BLOG: We Were Preparing for Our Retirement, Not for Hers

April 23, 2014 - 15:08
Author Name: 
UNLV Ed Outreach

During my first performance review at my first “real” job, my boss gave me advice that stuck with me. “Set aside your raise for retirement,” he suggested. So in my early 20s, on a very limited income, I started saving for my post-career years.

Over the years my spouse and I absorbed and applied many other nuggets of retirement advice:

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Fund retirement before the kids’ college because you can’t get loans for retirement.

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Be aware of management fees that eat into your fund growth.

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Take full advantage of employer matches.

With 20 years of retirement preparation under our belts and probably 20 more years of saving ahead of us until we can call it quits, we felt like we knew most of what we reasonably should.


Recent family events, however, opened our eyes to a big gap in our understanding of retirement. The death of my spouse’s father has put him in the position of helping his mom, who is already retired, think through retirement savings, ongoing expenses, required distributions, and the tax implications of her decisions. She is an educated, intelligent woman, but for nearly 50 years she deferred major financial decisions to her spouse. What she wants is a competent sounding board against which she can bounce ideas; at this point, though, my husband and I are a bit in the dark about how she should wisely spend the money it took a lifetime to save.

We can’t apply our approach for retirement to this new situation. His mom needs steady income, as she is nearing the age of required minimum distribution. And if genetics have anything to say about it, she’ll live until she’s 100. After seeing first-hand the bills that come with a major illness, she’s concerned about the costs of health care and long-term care down the line.

At this point, we really aren’t knowledgeable enough to help her make decisions; we need to get up to speed on all the issues pertaining to post-retirement life.


When I first read the course description for Rejuvenate Your Retirement, I figured it was a course that I probably wouldn’t need for many years. The logistics of actually usingretirement funds was just a footnote to the process of acquiring the funds. Now I’m eyeing up the course from a new perspective. With his mom looking to us for intelligent counsel, it seems there is quite a bit of practical knowledge we could use from this class even now.

Rejuvenate Your Retirement is offered twice this May at the CSN Summerlin High Tech Center (next to Palo Verde High School). A Thursday class meets 1-3 p.m. on May 8 and 15. A Tuesday class meets 9:30-11:30 a.m. on May 13 and 20. A $49 registration fees covers both you and your spouse. Register by phone at 702-895-3394 or online at http://ced.unlv.edu/cat2014.