Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

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saveinvestbecomefree
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Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by saveinvestbecomefree » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:43 am

My wife and I are mid 40's and have done very well with saving and investing our high incomes. We are now financially independent based on any reasonable estimate. We are at a 3% withdrawal rate if we spend $10K a year more than now (on top of budgeting another $10K for health care) and about 1.8% including pensions we can take at any time. House is fully paid off, 529 plans are funded (2 young kids).

My wife grew up poor and associates a job with financial stability. I have been unable to convince her that we actually could stop working forever and still have the same lifestyle (or better) because of our investments. I just seems impossible to her. Stopping work at our age with young kids just seems risky and irresponsible from her perspective and I think she would have that opinion no matter how much money we had. Discussing the math and research has worked a little but it hasn't changed her "feelings" much. My wife is highly educated and very rational in everything except certain money topics. I think the financial scarcity of her upbringing is stopping her from being able to "feel" that we're in really good shape and don't need to worry so much about money.

Sorry for the long explanation, but does anyone have any tips from a similar situation? I've researched on this forum and online and found a few suggestions but I haven't had much success yet. I think this is the time to get us aligned or we'll drift through the next several years working by default because we never truly considered that we had the financial ability to think of other life choices that might make us happier. It's hard to brainstorm options together if we think there are no options (other than what we are currently doing) before we start.

Flashes1
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by Flashes1 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:57 am

Sounds like she wants to continue earning a pay check. She's been poor and probably doesn't want to go back there. Mid-40's with two young children? It doesn't sound like she's being unreasonable. I grew up middle-class in a wealthy town....the thought of returning to middle-class living terrifies me. I'd much rather work.

chevca
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by chevca » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:03 am

saveinvestbecomefree wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:43 am
Stopping work at our age with young kids just seems risky and irresponsible from her perspective and I think she would have that opinion no matter how much money we had.
This line here kind of says you're searching for something you won't find. It seems FI doesn't matter to her. While the kids are still young, someone needs to work.

What about her continuing to work and you stop working? Would she be okay with that?

mak1277
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by mak1277 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:04 am

Can you approach it in terms of goal setting? Ask her to think about and write down everything she desires in terms of needs, wants and luxuries. Then show her what you can afford today.

SRenaeP
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by SRenaeP » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:12 am

What's your end goal here? To convince your wife she should quit her job? If she doesn't want to, why push? Like another poster suggested, if she's okay with continuing to work and you quit, just do that.

DH is more conservative than I am about what it means to be FI. In addition, he doesn't mind working. Our compromise is a clearly defined set of benchmarks for FI that he's comfortable with. Once those have been met, I will semi-retire until he's ready to fully retire. Of course, he has the option of semi-retiring as well if he so chooses.

-Steph

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BL
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by BL » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:33 am

budgeting another $10K for health care
Somehow this sounds low to me for 4 people, while health care is in flux.

furikake
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by furikake » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:42 am

Maybe she's worried about the market being so high right now? We're at less than 1.8% withdrawal rate if we were to retire today, but I feel a little uncomfortable because of the market being too high. Also in mid-40s.

Raryn
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by Raryn » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:48 am

Sounds like you have three options here.

A) convince your wife you're financially independent and can retire early. Then do so.
B) realize that due to your current incomes and financial circumstances, if you keep working you can spend a lot more money and still have a comfortable retirement. Thus, start spending a lot more money. Opt for first class plane tickets. Get the upgraded suite at the hotel. Check out the Michelin star restaurant in your nearest big city. Donate significant amounts of money to your Alma mater. Take up some new hobbies.
C) the same as B but not actually increase your spending. This basically just leaves a hell of a legacy for your kids.

Honestly, if you and your wife enjoy your jobs, B isn't a bad way to go. You have your ducks in a row, take advantage of it. Retiring early isn't the only way to enjoy life.

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:55 am

When you've reached 100x expenses, you can ease off the throttle. You have real FI when you no longer have to say "how much", ever. If you are checking prices, you are not truly FI. Also grew up with little money, a paycheck is the easiest way to feel one is independent. How have you structured your portfolio to create that paycheck? Do you have a steady stream of cash flow from it? If not, hard to convince someone you can stop working when portfolio is worth say $3 million today, and tomorrow it's now worth $2.3 million. A $700K swing means a $28K or more or less decline in annual cash flow. Another step down from $2.3 million and now you're talking about real fear coming back into your lives. Keep working.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:57 am

It is quite possible that you cannot ever convince your wife. My wife is that way. My recent conversation with my wife, asking how much SHE felt we needed for me to leave work.

