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Retirement investing can be tricky enough when you only have to think about yourself.

When you throw in another person, it can get really confusing.

Here are some things to avoid when planning your retirement as a couple.

Not Setting Goals Together

Both of you need to be on-board and have a baseline knowledge of your investment goals.

Sit down with your partner and discuss your financial goals.

The most important thing you'll need to know early on is how much each of you will be contributing.

Even if you have completely different investment styles, you should at least be aware of each other's goals.

Hopefully you can meet in the middle and equally share in the responsibility of a solid retirement.

Thinking That a Job is Required

One of the most important things you should be aware of is that just because one spouse may stay at home and not have a “job”, it doesn't mean they shouldn't have retirement savings in their name.

As you'll see below, there are individual limits and accounts for each person, regardless of employment status. Of course, the funds to invest in the stay-at-home spouse's account may have to come from the working spouse's salary.

Not Taking Advantage of Individual Accounts and Limits

There's no such thing as a joint IRA or 401K. Therefore, you each need to have your own tax advantaged retirement accounts.

This will allow you to contribute more tax-sheltered income annually and get to your retirement goals quicker.

Here are some of the more common annual contribution limits for 2010:

  • 401K – $16,500
  • Roth IRA – $5,000
  • Traditional IRA – $5,000

These limits are per person. For example, a couple can contribute $10,000 total annually to their Roth IRAs.

IRA limits are for the Roth and Traditional combined. Also, keep in mind that there are income limitations that may apply, as well as catch-up increases for those over 50.

Not Reviewing Asset Allocation

Another big mistake is not stopping to occasionally review your asset allocation as a couple.

If your goal is to maintain a specific level of risk in your portfolio, then you should be reviewing that every so often to make sure your investments are still in line.

An annual review would also be a good time to reevaluate your goals.

Not Consulting a Professional

Finally, as a couple you could probably use some objective advice to help you sort out any differences you might have.

This also gives each partner a little more confidence that one of you is not leading you both off a cliff. Find a fee-only, independent financial advisor to help.

This post comes from PT of PT Money: Personal Finance. Learn more about investing and see a list of the best online stock brokers on his blog.

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