I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Topic Author
Small Law Survivor
Posts: 932
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:36 pm

I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Small Law Survivor »

I'm 70, live in northeast U.S. Wife one year younger. I have $6 million in investments and a $1 million mortgage-free house. No debt. $60,000/year in social security (starting right now) and $25,000/year in income from my part-time job as a lawyer (mostly as arbitrator, work from home (before Covid) low stress).

I can't spend money without feelings of anxiety. it's really painful. I've tried the "just force yourself to do it" therapy. Current examples:
Our 27 yr. old daughter (only child) just graduated with Masters. I said to wife, let's give her a good graduation present, what do you think that should be? Wife said $500. I said $10,000, and we did that. In addition, we give daughter $500/month. Why? I figure better she enjoy this money while we're alive than when we're dead. My only constraint is spoiling her.

Daughter needed new car - $16,000, done earlier this year.

Furniture - last week my wife said I want to replace all our furniture with some really nice stuff. Will probably cost $15-$20,000 minimum. I said great, let's do it.

House painting - our house needs to be painted. Just got an estimate from company that painted a neighbor's house and neighbor was very happy with this company. $10,000. Today I'll tell them to go ahead.

Speakers - I need a good stereo system. The one I want will cost around $3,000. I'm ready to order them.

Red Sox tickets - out-of-town relatives are visiting. I said lets take them to a Red Sox game. $500 - done.

Fancy trip to Italy in 2018 - $15,000 spent

Fancy trip to France booked in 2019 before Covid hit - would have been $15,000 but cancelled due to Covid.
All of this is based on a variable 3% withdrawal rate from our investments. Add social security and earned income to that and we can easily spend well over $200,000/year. If market holds up this year, next year 3% + soc. security + earned income will be around $250,000. I told my wife that if we don't hit our "spend target" in a given year we'll take the unspent money and put it in a segregated account so we can be sure we spend it in the following year. I call this "carry-over" money - our carry-over money from 2020 is $30,000. Go figure.

So what's the problem? None of this makes me happy. Every expenditure is accompanied by moderate anxiety - you know that unpleasant feeling in the pit of your stomach? Every expenditure is like standing on the edge of a quarry and hoping your jump into the water below will be safe. However, once I've spent the money I don't give it a second thought.

I have other important expenses that I'm procrastinating on - new estate planning documents, new gutter system for house. I own an iPhone 6.

I think I know where this comes from - my father (a big influence on me) was born in 1920. His father died in 1932 (think about it ....). My father was extremely frugal, and he never invested as single penny in the stock market. Growing up in the 1920/1930s he distrusted it 100% for the rest of his life.

Wife is no help - she's even more frugal than me.

I've had therapy in the past in other areas of my life, and I'm open to it now. I'd just want the therapist to be as rich or richer than me. :happy

Really.

I'm baring my soul to strangers here. Thoughts appreciated, even "what [expletive removed by admin LadyGeek] is wrong with you" comments.

Small Law Survivor
70 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names
Jags4186
Posts: 6091
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Jags4186 »

Is the anxiety actually spending money or is it that you don’t have a regular “large” paycheck. When you worked full time, did you have this problem? If you all of a sudden had a $240k income that was deposited $20,000/mo to your checking account would you be able to spend it? Or is this a “I don’t like seeing my balances go down” type of problem?

If it is simply the you’re not used to not having a large income, consider annuitizing some of your portfolio. That way you get steady income no matter what and can feel comfortable spending.

Another option to consider is with your “carry over” account. Make a decision that whatever you are left with at the end of the year, instead of it rolling over, is donated to charity. Consider funding a scholarship at a private high school or university.

You’ve amassed a lot of money. That doesn’t mean you must to spend a lot of money on stuff. Of course, there is no reason why you can’t :D
Last edited by Jags4186 on Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:28 am, edited 5 times in total.
Markalem
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:40 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Markalem »

Definitely will not tell you what [expletive removed by admin LadyGeek] is wrong.
This is clearly psychological. Look we cant applaud you for being an amazing achiever having amassed these fortunes without accepting that you must have been extremely rigorous and disciplines (and Type A) about it!! What you are experiencing is part of the equation.
You cant eat your cake and have it as well.
But you know what: you can make sure you have ENOUGH cake. I highly suggest talking to a therapist for cognitive behavior therapy.

