What to Do When One Spouse Can’t Retire

If you and your spouse are approaching retirement age together, you might wonder what to do if one of you cannot retire at the same time as the other. Fortunately, financial experts typically agree that it’s best to stagger your retirement. Here are some guidelines to keep things running smoothly if one spouse can’t retire.

Think About the Benefits

Staggering your retirement is beneficial in several ways, and that’s why many financial experts advise it. For example, you and your spouse can each retire at a point in your career that works best, which allows you to get the most out of your pension or retirement package. This also allows you to adjust your finances to make room for the second retirement, whether it occurs in six months or five years.

Deciding Who Retires First

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is deciding which spouse will retire first. There are a few factors to consider.

  • Income – If you’re still heavily reliant on your earned income, it may be best for the spouse who earns the most to keep working.
  • Health Insurance – If both spouses are covered under one insurance plan, and if that insurance plan offers amazing coverage with a great premium, this spouse carrying the insurance may want to consider waiting.
  • Retirement Benefits – If either spouse can increase his or her retirement benefits or pension payments by waiting to retire, this is a huge consideration. That extra money could make a tremendous difference in your post-retirement lifestyle.
  • Health Conditions – If one spouse is dealing with a health issue that may be exacerbated by continuing to work, then that person may want to consider retiring.
  • Job Security – Finally, both spouses should carefully consider their own unique job security. This way, one spouse won’t find himself or herself laid off just a couple of months after the other retires.

Avoiding Animosity

The challenges of retiring separately speak for themselves. For example, if your spouse retires tomorrow, but you still have at least a couple of years filled with long workdays ahead of you, jealousy may ensue. However, rather than feeling animosity toward a spouse who has retired, think of it as a chance to get the help you desperately need. Since one person is no longer working, he or she can help with household chores and errands that you may feel too tired to do yourself after a long day of work.

Use It as a Learning Experience

When one spouse doesn’t retire at the same time as the other, it’s a good opportunity to start implementing any budget changes you may have already discussed. Even though one spouse is still in the workforce, it may be possible to start living on your proposed retirement budget. Not only does this give you some practice for when you neither spouse is working, but it also helps you put more money in the bank in those last few years before retirement.

Although retiring together might seem ideal as it will allow a couple to transition into the post-working world together, it’s typically best to wait at least one year – and sometimes even longer – between retirements. This benefits you in many ways, including financially, but it may also help you mentally and physically, as well.