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Half Retired

Half Retired

Most people don’t give it much thought, but less than one in five couples retire together. Usually, one spouse will retire out of necessity—health, layoffs, etc.—and because they still need an income, the other spouse is left to continue working for a few years. How can you prepare for this shift in financial and emotional lifestyle?

Have the talk
Both partners need to be on the same page—if you haven’t already discussed it, now’s the time to do so. Figure out what the new expectations will be for each partner. For example, who will be responsible for household chores and cooking? Each partner will need to respect the other and have a fair and balanced plan of action for household duties.

Adjust your lifestyle
If you’re losing a salary and not quite ready to draw on retirement benefits, then adjust your lifestyle accordingly. There may be some costly habits you can cut back on. If you need to draw on your retirement benefits, you should only draw what is necessary while you still have one working income.

Synchronize benefits
You’ll want to coordinate things like health care, pensions, social security and other important retirement accounts and benefits. Be careful how and when you take certain benefits because they could cause a reduction in one spouse’s options. With social security, if the husband retires first and was the breadwinner, taking social security at retirement could reduce the wife’s benefits. Be sure to check out ssa.gov for more information.

Some challenges go beyond money. The one working may feel burdened that they have to continue doing so, while the retired one may feel lost. Most people place their sense of self-worth in their work, so retirement can be hard for many people, particularly if their spouse continues in the workforce. It’s a situation that requires some adjusting, but financially speaking, can be ideal if timed and planned properly.

Are you or your spouse already retired? How do you handle the different lifestyle? [CNN]

Posted: 8/11/08