I am going through a crisis drastically different than yours. It may not help you to hear this, but honestly I wish I was in your place :)
Parkinglotracer
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:49 am
Location: Upstate NY

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Parkinglotracer »

Maybe finds ways to use your money to help others related to some passion you have and that will help you spend it

Read obits regularly to remind yourself we can’t take it with us

While i don’t have that problem i can relate to how someone could

Maybe kids could help with charity causes

Good luck !!
Parkinglotracer
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:49 am
Location: Upstate NY

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Parkinglotracer »

Parkinglotracer wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:24 am Maybe finds ways to use your money to help others related to some passion you have (something meaningful to you) and that will help you spend it

Read obits regularly to remind yourself we can’t take it with us

While i don’t have that problem i can relate to how someone could

Maybe kids could help with charity causes

Good luck !!
pepperz
Posts: 392
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:13 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by pepperz »

Do you actually *want* to spend more of your savings?
JBEB
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:45 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by JBEB »

Thanks for sharing.
I really have nothing that valuable to add, other than what else brings you joy or you find valuable?

Maybe instead of just gifting to your daughter, invest with her so she knows how and just doesnt take it for granted. Partner up with her.

Are there other relatives that are just looking for opportunity? Maybe offer some of the seed money for their real estate.

Find value by using some of your money to help others. Might offer some more happiness than just buying "stuff"
pepperz
Posts: 392
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2016 7:13 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by pepperz »

Do you have anxiety about other things as well, or is it just this?
CloseEnough
Posts: 150
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:34 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by CloseEnough »

What are you currently doing related to charity and nonprofit work? With your level of assets you could be doing a lot. And it might help with some of your issues. And even if it doesn’t, it will help others.
Miguelito
Posts: 375
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:21 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Miguelito »

Perhaps you need to try nicer things. :wink:

Eat out at excellent restaurants. Test-drive really nice cars and buy what you like best. Go on a truly extraordinary vacation. Hire out services. Don't spend time on anything you don't like to do. Get a private tutor for something you always wanted to learn, etc.

Yes, you might still not spend it all. So what? This is not Brewster's Millions. Be proud to leave behind what you don't use.
BarbBrooklyn
Posts: 1039
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:33 am
Location: NYC

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

I feel ya!

I posted a couple of times when I first retired about the problem I was having with shifting from accululation to decumulation. I have slowly gotten more at ease with spending money on experiences, services and the occasional "thing" that makes life easier (think house cleaner, parking garage when travelling to doctor instead of subway on a hot or rainy day, 2 weeks in Maine instead of one).

Not to give medical advice, but I will say that I recently re-entered therapy and have found it extremely useful in teasing out the many ways that my anxieties about everything manifests, and better ways to combat it.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
Parkinglotracer
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:49 am
Location: Upstate NY

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Parkinglotracer »

My grandparents too distrusted stock market from depression - that is something not so obvious we might take from this post and why i am 60/40 with lots of cash and bonds

The stock market is great until it is not … in the mean time to the moon!
minesweep
Posts: 1432
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:17 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by minesweep »

You're not alone.
You May Feel Guilty About Spending Your Savings
If you’ve spent years pinching pennies so you can build your nest egg, you might be ready to retire to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But you could find that breaking out of your frugal mindset is difficult because you’ve developed an addiction to saving money.

“People who have done an excellent job of saving for retirement often have a difficult time spending the money they accumulated because spending does not feel natural,” Sestok said.
The Downsides of Retirement That Nobody Talks About
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy - John Bogle | Learn every day, but especially from the experiences of others, it's cheaper! - John Bogle
Wanderingwheelz
Posts: 1411
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:52 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Wanderingwheelz »

I don’t think any of this is all that unusual. It’s hard to be an accumulator and then all of a sudden not be one just because some event happened in your life that somehow has you convinced you shouldn’t be.

If you spent $30,000 less last year than you thought you might have when the year began, so what? By adding $30,000 to an account that needs to be spend is likely to only cause you more anxiety over the following year. Spending money just to try to achieve spending goals isn’t going to reduce anxiety when the act as you described it brings you little if any joy. Joy and anxiety are opposing forces. Let life flow naturally and I suspect you’ll find calm starts to creep back in. It’s okay to be a frugal accumulator if that’s who you are. Giving yourself permission to just be you, rather than the version you think you should be, will probably be one of the quickest way to anxiety relief you can come across.
3 Fund Portfolio. 70/30 AA. No mortgage. Simplicity is key.
DoubleComma
Posts: 468
Joined: Sun Aug 23, 2020 2:23 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by DoubleComma »

I don’t think what you are experiencing is all the uncommon. Maybe not the norm for retirees, but not unheard of.

