Four Reasons Couples Should Stagger Retirement

An important question you should ask yourself, as a couple nears retirement, is whether they should stagger retirement. It’s a topic that is worth exploring with your loved ones because there are many financial and relationship issues that accompany retirement and those can be, in part, alleviated if you opt to stagger your retirements. An article on outlines some of the financial considerations but there are also relationship ones to consider as well.

Retirement Contributions

By keeping one spouse at work, he or she can continue to contribute towards IRA and 401(k) programs. Every extra year of contributions will help ensure a solvent and fruitful retirement because it’s adding more into the retirement nest egg. Plus, the one income acts as a source of money so that the retired spouse can turn to that, rather than his or her accounts, for funding – thus increasing the longevity of their retirement nest eggs as well.


One of the biggest costs of retirement is medical and health insurance. With one spouse working, you can have a company help alleviate that cost (or more depending on the generosity of the company), which can help the bottom line. By waiting, you can have one spouse retire before 65, when Medicare kicks in, and then have both retire once they reach that age limit.

Social Security

You can begin taking Social Security as early as 62 but to maximize your total gain from the program, you have to wait until “full retirement age,” which can be four years later. By keeping one income, you can put off taking SS payments and maximize your total payout.


One of the biggest complaints about both couples retiring is that they now find themselves spending nearly every waking moment together. It can be difficult on a relationship to spend that much time together. By staggering, one spouse gets to try out retirement, find a rhythm and some hobbies, such that both aren’t sitting there watching TV and not knowing what to do. When one discovers a routine, the other can join or discover their own routine. There isn’t a case of two people not knowing what to do other than they have to do it together. 🙂