Robin and I were talking about what we'll do when she retires. Talking about finances, not "Let's move to Nerja!" It was more the beginning of a long conversation than it was anything substantial, but just bringing up the topic gets you thinking.
We should be just fine, and I hope I never forget how privileged we are that I can say that. It's all thanks to her ... my pensions are limited, and my social security is small enough that I'm just waiting for her to retire so I can climb onto her benefits. But we have options, which again makes us lucky.
It's not the decision making that's important. Well, it will be eventually, but to some extent, it's about calculating what we'd get if she started Social Security at 70 as opposed to 66, and what kind of payments we'll choose from her ... heck, I don't even know what this stuff is called, the money that's been put away for her retirement.
But you soon realize that what is being discussed is about money on the surface, but the crucial fact (which can't really be exactly known) is how long we will live. For example, just off the top of my head (meaning I could be way off), if she started Social Security at 66, she'd get about $128k over the next four years. If she waited until she is 70, she'll get more by about $12k a year, but won't get that first $128k. So, again just thinking without actually working at it, if she lived to be 80, she would make close to the same amount overall no matter whether she started at 66 or 70. But if she lived past 80, that extra $12k/year would make the Start at 70 option the correct choice. So how long you expect to live matters, and who wants to think about that?
Then there's the part where who dies first matters. If it's me, her finances won't change much, because we won't be relying on my relatively small amount in the first place. But if she dies first, I'll end up with a lot less money, if I understand how it works. And it's about then that you understand you're talking about Who Dies First, and once more, who wants to think about that?
So ultimately, a conversation about retirement always ends up being about dying.
Really, it's another form of privilege that we can even have these conversations. I've already retired, and Robin will retire some time next year, while there are plenty of people who simply can't afford to retire. And while you can't predict the future, we can at least imagine a retirement that isn't an exercise in frugality. It also helps that since Robin has worked for Kaiser for 15+ years, our medical insurance will still be there.
Until we die.