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Should I insist that wife charge for her services? She does things that are in demand
Old 08-12-2009, 09:38 PM   #1
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Should I insist that wife charge for her services? She does things that are in demand

My wife, who sings, plays the guitar, wears funny hats, etc. retired about the same time I did has become very popular in our small town. While I have concentrated on fishing, kayaking, hiking, cooking and getting up when I felt like it, she has focused her efforts on performing at nursing homes, adult day care centers and children’s functions. The staff often tells her that Alzheimer’s patients and others who have been unresponsive for long periods of time suddenly respond to her. She is has become a “pied piper” to children. She is a very “charismatic” person and has been in the local paper many times and has developed a strong demand for her services at these places. She refuses to charge a fee although will accept a small stipend to cover gas, guitar strings and other miscellaneous expenses. I know she could charge a LOT more for her services which would nicely supplement our retirement. Should I insist that she charge a fee for her “gigs” or let it go as dead weight?
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:06 PM   #2
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My personal opinion only:

I don't know anything about your relationship with your wife, but if my husband asked this, I would be unhappy, or even offended, that he feels like he should "insist" that I charge a fee. Here are my reasons:

- It feels different to be singing out of kindness for the betterment of society than to be singing for money. Charging money can ruin that good feeling. It may be important to her that she is giving back to society.

- If she is retired, she probably feels that she has already earned her right to retire and spend time doing things she loves. While she loves singing, she may not love having to w*rk again, as fun as singing may be to her.

- Just on the relationship: I would be offended that my husband thinks he can dictate how I use my time, when he is not w*rking part-time himself. By asking that she charges money, you are asking her to shoulder a burden that you are not carrying yourself.

This is not meant to be a critique, and again, I don't know anything about you, your wife, or your relationship. Please take this with a huge sac of salt.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:08 PM   #3
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I dunno, if my wife asked me to charge for my volunteer work, I guess I would be a little miffed...YMMV

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Old 08-12-2009, 10:21 PM   #4
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I think that it is best to never insist that your spouse do anything.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #5
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What Martha said.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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:golfclap: Excellent, Martha.
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Old 08-12-2009, 10:25 PM   #7
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I would also not tell my wife that I see her unpaid volunteer work as "dead weight."
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:07 PM   #8
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What everyone else said.
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Old 08-13-2009, 12:48 AM   #9
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"Dead weight"? Interesting phrase, not one I would use.

My wife is an artist and she has been the creative force for a lot of school plays, fundraisers, etc. She has made many original works of art, for which she could charge a decent price, that she has given away as auction pieces for fundraisers for schools and charity. While she can make money with her art (she started selling her art in high school) I discovered that she really does it for the joy of creating. The money is not a huge priority, but that is her business and I stay out of it unless she asks my opinion. Or when I get tasked to move some huge installation piece.

The only time it became an issue was when the kids were both in elementary school and I was still working. She dreamed up this huge installation piece for a fundraiser and the time demand was too much. It really stressed everyone out and the homestead was an inch short of disaster with me running around trying to keep all the balls up in the air. When it was all over I had to admit I was not cut out to be a working single dad for much more than two-three days at a time and asked her to cut back on the size of future projects, at least until the kids were a little easier to take care of.

If we need money there are things both of us can do that will bring in income. If we don't need the money, and I'm not working, I just don't think I have any right to insist that she start charging for the creative works that she gives away.
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:16 AM   #10
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You might check the IRS code and deduct this as your chairitable contribion. They win, your wife wins and you win. Everything in life is not about getting all you can and this is a giving back thing. But, almost no one will pass on a deduction. That way everyone wins!
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:58 AM   #11
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You might check the IRS code and deduct this as your chairitable contribion.
Good point, forgot about that one. The IRS publishes guides for special occupations, artist and other creative folks like actors have one guide that lists the deductions common to the occupation and explains their use. I've never had a problem with deductions for her art stuff, but I stick with the guidelines and don't get creative.

Edit: Correction, it's not a guide for the artists to use in taking deductions, it's more a guide for IRS folks on how to deal with the deductions common to the business. Google TPDS 85726F and you can find the publication.
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Old 08-13-2009, 04:29 AM   #12
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I suspect that those types of businesses would not be willing to pay much (if anything) for entertainment. They are probably on fairly tight budgets. There would likely be little to gain in terms of money if you succeeded. Those care facilities might even stop calling her if there was a cost.

However, your DW is probably getting some enjoyment and fulfillment from the experience.

IMO - Leave it alone. Look at it this way... you get to enjoy her good mood as a by product of her efforts. You meddle with it and mess it up... you might suffer the bad mood (and resentment).
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:56 AM   #13
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"Insist?" No, not at all -- spouses don't own each other or their time.

Keep this in mind: you are *retired*. What that means to me is that you are free to pursue interests regardless of whether (and how much) they pay. It's pretty obvious your wife enjoys doing these things and feels good about doing these things for the community.