I can’t provide first hand experience as I’m still mid-career. However my father (74 y/o) and I have had this conversation more times than I can count. He too has not 100% retired, still works very part time in his life long career and earns ~$40k on top of SS, moms pension and has a portfolio approx the size of yours. We’ve done the math together and proven it’s nearly impossible to outlive his money.

For my Dad it’s just a psychological challenge after saving and investing his entire life to switch to spending those savings. He’s slowly getting there but it’s not natural.

It’s not just spending the savings either, it’s his investment strategy and asset allocation that he’s struggling to change too. Only recently did he agree to move from 100% equity to a 80/20 portfolio. He’s still heavily focused on dividend funds and equities; but can’t even spend all the dividends his portfolio casts off.

Again, I think your doing the right thing by simply being aware. When you can enjoy you retirement and resources; don’t let them become a source of discontentment. If spending more liberally gives you anxiety, don’t do it. Take it slow. You will be fine.
Dave55
Posts: 1269
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:51 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Dave55 »

Not sure if this will help. I had a friend who amassed over $10M by his early 40's. He could not spend at all. He called me up one day and asked where he could get a pair of sweatpants. I told him go to the college store, good price there. He replied they are too expensive. I said meet me there in 10 minutes, I will buy them for you. The guy went on like that for decades and died at 62 and never enjoyed his money.

Dave
"Reality always wins, your only job is to get in touch with it." Wilfred Bion
dillrob
Posts: 34
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:38 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by dillrob »

There is nothing inherently wrong with only spending for needs and what you are comfortable splurging on regardless of your account balance.

Realize that this dilemma is ultimately a matter of who will spend the money not whether it will be spent.

Know with 100% certainty that it will be spent. By the government and your heirs.

Even if you do not want to spend on yourself you should at least take control of this decision and identify charities and family member you'd prefer spend your money and donate accordingly.

As "Rush" succinctly stated, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." If you are OK with this, then no action needed. This is your choice.
Marseille07
Posts: 5484
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2020 1:41 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Marseille07 »

deleted
Last edited by Marseille07 on Wed Aug 18, 2021 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
SQRT
Posts: 1738
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:44 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by SQRT »

Sorry, I just can’t relate. I’m 71 been retired for 15 years I have multiples of what you have saved (all time high for my portfolio) and have no problems spending, a lot. My biggest concern is that I might go overboard and run out, but highly unlikely, given my extremely generous pension.

Anyways. Maybe get some therapy? Fund a foundation? Start small and build up? You can only spend it or give it away, now or later.

Good luck.
Last edited by SQRT on Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
RickBoglehead
Posts: 7508
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:10 am
Location: In a house

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by RickBoglehead »

OP's issue - anxiety over spending money - seems pretty clearly to be a psychological one, which is a medical issue, and not discussable on these forums.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
livesoft
Posts: 77645
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by livesoft »

I could tell you what to spend money on, but that would be medical advice and my advice would get deleted.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
User avatar
White Coat Investor
Posts: 15391
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Greatest Snow On Earth

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by White Coat Investor »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:18 am I'm 70, live in northeast U.S. Wife one year younger. I have $6 million in investments and a $1 million mortgage-free house. No debt. $60,000/year in social security (starting right now) and $25,000/year in income from my part-time job as a lawyer (mostly as arbitrator, work from home (before Covid) low stress).

I can't spend money without feelings of anxiety. it's really painful. I've tried the "just force yourself to do it" therapy. Current examples:
Our 27 yr. old daughter (only child) just graduated with Masters. I said to wife, let's give her a good graduation present, what do you think that should be? Wife said $500. I said $10,000, and we did that. In addition, we give daughter $500/month. Why? I figure better she enjoy this money while we're alive than when we're dead. My only constraint is spoiling her.

Daughter needed new car - $16,000, done earlier this year.

Furniture - last week my wife said I want to replace all our furniture with some really nice stuff. Will probably cost $15-$20,000 minimum. I said great, let's do it.

House painting - our house needs to be painted. Just got an estimate from company that painted a neighbor's house and neighbor was very happy with this company. $10,000. Today I'll tell them to go ahead.

Speakers - I need a good stereo system. The one I want will cost around $3,000. I'm ready to order them.

Red Sox tickets - out-of-town relatives are visiting. I said lets take them to a Red Sox game. $500 - done.

Fancy trip to Italy in 2018 - $15,000 spent

Fancy trip to France booked in 2019 before Covid hit - would have been $15,000 but cancelled due to Covid.
All of this is based on a variable 3% withdrawal rate from our investments. Add social security and earned income to that and we can easily spend well over $200,000/year. If market holds up this year, next year 3% + soc. security + earned income will be around $250,000. I told my wife that if we don't hit our "spend target" in a given year we'll take the unspent money and put it in a segregated account so we can be sure we spend it in the following year. I call this "carry-over" money - our carry-over money from 2020 is $30,000. Go figure.

