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The Biggest Mistake Couples Make in Retirement

Planning for your retirement is tough, but for couples, there are even more obstacles to putting together a smart financial plan. Yet despite all their efforts, many couples end up making a simple but devastating mistake in retirement that can cause huge problems down the road.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, looks at this simple mistake: not having both members of a couple know about the couple's finances. Dan notes that in many cases, only one person knows about the couple's finances, managing investments and paying bills. That can leave the other person completely unable to manage the couple's finances if something unexpected happens. Dan suggests that the ideal situation is one in which both members of a couple participate equally in financial decisions. But he concedes that that won't always happen, and so he also suggests that the person who takes responsibility for finances at least give detailed instructions on how to find financial accounts, what bills have to be paid, and who the other person can turn to for help. By addressing this simple mistake, you can make sure you don't leave loved ones in a bind if something happens to you.

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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2014, at 4:18 PM, DocBob1951 wrote:

    Often, the problem is not that one is willing to lead and the other not, in terms of making investments. The problem is that one knows it is important and the other prefers to avoid even thinking about investing.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 6:38 PM, Andy60103 wrote:

    Agreed. If my wife had got involved we would have had fixed rate mortgage at sky high rates and would be knowhere near the stock market. Too risk averse by far. And doesn't have the interest or the understanding of the basic principles.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 8:09 PM, luckyagain wrote:

    I am surprised that so many people do not have even a modicum of understanding about their financial affairs, but that is a fact of life. Most couples are lucky to have even one that has any interest in it.

    There is an old saying about money. It goes something like this: most people want to spend a million dollars but very few want to put forth the effort to make it.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2014, at 8:10 PM, luckyagain wrote:

    I am surprised that so many people do not have even a modicum of understanding about their financial affairs, but that is a fact of life. Most couples are lucky to have even one that has any interest in it.

    There is an old saying about money. It goes something like this: most people want to spend a million dollars but very few want to put forth the effort to make it.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2014, at 1:02 PM, Gorm wrote:

    I would contend it is highly unlikely you'll find BOTH equally interested and capable. In a couple one usually defers to the one with the most interest and ability.

    Personally, while it is all a cashflow formula for covering life's ongoing expenses, I believe TOO MANY go into retirement up to their eyeballs in DEBT, expecting TOO MUCH of their investments to keep afloat.

    In anticipation of retirement, it is NOT only important appropriately asset growth BUT practicing living within one's NEW means before jumping!!

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Dan Caplinger
TMFGalagan

Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since 2006. As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool.com. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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