4/8/2011 12:57 PM ET|
When only one of you can retire
Consider your alternatives. If one of you is working simply to provide health insurance for the other, you may have other options -- or you may not. Trying to get an individual health insurance policy is tough when you're older, particularly if you have pre-existing health conditions, which many people in their 50s and 60s do.
Health insurers will be required to cover everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, starting in 2014, but we have no idea yet how affordable those policies will be. In the meantime, you can work with an experienced insurance agent to see what's possible in your state. You may be able to find an affordable policy if you're in excellent health and willing to stay within a health maintenance organization or accept a high deductible. If the reason one of you is still working isn't health insurance but lack of savings, perhaps the retired person can look for a part-time job to pitch in. That could shorten the time the working person has to stay on the job while filling up some of those hours that can weigh heavily on the lone retiree.
Manage your expectations. Conflicts are almost inevitable when one person is making the surprisingly hard transition into post-work life while the other is still dealing with commutes and office politics. Compassion, communication and compromise can help enormously.
Those compromises could include a retirement different than what you originally planned. As noted above, the retiree could go back to work part time, or the still-working spouse could phase into part-time work earlier than he or she might otherwise prefer, if that's a financially sound option. You may decide you'll spend less than you originally planned so you can get the second spouse retired, or semiretired, while the first is still in good enough health to enjoy retirement.
New roles, new expectations
Financial planner Ross Levin of Edina, Minn. said his clients who have negotiated this one-retired, one-not dilemma the most successfully are the ones who have pursued their own interests while still making time for each other. A retired spouse who has a passion for photography that his wife doesn't share could, for example, schedule photo trips on his own or with a like-minded group of enthusiasts. Then her vacation time can be spent doing things with him that they enjoy doing together.
Renegotiating household chores is another good idea, since the still-working spouse is likely to resent a retired spouse who doesn't take over more of the housework. That willingness to pitch in might not just relieve stress -- it can help the working spouse pursue his or her dreams even before retirement.
One reader reported that her husband, who is 21 years older, has been retired for three years and has taken over most child care duties.
"It is great," she reported on my Facebook fan page. "He is 'Mr. Mom,' which has enabled me to go back to school at night to finish my degree."
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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I was able to retire completely at age 62 having already retired from the United States Navy. My wife, Linda, however, worries that she will never be able to retire. She has about 6 more years before she will be eligible.
She is my life companion and I am so blessed.
I am not one to travel or make my retirement one big vacation. I love to write. Both Linda and I love working in our local church. We both love gardening as well.
My life is not all about me. I want to mentor young ones in finding a fulfilling life like I have found. I would like to teach "success in life" and "public speaking" classes. Unfortunately this world does not easily open channels to do such. So, maybe I will pass this passion on partly by writing books.
I would love to do pulpit supply and interim pastor work, but those who could make such an avenue possible seem to guard these pulpits even to the cost of losing them.
Here's some money and financial issues that I haven't found the answer to.
First, how much does my spouse's income affect my retirement pay? For instance, should I compute our Income Tax filing Jointly or Separately?
Will my Social Security be taxed because she has an income that is computed with mine because we file Jointly?
Secondly, I have cashed/rolled over some of my 401(K)'s to finally get the floors redone in the house and to give me a "Tool Shed" steel building to spend a lot of my retired time piddling in. How do these withdrawals affect my Social Security?
If I am called by a church to be an interim pastor, I would like to do so with no pay. I have my retirement income and have already given myself to volunteer jobs in my church, both teaching, repairman work, and some administration. I would do it as a labor of love.
However, I realize that such an arrangement by the church will make me "less accountable' in the fact that if I am not paid, there could be a feeling that my "contract" is not binding.
So, what can I allow the church to pay me that would not affect my Social Security status?
Does my military retirement pay affect my Social Security?
Yeah, I know. I need to go into town to the Social Security Office, take a number, and wait half the day to get a possible good answer, depending on the hired public servant who "draws my number".
Anyway, these questions may be fodder for inclusion in a Money article. Maybe others wonder the same things though maybe not with church work, but with other organizations they are involved in as they retire.
Excellent article. I’d also add that it’s important to know what you’re retiring to, not just from. And for those who don’t know how they’ll ever retire, it’s important to never assume you have to stay on the same track you’re on. In my experience, most people want to change their life in some way. Perhaps many would be better off simplifying their lives a bit, investing in themselves and changing careers – perhaps even moving into something they would enjoy into their “normal” retirement years… and then phasing into retirement later on. In the meantime it’s important to make the most of the money you do have by shooting for a retirement nest-egg of say 12-15 times annual salary and also learning about putting together a globally diversified portfolio of primarily index funds. If you think you need help, a fee-only advisor can be found by visiting The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors online.
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