So what's the problem? None of this makes me happy. Every expenditure is accompanied by moderate anxiety - you know that unpleasant feeling in the pit of your stomach? Every expenditure is like standing on the edge of a quarry and hoping your jump into the water below will be safe. However, once I've spent the money I don't give it a second thought.

I have other important expenses that I'm procrastinating on - new estate planning documents, new gutter system for house. I own an iPhone 6.

I think I know where this comes from - my father (a big influence on me) was born in 1920. His father died in 1932 (think about it ....). My father was extremely frugal, and he never invested as single penny in the stock market. Growing up in the 1920/1930s he distrusted it 100% for the rest of his life.

Wife is no help - she's even more frugal than me.

I've had therapy in the past in other areas of my life, and I'm open to it now. I'd just want the therapist to be as rich or richer than me. :happy

Really.

I'm baring my soul to strangers here. Thoughts appreciated, even "what [expletive removed by admin LadyGeek] is wrong with you" comments.

Small Law Survivor
Use credit cards, pre-pay for vacations, don't have people tell you the price, annuitize some of it etc. Natural savers sometimes have to play tricks to spend more. Fly first class or your heirs will.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course
Parkinglotracer
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:49 am
Location: Upstate NY

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Sav

Post by Parkinglotracer »

RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am OP's issue - anxiety over spending money - seems pretty clearly to be a psychological one, which is a medical issue, and not discussable on these forums.
On the funny side one diagnosing it is a medical problem is not discussable. I’d say for sure it is a money problem … Great non medical suggestions here!
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 23439
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Watty »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:18 am So what's the problem? None of this makes me happy.
Have you considered supporting a charity where some of your money could make a profound difference in peoples lives?

You would need to research it to find something appeals to you but I have heard of projects that do basic things like provide a well for an area that does not have safe drinking water or run a midwife clinic in an area that has not have basic medical care. There are lots of things like that where for the price of a car you could make a huge difference in the lives of a lot of people. There are likely also a lot of needs within an hours drive of where you live.
Last edited by Watty on Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
Dandy
Posts: 6553
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:42 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Dandy »

I can relate to your situation somewhat. Decades of watching our spending and watching our assets grow forms a strong focus in life. To "suddenly" be comfortable with spending that isn't "necessary" is a challenge. My income basically equals our normal expenses and we have a large portfolio. I still get money worries when we get a spike in spending. Objectively it doesn't make sense but feelings aren't always based on objective logic.

Maybe it is the frequency of the withdrawals could be reduced by allocating a sum specifically for spending each year. e.g. set aside $X dollars in a separate checking account each year for "extras" and have your wife actually make the necessary payments. Mind games - sometimes they help. When/if you have to take RMDs you might use that $ or a portion of it having it sent directly to the "extras" account.

You might also consider using the extras account for some charity donations - that might ease the feeling since the money is going for a good cause vs "wasteful unnecessary expenses"
User avatar
thriftynick
Posts: 53
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:29 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by thriftynick »

This is all a psychological issue. I have anxiety about spending too. It will probably never go away, but maybe some mental "plans" can help. Your house is paid off and you have no debt. I would suggest figuring out exactly what is the minimum you need to live:

1. Expenses + groceries only.
Then, think about expenses that you "could" reduce in a crisis (cut cable, switch from an unlimited cell phone plan to a limited one):
2. Reduced expenses + groceries.
Then, calculate what you need to spend + things that would be hard to live without. (Simple travel, dining out once a week or month, etc.)
3. Expenses + groceries + minimal luxuries.

