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How do you deal with a wife with no FIRE plans?
Old 11-04-2019, 01:13 PM   #1
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How do you deal with a wife with no FIRE plans?

Last year in August 2018, I got married to a Filipina and brought her to Europe. At first I thought she was going to be a good saver the way she handled the money when we were travelling in Philippines.

But her attitude changed when she started working in Europe, moving to my country. She only wants to buy or do things to brag about how luxurious her life is here. Basically everything ends up as a successful life picture on Facebook.

3 weeks ago, her sister, 26 years old and been working for 3-4 years required surgery. She had gall stones. The surgery required roughly 3000-4000 USD, or roughly 60-75% of my wife's savings after a year. Only 25% of her lifetime savings would be left. I went for advice in Filipino investor groups, but they confirmed what I thought, that she could just as well get natural treatment, or it would be costly anyways going to a private hospital in Philippines. I told her sister she could try the natural treatment, but she wouldn't have it. Now she's been home for 3-4 weeks, without surgery. Even though we sent 500 USD as an advance deposit to get admitted.

Her dad stopped working the moment my wife started working abroad.

So 2 weeks ago, I had enough of it, I told my wife I was going to divorce her if her family had another emergency come up. We are already sending 175 USD to Philippines per month, they can easily get a job and work themselves out of poverty, or just save for emergencies like this.

Am I overreacting here?

Anyways, if we are to be divorcing, it's going to be in roughly 4-5 years. My prenup is protecting my savings anyways. By contract we are keeping how much money we are earning and splitting the ownership into the house according to the payment schedule of the mortgage. So my stake in the house is roughly 65-70% because I earn significantly more.
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:21 PM   #2
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I don't think you are over reacting but too bad you didn't have this conversation before marriage because many people from Asian countries send their money home to family. Why would you wait 4-5 years to divorce?
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:30 PM   #3
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I don't think you are over reacting but too bad you didn't have this conversation before marriage because many people from Asian countries send their money home to family. Why would you wait 4-5 years to divorce?
I have a friend in California that told me about it before I started looking on dating sites and met my wife. So in the beginning I was okay about it. But I changed my mind when I noticed changes in her attitude and her family's.

If we sell the house we purchased early, we'd lose some of the notary fees and taxes we paid, if we sell in 5 years, I'd recover the equity of the house + enjoy a 350 USD tax credit per month which I could reinvest.

In other words, I wouldn't make my FIRE goal at 40.
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:48 PM   #4
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Sorry you are in that spot. I know it's a cultural thing but don't understand expecting your kids to support you and not working.
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Old 11-04-2019, 01:50 PM   #5
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You've only been married a bit over a year, so I wouldn't be in such a hurry to divorce unless there are other issues in the marriage (infidelity, drug use, etc.). You're still learning about each other, especially if you didn't date for years before you got married.

You didn't mention your age, but your wife at 26 is still young and can change over time. I know I didn't handle money well in my 20's, but slowly improved as I grew up and learned to be responsible. Your wife may just be in a honeymoon stage of your financial life, perhaps earning money well above what she had previously.

As for the surgery, if her sister needs it, she needs it. You can't really say, take care of it yourself unless you're the one with the condition. Emergencies are part of life. No one wants them to happen. I doubt she chose gall stone surgery for the fun of it, or to take advantage of your finances.

I would sit down with your wife and set up a budget. Once your essentials are paid (housing, food, transportation, etc.), set aside an amount of money she can do whatever she wants with. She can send that home to family, buy a designer handbag, new shoes, or whatever. But once it's gone her spending is done till next month. Her priorities may be different than yours, so having her own money to spend however she wants will be freeing for her and reduce financial stress on your marriage.

My wife and I have been married almost 33 years. I still spend money on things she wouldn't justify (mostly tools, or gadgets), and she spends money on things I wouldn't waste it on (gifts for friends, money to help family, coffee out, etc.). As long as we each have our own money to spend, it doesn't matter.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:18 PM   #6
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It sounds as though your wife expects you to support her while she uses her income to support her family back in the Philippines. If this wasn't made clear to you before your marriage, then I don't blame you for being upset, especially if you were counting on your wife's income contributing to your early retirement stash. I agree with TT's post #4. It sounds like her family thinks they can mooch off of you now. Your wife's Facebook bragging might have them thinking you're a rich benefactor or something.

I don't know how many people are able to FIRE at 40, but you've got other priorities first now, like getting your wife and family to stop seeing you as her family's meal ticket.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:26 PM   #7
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Perhaps the title should be "How do you deal with a spouse you married too quickly and have now discovered some major differences" - because it might be money now, but what else did you miss? Money is an easy obvious one to first raise its head, but no doubt there are other differences that might have been skimmed over in the whirlwind of dating.