Me: "Would you feel comfortable if we had $2MM?"
Her: "We have to put the kids through college, OMG, no!"
Me: "Would you feel comfortable if we had $10MM?"
Her: "We have to put the kids through college, OMG, no!"
Me: "Would you feel comfortable if we had $1 Billion?"
Her: "We have to put the kids through college, OMG, no!"
Me: "Would you feel comfortable if we had $100 Billion?"
Her: "We have to put the kids through college, OMG, no!"

This was our actual conversation.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

saveinvestbecomefree
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by saveinvestbecomefree » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:58 am

Thanks for the input so far. To clarify why I posted this, my main purpose is to convince my wife that we are in good shape and have some options. She doesn't need to be as stressed about work or money at this point. The second reason is so that we can dream and discuss more about future options and see if there is something exciting we'd rather try. We plan to continue working at this point but I'd rather not do ten years of the OMY syndrome just by default as if we have no options. Thanks again.

saveinvestbecomefree
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by saveinvestbecomefree » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:04 pm

Jack FFR1846,

You might have an even tougher situation than I do!

nickjoy
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by nickjoy » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:10 pm

Also, you could stop working and your wife keep working. You could frame it in that you will save in Childcare costs and it's better for the kids. This way you won't have to work, spend more time with the kids, she still works and brings in extra money.

Just an option. But you shouldn't do it without her ok.

Theseus
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by Theseus » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:32 pm

saveinvestbecomefree wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:58 am
Thanks for the input so far. To clarify why I posted this, my main purpose is to convince my wife that we are in good shape and have some options. She doesn't need to be as stressed about work or money at this point. The second reason is so that we can dream and discuss more about future options and see if there is something exciting we'd rather try. We plan to continue working at this point but I'd rather not do ten years of the OMY syndrome just by default as if we have no options. Thanks again.
Congratulations for being FI at such a young age.

I am sure she is worried about risk of unknowns and believes that numbers and spreadsheets should not be trusted -as the inherent assumptions used to build such projections can turn out to be wrong (like what happened in 2008 for subprime bonds). Perhaps she relates more to qualitative arguments than quantitative ones - in that case no amount of numbers you throw at her would convince her. So rather than very broad statement that we are FI, perhaps small nudges along the way may help change that - perhaps.

Do you have income generating investments in the taxable accounts? Dividends, Interest etc? When you do budget for certain expenses you can allocate income from these accounts for them. And faithfully follow it with regular discussions about it. And then keep showing how the returns are helping pay for budgeted things how they work in your taxable and non-taxable accounts. With that she may ready in 2-3 years for a FI discussion.

John Laurens
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by John Laurens » Tue Sep 12, 2017 12:46 pm

Maybe your BH username speaks to what your values are and how you think about external stimuli? "Saveinvestbecomefree"

I have been what I would call poor (relied on the kindness of family) and certainly not poor. I have always felt I was "free". I define free as being able to make choices in almost any circumstance.

Regards,
John

aristotelian
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by aristotelian » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:00 pm

Whether she works is completely separate from whether or not you are FI. One could be FI and continue to work, whether for charitable/legacy purposes, mental stimulation, or extra security. Why not simply support her in continuing to work rather than convince her of a lifestyle that she doesn't want?

runner540
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by runner540 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:37 pm

OP, here's a thought: maybe you think you're FI based on your assets versus future obligations/liabilities. if your wife thinks you're not yet FI (different question from whether she wants to keep working), she is either discounting the assets more than you, or perceives greater obligations. Maybe she expects to need to provide significant help to her family? I know my FI math changes a lot if I need to help parents/siblings/adult children.

Dottie57
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:53 pm

Flashes1 wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:57 am
I grew up middle-class in a wealthy town....the thought of returning to middle-class living terrifies me. I'd much rather work.
Are you serious? Terrified?

goingup
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Re: Tips on helping spouse feel that we are truly FI?

Post by goingup » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:58 pm

Who knows? Maybe she's right. We have no idea if you are plausibly financially independent. :wink:

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