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Old 08-14-2019, 06:42 AM   #61
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.... Does anyone have any advice? Man this sounds like a relationship help question, but while I want her to be able to have fun and spend I think financial stability and planning for retirement have to come first. What should I do?
Your DW sounds like me in my 20s.... if money made its way to my bank account then it seemed like it was automatically spent... so I structured my finances so less money made it to my bank account... the "pay yourself first" in savings lingo.

What might work for your DW is to have savings deducted from her earnings as well as perhaps a contribution to household expenses and then any remainder she can spend as she pleases.

You might also agree on a goal when you want to retire and how much income you want in retirement and then back into how much you need to save to get there and that may make the need for saving more real to her.... or do a plan in Quicken Lifetime Planner to get a sense of how much you need to save to achieve your financial goals.... then put your savings on autopilot and monitor your progress with Quicken.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:46 AM   #62
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You need to find some common ground between overdrawing a checking account and putting 1/4 or more towards retirement. That's a vast area between those two extremes.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:30 AM   #63
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As a means to try and answer the many questions I received, here are some additional details.

I make around $20k more a year than my wife does.
My wife hasn't shown me what percentage of her income goes to her state retirement plan, but I assume it's likely 2-4 percent. As for my retirement plan at work I am currently only doing the minimum to get the match which is 2%. As I mentioned I plan on increasing this by 3% each year since this is my annual raise. That would put us anywhere between 29-32% of our income saved.

We did decide to discuss our finances. I explained to her that I didn't like having this much control and that I felt for our relationship to be more positive going forward that I would like to discuss a new arrangement. She was open to it but uncomfortable. She explained that she has been taken care of her entire life and that someone has always been around to help get her out of any issues. She says because of this she feels she hasn't had to take on much responsibility and has always found it easier to have someone else do it. While I acknowledged my faults and that I had gone much too far, she acknowledged that she appreciated my passion and effort, but that she also needs to be more involved if our goal of early retirement is to be achieved.

In the end, we decided that after all bills are paid, she will get access to whatever money is remaining from her income. However, we also decided that half of that should go to a ROTH IRA. The amount she has remaining is still much larger than she had before and she agreed the amount was more than sufficient. I recommended that she think about setting some of it aside each month in case something comes up that she needs to pay for and that if she had any extra that investing more was never a bad idea. I did state that the decision is entirely up to her however.

Besides that, I made it clear that I don't want any control over what she does with this additional money. I said it's her money and she can use it on whatever she wants. I explained that I will go over both of our retirement accounts several times a year so she can see where she's at. We agreed that we need to stick to our new budget and that this extra spending money is more than enough for her each month.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:40 AM   #64
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The issue is not about you controlling the money or there being a power imbalance...there are many marriages that are perfectly happy where one person is in control of the money... there can be a happy yin and yang dynamic between a person who likes to be in control and another person who does not want to be in control and likes it when the other takes control, many marriages happily fall within this dynamic. The issue is whether the two of you are compatible in terms of how you relate to money...I don't think there are very many happy marriages where two people are far apart in terms of how they handle money and there is no yin and yang in that situation, just conflict. It has often been said that money is one of the biggest compatibility issues that leads to divorce, that is because some people are spendthrifts and some people are frugal, and some people are savers and some are not, and most people fall somewhere between the two extremes but if two people are far apart in terms of how they handle money then all the communication in the world will not fix the underlying issue.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:42 AM   #65
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Compromise, share all decisions so she can have input and help her understand your decisions. She might be an investing savant.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:48 AM   #66
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Seems like it was a constructive discussion last night. I hope it works out.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:56 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by Chris918 View Post
As a means to try and answer the many questions I received, here are some additional details.

I make around $20k more a year than my wife does.
My wife hasn't shown me what percentage of her income goes to her state retirement plan, but I assume it's likely 2-4 percent. As for my retirement plan at work I am currently only doing the minimum to get the match which is 2%. As I mentioned I plan on increasing this by 3% each year since this is my annual raise. That would put us anywhere between 29-32% of our income saved.

