Retire Together Or Separately: A Guide For Couples Planning Retirement

As retirement approaches for you and your partner, you may consider retiring simultaneously. You’re probably wondering if this is a good or bad idea. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether you should retire together. So, let me give you a quick glance at what you’re dealing with.

Here are the benefits of retiring together:

  • Financial Security as a Couple: A solid financial foundation allows you to pursue shared adventures and activities without worry.
  • Shared Goals and Lifestyle: Similar age, health, and lifestyle aspirations make joint retirement a natural and fulfilling choice. You can enjoy the experiences together that you both dreamed of.
  • Mutual Readiness and Interests: Being on the same page about retirement and having shared interests creates an exciting future together. You can explore new hobbies and passions as a team.

On the other hand, here are the considerations for retiring separately:

  • Financial Concerns: If there are financial strains or discrepancies, a separate retirement might allow each partner to adjust their lifestyles accordingly. This can help avoid unnecessary stress.
  • Age and Health Differences: Significant age or health disparities can make separate retirements more manageable. One partner can continue working while the other enjoys retirement, or they can phase their retirements to ease the transition.
  • Individual Preferences: Retirement can be a time for personal exploration. Separate retirements allow each partner the freedom to adjust to their own pace and pursue individual interests.

While knowing these reasons, benefits, and considerations may not be enough for you to decide. If that’s the case, you may want to go through the following steps for you to make an informed decision.

1. Assessing Retirement Readiness

Before deciding whether you’ll retire at the same time, you need to assess your retirement readiness. Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Determine your retirement budget: Before delving into numbers, discuss this crucial question with your partner: Have we saved enough for retirement? This is where creating a realistic budget comes in. Include essentials like housing, food, and healthcare, but don’t forget to factor in leisure activities and long-term care needs.
  • Consider future challenges: While creating your budget, remember that unforeseen circumstances can arise. Inflation will steadily increase your cost of living, and healthcare costs are likely to rise as well. Additionally, consider the possibility of differing life expectancies between you and your partner.
  • Know your income sources: Retirement income typically comes from a combination of sources: Social Security, pensions (if available), savings, investments, and even part-time work. While these may be enough, it’s wise to aim for a buffer. A common rule of thumb is to target replacing 80% of your pre-retirement income during retirement.

However, note that these steps don’t stop after you retire. Assessing your needs will be an ongoing process. So, regularly review and adjust your plans as your circumstances and goals evolve, especially if you retire at the same time.

2. Seeking Professional Financial Advice

While it’s okay for you and your spouse to handle finances on your own, it’s still advisable to seek professional guidance early on. A qualified financial advisor can be your partner in navigating the intricacies of retirement planning. Here’s how they can help:

  • Personalized Advice: Financial advisors take a holistic view of your situation, considering factors like income, savings, debts, and risk tolerance. This allows them to create a tailored retirement plan that aligns with your specific goals.
  • Retirement Timing Strategies for Couples: Retiring together can be an exciting prospect, but there are financial considerations. An advisor can guide you through factors like Social Security benefits, potential income gaps, and healthcare needs, helping you determine the optimal retirement timing for both partners.
  • Retirement Projections: Based on your current financial situation and goals, your advisor can use specialized tools to provide realistic projections of your future retirement income and expenses.

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA) are great resources for locating qualified professionals. Additionally, some employers may offer financial advisor services as part of their benefits package.

3. Determining The Timing Of Your Retirement

Retirement is a significant life transition, even more so for couples with different savings and career trajectories. While retiring together might be ideal, delaying retirement for one partner can significantly enhance overall financial security.

To determine the timing of your retirement, start with considering employment benefits. Maintaining employer-provided healthcare coverage can be a major advantage, especially as healthcare costs rise in retirement. Also, look into financial implications. Research shows even a few months’ difference in retirement timing can have a substantial impact on your final nest egg.

Knowing the timing of your retirement can lead to two results. One, if age or career aspirations prompt one spouse to retire first, the other partner’s continued employment can provide crucial additional income and healthcare benefits. Two, one should consider a phased approach where one partner gradually reduces work hours before full retirement. This allows for a smoother financial transition.

Also, your retirement timing may change because of different factors. So, stay updated on your financial status. Regularly review your retirement accounts, Social Security benefits, and potential healthcare costs. Schedule consultations with financial advisors to create a personalized roadmap that considers your unique circumstances.

4. Navigating Social Security Benefits

Social Security is a cornerstone of retirement income for many couples. However, the timing of your claims can significantly impact the total benefit you receive. To strategically navigate this decision, you need to understand its mechanics:

  • Full Retirement Age (FRA): This is the age at which you qualify for your full Social Security benefit. It can range from 66 to 67 depending on your birth year.
  • Benefit Growth: Delaying your claim beyond your FRA increases your monthly benefit by approximately 8% per year. This can significantly boost your lifetime income.
  • Earnings History: Social Security benefits are based on your highest 35 years of earnings. Years with no earnings or low earnings will be factored in as zeros, potentially lowering your average.

Remember that these mechanics can directly impact you as a couple. Mainly, it has to do with your age difference. If you and your spouse have a significant age difference, it’s crucial to consider each other’s FRA and benefit options.

