two hands assembling puzzle pieces on a table

Let’s talk retirement

May 12, 2020
Empower Insights

Don’t roll the dice on your tomorrow — start a conversation with your spouse today

Getting bored of board games?

If you’re tired of waiting for your next turn these days, there is a move you can make to keep busy and stay productive.

While the global pandemic has meant spending more time at home with family,1 you may have found yourself battling your significant other for household supremacy with each new spin of the wheel and space to advance. After all, according to a recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Empower Retirement, 47% of Americans have canceled their social plans because of the COVID-19 outbreak while another 45% have decided to call off any upcoming trips, vacations or getaways.2

But when it comes to participating in the real Game of Life, you and your spouse (or partner) can both win! Consider using this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to catch up on all your long-lost hobbies3 — or to divulge the hobbies you want to pursue in retirement and the savings goals you have for the future. (You know, those topics that usually take a backseat when your normal routine is, well, normal.)

So clear the kitchen table, brew a pot of coffee and sit down together to see if you’re on the same financial path.

Step 1: Name that year

Today’s world may be all about social distancing. But it’s also a great chance to talk about another type of “social.”

Social Security.

Remember, you may become eligible to begin receiving Social Security payments as soon as you celebrate your 62nd birthday — which, as of 2018, is the most popular pick for more than 34% of Americans.Yet, for each year you delay claiming, your benefit amount may increase by 7-8% (until you reach 70).5 When should you file? It’s up to you! For most people, 66 is considered full retirement age, but before you choose to draw, it’s a good idea to look at other important factors, like your:

  • Career stage.
  • Income situation.
  • Health status.

With so many decisions, options and choices to ponder, you may be stuck on where to begin as you’re stuck inside during this trying time. First, grab a device (smartphone, tablet or laptop), a pen or pencil, and a piece of paper. Next, take a moment to think about the lifestyle you imagine in retirement.

Then, with your spouse or partner, complete this short activity:

  • Log on to ssa.gov to access your Social Security accounts.

Not signed up yet? Not a problem. It’s quick and easy to create a username and password.

  • Review your earnings history.

Is it accurate? If not, there are instructions on the website if you need to report any issues.

  • Check out your estimated benefit.

How much are you on track to receive? You can view your projected payment for ages 62, 66 and 70.

  • Maintain an open dialogue.

Are you ready to work together? Based on your ages, goals and finances, discuss what year you’d like to retire, when you should collect Social Security and where you’re at in your retirement planning. Write out your remarks and revisit them as life happens and things change.

Having fun? Now that you’re headed in the right direction, keep the conversation going and build on your success.

Think about the retirement lifestyle you imagine

Step 2: Live it up

Given today’s current landscape, it appears old favorites are becoming new fads.

From painting to cooking to reading, Americans are relying on classic activities to provide a much-needed distraction — and some much-needed entertainment.6,7 But have you ever thought about what you’ll do to remain occupied as a retiree? Whether you want to travel like 39% of Americans or volunteer to support your community, older people agree that retirement is no longer about slowing down.8

In other words, no matter your generation, it may help to have an itinerary in place so you and your spouse or partner can pursue your passions together and achieve the lifestyle you envision for your future.

Try the following exercise to start mapping out your retirement.

Supplies:

  1. Index cards
  2. Marker
  3. Sandglass timer game piece

Questions:

  • Where do I want to live in retirement?
  • What’s my retirement dream car?
  • If we could take one big trip in retirement, where would we go?
  • What are three things I want to do for fun as a retiree?
  • If I had a part-time job in retirement, what would it be?

From there, you’re all set!

Write each question on one side of an index card and include your responses on the back. Before asking a question, flip over the sandglass timer and have your spouse or partner guess what you jotted down (like a “Taboo” format). After covering all five topics, switch roles and see how many you can get correct.

Once you’re finished playing, compare your answers with those of your significant other, identify where you are aligned and where you are different, and offer solutions to overcome any possible roadblocks.

But don’t stop while you’re ahead.

If you’re currently enrolled in your workplace retirement savings plan, you can continue to make progress on accomplishing everything that’s on your retirement bucket list by logging in to your account regularly. Schedule a few minutes each week to verify your overall balance, assess your contribution rate and evaluate your investment mix — and encourage your spouse or partner to do the same.

Retirement planning with your spouse doesn't need to be boring, which is why we compiled some entertaining ways for partners to connect about their financial futures.

Save for the retirement lifestyle that fits both you and your spouse or partner. Consider an Empower IRA.

1 Jackson Burke, CNBC, “As working from home becomes more widespread, many say they don’t want to go back,” April 2020.

2 “From Confidence to Concern: America’s Financial Outlook in the Face of a Pandemic,” Empower Institute, March 2020.

3 Fernando Alfonso III, CNN World, “The long lost hobbies people around the world are revisiting during the coronavirus pandemic,” April 2020.

4 USA Today, “What's the most popular age to take Social Security? A Foolish Take,” June 2018.

5 Social Security Administration benefits planner, ssa.gov/planners/retire/delayret.html, 2020.

6 Michael Brice-Saddler, The Washington Post, “From cooking to calligraphy, people stuck at home are finding new space for creativity,” April 2020.

7 Connie Ogle, Miami Herald, “We found out how you’re passing the time in quarantine. We’re not judging anybody,” April 2020.

8 The Empower Institute, “Rethink, Retire, Rewire” white paper, 2019.

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