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Old 11-06-2009, 04:15 PM   #21
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I'm in a situation similar to your wife. I didn't work for 22 years while I was a SAHM. It worked very well for all of us. I loved it, DH liked me being home with the kids and getting everything done so that he had his weekends free. When we look back we all agree (even the kids) that me not working was the right thing to do for our family.

Three years ago I started a very minimal part time job. It was specifically to complete my Social Security credits since when I left to raise a family I had only 33 credits and you need to have 40. I've continued this job because I still enjoy it and the little bit of money is nice, all going toward savings. We live on about 3/4 of my DH's take home pay so we live very LBYM.

Like your wife I was out of the workforce for a large block of time. I knew this would be an issue if I ever returned to work but I didn't realize how big of an impact this would be. Right now I'm not looking for anything else as I started working for H&R Block about a year ago and have been taking additional classes for the tax season. But last year I did look for a larger part time job and it was very discouraging. Our area is hit hard by the recession. Unemployment is high around here so anything that I'd apply for had plenty of younger candidates with relevant and recent experience. I'm very competent, detailed, a fast learner and a good worker, but my relevant experience is from the previous century.

So for now I'm sticking with my little part time job that pays well hourly (just not a lot of hours) and continuing with the tax prep education and seasonal work. It may not be the ultimate career but these are the jobs I HAVE vs the job I don't have yet.

One difference to your situation is that I am very motivated to LBYM. I have always been the home economist and handled all the money, monthly budget and finances. DH was always good at earning it and felt like he should be free to spend it. Then a few years ago we looked at upcoming retirement and I showed him how by cutting back on extras and paying off debt he would be able to retire in 2013 (if his job holds out that long). This got him very motivated to cut back on extras and concentrate on the goal.

Maybe she would be willing to cut back on spending rather than get a part time job. I know that worked for me when my kids were young.

Do you track spending? We found it very helpful to keep track of every expense for a few months just to see where it's all going. I don't see shopping as entertainment. I shop when we need something and the fun for me is shopping efficiently and getting a good deal on something. Then the other part of the fun is using it well at home. My own version of sport. Yes, I realize I'm different than many people.
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Old 11-06-2009, 04:47 PM   #22
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You've talked to her, but I suggest you put it on paper...in black and white. Discuss the financial spreadsheets and perhaps she can understand what it will take for you to FIRE. Compromises can be made...
I second this emotion. I found it much easier to cut back even more on spending once I saw the model DH showed me. A little cut in ongoing monthly spending forever, makes as big a difference as a few more hundred thousand dollars, at least in our situation.
If she was in IT (like me) she might also be into seeing a model and dealing with numbers.
I also wonder if you have an adequate model yourself of how much sooner you could retire if she managed to get a job with a realistic salary, minus the additional taxes you'd pay and expenses you'd incur. You may find that cutting back on monthly expenses by even a little, on a permanent basis, would more than make up for the money she would make in the few years before your ER. You should both have access to a realistic model of the tradeoff - lower expenses or additional job.
BTW my parent's marriage broke up, partly because of this very issue and their inability to communicate with each other about it.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:04 PM   #23
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I don't know how secure the OP's job is, but to me the most important thing might be that if he were laid off while she wasn't working, they might have to tap into savings and investments and add several years to the final FIRE date. In other words, instead of being 8 years away, such an event could push it back to (say) 10-12 years away without any other income or source of health insurance.

Avoiding that with a second paycheck and a redundant set of benefits might be more important than shaving a year or two off the current FIRE date if all goes well.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the primary reasons my wife started working again earlier this year was as a little extra security in case I got laid off and lost my paycheck and health insurance. It certainly wasn't for the pay. And that she might wind up with a small pension out of it if she sticks it out for a few years is gravy.

