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FIRE and marital status
Old 09-20-2007, 09:20 AM   #1
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FIRE and marital status

I've noticed that many members of this board who are working hard to RE, or have already done so, are single. It got me wondering whether the ability to achieve FIRE was in any way correlated to one's marital status. I know from experience that DW often spends money in ways I would not spend if single. Of course there are other tradeoffs too.

So here's the poll question: if you have already achieved FIRE, are you married or single? Has status changed since RE?
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Old 09-20-2007, 12:55 PM   #2
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Married, children grown up and long out.

We saw the light and came to the conclusion that ER was possible with minimal FI 7 years before the first window of opportunity would open up, in our case we'd each have to be 50 years old.

What might make us similar to your single types is we both qualified for the same deal, basically worked for the same very large entity. So in effect two modest Cola'd Pensions add up to a pretty decent permanent standard of living without risk. We couldn't have pulled it off if only one member of our duo was contributing to our combined income.

As to your observation about spending habits, sure we have different priorities. She likes to buy me guitars, and I only like to play them. Works great to date!
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tightasadrum View Post
I've noticed that many members of this board who are working hard to RE, or have already done so, are single. It got me wondering whether the ability to achieve FIRE was in any way correlated to one's marital status. I know from experience that DW often spends money in ways I would not spend if single. Of course there are other tradeoffs too.
So here's the poll question: if you have already achieved FIRE, are you married or single? Has status changed since RE?
Marriage may not make or break a FIRE plan but a divorce will surely destroy it.

Spouse and I wouldn't have been able to FIRE without both of us working full-time for over 20 years and saving as much of the extra salary as we could. The second pension is a nice benefit, too. It's similar to the old-fashioned model of one worker going at it for 40 years.

I've been informed that the only way I'm leaving this marriage partnership is feet-first. In exchange, although I don't get to choose my status, I do get to choose my time...
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:29 PM   #4
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Marriage by itself does, on balance and IMHO, speed up achieving FIRE. A married couple can share housing and household items, such as furniture. It also greatly depends on circumstances, but in my case our aggregate taxes were lower when married than now. Also, as a practical matter, one person grocery shopping for two takes less time than two people grocery shopping for two; there are probably other time saving aspects as well, which in turn can allow more time for earning money and/or spending more time with the family.

Being married to someone who is less FIRE-oriented can result in delaying FIRE if that person spends more or invests less. In my case I was married to a woman who was not as FIRE-oriented as me. She divorced me last year, partly on the financial differences between us and all that flows from those differences. My FIRE date has probably been moved a decade earlier because I do not have to support her spending habits or her broke family. She was previously a SAHM but now works and will likely have to work at least a decade later than our original FIRE date unless she remarries, becomes very successful in her career, and/or has some other similar magnitude beneficial black swan event occur.

All the above sounds cold and grouchy to me as I write it. I don't mean to be judgemental or cold-hearted towards my ex. But the above is just focused on the financial aspects of things. If we started talking about the emotional or relational or personal aspects of divorce, I'd have to quit my job to post here full time...nd I can hear the peanut gallery saying "No, 2Cor521, don't start talking about that again!".

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Old 09-20-2007, 01:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Marriage may not make or break a FIRE plan but a divorce will surely destroy it.

Spouse and I wouldn't have been able to FIRE without both of us working full-time for over 20 years and saving as much of the extra salary as we could.
I am not FIRE'd quite yet, but I had to contribute my two cents. I could never have retired had I stayed married to my ex (whose favorite saying was, "he who dies with the biggest and best toys wins!"). I am divorced, and divorce was an utter castrophe for me from a financial point of view, leaving me with almost nothing but debt and bad credit.

Despite that, like many others I am proceeding right on schedule with my FIRE plan and should be able to retire in 2009-2010.

Divorce may destroy a FIRE plan, but it can also lead to a new and different road to FIRE. I think this might be what Nords meant but just wanted to add my perspective for the benefit of any lurking discouraged divorcees.

ETA: 2Cor521, you beat me to the punch! I have to add that grocery shopping for one is MUCH faster for me than shopping for two, because I don't have to spend time searching for food items that my somewhat picky ex would eat. The store is out of his favorite, Brand X? Then I just scoop up Brand Y and happily head to the checkout. And I spend about 1/10th the time doing housekeeping chores such as putting stuff away.
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:43 PM   #6
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For what it is worth, I am single, never married, and hope to FIRE within 3 years. Personally, I think it would be harder to achieve FIRE if I were married. Mainly due to possible different priorities in spending and saving. Plus, I live well below my means and most ladies I have dated do not understand that and would not want that lifestyle.
However, I recall reading in "The Millionaire Next Door" where the overwhelming number of millionaires are married, so maybe I'm the oddball.
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:46 PM   #7
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Married late in life. Me for the first (and only) time, he for the fourth. Got our acts together and money straight. Inherited money. FIRED. In our case getting hitched made all of the difference. We would still be bumbling along if we had not hooked up.
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:10 PM   #8
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Wellll - er single but not really - a 29 year one night stand with a divorced Cat-lick as they used to say in New Orleans.

