We all awake every day with expectations. As an optimistic person, my expectations revolve around positive routines. I expect to wake well before everyone else I know, usually before 4 a.m. Even my dog, Rosie, will wait about an hour after I get up before she gets up to beg for her pre-dawn run. I expect each day that Starbucks will be enjoyed before, and after, my workout. At work, I expect a new challenge that I will have no idea of how to handle will pop up, but I will try to break it into smaller steps and start chipping away. I expect that my daughter will say or do something to surprise me and put a mirror to my own inner child. I expect that at the end of the day that I will feel blessed for all of the fullness in my life. Those blessings include having more to do than I possibly can get done on any given day, and that I will never be able to satisfy everyone.
When it comes to financial and life planning, expectations are also very important. Based on the latest update of my family’s plan, we are now exceeding our planning goals and will comfortably be able to retire as we have dreamed. We just need to stay on track with our savings discipline. A part of planning is being sure you understand the financial implications if one or the other parent in a family dies.
In the area of Social Security, surviving spouses are eligible to receive Social Security payments, and a surviving spouse who cares for a minor child is eligible for an additional support payment. These would not occur for my family because we cannot marry. So, as nontraditional families conduct planning, Social Security expectations must be set correctly. If I pre-decease my partner, she will not receive these social security benefits from my years of paying into the system. Instead, upon retirement she may only be able to rely on the social security income from her previous 20-year career before exiting the workforce to be a stay at home mom. As with other gaps that can arise in nontraditional family financial planning, additional savings and insurance are needed to cover scenarios such as this one.
As GI Joe would say, knowing is half the battle. And expectations around what can and cannot transfer are critical in nontraditional family planning.