Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Retired Couples Can Argue Less About Finances


Retired couples face money challenges that working folks don't. You and your spouse might have different views about how much money you need to retire. And people on a fixed budget look at spending and investing differently than those still on the job. Couples who still have a paycheck coming in can usually find a way to pay for extra, unexpected expenses. For retired couples, sudden expenses can be more difficult to cope with. Here are three tips to keep your relationship on track in retirement.

1. Budget. You must have a spending plan if you want financial security. This is even more important when you retire. You can either track your spending by hand or use budget tracking software. Either way, the critical point is to jointly work on your budget together. Think of your budget as the mechanism that expresses your life priorities. As a couple, you will be happier if you discuss, compromise, and work on your priorities together. It's much easier to discuss your financial priorities after you've tracked your spending for awhile so you can see where the money is really going.

2. Give yourself a paycheck. Just because you aren't working doesn't mean you can't have a paycheck. You should think of your retirement income as your pay. Even if you have income that comes in quarterly or annually, do the math and figure out what that income works out to be on a monthly basis. Add up all your monthly income and then compare it to your spending. You and your spouse should agree on the amount of money you're able to spend and no more. If you have a big trip coming up, save up for it out of your paycheck. If you have a large expense, like replacing your refrigerator or buying car insurance, budget for those items too. Please don't think of your retirement investments as available to spend. Try to spend the income from your retirement investments including interest on savings accounts, but not the capital itself.

3. Relax. There will be times when all of your planning and budgeting won't work. There is no need to get upset about situations that are beyond your control. Do your best to figure out how to budget for the next surprise. Recognize that you might need to find a part-time or weekend job to bring in some extra money. It's also a good idea for each person to have a little fun money. This is money that you and your partner can do whatever you want with. There should be no accountability, no tracking, and no arguing. This is a fantastic way to relieve some of the financial pressure on your relationship.

Neal Frankle is a certified financial planner and runs Wealth Pilgrim, a personal finance blog that helps people make smart decisions about their money. As a start, he suggests that you strive to understand your credit score range.

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