Would your $60,000/year SS cover at least #2? With the additional $25,000, would it cover #1? How much do you need to cover #3? I agree with the annuity option someone mentioned. Get enough in annuities to get to #3. Maybe get long-term care insurance too? Then, continue spending your 3% / year and enjoy life knowing that you "could" survive even without your entire portfolio! It might help you feel better about spending it, if you don't need it. But, you will probably still be worried about the worst case scenario -- what if the stock and bond market crashes 90%, inflation is high, your car's transmission dies, and your house's structural integrity starts collapsing all at the same time. :) Well, you can decide that if your portfolio ever gets down to a certain amount, say the value of your $1m home, you will stop spending your 3%, put it all in something super safe, and just live off your SS on one of the 3 options above and use the $1m portfolio as an emergency fund. That will never happen, of course, but maybe planning for the impossible will help you enjoy the now. Also, realize that you will need less money as you age, so definitely enjoy it now.
Last edited by thriftynick on Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:28 am, edited 3 times in total.
Soon2BXProgrammer
Posts: 2636
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:30 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:18 am I can't spend money without feelings of anxiety. it's really painful. I've tried the "just force yourself to do it" therapy. Current examples:
[...]
So what's the problem? None of this makes me happy. Every expenditure is accompanied by moderate anxiety - you know that unpleasant feeling in the pit of your stomach? Every expenditure is like standing on the edge of a quarry and hoping your jump into the water below will be safe. However, once I've spent the money I don't give it a second thought.
[...]
Small Law Survivor
Accumulation is quite different then Decumulation. First step is to accept that. What got you here will not get you where you want to go.

My father has this exact problem. He has a few thousand dollars of guaranteed income a month, and a million+ dollars of investments. He will only spend the guaranteed income. He finally was willing to buy a SPIA with a refund feature. (yes, you get less money a month, but he was really concerned with what if i die early). He now spends up to his new guaranteed income level. (and when he annuitized, he annuitized bonds, he held and his remaining portfolio is more stock heavy, and so when you project lifetime ending wealth, it isn't significantly affected.. die early = refund feature.. die on time = biggest difference, long life = does surprisingly well)

Not saying that annuitization is right for you, but its something to think about for some amount of your dollars to increase the comfort of spending/giving more as you go, but be guaranteed that you won't run out.
Earned 34 (and counting) credit hours of financial planning related education from a regionally accredited university, but I am not your advisor.
mr_brightside
Posts: 491
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2020 3:23 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by mr_brightside »

how about charity? i actually enjoy giving my church money on many occasions better than spending it on myself.

travel and experiences with my family? yes. buying random expensive things, toys, clothes, etc? no I'm with you its painful (seems like a waste)

------------------------------------------
livesoft
Posts: 77645
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by livesoft »

Maybe I have anxiety spending money and maybe I don't. I have a spouse though that has no anxiety spending money.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.
HomeStretch
Posts: 6851
Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:06 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by HomeStretch »

As you have the money, this clearly isn’t a financial issue. You are self-aware of the psychological issue. Perhaps you can try prioritizing your ‘spending procrastination’.

- Spending on estate planning and necessary house maintenance (gutters) makes sense so try not to allow procrastination on these. Edit - spending in this category doesn’t need to make you happy because it’s necessary.

- If you must procrastinate/feel anxiety over spending, reserve it for more discretionary items like gifting, travel, electronics, etc.
Last edited by HomeStretch on Tue Aug 17, 2021 2:35 pm, edited 4 times in total.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 13036
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by TomatoTomahto »

I’m also 70 and sometimes have a similar problem, albeit one that I think is because the assets have been produced by my wife rather than me. I was a SAHD until the kids went to college, and I know that I was a good resource for my wife and did my share and blah blah blah; I’m always aware that I didn’t earn the money in the same sense that she did.

So, I bought really nice stereo speakers for $4k, but being honest, if it were “my” money, I would have bought the $16.5k pair while my hearing is still good enough to tell the difference. I would not have bought, I don’t think, the $100k pair of speakers, but I also would not take the chance on hearing them and risk falling in love. :oops: Ditto my spending on our home theater; I bought excellent but price aware equipment.

I do find it much easier to spend money on the kids than myself, gifting to the annual gift exclusion amount each year: that’s $120k/year. I also find it easier to spend on the house: installing geothermal, solar, batteries, generators, custom copper gutters, etc.

I don’t have any advice other than to suggest finding things that bring pleasure and joy to your life.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
smitcat
Posts: 8275
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by smitcat »

RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am OP's issue - anxiety over spending money - seems pretty clearly to be a psychological one, which is a medical issue, and not discussable on these forums.
Well said.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 13036
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by TomatoTomahto »

smitcat wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:27 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am OP's issue - anxiety over spending money - seems pretty clearly to be a psychological one, which is a medical issue, and not discussable on these forums.
Well said.
We discuss the intersection of psychology, medicine, and finances all the time on this forum. For example, there is something psychological underlying the desire to DCA regardless of the evidence. Same for extreme risk aversion. And they’re suitable topics.

I think learning how to “trick yourself” to convert from accumulation to decumulation is a valid topic.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
User avatar
BolderBoy
Posts: 5860
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:16 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by BolderBoy »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:18 am So what's the problem? None of this makes me happy.
So what in your life now does make you happy? What makes you get out of bed in the morning, every morning?
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
Financologist
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:16 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Financologist »

I get bad feelings when we make expenditures that don't meet with our values. This has not changed with increased wealth.

