When many of our clients look back on their life from retirement, it is not surprising that the one constant throughout all of the changes was their spouse. Upon retirement, it is likely that apart from friends and acquaintances, most find themselves largely with their husband or wife. You and your spouse are partners in this life together—emotionally, physically, and financially. Each couple’s partnership is different. Every couple has different views, needs, experiences, and fears.

Here is a common scenario: A couple will come in for their first scheduled appointment with us. The discussion will go well as we discuss more of the general questions, like what they hope to get out of retirement, what they have done so far to prepare, and plenty about their personal life. Then, inevitably, a question comes up that can, if they are not prepared, put a damper on the mood: their debt. Almost anything can happen when the question comes up. Each spouse has their own credit card. Neither spouse knows the other’s balance. Spouse one simply assumes spouse two is responsibly paying off the credit card, but it turns out that he or she was only paying the minimum balance. Spouse two does not even know about that high-interest credit card the other received through a retailer. This type of interaction happens at every income bracket. There have been many times when we have seen a partner’s face lose color at the mention of the amount of debt the couple is responsible for. We have even had spouses call us separately and ask us very earnestly not to mention this or that debt he or she has been hiding.

In a general sense, these uncomfortable meetings for clients are all a result of one thing: lack of communication. Here then, is the first and most important bit of advice for couples as they prepare to retire: start talking about your finances with each other now. It is our goal to minimize the shock of the transition into retirement; it should be your goal not to aggravate that stress by holding on to those extra surprises for your spouse.

Retirement planning, especially if you are married, needs to be a joint effort – even if one of you is used to being the one who takes care of financial matters. This may take some careful adjustments in mindset. Communicating about financial decisions may not be second nature. Cultivating a regular communication schedule and including your spouse in big decisions can really bring you together as you enter retirement.

Respect Each Other’s Space

An interesting situation that a lot of married couples do not really anticipate has to do with personal space. The wife of one client, Ike, had been a homemaker, and had regularly been home by herself for twenty years before Ike retired. As all humans do, the wife had made a scheduled routine: she did bills in the morning at the kitchen table; she did the laundry at a certain time on a certain day; she took two hours most afternoons to do some work from the home office; then she enjoyed her valuable quiet time to read at a specific time and place.

You can imagine the awkwardness Ike and his wife went through. This dynamic is not an uncommon one. For those of us not in this situation, it’s easy to chuckle at the idea. But for the couple weathering the transition into retirement, the added tension is real. As a new retiree, what could be worse than sensing from your spouse that you don’t belong in your own home?

It takes a retiree about three months to start getting the hang of the new rhythm of life, and about six months to figure out how retirement works for both spouses. Simple methods you can use to prepare include, first of all, learning what your partner’s schedule will be. Talk about which times of the day each of you will be around the house, which times you’ll need space, and plan accordingly. It all comes back to clear and defined communication. Something as simple as a shared dry erase calendar can add convenience and clarity to your scheduling. Hang it in a common area like the kitchen, where it’s easy to add to and check.


Schedule an in office or over the phone consultation to discuss how Miramontes Capital can help you with your new beginning through retirement planning.

Miramontes Capital is a Registered Investment Adviser. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Miramontes Capital and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. This blog is solely for informational purposes. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Miramontes Capital unless a client service agreement is in place.