re•tire•ment (r -t r m nt)
1. The act of retiring.
2. The state of being retired.
3. Withdrawal from one’s occupation, business, or office.
4. Withdrawal into privacy or seclusion.
5. A place of privacy or seclusion; a retreat. See Synonyms at solitude.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Retirement is the subject of more daydreams than any other topic. Millions of workers fantasize about the day they no longer need to show up for work. For some of us, that day is getting close though for many, there are years to go. As a financial planner I have the opportunity to work with couples and watch as they head into retirement. Retirement is a big transition and it requires thought, planning, and energy to be successful. Happy transitions to retirement that I have seen share three common traits.

First, couples that have their own hobbies, volunteer activities, or part-time work separate from their spouse seem happier longer. If you want a thriving retirement, stay active, add some new things to the mix and don’t, by all means don’t, assume every day should be a dawn to dusk exercise in togetherness. Too much togetherness seems to increase irritability though I don’t know quite why.

Second, couples need to have shared financial values in retirement. It’s important to know each other’s goals and make sure there is a retirement plan to both agree to. The last thing you want is for your spouse to suddenly shift gears and start spending down the savings faster than you can afford. Both of you need to know where the money is, how much there is, and how it will last for your lifetime. It’s fine to have ‘his’ money and ‘her’ money but major decisions need to be joint ones.

Third, retirement takes planning. For every one of us who has dreamed retirement down to the very last detail, there is someone who hasn’t done any planning at all. One thing I’ve seen consistently is the sooner you start, the better your retirement will be. If you know what you want to do when you’re retired it’s easier to figure out what that will cost, add lot of padding for the unknowns, and then save for it. If you’ve got a plan you are more relaxed and less anxious. That peace of mind is invaluable.

So whether you are two, ten, or twenty years away from retiring it’s not too early to start the discussion. And you will arrive at the point in your life where those daydreams will end because you’ll be living them.

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