Money can do such good. Wasting it is such a shame.
Financologist
smitcat
Posts: 8275
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:51 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by smitcat »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:32 am
smitcat wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:27 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am OP's issue - anxiety over spending money - seems pretty clearly to be a psychological one, which is a medical issue, and not discussable on these forums.
Well said.
We discuss the intersection of psychology, medicine, and finances all the time on this forum. For example, there is something psychological underlying the desire to DCA regardless of the evidence. Same for extreme risk aversion. And they’re suitable topics.

I think learning how to “trick yourself” to convert from accumulation to decumulation is a valid topic.
A person who has had the exact same long term issue clearly defined by himself here....
"I can't spend money without feelings of anxiety. it's really painful. I've tried the "just force yourself to do it" therapy."

On this board for 7 years and near 1,000 posts with no suitable progress made so far - I believe this is a case where posting on a forum will not yield a meaningful result.
bloom2708
Posts: 8858
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:08 pm
Location: Fargo, ND

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by bloom2708 »

Did all of the spending in your list bring the same anxiety and feelings?

Did buying your kid a car have exactly the same result as spending $3k on speakers?

If so, then I think you just have to own up to the fact that spending is and will be difficult and cause you anxiety.

If giving to your child was easier and caused less anxiety, well, focus on the internal vs external.

We are all wired differently. My dad drives a 2000 Ford Ranger. He could buy 10 new trucks. He just doesn't want to.

Not spending is fine, just know that someone down the line will spend the money. You, spouse, kids, grandkids, etc. That and/or the govt will take some in form of taxes. :moneybag
"We are here to provoke thoughtfulness, not agree with you." Unknown Boglehead
wrongfunds
Posts: 2866
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:55 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by wrongfunds »

SQRT wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am Sorry, I just can’t relate. I’m 71 been retired for 15 years I have multiples of what you have saved (all time high for my portfolio) and have no problems spending, a lot. My biggest concern is that I might go overboard and run out, but highly unlikely, given my extremely generous pension.

Anyways. Maybe get some therapy? Fund a foundation? Start small and build up? You can only spend it or give it away, now or later.

Good luck.
If you have multiples of what he has, I do not quite follow the logic behind how your reply will help OP to spend his "meager savings" (when compared to yours). May be yours was a sneaky way to one up OP's humble bragging? :-)

Seriously, I do understand the inherent issue of spending money without worrying. It is obvious that neither of us reached here with "spend it without a second thought" attitude. But the most reasonable answer is to know thyself and see ones own behavior as a disinterested third party.

If it is any solace, here is a typical conversation in our household:-

S: "Is $1800 a good price for <xxx> job?"
Me: "I don't think so, $600 is way more generous for the two hours of (NOT-ROCKET-SURGERY!) work"
S: "You have no idea; you don't allow me to spend; you have been always like this; you don't respect me; I make more than you, ..."
Me: "Why do you ask me for my input if you don't care about it? Personally, $1800 is peanuts to me if spending that will make you happy. I feel that person is ripping you off but that is irrelevant"
wolf359
Posts: 2451
Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:47 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by wolf359 »

You have to examine your own feelings as to why you feel you can't enjoy your savings.

I don't know if any of these suggestions resonates with you:

1) The problem may be a fear of outspending your savings:
- Annuitize a portion of your savings, such as half of your bond allocation. Your annuities and social security can't run out. This becomes safe money that you can spend without guilt.

2) The problem may be having a worthwhile purpose for the money.
- Allocate an amount of funds that you are committing to spend each year.
- Include in that allocation an amount for gifts to family, and to charity.
- Any funds that you do not successfully spend in a given year could be donated to charity or gifts.

3) The problem may be that you need a financial goal to work towards. How about a goal of minimizing your lifetime taxes, including when you're passing your nest egg to the next generation? At 72, you will be starting RMDs. You need to drastically reduce the amount of funds in your traditional retirement accounts, or Uncle Sam will collect a large percentage in taxes. This does NOT mean you have to spend it. You could also reduce the balance by 1) shifting it to a 401(k) associated with your current part-time work; 2) converting it to Roth accounts; 3) sending the RMDs to charity; 4) other strategies like trusts, annuities, life insurance, etc.

4) Shift spending to family experiences, such as funding family reunions and family vacations (as opposed to things.) Fully fund all the grandkids 529 plans.
MoonOrb
Posts: 1263
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:58 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by MoonOrb »

I'm thinking of the type of therapy that's used to help people overcome other fears--flying, spiders, snakes, public speaking (exposure therapy?)--and imagining you could try this with giving money away to help other people.

