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How do you convince your spouse to RE?
Old 06-25-2014, 06:48 PM   #1
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How do you convince your spouse to RE?

Dear all,

I am a long time lurker here and finally decided to post. My question is: how do/did you convince your spouse to RE, when you know you already have way more nest eggs to count on to RE?

Our situation in a nutshell:

Me: 44, working full time @$120K/yr
DH: 53, working full time - @$500K/yr with HIGH stress and LONG hours
no kids

NW around $8M
before tax: $3.5M (about 50% stocks/50% bonds)
401Ks: $1M
after tax:$500K including emergency fund
2 properties fully paid for: $3M
no debt

Annual expenses including taxes
$200K +/-

A small non-COLA pension @20K/yr for me starting at 65, no pension for DH
Some property/restaurant investments that will bring $20K/yr income

I have run every FIRE calculations I could find out there and every time it gives me a 100% success rate with our current size of assets/expenses. When we retire we will sell one property and downsize. This should give us another $1.5M to add to investible portfolio, totally $6.5M in investible assets. It will also lower our annual expenses by $30+K. Even with more traveling and paying for our own health care insurance, I think $200K/yr will be the upper end of our annual expense budget after RE, and we have plenty of room to reduce expenses if needed to (the property we intend to keep only costs $10K/yr in real estate taxes, and has been fully renovated recently). I plan for us to live on investment income (dividends + muni bonds + investment profit sharing) plus <1% SWR of the $6.5M until 60, when DH starts to draw in his 401K; then SS @65 plus my pension.

Now, all look good except(!) DH will not agree to retire! He HATES his job, has several health issues due to job-related stress, having OMY syndrome (but for some reason just can't pull the plug), and often comes home totally stressed out and miserable. His job is 24/7, and we have not had a real vacation in years. It is ruining our lives, health, and marriage. In all fairness though, I know DH is doing his best trying to provide a good life for us, and I truly appreciate his efforts. But it is really bothering me that even after I showed him all the calculations with 100% success rate, he is not willing to give up his Megacorp career and slow down. At the same time, I am not able to RE either (although I also hate my job), because I don't want to stay at home by myself all day... Many travel plans have been postponed because of DH's highly-demanding job. It makes me very unhappy. DH talks about retiring at 60, but that is some 7 years from now! I just don't see how I can put up with this for another 7 years.

So, how do/did you convince your spouse to take a leap of faith and jump off the ship?
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:12 PM   #2
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Hmmm - it sounds like this post was written by my wife.

I have exactly the same dilemma as your husband - I can afford to retire but just don't seem to be able to get my head around what I do when retired.

I have now got it into my head that I will scale back on things in 2015 - probably only work 2 weeks per month (I am a self employed consultant).

My suggestion is for you to suggest to your husband that he scale back, try to get into a consulting type role where he only works part time for a few years. It will be a transition to retirement. He will still have his work and career but it will not be the dominating aspect of his life any longer.

As I said, I have not got there yet - but I am getting there slowly. Money is not the only aspect of early retirement.
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:42 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum! You have some great numbers there - RE should be a breeze financially. I tried to convince DW to RE for the last few years. Explaining the numbers to her didn't work. I finally got to her by explaining that life is short, and gave her examples of her coworkers that had passed away at young ages without enjoying retirement at all.
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:46 PM   #4
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Tell him he has to work until he drops.
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:52 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forum! I sympathize. It sounds as if DH's obsession with his job/power, etc, is becoming a significant problem in terms of his health. Can his doctor influence him?

I wonder about your inability to ER. You hate your job, but you don't want to ER because you don't know what to do with yourself around the house all day. That does not need to be how it is! If you don't have some personal interests and activities, develop them now. Cultivate friendships. Play golf (or whatever). Go away for a girls' weekend. Cut back on your own schedule and enjoy yourself a bit more. It might help motivate DH. And don't give me the "he needs me" excuse. With the resources that you two have, there is more than enough to hire staff.
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:54 PM   #6
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I would retire without him. Join some clubs, make some women friends and go on vacations without him.