I'm going to guess this wasn't a particularly long courtship. Perhaps the next time you meet someone, plan to date - in the same region - for at least a year before you propose.

Oh, and I've had galls stones. There is no "natural treatment", it can be debilitating, and if my sister needed a surgery like that I'd want to help her out too.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:29 PM   #8
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Maybe more details would make me feel different but for as little time as you have been married and the few dollars you are talking about, I'm assuming there are really other deeper problems. Helping (not supporting) a family member is not uncommon. IMO anyway, FWIW.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:32 PM   #9
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Best move right now might be a vasectomy
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:35 PM   #10
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In my youth, many decades ago, my family routinely sent what we called 'Care Packages' back to relatives in my parent's home country. The country had been thoroughly bombed and destroyed in WW2 as Allied forces drove North driving the Nazis out of the country. Or family sent things that were difficult to get - clothing, certain kitchen utensils (a hand powered can opener comes to mind), tools, etc.

One day we got a letter from a relative containing photos of expensive designer clothing from a catalog, and a request for these items. I remember my mother commenting she did not buy that stuff for herself. After that, no more Care Packages found their way across the Atlantic.

They had killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
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Old 11-04-2019, 02:40 PM   #11
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I would suggest counseling. My son met his wife who was from Poland. They dated long distance for 3 years skyping daily and him making many trips and spending 2-4 weeks there at a time. They have now been happily married for 11 years. They wanted to make sure they were compatible.
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:21 PM   #12
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It's cultural. I have a friend with a Filipino wife...the wife basically cut ties to the home country and her extended family there, because she didn't want to support them. My understanding from a friend who's traveled extensively in the Philippines, is that if you have $, you're expected to pay...

So, work it out now, one way, or the other!
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:23 PM   #13
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OP - This sounds similar to some other story about a foreign bride, and how the brides mother needed a new house due to termites.

I'm guessing you didn't take your friends advice very seriously about people sending money back to help out their family in poorer countries, this is common for people of any poorer country to do.

If you have children, I'm pretty sure your divorce costs will skyrocket as that happens in most countries.
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:42 PM   #14
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No, you're not overreacting... though I'm not sure if you and your DW had a meeting of the minds when you agreed to marry each other.

You and your wife are at a fork in the road... either divorce and go your separate ways or jointly decide on how much or little you are willing to give to provide for her family and communicate that to them and stick to it.

Why couldn't you divorce now and keep the house yourself for 4-5 years?
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Old 11-04-2019, 03:46 PM   #15
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Best move right now might be a vasectomy
This is a good point. You may have a prenup, to protect your assets, but I'm guessing divorce with a child would complicate your finances. Would you want to introduce a child into this equation at this time? And if not, how will you avoid/prevent such a situation?
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Old 11-04-2019, 04:00 PM   #16
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Last year in August 2018, I got married to a Filipina and brought her to Europe. At first I thought she was going to be a good saver the way she handled the money when we were travelling in Philippines.

But her attitude changed when she started working in Europe, moving to my country. She only wants to buy or do things to brag about how luxurious her life is here. Basically everything ends up as a successful life picture on Facebook.

3 weeks ago, her sister, 26 years old and been working for 3-4 years required surgery. She had gall stones. The surgery required roughly 3000-4000 USD, or roughly 60-75% of my wife's savings after a year. Only 25% of her lifetime savings would be left. I went for advice in Filipino investor groups, but they confirmed what I thought, that she could just as well get natural treatment, or it would be costly anyways going to a private hospital in Philippines. I told her sister she could try the natural treatment, but she wouldn't have it. Now she's been home for 3-4 weeks, without surgery. Even though we sent 500 USD as an advance deposit to get admitted.

Her dad stopped working the moment my wife started working abroad.

So 2 weeks ago, I had enough of it, I told my wife I was going to divorce her if her family had another emergency come up. We are already sending 175 USD to Philippines per month, they can easily get a job and work themselves out of poverty, or just save for emergencies like this.

Am I overreacting here?

Anyways, if we are to be divorcing, it's going to be in roughly 4-5 years. My prenup is protecting my savings anyways. By contract we are keeping how much money we are earning and splitting the ownership into the house according to the payment schedule of the mortgage. So my stake in the house is roughly 65-70% because I earn significantly more.
I'm assuming that there are other issues if you're talking divorce? If it's purely financial this early on, I'd question how much you actually really love her. I don't mean this to be derogatory. I pose this for you to have introspective thought about it.

If you two do truly love each other and want to make it work, you need to communicate very openly and clearly about this issue. My recommendation to start would be buy the book "The Millionaire Next Door" and have her read it. That was the impetus for change for my wife. My wife didn't love my idea of continually decreasing spending and increasing saving. She (and I) loved a lot of the finer things in life. However, after reading the book and getting a better idea how most rich people get rich, she got on board and has been ever since. I know this won't work for everyone, but it's worth a try.

