By Harris Financial Advisors

Over the years, we’ve helped many couples plan for and transition into retirement. A key to success during this critical time is enhancing financial compatibility before one or both step away from their professional lives.

We recommend establishing regular, on-going discussions about financial realities and aspirations, as individuals and as a couple. Some dedicate several “dates nights” per year to this exercise, while others hold periodic “couples retreats”, even if it just entails staying overnight at the inn down the street. Looking for a few conversation starters? Try these topics¹:Retirement Planning for Two-Couple Smiling at Each Other-Harris Financial

Review Spending vs. Saving Habits. Discuss how day-to-day finances, budgets and bill paying are handled, and then determine if you need to make adjustments once one or both of you retire.

Discuss Investment Decisions and Risk Tolerance. Risk tolerance levels can change through the years, so make sure you talk about them. Sharing feelings about the last market swing or eye-popping headline will help you both communicate and plan for whatever comes next.

Understand Your Retirement Savings.² Most individuals and couples accumulate retirement savings in one form or another. Retirement resources may include company pension plans and/or 401(k)s, IRAs, savings and investment accounts. Discuss how these tools can work together and plan on how to use them as efficiently as possible, and well before anyone’s retirement date is circled on the calendar.

Develop Estate Plans. Estate plans, including wills, a trust and durable powers of attorney for healthcare, should be created before retirement — the sooner the better. Laws and perspectives change, so periodically review your estate plan with an estate attorney and your spouse. Such conversations often prompt important discussions regarding business succession plans, inheritances and charitable giving.

While these topics are often just primers for conversations between spouses, contact us to engage in a deeper dialogue and intentional process to ensure you are prepared for retirement as a couple.


1. Eisenberg, Richard. “How Couples Screw Up Retirement Planning.” Forbes, 4 September 2016.

2. Stephens, Craig. “A Couple’s Guide to Retirement Planning.” U.S. News & World Report, 8 December 2017.