Does he get a lot of status / identity from his job? That may be a scary thing for him to give up, despite the net worth.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:17 PM   #7
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Thx all for the quick response!
@aus_e_expat: I have talked to DH about scaling back and perhaps doing some consulting works. While he fully agrees, his timeline is a bit off from mine--he wants to put it off until he's 60, but I want him to scale back NOW! How did your DW convince you to slowly transition to consulting?

@ronstar: good job convincing your DW! My DH actually had couple coworkers/clients who worked very hard their whole life and unfortunately passed away around 50-55. Every time it happened DH thinks about cutting his hours, but only to brush it off months later when he sees his pay checks!

@meadbh: DH's doctors tell him to slow down, but he is too stubborn to listen I guess. As far as me not being able to RE, well, there's another story to it: my DH seems to be a bit resentful when I enjoy my time off, traveling with my girl friends and having fun on my own. I know it sounds awful but it is where he stands and it has been a problem we are having-- DH won't retire or slow down, yet he doesn't want me to RE either! I took a leave of absence for 2 months last year as a pre-RE trial. I enjoyed it SO much! Went to Napa with girls I grew up with, had long lunches with my neighbors (they are stay at home moms), did lots of gardening which I enjoy... DH, however, was not so supportive and we had more arguments than ever! It is not even the $ that's the issue here. I think DH was jealous that I was free of stressful work, enjoyed myself and friends so much and didn't spend "enough" time with him.

Has anyone encountered similar problem? How do/did you deal with and solve this (OK, I know marriage counseling may help, or often not) ?
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:24 PM   #8
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I agree with those who say that the real red flag is when you say you don't want to be home alone so you don't retire. Also you do not tell us the reason your husband does not want to retire. Does he not believe the financial part, because that does seem to be the easiest piece of the puzzle for you--congrats and enjoy that!

But it seems there is something else going on for both of you that is between the lines--

If either of you is convinced you would have trouble filling your time without work- then you can never retire- ever. There is no magic pixie dust that will change you when you turn (or he turns) 60, or 62, or 65, or 70 or whatever...you will either figure out that there is more to life than work, or you find that there is not enough for you without work --and that issue exists no matter when you retire. It has nothing to do with early or late retirement...Late retirement increases the likelihood you won't be well enough to have to answer this question, but that is not a solution one hopes for...

For the record and to repeat what has been said here many times, I have yet to find any problem finding things to occupy myself without work...the problem is getting to all the things I wish I could get to...but as always YMMV.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:27 PM   #9
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I have actually been doing the self employed consulting since late 2008. I work as many hours as I want (which has largely meant 70 hours a week) but now I have realised enough is enough.

For me also, I think my niche area of consulting is probably likely to experience a downturn for a few years (it is cyclical) - so I may as well enjoy the down times as much as I enjoyed the past few years of good times. So that makes the decision easy.

I think if your husband has health problems then he really should seriously look at whether or not to continue working himself to an early grave.

Part of my reasoning for scaling back is that I am in good health so I can do lots of activities - why wait until I am 70 and possibly not able to be so active.
Actually, at 70 I may want to go back and sit in an office everyday.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:37 PM   #10
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I don't think filling time when RE'ed would be a problem for either of us. My biggest passion is travel (which I have not been able to do with DH) and I have many interests to easily fill my free time. DH has even more hobbies and I don't think he will be bored without working. I think it is financial aspect that's been holding him back from RE. DH grew up in a very poor family and had to struggle a lot to make ends met early in his life, so he is constantly anxious about running out of $. He's very good with our and my spending (not stingy at all, in a good way), but worries about $$ all the time even when he agrees with my numbers... I guess it's a mentality thing. I, on the other hand, grew up with plenty financial support so I've never been too concerned about $. I will also inherit a good amount of $$ in the future, which adds more to our financial security. But even with all this, DH just can't agree to, and won't pull the dxxn plug! It is so frustrating!
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aus_E_Expat View Post
I think if your husband has health problems then he really should seriously look at whether or not to continue working himself to an early grave.

