings

Retiring separately doesn't mean that you are giving up on your dream of enjoying a happy retreat from work together. In fact, having one party still bringing in a consistent salary can allow you as a couple to make the adjustment into retirement more comfortable.

With one steady salary, as a household you can still continue to put a decent amount into savings for later use. This can be a more sustainable way to prepare for retirement, rather than both of you jointly cutting off your paid income at once.

2. Do what is best for you

Everybody's working situations are different, and it should be individual factors that determine whether it's time for you to give up working, not your spouse's circumstance. Some people can't wait to give up their full time job, or have health or other concerns which make working beyond a certain age difficult. In contrast, others adore their day jobs and want to keep at them for as long as possible.

Ultimately, it's your life and you should start your retirement when you are ready. Remember, there are also other options, such as the Transition to Retirement scheme, where you can reduce your hours over time and still retain an income.

3. More time for leisure and planning for everyone

Just because you are retired, this doesn't mean you stop working. A lot of our time and energy during the work week can be taken up doing the unpaid labour necessary to running a household and maintaining a family. This can limit the leisure time we have at our disposal and make it difficult to make big plans for retirement.

With one party free from the 9am-5pm constraints of the office, this unpaid labour can be done during the day, meaning everybody has more free time to be enjoyed. This also means that more energy can be put into planning a financially sound and relaxing retirement for both of you.

Cons of retiring before your spouse

While there are many positives it is always worth considering the potential problems with retiring separately. These often are:

1. Loneliness

It can sometimes be a lonelier journey to retire without your spouse. This may be particularly true during the first few months of adjusting to your new lifestyle, where it can be tough to work out what you want to do with your days.

It is also important to prepare yourself for any feeling of isolation that your partner may have. They may feel left out of your new routine or excluded from your new life direction. In both cases, it is essential to be aware of everybody's feelings and communicate clearly throughout the process.

2. Financial benefits are not always a given

Retiring separately does not always benefit your long term financial situation. This is particularly the case if one partner is retiring early. Cutting short your earning years will reduce the amount that you can contribute to your long term savings and potentially make you less well-off in the future. Similarly, if the remaining working spouse's salary doesn't cover your living expenses then you may also be drawing an income from your other assets sooner than expected.

Remember to always plan your retirement carefully, if possible with the help of a financial advisor, to ensure you are on the right track.

If you're considering retiring and want to learn more about the best strategy for you and your other half, get in touch with our team at Local Government Super today.

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The information on this website is of a general nature only and does not take into account your personal objectives, situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional financial, taxation and or legal advice tailored to your personal circumstances prior to making any financial decision.