Isn't that the point of being retired -- no longer needing to be motivated by compensation? Having said that, there's nothing wrong with earning a few bucks to supplement your retirement income. The problem is (a) she's doing stuff for charities and nonprofits which often don't *have* the money, and if she tried to charge she might be shut out of what she enjoys doing, and (b) it's not a good idea to *insist* that your spouse do anything. Especially if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford retirement and thus you don't NEED the money.

As others have mentioned, though, I would definitely check into the tax implications of anything out of pocket she spends in support of her volunteer work as it may be deductible to some degree.

As a personal aside, for a couple of years my wife was doing a LOT of local community volunteer work here to keep herself busy -- through our church, the local library, the Relay for Life with the American Cancer Society, and so on. And even though I wished she spent more time looking for a paying job, I didn't want it to come too much from these other endeavors she finds fulfilling and I wasn't going to "insist" -- there's this thing called "communication" and talking things through as a team. And as it turned out, the contacts she made in these areas may have helped her find something eventually.
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
I think that it is best to never insist that your spouse do anything.
Agreed - dangerous territory. I'd make exceptions (never say never) for things that the spouse may unknowingly be doing that are a safety issue (including keeping our FIRE status safe!). I do insist on those things, and am willing to take some grief if it is really all for the best.

To the OP. Wow, how would you feel if DW insisted that instead of enjoying your fishing, kayaking, hiking, cooking and getting up when I felt like it, that you:

1) Start a commercial fishing business
2) Start a kayak rental business
3) Become a tour guide for hikers,
4) Take a job at a restaurant
5) Take a job at a sleep disorder clinic

Be glad that she has found something that she enjoys that others benefit from. Especially since she is sometimes getting her expenses covered. That's a pretty sweet hobby (helps justify my beer brewing hobby too). Beats building ships in bottles, IMO - not that there is anything wrong with that.

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Old 08-13-2009, 10:18 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by cashflo2u2 View Post
She refuses to charge a fee although will accept a small stipend to cover gas, guitar strings and other miscellaneous expenses. I know she could charge a LOT more for her services which would nicely supplement our retirement. Should I insist that she charge a fee for her “gigs” or let it go as dead weight?
Ditto the comments on "insisting" your DW charge for doing her gigs.

Also, what do you base your comment that "she could charge a LOT more for her services" on? Here in the Chicago area, singer-song writers and other part time, casual entertainers, performing at libraries, schools, small non-profit venues such as coffee houses, etc., are paid very small amounts or work voluntarily.

You might be surprised at how much demand for, and appreciation of, her services drops if she demands, say, $300/gig as compared to a small stipend to cover expenses.
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:23 PM   #16
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As long as her activities do not bring on any liability or are not unsafe to her, why upset the apple cart ?
I commend your wife for bringing joy into peoples' lives.
In fact, I insist she keep doing it.

I've been known to put on Halloween or Christmas costumes and show up "unannounced" at places where friends w*rk. Young and old are the best to get a smile from.


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Old 08-13-2009, 07:33 PM   #17
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The demand for DW's entertainment would probably evaporate very fast if she were to start charging. The organizations she plays for may be nonprofits or most likely have limited budgets for this type of activity.

So I think that "insisting" that DW be paid is likely to bring an end to something that she clearly enjoys, and probably cause resentment on her part and from others too. I don't recommend it.

What is less clear is whether the value of DW's volunteer work is being taken for granted. That often happens when a service is provided "free". DW may feel obligated to say "yes". Perhaps it would be more productive to discuss with DW how to set some mutually agreed limits on such participation.
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:11 PM   #18
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I know she could charge a LOT more for her services which would nicely supplement our retirement. Should I insist that she charge a fee for her “gigs” or let it go as dead weight?
OMG!!! She is NOT doing it for the money!!!!! She is doing it because she ENJOYS it, and out of the kindness of her heart which is probably being paid back ten-fold in kind. I suspect charging "real money" for it would take a lot of the joy out of it for her.

Are you afraid that she is being taken advantage of? She has no obligations - she can stop or cut back at any time since she has signed no contracts and her time is her own. Do you feel this is taking too much time and energy away from your time together? Well then, careful negotiations are probably in order.

But "dead weight"? You had better re-jigger your language before you get banished to the doghouse!

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Old 08-13-2009, 09:19 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by cashflo2u2 View Post
Should I insist that she charge a fee for her “gigs” or let it go as dead weight?
I thought this statement was made in jest.

It's hard to believe that any spouse "insisting" in this sort of situation would have survived long enough to type the post.
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:23 PM   #20
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OMG!!! She is NOT doing it for the money!!!!! She is doing it because she ENJOYS it, and out of the kindness of her heart which is probably being paid back ten-fold in kind. I suspect charging "real money" for it would take a lot of the joy out of it for her.

Are you afraid that she is being taken advantage of? She has no obligations - she can stop or cut back at any time since she has signed no contracts and her time is her own. Do you feel this is taking too much time and energy away from your time together? Well then, careful negotiations are probably in order.

But "dead weight"? You had better re-jigger your language before you get banished to the doghouse!

Audrey
What she said! Although it may not be true, it almost sounds as though you are upset that she has something that she enjoys doing, and gets praise for doing, that doesn't really involve you. So be careful or she may think that is what is going on.
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