Part of my reasoning for scaling back is that I am in good health so I can do lots of activities - why wait until I am 70 and possibly not able to be so active.
Actually, at 70 I may want to go back and sit in an office everyday.

Good point aus_e_expat! I'll pass your words to DH for sure.
In fact my DH's business is quite cyclical too. But instead of enjoying his down time, he gets more anxious and wants to work more...
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:49 PM   #12
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You can lead a man to money but you can't make him think.
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:52 PM   #13
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You can lead a man to money but you can't make him think.
Agree 100%!
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Old 06-25-2014, 08:55 PM   #14
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I enjoyed it SO much!
He is going to have to work out for himself how he wants his own life to work out, but if it were me I would keep doing the things I enjoyed, tantrums on his part or not.
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:08 PM   #15
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Is your DH's worry just financial or is that really an excuse? That is, in my field, I've known some people whose entire sense of self and accomplishment is so wrapped up with career that they don't really want to retire because to them they would essentially see themselves are washed up, out of the game, etc. Some of those people do say the reason they won't give it up is financial, but the financial is really just a small part of it.

I'm pretty sure that if it was me in your situation I would go ahead and retire whether DH did or not and if he was unhappy with me for engaging in activities with friends .... well I would tell him I would love to do those things with him if he can take the time to do them.

You can't make him retire if he doesn't want to. But you shouldn't be held hostage to his several more years syndrome either.

If his concern is truly financial then maybe a consultation with a fee only financial planner might be helpful to tell him you really do have enough money.
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:27 PM   #16
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I got to the point where the stress in dealing with the administrative side of my job was just not worth it despite the large income. Add to that the increasing need to attend memorial services for high school friends and work colleagues and it wasn't too hard to make the call. DW continues to work because she finds it enjoyable. I love the free time in the garden, with the kids, the dog, the lake.... and when I need to contribute I do some teaching or eventually some overseas volunteering. You have worked hard to obtain a NW that gives you freedom... but everyone has to make their own decision. Risk/benefits - many people seem to have a very large portion of there self-worth tied to their work but there are many things that one can do to add value to the world and when you can do them on your own timetable, the stress decreases dramatically. Best of luck.
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Old 06-25-2014, 09:45 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by heeyy_joe View Post
You can lead a man to money but you can't make him think.
I think this is going to be your key...getting him to think for himself rather than you trying to do it for him. Maybe you can't make him think, but you can ask him to. Why don't you ask him to try to calculate, based on his own assumptions, when you (two) will be financially ready to retire. Make it an intellectual exercise, so he doesn't feel like you are trying to trap him into a commitment at this point. Just ask him from a purely financial perspective, how much would be enough. Maybe when he has to answer the question himself rather than just listen to (and resist) your opinion, he will begin to come around and see that you are already there.
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Old 06-25-2014, 10:09 PM   #18
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Maybe your DH is not ready to downsize. Selling one property and reducing expenses will give you a bullet-proof ER. Without those changes, you are looking at about at 4% WR -- which would make a lot of people on this forum a tad nervous, not just your husband.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:13 AM   #19
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Tell him that the greatest asset one can have is not the amount of invested assets or other retirement funds, IT'S HEALTHY TIME on this earth. He shouldn't think of it as "retiring from something" but rather "retiring to something".....financially you're golden.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:57 AM   #20
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I've been retired seven years, starting at age 54.

My advice would be for you to retire and make the most of your time left here on Earth. Your DH will do what makes him happy, you need to do the same.

Who knows? He may be miserable retired and will resent you for forcing him out of the game. Or he may see you having a ball and want to join in.
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