Single,married,divorced - using the same playbook is the key. Otherwise ER is delayed or derailed.

heh heh heh - a divorce late in the accumulation stage(like one of my bosses) can really derail one(worked till past 70). She married one of my other bosses who retired at 63. Interesting story if I wanted to write a book.
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tightasadrum View Post
working hard to RE, or have already done so, are single. It got me wondering whether the ability to achieve FIRE was in any way correlated to one's marital status. I know from experience that DW often spends money in ways I would not spend if single. Of course there are other tradeoffs too.
For your sake I hope DW doesn't read this forum!

Ha
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Marriage may not make or break a FIRE plan but a divorce will surely destroy it.
Well, I would say it is no help, but destroy? I'm still staying out late, getting up when I want, eating steaks and wild salmon, paying my rent, etc. So if this is destruction, bring it on!

Ha
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:37 PM   #11
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Well, I would say it is no help, but destroy? I'm still staying out late, getting up when I want, eating steaks and wild salmon, paying my rent, etc. So if this is destruction, bring it on!
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Old 09-20-2007, 03:28 PM   #12
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I retired last year at 48 as a peon-level programmer. I was married from age 27-34.
It ended by mutual agreement with no hard feelings. The experience probably cost
me a year or 2 of extra working, but it also served as an innoculation against future
marriage, which would probably come to a much more expensive ending and in that
sense saved me from years of unhappiness.
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Old 09-20-2007, 03:58 PM   #13
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So here's the poll question: if you have already achieved FIRE, are you married or single? Has status changed since RE?
I was married when I left Mega Corp almost nine years ago and I'm still married. Husband will jump in the ER pool in 19 months.

30 years of marriage (for us) = Team.
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Old 09-20-2007, 04:01 PM   #14
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I was only married for 3 years and divorced at 30. I've been working toward FIRE since then.

It was a positive financially, as my ex was a spender, and to this day he lives beyond his means (8 years later). Luckily, he's not living beyond MY means anymore.
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Old 09-20-2007, 04:20 PM   #15
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Divorced many years ago. We were living month-to month, with credit card balances, taking out 401K loans, selling ESPP shares regularly, etc. I could blame her but probably we were just a bad team.

Once divorced I lived tight and got out of debt except for my mortgage on a small house. Slowly on my way to FIRE when a new job with more pay, bonuses, and stock options gave me a turbo boost.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:24 PM   #16
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single but shopping for a totally hot, hung, handsome, well built, smart, funny, goodhearted, wealthy emotionally available single guy who would settle for the likes of me. i was sure i'd find one on the early retirement forum but it hasn't panned out all that well. i have no idea why i still hang out here.
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:32 PM   #17
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Oh go on, you just enjoy the company!
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:32 PM   #18
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Interesting turn to the thread. I would be in the camp that goes:

Divorce saved me from many years of working, it's all about the timing.

In my case we divorced in our late 30's, the actuary valued the present value of Ex's "cut" of my potential retirement plan at 30k. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap cost of getting free to be with current and forever always DW. Flash forward to the coincidence mentioned in earlier post on this thread, she also had divorced Ex, and at little or no cost as there potential retirements were roughly equal at the time. Without the divorce 15 years ago, I wouldn't have likely have ever ER'd as Ex liked the good life on the edge with no savings, for her it was all about waiting for others to die and get THEIR money. So I'd have missed my window to meet and marry DW.

IOW, if I were to be callous and literal, a divorce from a non-ER thinking spouse could be a great thing. You can as you look for the perfect mate (I Got Mine, the IGBW), consider heavily that you are of like minds on our favorite subject, and very possibly your union of two incomes with two plans for ER could save you some years at the plant!
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Old 09-20-2007, 05:50 PM   #19
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Married for almost 25 years. Wife retired way before me to raise the kid at home. I ER'd 2 years ago - once the kid grew up and moved out.

The wife and I have similar spending habits - we are both very thrifty and live well within our means. When I was working.... we lived below our means not even realizing that a complete ER was in our future. The ability to ER kind of snuck up and surprised us.

I'm pretty sure there would be no ER for us if we didn't have similar views on how to spend/save our $$$. I'm a lucky man to find a mate with the same thrifty spending habits as myself!

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Old 09-20-2007, 06:24 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
I am not FIRE'd quite yet, but I had to contribute my two cents. I could never have retired had I stayed married to my ex (whose favorite saying was, "he who dies with the biggest and best toys wins!"). I am divorced, and divorce was an utter castrophe for me from a financial point of view, leaving me with almost nothing but debt and bad credit.

Despite that, like many others I am proceeding right on schedule with my FIRE plan and should be able to retire in 2009-2010.

Divorce may destroy a FIRE plan, but it can also lead to a new and different road to FIRE. I think this might be what Nords meant but just wanted to add my perspective for the benefit of any lurking discouraged divorcees.

ETA: 2Cor521, you beat me to the punch! I have to add that grocery shopping for one is MUCH faster for me than shopping for two, because I don't have to spend time searching for food items that my somewhat picky ex would eat. The store is out of his favorite, Brand X? Then I just scoop up Brand Y and happily head to the checkout. And I spend about 1/10th the time doing housekeeping chores such as putting stuff away.
My EX left in 1984 after 7 years, because it wasn't fun any more.

I got to be as cheap as I want ever since.

Advice: If you're going to divorce do it early, before you get into serious accumulation/saving stage.
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