I don't disagree with your post... I was just trying to show that trying to talk a wife that has not worked for 20 years into going back to work is not as easy as it might sound... even with the extra security it will bring...
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:42 PM   #24
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I don't disagree with your post... I was just trying to show that trying to talk a wife that has not worked for 20 years into going back to work is not as easy as it might sound... even with the extra security it will bring...
Right. But that's not a good reason to not even try to re-enter the work force. It is a good reason to set expectations properly, especially in this economy. Good, decent-paying full time work will be hard to find now. But if you can start small and prove yourself once in the door, it can lead to something more. Based on what I'm hearing (from one side), that's how I think it might best be played.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:53 PM   #25
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...
DW is college educated with past experience in IT. She would never want to get back into the IT field. But I would think she could find a job as an admin assistant, office manager, etc to bring home $40-50K a year. Over 8 years that is a lot more for our nest egg.
In my neck of the woods, an admin assist or office manager would probably start at about $15K a year for a 40 hour week. I think that's about the minimum wage nowadays.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:59 PM   #26
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Right. But that's not a good reason to not even try to re-enter the work force. It is a good reason to set expectations properly, especially in this economy. Good, decent-paying full time work will be hard to find now. But if you can start small and prove yourself once in the door, it can lead to something more. Based on what I'm hearing (from one side), that's how I think it might best be played.

I agree with this. It has occured to me that her being a 2nd wage earner offers some hedge against the possibility of my job being lost. I work at a good megacorp. But in this economy anything is possible

I want to retire because I'm tired of the major stress associated with my job. I want to enjoy life and detoxify from the work environment. But I'm not trying to be overly unrealistic. I know I can't retire until my son has moved thru college..still 8 years away. It's not like I'm trying to retire tomorrow (I wish!).

My pay is excellent...$177 base. But we manage to spend to this level. I see her potential salary as actual wealth building.

I do agree that unless she can earn to a certain level then it may not be worth it. My tax bracket stinks. It sounds like I grossly underrate the difficulty in finding an low/avg paying job.

My wife is great. I love her very much. She has been a great SAHM. I don't want to terrorize her or intimidate her. I just want to be healthy and around to enjoy a nice retirement with her.

Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions!
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Old 11-06-2009, 06:26 PM   #27
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My pay is excellent...$177 base. But we manage to spend to this level. I see her potential salary as actual wealth building.

Underspending your salary is probably going to save a lot more than your wife having a minimum wage job. Start tracking your expenses and make cuts . Maybe your wife will dislike the cuts so much she will willingly get a job.
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Old 11-06-2009, 06:50 PM   #28
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I am not married, so a larger than normal disclaimer applies to my "advice".

Even if she can find a job in this economy, isn't the after tax impact of an additional 30 or 40K going to be pretty marginal? Once you get over 200K, it seem likely that you are in area where the new proposed tax hikes start to kick in. Although I have seen the 250K figure also discussed.


I also think it just a horrible time to start looking for a job. I've toyed with the idea of coming out of retirement, and I decide I am not even going to bother looking until unemployment drops to a reasonable level 7-8%.. Unless some fabulously opportunity drops into her lap, find a job in this environment can be very depressing.

On the other hand I do think it is important the you get her on board with an early retirement. Pick a date after the youngest is out of college seems logical, and explain how much saving you will need to hit that date.

I'd start with sacrifices that you'd be willing to make (Golf trips, selling the sports car etc.) to achieve the goal. Move on to areas where you both can cut back dining out, fancy vacations, sending the kid to a state school etc.

I'd sell the job as way that she can continue to enjoy the stuff is important to her, rather than as way of letting you retire early.
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Old 11-06-2009, 07:23 PM   #29
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Even if she can find a job in this economy, isn't the after tax impact of an additional 30 or 40K going to be pretty marginal?
It will depend on whether the employee is eligible for a retirement plan at work.