Sorry you're in this difficult situation... But all marriages are difficult to some degree and require constant care, dedication, and compromise to work.

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I have a friend in California that told me about it before I started looking on dating sites and met my wife. So in the beginning I was okay about it. But I changed my mind when I noticed changes in her attitude and her family's.

If we sell the house we purchased early, we'd lose some of the notary fees and taxes we paid, if we sell in 5 years, I'd recover the equity of the house + enjoy a 350 USD tax credit per month which I could reinvest.

In other words, I wouldn't make my FIRE goal at 40.
It's never cheaper to stay married longer. If you truly are getting divorced, then just do it. Besides the finances and insanity of staying married for years to someone you know you'll be divorcing, staying married would be mentally and emotionally draining. Dragging on a failed marriage for [supposed] financial reasons has many risks, first and foremost, is the possibility of children. If she knows you are getting divorced but likes the financial aspect of being married to you, it wouldn't be that hard to trap you with a pregnancy.
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Old 11-04-2019, 04:15 PM   #17
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Last year in August 2018, I got married to a Filipina and brought her to Europe. At first I thought she was going to be a good saver the way she handled the money when we were travelling in Philippines.

But her attitude changed when she started working in Europe, moving to my country. She only wants to buy or do things to brag about how luxurious her life is here. Basically everything ends up as a successful life picture on Facebook.

3 weeks ago, her sister, 26 years old and been working for 3-4 years required surgery. She had gall stones. The surgery required roughly 3000-4000 USD, or roughly 60-75% of my wife's savings after a year. Only 25% of her lifetime savings would be left.

So you're saying she's a big spender, yet she still managed to save up $5333 in a year? For many (most) people this would be a pretty decent emergency fund, especially if you live in a country with a high tax burden. How much is her annual take-home pay?

I went for advice in Filipino investor groups, but they confirmed what I thought, that she could just as well get natural treatment, or it would be costly anyways going to a private hospital in Philippines. I told her sister she could try the natural treatment, but she wouldn't have it. Now she's been home for 3-4 weeks, without surgery. Even though we sent 500 USD as an advance deposit to get admitted.

Why are you getting medical advice from an investor group? Ask a doctor. As far as I know, the primary treatment for gallstones that cause symptoms is surgery to remove the gallbladder. If she can get surgery for $3000 to $4000, that's a bargain! Gallbladder surgery, while necessary, is usually not an emergency and it can take some time to get it scheduled. I don't know if 3-4 weeks is excessive for the Philippines, but as I recall it took my sister a couple of months to get everything arranged for her surgery in the U.S.

Her dad stopped working the moment my wife started working abroad.

So 2 weeks ago, I had enough of it, I told my wife I was going to divorce her if her family had another emergency come up. We are already sending 175 USD to Philippines per month, they can easily get a job and work themselves out of poverty, or just save for emergencies like this.

Am I overreacting here?

Anyways, if we are to be divorcing, it's going to be in roughly 4-5 years. My prenup is protecting my savings anyways. By contract we are keeping how much money we are earning and splitting the ownership into the house according to the payment schedule of the mortgage. So my stake in the house is roughly 65-70% because I earn significantly more.
Yes, I think you're overreacting. She's saved enough to help her sister in her time of need, she'll be able to save that much again; and she's purchasing 30-35% of a house; and she's sending $175/mo to the Philippines. This doesn't really sound like a spendthrift lifestyle. It sounds more like for the first time in her life she has a stable income and doesn't have to live paycheck-to-paycheck and she wants to enjoy that experience. Give her a couple of years, it takes time to adjust to a sudden change in circumstance, and she is saving.

If, as you say, you're each keeping your own earnings, why is it your business what she does with her money? You can FIRE at 40 while she keeps working to support her desired lifestyle.

Ultimatums about not helping her family and threatening divorce seem pretty extreme, and it's really odd to be planning a divorce for 4-5 years from now. Why wouldn't she just up and leave and go back to the Philippines and get a divorce now instead of staying with you? I think you both need some couples counseling.
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Old 11-04-2019, 04:34 PM   #18
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When we were wed, DW showed up with more dough than I had. That inspired me to save, save, save. DW and I make a friendly competition out of it.

Sounds like you are between a rock and a hard place. Marry for love. I got lucky but DW has always been frugal, I am the blow yer dough in the relationship lol. We even eachother out.
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Old 11-04-2019, 05:05 PM   #19
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My nephew married a Fillipino lady younger than him when he was about 35. He told me he really married her whole family once the dust settled. Divorced in a couple of years and left the Philippines with only the shirt on his back and an airplane ticket I bought for him.
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Old 11-04-2019, 05:08 PM   #20
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I wouldn't touch this thread with a nine foot Hungarian, let alone a ten foot Pole.
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