Home > Personal Finance > How to Plan for Retirement When Your Spouse Won’t

Comments 0 Comments

There are few things more frustrating than having a partner who won’t partner up and take care of business when it comes to retirement planning. When they live their lives without thinking about the future or doing anything about it, you are left holding the bag and in a world of worry. No bueno.

You can of course continue to try to get your spouse to do the right thing but that is akin to banging your head against the wall. The only thing you’ll get out of that is a very bad headache. Instead, take the bull by the horns and follow these five steps to get on the right retirement track without waiting for your partner to see the light.

1. Accept the Situation

I hinted at this above. Nobody’s perfect. Both you and your spouse have good and bad traits. One of their character flaws is that they don’t understand the importance of planning and/or they don’t understand how to do it. OK. That is difficult, but as I said — nobody is perfect. Don’t waste time being angry or judging. You have flaws, too.

2. Take Control & Responsibility

Since nobody else is going to do this, you have to take over. The good news is it’s not all that hard.

Once you realize that you have to steer the financial ship, take the helm. You may not have the tools you need right now, but don’t worry. We’ll get to that. And if you have the right focus and motivation, your battle is already halfway won. Just accept the reality that you are going to do this on your own right now.

3. Gather Information

In order to have a successful retirement down the road, you’ll need information on an ongoing basis. Make sure you have access to the following:

  • Monthly investment statements – all accounts including IRAs and 401ks
  • Bank statements
  • Estate planning documents
  • Credit card statements
  • Credit history – if you find any credit surprises make sure to clean them up. You can get your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com, and you can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
  • Bills
  • Life insurance statements

You may not completely understand what you see on those statements, but that’s OK. Right now, we just need to make sure that you get those statements every month. Contact your banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, employers, etc., and make sure they send you the monthly statements. Next, set up a filing system so you can easily access the information when you need it.

By the way, it’s also important to put all this information into context. You need to understand your banking and credit card statements if you want to understand what it costs you to live each month. If you notice, for example, that you’re carrying a lot of debt at higher interest rates, you might want to look at ways to refinance and lower how much you pay in interest because the cost of debt over your lifetime can have an impact on your savings and retirement.

Also, you must understand your investment statements if you want to do some retirement projections.

4. Educate Yourself

You’d be surprised at how easy it is to learn about money. First, look at the statements you put together in step three. Do you understand how to read them? If not, call the provider and go through them. Don’t feel embarrassed. It’s your job to have questions and it’s their job to answer them. Make sure you understand every date and number on your statements and bills. This is a great free resource that will really give you a leg up on your journey.

Your education continues by learning how investments work. Yes, financial education is a lifelong journey. No, you don’t have to get a Ph.D. before you start investing. You need to understand the basics but that isn’t all that difficult or time-consuming. There are plenty of free resources on the Internet to help you get balanced and unbiased information.

I suggest that you carve out 45 minutes a day for financial study. If you do that, you’ll be able to make very informed financial decisions in short order.

5. Start Investing

You’ve built the foundation for a very bright financial future. You’ve accepted the situation, you’ve taken responsibility. You’ve gathered your financial information and you’ve started to learn about investing. Now it’s time to put all that prep work into action and invest.

Start slowly, but start. And remember, everyone makes investment mistakes – even the pros. You have to be ready for that.

Investing isn’t about making the most money over the shortest amount of time. Investing is about creating a nest egg so you can enjoy your future without worrying about it.

My strong advice is to create a financial plan to guide you through the investing process. When you create a financial plan, it puts all your decisions in context. It’s easier to make smart investments because you know why you are making them.

It’s no fun when you have to take up the slack for someone else, especially when it’s your spouse. But accept the situation as it is and get into action around your retirement plan. Take one step at a time and give yourself permission to make mistakes. In no time you’ll see that this process is far less intimidating than you think.

Have you been thrust into the retirement-planning pilot seat? What happened? How did things turn out?

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: jerry2313

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team