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“May – December Marriages” And Retirement

October 12, 2023

The phrase May – December marriage refers to a couple with considerable age difference. The actual number of years is up for debate but the issue is each person may be at a different stage in their life. As we approach retirement, this difference becomes magnified.

If Spouse A is approaching or at retirement while Spouse B is still working, then there may be a disconnect on how the next cycle of years will be lived.  On numerous occasions we’ve seen the older spouse ready to retire and travel while the younger spouse is at the peak of their career.

According to Pew Research:

First-time marriages

  • 14% have an age gap of six years or more
  •   5% have an age gap of 10 years or more

Second-time marriages

  • 20% have an age gap of 10 years or more

There are qualitative and quantitative issues to address. On the qualitative side, it is what any good relationship requires – talk with each other. The two of you need to come up with a compromise that neither of you will resent and both of you endorse. It may be necessary engage a professional to facilitate the discussions but your ages aren’t going to change so your approach has to.

Quantitative issues should be addressed as early as possible. A retirement projection can provide information for savings to cover both life spans. Using Jill as an example: she is 13 years younger than Bonnie. If we assume death occurs at age 95, then money has to last until Jill’s age 95. If Jill is 73 and Bonnie is 86, the calculation is 9 years for Bonnie plus another 13 for Jill so a total of 22 years the money has to last.

Steps You Can Take

  • After you’ve created a retirement plan, you can quantify how much more you may need to save
  • Working longer usually has a positive impact on a plan because your assets are growing instead of distributing
  • Work part-time if possible
  • Watch your expenses
  • Claim Social Security at age 70 if possible
  • Be ready to make adjustments as the markets fluctuate

If you haven’t had a retirement plan prepared, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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