Suppose one makes $20K a year and puts $16,500 of that into a 401(k) plan with some kind of match. That can be pretty sweet.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:33 PM   #30
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Anyone else experience this type of situation or have any advice? Anything is appreciated ...
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after 37 years of marriage, I think you are what they euphemistically called 'screwed'
Hope your portfolio helps you out.
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:38 AM   #31
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It will depend on whether the employee is eligible for a retirement plan at work.

Suppose one makes $20K a year and puts $16,500 of that into a 401(k) plan with some kind of match. That can be pretty sweet.
That is if you can... at mega we had a max percent of IIRC 12%.... so with a $20K salary, that is not much... however, the match is sweet...


My current job allows 92%... so your thought would work... just have to find the right company...
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Old 11-07-2009, 12:50 AM   #32
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So you work all day and she gets to stay home doing as she pleases and that makes you the bad guy? She should feel guilty for being at home while you're working. With no little kids to take care of it sounds like freeloading to me. People tell me that marriage is supposed to be a partnership.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:54 AM   #33
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I knew I was the bad guy. Just needed help being reminded.

Perhaps it is unrealistic for her to make that type of money although the admins where I work do. Including my admin. What's wrong with testing the waters and at least seeing what is out there?

15 years ago I did have to talk her into being a SAHM. But far from resenting that, she has long since come to relish it. She volunteers as a lead childcare director with a major womens bible fellowship group. She is doing the things she wants...just like I'd hope to some day.

But I get it. I won't push on this. Maybe my index funds will surprise me.
I wonder if part of the reason your wife may not want to get a paying job is that she likes her volunteer position and prefers not to leave it? She may feel that the "waters" are just fine where she's at now. If that's the case, you have set yourself the task not only of convincing her to do something she (seemingly) doesn't want to do, but also to stop doing something she does want to do. I'm not married, so maybe it's a blind spot on my part, but I just don't see why she should be expected to leave work that she likes well enough to do it for free, and go through what would, given the current economic situation and the decade-plus gap in her resume, probably be a long, disagreeable and frustrating search, to find a paid (but not very much) position that she doesn't really want in the first place? If your positions were reversed, how would you feel about being asked to do that? Even if she does find such a job, will it make any difference to your retirement date? You said in your first post that you are 8 years from ER; then later in the thread, that you would be working until your youngest graduates from college, also 8 years. If you are going to be working for another 8 years anyway, what is accomplished by your wife going back to work?

One suggestion, if you are still going to try to convince her, I would suggest that you not refer to adding her whole paycheck to the nest egg, but making it possible for you to save more of your paycheck toward retirement. It won't be easy to convince her to go back to work in the first place, but IMO, it will be even harder if she feels that she is being put to work in order to meet a goal that is important mostly to you, rather than one that she feels is more of a common goal for the two of you. I don't know your specifics, but what would be a goal that can be spoken of in terms of "if you go back to work, then we can...." rather than "if you go back to work, then I can..."?
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Old 11-07-2009, 06:16 AM   #34
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Lots of good suggestions precede me. Possibly you could begin saving for ER by cutting back on a lot of non-essentials as others have already suggested, selling off some things,too, to build your retirement nest further. Explain to you wife what you want to do and get her on board with this effort. Maybe it will come to her on her own that she could contribute with some paid work, but I woudn't push this. I was a SAHM for 12 years, went back to work voluntarily when my son was 12 as I got bored with my life and wanted to do something to grow as a person on my own, and volunteer work a couple of days a week wasn't doing it for me at that period in my life. I had a hard time finding something in my field, so I took civil service tests and got hired by the state in an entirely new area from what I had previously done. I have been at my job 15 years now and have built my own pension plan. My job also provided the paid health insurance benefits for the family from the point I got hired. My DH died of a sudden heart attack almost 7 years ago so I was lucky to have something of my own creation to anchor me during this time, even though he left me with enough resources that I would never have had to work again if I had wanted. One never knows what life will throw at you, and it is a good feeling to be independent. Best of luck. You and she will work things out I am sure whatever is decided.
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:01 AM   #35
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I agree with putting everything down on paper. But putting it down on paper and presenting it to her wil be less effective than if you work through the problem together--using real numbers. I wouldn't start with the investments, but with the desired post-retirement monthly budget. Then, apply your expected income stream to it and see what the gap is.