We did decide to discuss our finances. I explained to her that I didn't like having this much control and that I felt for our relationship to be more positive going forward that I would like to discuss a new arrangement. She was open to it but uncomfortable. She explained that she has been taken care of her entire life and that someone has always been around to help get her out of any issues. She says because of this she feels she hasn't had to take on much responsibility and has always found it easier to have someone else do it. While I acknowledged my faults and that I had gone much too far, she acknowledged that she appreciated my passion and effort, but that she also needs to be more involved if our goal of early retirement is to be achieved.

In the end, we decided that after all bills are paid, she will get access to whatever money is remaining from her income. However, we also decided that half of that should go to a ROTH IRA. The amount she has remaining is still much larger than she had before and she agreed the amount was more than sufficient. I recommended that she think about setting some of it aside each month in case something comes up that she needs to pay for and that if she had any extra that investing more was never a bad idea. I did state that the decision is entirely up to her however.

Besides that, I made it clear that I don't want any control over what she does with this additional money. I said it's her money and she can use it on whatever she wants. I explained that I will go over both of our retirement accounts several times a year so she can see where she's at. We agreed that we need to stick to our new budget and that this extra spending money is more than enough for her each month.
You two are rock stars and can actually talk to each other, which is quite an achievement at your age... Now you mention your DW has a state retirement plan. Ask her if she is OK with you exploring the ins and outs of the rules and payouts. This will help both of you understand what she might get in an ER situation. This might be the place for her to deploy extra money instead of a Roth...

Expect some back sliding and bumps in the road, that's normal. You guys are young and have a very long timeline. But for your DW's sake it's important she learn to be comfortable with money decisions. You might not always be around to guide her.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:10 PM   #68
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It sounds like you guys had a great conversation! You both acknowledged your own shortcomings and gave each other props, which is awesome.

This:
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Originally Posted by Chris918 View Post
She explained that she has been taken care of her entire life and that someone has always been around to help get her out of any issues. She says because of this she feels she hasn't had to take on much responsibility and has always found it easier to have someone else do it.
made me cringe a bit as a woman 15+ years down the road. Her parents did her no favors by taking care of her, unfortunately. But, she recognizes where she's at, which is good. That's the first step for all of us in fixing our parents' mistakes.

Really relying on herself for the first time can be scary, but it's necessary to be an adult. And she can do it. I mean, look at how many of us idiots manage it!
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:54 PM   #69
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DW gets $1,000/month in her personal checking account to blow on herself however she sees fit. I get $1,000/month in my personal checking account to blow however I see fit (me being me, I save and invest half of it). The rest goes into our joint checking, from which all joint bills are paid through automatic debits. It works for us.
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Financial Goals & Spouse
Old 08-18-2019, 01:05 PM   #70
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Financial Goals & Spouse

Normally I would not respond to this sort of a question. But it is really important, so I thought I would add my thoughts here. You are a team, there is no “I” it is “we”. You do not have a roommate that you share expenses with, she is your wife, an equal partner, no matter how much money she does or does not make.
At the same time, as you have a responsibility not to control her, she has responsibility to mature, and function as an adult in your marriage. She does not get to decide she will just not deal with finances. She does not have to become a finance nerd, she does need to shoulder the responsibility and weight of decision making with you.
If you sat her down, and told her you needed help with the finances would she really just say “no thanks” That is an unacceptable answer from a wife. And the same would apply to you if she were to ask you for help in an area that you might not be as skillful in...
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Old 08-20-2019, 06:31 PM   #71
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My folks were married for something like 48 years, then divorced. My dad controlled the finances, as much as he could. He paid the 'major bills' including mortgage, insurances, vehicles, utilities, etc. He put joint money away in 403(b) investments. He liked to spend his money on travel, computers, and camera gear.