Moreover, you can take advantage of these mechanics through staggering claims. The lower earner can file for benefits at their FRA, while the higher earner delays to maximize their benefit.

And to maximize the benefits you can receive, do the following:

  • Monitor Earnings History: Regularly review your Social Security earnings history to ensure accuracy. Missing or incorrect information can affect your benefit calculations.
  • Delay Retirement if Possible: Working longer allows you to accumulate more high-earning years, potentially boosting your benefit amount.
  • Utilize Social Security Resources: The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a retirement benefits calculator [Social Security Administration Retirement Calculator ON Social Security Administration (.gov)] to estimate your benefits. Use this tool to explore different claiming scenarios.

By understanding these factors and planning strategically, you and your partner can optimize your Social Security benefits and secure a more comfortable retirement.

5. Considering Healthcare in Retirement Planning

Healthcare is one of the critical aspects of retirement. After all, its costs are often a major concern for retirees, and rightfully so. There are a few ways to offset these costs, and two of them are through Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

While Medicare provides a safety net, it doesn’t cover all expenses as it typically involves out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copayments, and premiums for additional coverage like Part D (prescription drugs).

Meanwhile, if you’re retiring before 65 or have a younger spouse who isn’t yet eligible for Medicare, the Health Insurance Marketplace can help you find and enroll in subsidized health insurance plans.

So, plan for your needs. Retiring before 65 presents a unique challenge in terms of healthcare coverage. Research both Medicare options (if applicable) and Marketplace plans to bridge the gap.

Moreover, couples with a significant age difference may need to consider creative solutions. The spouse eligible for Medicare can help bridge coverage gaps for the younger partner until they qualify.

So, as early as now, discuss your healthcare expectations and potential future needs with your partner to know if retiring at the same time is feasible for both of you. This will help you create a realistic budget and explore long-term care options, if necessary.

After the discussion, start researching and comparing plans. Don’t wait until retirement to explore your healthcare options. Start researching Medicare, Marketplace plans, and potential supplemental insurance early on.

6. Preparing For Retirement Lifestyle Changes

Your work life likely consumes at least 50% of your time. Retirement offers the chance to reclaim those hours, leading to significant lifestyle changes. As you adjust from independent routines to a more shared lifestyle, compromise becomes increasingly important, especially if you both retire simultaneously.

So, openly discuss your retirement dreams, plans, and goals with your partner. This fosters understanding and helps you create a roadmap that aligns with both of your desires. Supportive communication prevents misunderstandings and ensures you’re on the same page financially and emotionally.

Here are three key points you need to talk about:

  • Find purpose beyond work: Retirement is a time to replace work with activities that bring meaning and purpose to your life. Discuss individual interests and explore hobbies, volunteering opportunities, or travel plans that you can pursue together or independently.
  • Adjust to spending more time together: Going from independent careers to spending significantly more time together can be challenging. Be patient with each other’s adjustment periods. Consider a phased retirement approach if one partner is eager to retire before the other.
  • Develop your retirement plans together: Even before retirement, you likely have ideas about what you want to do. Talking to your partner allows you to share these plans and decide how you’ll tackle them together.

Prioritize open communication and planning collaboratively for you and your partner to create a fulfilling retirement that fosters shared experiences, individual pursuits, and a lifetime of happiness together.

7. Managing Your Relationship

Financial and retirement planning are crucial, but so is managing your relationship when retiring together. Increased time together can be a dream come true or a potential challenge.

Here are some tips that can help you in this aspect:

  • Establish Open Communication: Retirement is a new chapter. Discussing your hopes, dreams, and emotional needs fosters understanding and a sense of shared purpose.
  • Build a Strong Foundation: Talk about your desired lifestyle, financial plans, and individual interests. Creating a retirement roadmap that prioritizes both individual happiness and mutual respect sets the stage for a fulfilling retirement.
  • Navigate Differences: Disagreements are inevitable. Learn effective negotiation techniques like respectful communication, understanding each other’s perspectives, and brainstorming solutions together. This can lead to mutually agreeable decisions.
  • Learn To Be Flexible: Recognize that individual preferences may exist. Successful joint retirement hinges on mutual respect, flexibility, and a willingness to compromise. While pursuing shared interests is enriching, cherishing individual hobbies and pursuits is equally important.
  • Have Mutual Respect: Respecting your partner’s desires and dreams, even if they differ from your own, is essential. Acceptance fosters a more fulfilling retirement experience for both partners.

The key element here is communication. Remember, communication is a two-way street. Practice active listening, express your needs respectfully, and be willing to compromise. If tensions rise, take a break and revisit the conversation when emotions have calmed down.


While retiring together can be an idyllic dream for many couples, it’s not the only path to a fulfilling retirement. The decision ultimately depends on your unique circumstances. Hopefully, the considerations and steps outlined in this guide helped you decide.

Meanwhile, to learn more about the retiree’s life, consider checking out my other posts. Here are some of them:

Happy reading!


My wife and I quit the rat race and retired in 2021. We RV'ed around the US for a couple of years and now we're slow traveling outside the US!

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