Know your spouse's retirement plans
If you're married, you need to have a clear idea of what your spouse has in mind for his or her retirement. Scharr-Bykowsky often encounters couples in which the man makes financial decisions, including retirement plans, that aren't necessarily in the woman's best interest. For example, he might decide to take his pension withdrawals early in exchange for a lower survivors benefit.
"The wife might say OK, not realizing that she's only going to get 40 percent of that pension instead of 100 percent," Scharr-Bykowsky says. "It really pays to be in the loop with that decision."
A woman who will be depending on her husband's Social Security benefits can end up in a financial bind if he decides to retire early.
"Someone retires at 62, and the wife lives to be 100, and she has a reduced Social Security benefit for the rest of her life," says Scharr-Bykowsky.