Beyond the Money - Married couples should be proactive about financial planning

Adam Cufr

        When I read this, it almost knocked me over.
        Eighty percent of men die married. Eighty percent of women die single. Eighty percent of centenarians are women
        As the subject of this article suggests, you can decide who gets the short end of this stick. Women, I’m sorry you’re likely to outlive your husband. Men, I’m sorry your life was cut shorter than your wife’s. Either way, I’m profoundly sorry for all the participants in this study.
        Given this data, I think we need to confront the retirement planning elephant in the room. Like it or not, women had better be involved in the retirement planning discussion in a meaningful way. Why? Women are statistically overwhelmingly likely to be the spouse who handles the money in the end. And because there are real financial consequences from the death of one’s spouse, it pays to be aware of these future realities long before the future arrives.
        Here are a few specific examples of what occurs when a spouse passes away:
        • One Social Security income source disappears (the smaller of the two).
        • Pension income may become permanently reduced.
        • A couple who once filed taxes as Married Filing Jointly now becomes a Single filer; this results in the Standard Deduction being cut in half and higher overall tax rates.
        • The division of labor in a household, like one cooks while the other makes repairs, now becomes the responsibility of the surviving spouse. Not good at cooking or repairing things? Now those tasks become outsourced to paid professionals.
        Of course, I’m doing my best to not assume who does what in your relationship based on gender. This is 2020 you know. The key point instead is to consider that women are very likely to be the last person standing in a traditional marriage. If you’re a woman, are you prepared for single life? If you’re a married man, are you prepared to exit first…and is she also prepared for you to exit first?
        I hate talking about this as much as you dislike reading about and thinking about it.
        I’d rather be sorry for bringing it up now than for not bringing it up until it’s too late. We can plan for such events; we just need to be deliberate.
        Ladies, this is your call to action: if you’d like to feel more prepared financially than you do now, consider seeking the counsel of a financial professional.
        Fellas, you can also reach out to an advisor. Everyone deserves to have peace about their planning regardless of who passes away first.
        Beginning a meaningful dialog with your spouse and perhaps your children about money matters isn’t always easy. The topic is sure to result in some discomfort, but how uncomfortable might it be if the topic isn’t discussed before it’s too late?
        There’s something very powerful about having a third party steer financial discussions that are difficult to approach on your own, especially in a marriage – after all, opposites attract.
        Please don’t wait to take action in some small way. Of course, the timing of these life and death matters isn’t up to us, but the planning part sure is.
        Adam Cufr, RICP®, a Northwood native, is the owner of Fourth Dimension Financial Group, LLC in Perrysburg. He is a retirement planner, a columnist for Retirement Advisor Magazine, and the author of “Off the Record – Secrets to Building a Successful Retirement and a Lasting Legacy.” To learn more, go to


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