Retirement Life Planning A Team Sport

Alan Spector

Alan Spector

Did you know that 2014 was the first time in 130 years during which more adults age 18 through 34 lived in their parents’ homes than lived with a spouse or partner?

Did you know that over 25% of Baby Boomers are caring for aging parents in some way and that the percentage has tripled in the last 15 years?

Now, consider that about 10,000 Baby Boomers retire every day.  Based on the statistics, a significant number of those retirees are or will be supporting adult children, caring for aging parents, or both.  This is in no way an indictment of any of those scenarios.  There can be great fulfilment in supporting those we love.

However, it is a major issue if each retiree’s plan has not taken the reality of their current state or the likelihood of their future situation into account, either financially or emotionally.

Making it more personal, what are you doing to consider the possibilities and to then plan for them?  I would suggest that the answer to this question is for each of us to have the important, yet sometimes difficult, “crucial conversations” with those who are closest to us.

Although the specific numbers vary from study to study, the learning is consistent.  For example, Fidelity Investments released a Couples Retirement Study in 2011.  It reported about the couples who were surveyed:

  • 62 percent didn’t agree on their expected retirement ages.
  • 47 percent didn’t agree on whether they would continue working in retirement.
  • 33 percent didn’t agree on where they would live when they retired.

If even couples don’t agree on their retirement plans, what are the odds that retirees have talked through and agreed to retirement plans with aging parents and/or adult children?

What are the crucial conversations to consider based on your personal circumstances?  Here are some to get you started in your planning.

  1. Talk to your adult children, and their partners if necessary, about what they expect their situation will be. Do they expect to live with you at any point?  Will they need financial support?  Will they need help caring for their children, your grandchildren?  As part of the conversation, be clear about your expectations of how all of this will be affecting your plans.
  2. Talk to your aging parents about their plans and expectations of their need for care and the role you might play. Extend these conversations to your siblings and others who might become involved in the caregiving.  What are the logistical, emotional, and financial plans for all of this?  Again, be clear about your expectations and how the circumstances will be affecting your plans.
  3. And perhaps most importantly, talk about all of this as a couple both before and after having the crucial conversations with your aging parents and adult children. You want your expectations, life plans, and financial plans to be aligned.

The concept of crucial conversations extends to anyone close to you who might affect your retirement plans or might be affected by your plans.  Consider close friends, other family members, and perhaps even professionals, like your doctor.

Have the crucial conversations as part of your retirement planning.  Get clear with yourself about your expectations.  Get aligned with your spouse or partner.  Then share your expectations with those closest to you and get their thinking about your retirement plans.  You’ll be much better for it.


Alan Spector is coauthor, along with Keith Lawrence, of Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement.  Alan and Keith conduct workshops around the country, helping Baby Boomers plan for the non financial aspects of retirement He is a management consultant, baseball player, nonprofit Board member, frequent traveler, speaker, blogger, and most importantly, the active and proud grandfather of four.  Alan lives in St. Louis with his wife, Ann.

Alan’s fifth book, Body Not Recovered, has been named as a “Hot New Release” on Amazon.  Learn more about Your Retirement Quest at, and learn more about Alan and his books at

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