Retirement planning advice for married couples tends to assume two things: You’re pretty close to each other in age (with the husband perhaps a year or two older), and the husband has always been the primary breadwinner. But in this age of late marriages, divorce and second marriages, what if there’s a much younger spouse? Large age gaps between spouses require planning.
I asked several personal-finance advisers what their advice would be. Here are their thoughts.
Expect to work longer
You may have to stay employed past the typical retirement age in order to build up a larger pot of savings. If, for example, your spouse is 55 and you die, your nest egg may have to fund your spouse for 40 years. For investment growth, allocate a higher percentage of your financial assets to stocks. If that makes you nervous, you’ll have to plan on a lower level of spending — which is the hardest thing for clients to understand, says Alex Feick of Paragon Capital Management in Denver.
Plan to spend less
If you are a typical retired couple, you can afford to spend 4 percent of your savings in the first year and give yourself a raise for inflation in each subsequent year. But with a much younger spouse, you should drop your withdrawal rate to perhaps 3 percent, says Aaron Parrish of Triad Financial Advisors in Greensboro, N.C.
At 70½, you have to start taking money out of an individual retirement account. If your spouse is more than 10 years younger, you can reduce the required withdrawals — and stretch your savings — by using the IRS’s joint life expectancy table to calculate the amounts.
Mind the insurance gap
If the older spouse carries the couple’s health insurance and switches to Medicare at 65, the younger spouse will need to buy an individual health policy. Currently, it’s an uncertain market, with premiums going up.