Financial checklist for retired married couples

Are you and your spouse ready for retirement? Taking your retirement savings and other assets into consideration, you can financially prepare for managing cash flow in retirement.

A mature couple at home sitting at a table looking over a spreadsheet.

Financial considerations during retirement

You and your spouse may be wondering how much a married couple should have for retirement. If you are concerned about managing your cash flow, here are a few retirement considerations that might help:

1. Are you ready for the long run?

If you retire at 65 and live until you’re 100, are you prepared to take advantage of the next 35 years of life? Think about all the things you and your spouse want to do, the passions you’ve put aside until now, your bucket lists. Then consider how you’re going to manage a fulfilling retirement financially. A little planning can help.

2. Have you maximized your Social Security benefits together?

This is important, especially if you want to ensure that the surviving spouse receives the highest possible Social Security income. This can also help you increase the likelihood that your other assets will last longer in retirement.

3. How much do you really need?

Retirement planning and budgeting are important ways to figure out what you need now and will need later. Most people realize, after examining their current expenses, that they’ll need about 70% to 80% of what they customarily spent before retiring in order to maintain their accustomed standard of living.

4. Do you have an estate plan?

Now that you’ve taken a good hard look at your assets and you have a better understanding of your finances overall, why not reevaluate your will and create or reevaluate trusts to ensure the security of your spouse and/or children? It may be a good idea to meet with an estate planning attorney to plan ahead.

5. To downsize or not to downsize?

This is the question that many retirees are asking themselves. Selling your home to add to your retirement funds may or may not be a prudent action. After you consider the sentimental value and market value of your home, you should think about whether selling at this time is a good idea.

A mature couple outside sitting on a dock overlooking a lake.

6. Have you both named your beneficiaries?

Many of the places in which you’ve invested your money allow you to designate beneficiaries in case of your death. Naming beneficiaries allows you to pre-determine who will receive the death benefits of your life insurance policy, trust, 401(k), IRA, or employer-sponsored retirement plan. 

You can name a living person, a trust, your estate, or any combination of these options. You and your spouse should periodically review and keep all your beneficiary designations up to date, because significant life events, such as a marriage, a divorce, a birth, an adoption, or a death in the family, can significantly change your perspective on who gets what.

7. Do you have life insurance?

A surviving spouse may face financial hardship for many reasons: loss of one Social Security paycheck, the reduction or even in some cases elimination of an employer-sponsored pension or retiree medical benefits, increased expenses at an older age due to disability and poor health. Therefore, you should always consider adding life insurance to your plans. 

8. What about extended care?

Health insurance covers a lot, but there are situations that are not covered. At some point, we all may need some sort of extended care. Will your spouse or other family members realistically be able to manage this? It may be difficult (or even impossible) for them if you need help with everyday tasks, such as getting dressed. Find out more about the costs of long-term care services.

9. Are you financially liquid and flexible?

The savings strategy you’ve been following during the accumulation stage may not be the optimal one after retirement. Since you’ll be partly dependent on these assets going forward, it is wise to consider taking a more conservative approach. In addition, consider how you can make those assets a little more liquid and flexible, just in case you need them unexpectedly.

10. Should you retire?

A lot of people are realizing that, even with all the preparing, saving, and investing they’ve done, they may still need to work just a little longer, or start a second career doing something they have always wanted to do.

Once you’ve considered these questions, you may need some help in determining the best course of action. A New York Life financial professional is ready to help you explore options for your insurance and retirement needs and decide what’s best for you and your spouse. 


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