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5 Ways to Realign Your Retirement

If you and your partner are off track, here’s how to get in sync

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    Mapping your retirement, together

    En español | The best strategy for easing the tension around the impending retirement of one or both spouses is to anticipate power struggles and to head them off at the pass. Yet few couples do that. “I’m amazed at how little time most people spend planning what life in retirement will be like,” says Debbie Grovun, a certified retirement coach in Sarasota, Fla. Take these five steps and lower the stress of this major life change.

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    Have the talk neither of you wants

    Choosing to slow down can feel disempowering, so you¹re not alone in preferring to skirt the issue.(Indeed, research for this article revealed how shockingly few people have made any kind of plan for their post-employment lives.) Schedule a time to talk about what each of you expects to be a hot-button issue in retirement.

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    Assume nothing

    Who will do what around the house? Which activities will you undertake together? Which will you handle separately? To avoid surprises or hurt feelings, keep a calendar that details joint and individual obligations.

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    Keep talking

    Esther and Bruce Bay of Howell, Mich., recently had an epiphany: The lake property they had purchased 30 years ago in the state's northern reaches was not where they wanted to retire. "That was our aha moment," says Esther, 63, a University of Michigan nursing professor who plans to work another few years. (Bruce, 66, is a retired health analyst who has become heavily involved in community health programs.) "It's breathtakingly gorgeous up there," says Esther, and breathtakingly isolated. Once we both started to question our long-held plans, we decided to sell the land and stay put. Nearby Ann Arbor, she says, 'is a great college town‹and a great town to grow old in, too.'

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    AARP Offer: Protect & Grow Your Nest Egg

    Learn about simple ways to save money, get expert advice, save for retirement, and more! Subscribe to our FREE monthly Money Newsletter today.   Join AARP today and start saving for your dreams.

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    Learn to live in limbo

    Decisions should not be made overnight, or simply because you can't stand the suspense of being without answers. Financial issues take time to resolve; dreams evolve. "Retirement is a process and a journey," says retirement coach Dorian Mintzer. Granting yourselves permission not to know what is next can result in creative solutions.

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    Get help

    If your partner is unwilling to hear you out, look into retirement counseling. A third party can act as a sounding board to determine your needs as distinct from your spouse's. Several organizations can help, including Retirement Options (, Revolutionize Retirement ( and the Transition Network (

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