Give a dollar away, see how it feels.
Give five dollars away, see how that feels.
Automate giving five dollars/week away, see how that feels.
Automate giving $25/week away, see how that feels.

Work on this like this every week for, say, three months. The total expenditure would be pretty modest after three months so you're not committing to anything major here. Keep a journal where you write down how you feel when you do these things. After three months, take a look back and see how you feel.

If it is possible after a few months to literally give some of your money away, then you can start experimenting with spending a bit more on small luxuries on yourself, too. Get a massage, see how you feel about that, nicer bath towels, a personal trainer, etc. (I think spending it on oneself would actually be more difficult if you what you have is nice enough already, but there are these tiny luxuries in life that are a little spendy if we add them up but may bring us a bit of joy sometimes, too).

Edited to add: IMO it is not necessarily very important to understand WHY you feel this way if there is something you can do to change the behavior--you could spend the rest of your life chasing the root cause; in the meantime, you could start taking immediate, cheap action on this now without worrying about why.
iamblessed
Posts: 1235
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:52 am
Location: St. Louis

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by iamblessed »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 8:18 am I'm 70, live in northeast U.S. Wife one year younger. I have $6 million in investments and a $1 million mortgage-free house. No debt. $60,000/year in social security (starting right now) and $25,000/year in income from my part-time job as a lawyer (mostly as arbitrator, work from home (before Covid) low stress).

I can't spend money without feelings of anxiety. it's really painful. I've tried the "just force yourself to do it" therapy. Current examples:
Our 27 yr. old daughter (only child) just graduated with Masters. I said to wife, let's give her a good graduation present, what do you think that should be? Wife said $500. I said $10,000, and we did that. In addition, we give daughter $500/month. Why? I figure better she enjoy this money while we're alive than when we're dead. My only constraint is spoiling her.

Daughter needed new car - $16,000, done earlier this year.

Furniture - last week my wife said I want to replace all our furniture with some really nice stuff. Will probably cost $15-$20,000 minimum. I said great, let's do it.

House painting - our house needs to be painted. Just got an estimate from company that painted a neighbor's house and neighbor was very happy with this company. $10,000. Today I'll tell them to go ahead.

Speakers - I need a good stereo system. The one I want will cost around $3,000. I'm ready to order them.

Red Sox tickets - out-of-town relatives are visiting. I said lets take them to a Red Sox game. $500 - done.

Fancy trip to Italy in 2018 - $15,000 spent

Fancy trip to France booked in 2019 before Covid hit - would have been $15,000 but cancelled due to Covid.
All of this is based on a variable 3% withdrawal rate from our investments. Add social security and earned income to that and we can easily spend well over $200,000/year. If market holds up this year, next year 3% + soc. security + earned income will be around $250,000. I told my wife that if we don't hit our "spend target" in a given year we'll take the unspent money and put it in a segregated account so we can be sure we spend it in the following year. I call this "carry-over" money - our carry-over money from 2020 is $30,000. Go figure.

So what's the problem? None of this makes me happy. Every expenditure is accompanied by moderate anxiety - you know that unpleasant feeling in the pit of your stomach? Every expenditure is like standing on the edge of a quarry and hoping your jump into the water below will be safe. However, once I've spent the money I don't give it a second thought.

I have other important expenses that I'm procrastinating on - new estate planning documents, new gutter system for house. I own an iPhone 6.

I think I know where this comes from - my father (a big influence on me) was born in 1920. His father died in 1932 (think about it ....). My father was extremely frugal, and he never invested as single penny in the stock market. Growing up in the 1920/1930s he distrusted it 100% for the rest of his life.

Wife is no help - she's even more frugal than me.

I'm baring my soul to strangers here. Thoughts appreciated, even "what [expletive removed by admin LadyGeek] is wrong with you" comments.

Really.

I'm baring my soul to strangers here. Thoughts appreciated, even "what the f is wrong with you" comments.