I agree that reducing overall spending is more likely to be successful (less stress on the marriage and better $$ return) than getting her into the workforce. If you cut spending, you'll be sharing the sacrifice. The spending cuts will be far more palatable if you both "see" the goal together (more time together--sooner) than if you try to impose these cuts. Cutting spending would have two goals: Allowing you to sock away more now, but more importantly, cutting your "expected spend rate" in ER. Obviously, each dollar you can cut your monthly spending in ER is about $50 less that you have to have in your nest egg to generate that dollar.
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:51 AM   #36
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So you work all day and she gets to stay home doing as she pleases and that makes you the bad guy? She should feel guilty for being at home while you're working. With no little kids to take care of it sounds like freeloading to me. People tell me that marriage is supposed to be a partnership.
Maybe, depending on household dynamics and what the partners want. But for me, for quite a few years my wife wasn't working -- either staying home or going to school -- and we don't even have any kids. To be blunt, her earning power was relatively inconsequential relative to mine, and I liked an arrangement where I had almost none of the housework (except mowing the lawn and such) and she ran almost all the household errands. When you factor in higher taxes and other expenses of working, what she'd bring in was negligible relative to the feeling I got from being liberated from all that housework and errand-running.

It wasn't until this crappy "new economy" took hold that we had a wakeup call telling us we needed "redundancy" in terms of at least a small additional paycheck and health benefits. To be honest, if I weren't concerned about my job security, it wouldn't have bothered me to preserve the status quo since the status quo didn't come with roughly half of the household chores. This is why I said before that in the OP's case, I'd look at the wife getting job more as insurance against economic disaster in case of OP's job loss than in terms of accelerating FIRE.

I guess people can feel "cheated" if they want to, and if they want to "keep score," they can certainly find reasons to be highly resentful of a so-called "freeloader." But some of us prefer not to keep score. If that means some of us bear most of the responsibility, so be it -- but if I'm happy with her, that barely registers on my radar. And yes, the thought has occurred to me that if she continues to enjoy her job past the date I can FIRE, maybe I can get off the hamster wheel in a few years and between 72(t) on my retirement accounts and her health insurance benefits, we'd be fine. For those keeping score, it may be lopsided now but there is a chance it could even out in a few years. It's still early in the third quarter here.
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:50 PM   #37
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Tell your DW you are interested in a sabbatical. Taking a year or two off to pursue some interests to which you have not had the time to devote during your hectic working career. Maybe see if she can help you with your dream. Perhaps discuss cutting expenses out of your budget to make ends meet while on your sabbatical.
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:35 PM   #38
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Old 11-07-2009, 07:41 PM   #39
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Why not sit down and discuss with her what your JOINT goals are for a retirement together. Do you want to do a lot of traveling, have a vacation home, etc. Does she agree that it would be great for you to be able to RE so that you can enjoy these things together while you still have good health, etc. A few well-placed stories about people who faced unexpected illness or death at an early age that ruined similar plans might be helpful (if you want, you can use my dad as an example -- had planned to retire from a career at aerospace megacorp at 55, but was killed by a sudden heart attack at age 52, which also killed his pension (no survivor benefit before retirement). Try to make this about BOTH of you, and not just you, and you might find that she is more willing to make some changes now in order to reach a common goal sooner.

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Old 11-07-2009, 08:13 PM   #40
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A correction (bad math):
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. . . Obviously, each one dollar you can cut your monthly spending in ER is about $50 $300 less that you have to have in your nest egg to generate that dollar.
So, reduce your monthly spending in retirement by $100 and you've reduced your required nest egg by $30,000 (and possibly much more than that if you include the effects of taxes)
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