4 Steps to Convince Your Reluctant Spouse to Save for Retirement

Working together with your spouse to accomplish a goal feels incredible, whether you’re building a deck or raising your children. Believe it or not, I think the most exciting goal my wife and I are working toward right now is our retirement dream! Nothing beats those great conversations about what we want our life to be like, where we’re going to live, where we’re going to travel, and how much we’re going to pester our boys!

But what do you do when your spouse isn’t on the same page? What do you do when they give you that look—the roll of the eyes, the look of disdain, the “I’m checking out now” glance?

Trust me, arguing with your spouse over money and retirement doesn’t work. Instead, try these four time-tested tips to help you catch a shared vision for how you want to spend the retirement years—some of the best years of your life!

Step 1: Take Your Spouse on a Retirement Dream Date

When you define your dream retirement, you’re much more motivated to work for it. Abstract dreams are too foggy, too intangible to stick with you while you wait 30 years for the payoff.

To make your retirement plans clear, the first thing you have to do is dream about them together. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between couples on this topic because they’ve never talked about it in detail. Sure, you’ve said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could . . .” But you’ve never actually had a serious, focused conversation about what you want to do in retirement. I’ve counseled countless couples who don’t know what their spouse is thinking. You might be surprised to learn that your husband doubts whether you’ll be able to retire at all. Or that your wife is afraid that the two of you will be bored once you give up the nine-to-five grind.

The first step in motivating your spouse to save for retirement is to set up a date night where you and your spouse talk about nothing but your retirement dreams. Put everything on the table. Don’t worry about how much you have (or haven’t) saved for retirement. Focus only on building a clear picture of what you want your future to look like. Together. Do you want to travel? Try a new hobby? Spend more time with the kids and grandkids? Go on mission trips? The sky really is the limit. If you’re not excited about what you come up with, you haven’t dreamed big enough!

Step 2: Be Willing to Compromise

Dreaming together will unite you, even if you have different opinions about what your dream retirement looks like. For example, my wife has big plans to travel once we’re both retired. But I’d rather take a hot poker to the eye—no kidding! So what do we do? Compromise. She can plan as many trips as she wants. I’ll go with her on some of those, and she can go with her best friends on others. We’re on the same page now because we talked and reached a compromise.

If my wife and I had never talked about the details of our dream retirement, she might have assumed we wouldn’t travel because I don’t enjoy it. How committed would she be about saving for a retirement that she wouldn’t find fulfilling? So talk to your spouse. Find a middle ground. And make sure that dream excites you both!

Step 3: Make Saving Money Fun

Once you’ve outlined your dream together, you’ll see a huge shift in your attitude toward your budget and the Baby Steps. You’ll see how your everyday decisions put you closer to your goal. You’ll be more enthusiastic as you complete one step and move on to the next.

Take grocery shopping, for example. My wife and I went from spending $1,200 a month on groceries when it was just the two of us to spending $750 a month for us and three kids! How’d we do that? As a team, we focused on cutting the grocery bill and constantly looked for ways to spend less.

Now it’s a game. What was a point of tension between us—you know what I’m talking about—has become a point of connection. We’re battling it together instead of battling each other. And in case you’re wondering, none of us are wasting away. We’re all eating—plenty!

Step 4: Get Extra Help

There’s an analogy I use in my business teaching that I think applies here too: the Belgian plow horse story. One of these huge horses can pull 8,000 pounds all by itself. But two horses that have been brought up and trained together can pull not twice as much, but four times as much—32,000 pounds!

Here’s the point: When you and your spouse take the time to decide on your goals and how you will work toward them together, you can accomplish much more than one of you alone. That’s the power your shared retirement dream gives you.

But, as great as it is to work toward your dream together, there’s one more thing you need to make it a reality: a strong retirement investing strategy. Without that, dreaming about retirement becomes a daydream, not a real and achievable goal.

I always encourage people to work with an investing professional they trust. You need someone who will understand your goals, someone you can work with for a long, long time. It’s your advisor’s job to teach you:

  • How to choose good investments
  • How to avoid risk with a balanced investing approach
  • How to keep a long-term, disciplined perspective on your retirement investments

If you and your spouse aren’t already working with an investing professional, try SmartVestor to easily find a pro in your area today!