My mom had a 'budget', which was part of her income. Her budget was to be spent on groceries, eating out, hair, gifts, household (furniture, etc.), supplies for her classroom, etc. She was terrible in controlling her spending, and wasted lots of money. She used spending as her only way of exerting power in the marriage. She ran up credit card debt several times, which my dad ended up paying off. Money was one part of the dysfunctional marriage. She never, ever balanced her checkbook. She spent what she wanted on 'expenses', and never saw any of her spending as discretionary. In the last 10 years of her marriage, on the advice of her coworkers, she opened up a 'secret' savings account, and started saving some 'emergency/divorce' money. Money was the source of countless screaming matches, and one of the two or three control issues in the marriage which were never solved. She bought magazines off the rack at the grocery store, bought excessive groceries weekly (and we had to throw out the ones from previous weeks that had gone bad). She spent multiple thousands of dollars on school supplies and food for her students annually. If she had learned how not to waste money, both her, and my father would have had a much better, more sanctimonious marriage, and they would have been in far better shape financially when they eventually divorced.

Kudos to the OP for discussing the issues with his wife. Hopefully, they can find a middle ground, but zebras don't change their stripes (either his, nor hers).
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Old 08-21-2019, 04:00 PM   #72
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Lots of good advice in here. You both seem very self aware, which can help you achieve a balance as a team providing you both put in the work required for a good happy marriage. Achieving a balance can be really hard. I tried to w/ my spendthrift ex but eventually it and other similar issues caused me to walk away.

Do try to remember to have fun- lighten up a bit for heaven's sake! You're both young, and a big part of those decades is making happy memories together. One can easily travel on a small budget- we AirBnB it for 50-60 bucks a night a lot of the time, even though we could easily afford more.

You can buy an early retirement, but you sure as heck cannot buy back lost love or wasted years.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:00 AM   #73
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This sounds like a relationship problem because you're handling the financial aspects, albeit with her grudging agreement. She wants more money to spend on things she doesn't really need, you say.

Maybe she does need them. Maybe she's "buying her feelings." The overspending may be a manifestation of a deeper issue. Would she (and you!) be willing to spend some money with a counselor to get to the bottom of it? The marriage you save may be your own.
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:28 PM   #74
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She explained that she has been taken care of her entire life and that someone has always been around to help get her out of any issues. She says because of this she feels she hasn't had to take on much responsibility and has always found it easier to have someone else do it.
It's a big step for her to realize this. Point out to her the uncomfortable fact that most women outlive their husbands. First of all, this means she has a major stake in long-term finances. Second, no matter how carefully you plan to provide for her in case of your early demise (e.g., lots of life insurance), unless she feels empowered she's likely to find someone to "help" her manage the finances and the results could be disastrous, whether it's a predatory advisor, a greedy family member, a gold-digger boyfriend or a "friend" with a can't miss business opportunity. This is a skill she needs to develop for herself and her future.
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Old 08-22-2019, 05:39 PM   #75
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:01 PM   #76
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Ditto the earlier posters who observed that this is a relationship challenge, not a financial one.

Threads like this one are genuine value. Much of the fodder on this forum deals with the money issues which retirement presents: earning it, saving it, investing it, even blowing it. But when the discussion turns to dealing with the real issues of life, such as working through our human interactions, I think that's when I learn the most.

Good luck to OP and his DW. Don't forget, the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:51 PM   #77
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I haven't gone through all the comments, but here's my opinion:

Appears she's a spendthrift and you're the responsible one. Get divorced.
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:56 PM   #78
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It sounds as though you are both willing to look at this honestly - what a good start! I didn’t hear answers to whether or not she is interested in ER, which is an important point. As in, it is 100% the motivation for a 30% savings rate.

As a psychologist, I will join the call for couples’ counseling. IF you can both agree that the help would be useful. A therapist who specializes in couples’ financial issues would be ideal. As mentioned above, it should only take a few sessions. As also mentioned above, divorce is a major impediment to saving money. Seriously so.

It is easy to see why you find yourself treating her like a child. She said herself she is accustomed to being taken care of, to having someone bail her out whenever she falters. You will both have to work against that to achieve a partnership. With the present setup, you’re both resentful of the other. The roles you find yourselves in are uncomfortable and ill-fitting. Counseling can be so helpful in these situations!
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