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Helping Retirement Savings Last for Two Lifetimes

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It’s hard enough to plan a retirement for one, saving enough to last a single lifetime. But when you’re married and your savings need to stretch over two lifetimes, the challenge can seem completely insurmountable. Here are some tips that can help remove the stress and keep both you and your spouse comfortable throughout your retirement years.


  1. Delay Social Security. It’s generally a good idea to delay your Social Security payments so you can get the maximum payment possible. At least wait until you reach full retirement age before taking benefits and, if possible, wait until age 70 so you can get the maximum. This will reduce the amount you need to take from your savings to supplement your income.


  1. Consider a restricted application. If 50 percent of one spouse’s Social Security benefit is more than the full benefit awarded to the other spouse, consider having the lower-paid spouse file a restricted application to get their spousal benefit instead. This too, will reduce your dependence on savings.


  1. Look into annuities. There are some great annuities with guaranteed income benefits or joint-and-survivor payments that can help stretch your savings over two lives.


  1. Know what the monthly expenses are for just one. It’s important to have an idea of what the monthly expenses will be in your current home if there’s just one of you living. That way you have a sense of what you need coming in each month to continue living there alone, which will give you some perspective on your current spending.


  1. Borrow from life insurance. If you or your spouse has a permanent life insurance policy, you may have cash values that you can borrow from in order to supplement your retirement income. Just remember that unpaid loans will reduce the death benefit, which could affect your spouse after you’re gone.


  1. Keep your monthly spending minimal. You don’t have to forgo all luxuries, vacations and fun, but you should work to keep all monthly expenses relatively minimal. Live on a budget just as you did while working to make sure those daily costs don’t deplete your savings too quickly.

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