Small Law Survivor
I am like you but with smaller numbers. I read the Bible every day. It says to be content with what you have. So that is what I did. I will not spend it all but that is ok I am happy. At least you have someone to leave the money to. I retired early. I think you should retire now.
fourwheelcycle
Posts: 1245
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 5:55 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by fourwheelcycle »

My wife and I, both children of Depression era parents, also have difficulty bringing ourselves to spend the money we have saved. So far, we have become comfortable slowly spending a bit more on ourselves, giving (and leaving) amounts to our children that we are comfortable with, and giving/leaving the rest to charity - after Uncle Sam takes his share.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 13036
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by TomatoTomahto »

smitcat wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:46 am
TomatoTomahto wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:32 am
smitcat wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:27 am
RickBoglehead wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am OP's issue - anxiety over spending money - seems pretty clearly to be a psychological one, which is a medical issue, and not discussable on these forums.
Well said.
We discuss the intersection of psychology, medicine, and finances all the time on this forum. For example, there is something psychological underlying the desire to DCA regardless of the evidence. Same for extreme risk aversion. And they’re suitable topics.

I think learning how to “trick yourself” to convert from accumulation to decumulation is a valid topic.
A person who has had the exact same long term issue clearly defined by himself here....
"I can't spend money without feelings of anxiety. it's really painful. I've tried the "just force yourself to do it" therapy."

On this board for 7 years and near 1,000 posts with no suitable progress made so far - I believe this is a case where posting on a forum will not yield a meaningful result.
Fair point if it’s been a problem for 7 years, but I haven’t looked back with sufficient care on his 19 pages of posts to determine whether this has always been an issue or if it’s more recent. And, I’m going to do the dishes and then listen to my $4k speakers, so I won’t research it further :sharebeer
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
User avatar
Harry Livermore
Posts: 851
Joined: Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:32 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Harry Livermore »

I have no good advice to give, but I feel for you. I can see myself in your shoes someday.
Maybe just being a little busier with "work"? Is there some kind of pro bono legal work you can do?
Also, someone suggested baby steps. Extend your vacations somewhat? Travel extensively while you are still young and mobile? Fly first class, if that's something you have been reluctant to do in the past.
After a year of "loosening up", look back at your spending, note that your net worth has gone up despite the spending, take a deep breath, and try again. Your "carry-over" account is an excellent idea.
I won't be so flip as to suggest that this is a "good problem to have"... you are clearly bothered by it.
Best of luck and continue to post... it's a topic that should be discussed.
Therapy really might help.
Cheers
ponyboy
Posts: 1138
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 10:39 am

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by ponyboy »

Why do you feel that you have to spend it? If you're happy doing what you're doing, who cares how much money you have. Spread it around to your kids and grandkids when you pass.
surfstar
Posts: 2763
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:17 pm
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by surfstar »

Could be worse - you could be destitute, struggling to house and feed yourselves.

Look on the brightside! ;)


Figure out what makes you happy and do that. Maybe clipping coupons is that thing. Who cares? Do it. Give to charity instead? Whatever makes you happy.
Lextalionis
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:46 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Lextalionis »

How about being more adventurous with your investments with your extra money? In theory you could spend more and make more with a riskier investment, and even if it doesn't work out it would still be an adventure. Maybe fund a startup or an incubator? You could categorize it as an "investment" even if it doesn't pan out and however unlikely, it may just pay off big. Just keep a tight leash on the outflow. While this doesn't sit well in the boglehead philosophy but at least it would be a tangental exercise to something you know.
Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 24037
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Can understand the predicament you find yourself in, you were brought up with an element of fear. Fear of losing all of your assets leaving you destitute and with severe deprivation. It’s healthy to keep that thought in the back of your mind but not be consumed by it. Do you donate to charities, either time or money? Perhaps sharing some of your annual spending on a cause where you see the impact your donation can have on others less fortunate might make you feel better? Nothing wrong with lending a warm hand to your daughter but at some point she’s either inheriting your estate or not, so best to think of how to prepare her rather than leaving it all at the end. You’ll know whether you are really spoiling her or not.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions
pasadena
Posts: 1526
Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2016 1:23 am
Location: PNW

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by pasadena »

You know... you don't have to spend more money. Do whatever makes you and your wife happy. Find that balance and go with it. If spending $X annually makes you anxious then by all means, spend $Y.

And if you still have $30k unspent at the end of the year, maybe give that away to a charity important to you, or to someone who needs it. Your method of deciding to spend it next year on top of $X sounds like compounding the problem.

The main goal of your life now should be "let's be happy, and have fun".
delamer
Posts: 12309
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: I'm 70 Years Old and I Can't Spend My Savings

Post by delamer »

What happens to the money when you and your wife are gone?

Get that estate plan update.

If your daughter will be getting an inheritance, then give her more of the money now. Fund her IRA or help her buy a house.

If you are leaving some money to charities, then give it to them now instead.
One thing that humbles me deeply is to see that human genius has its limits while human stupidity does not. | | Alexandre Dumas, fils
Post Reply