What if my Spouse Wasn’t on Board?

There was a comment on my post last week which basically stated that if I retired before my wife, I would be “leeching” off of her work.  As the comment was more directed towards Tim than myself, I deferred to him on it, but it did raise an interesting question – what would happen if my wife had no interest in early retirement and preferred to live as a “normal” person rather than saving a significant percentage of her money every month for our combined goal.

Honestly, if tomorrow she told me that she didn’t want to follow our current plan, I would understand – those savings are pretty boring on a month-to-month basis.  The money that my wife is saving could easily be turned into new clothes that she may get greater enjoyment from, something she used to do before I met her and was part of the reason how she racked up $20,000 in credit card debt. The problem with a long-term plan is that it is long-term, the results won’t be seen for years, while new clothes can be had today.

My wife and I have our bills together, but apart – everything is split and whatever is left we’re free to spend.  If I were retired and she was still working because she had chosen different goals, our finances would not change – I wouldn’t stop paying my half of the bills, all that would change would be the way we would use our time.  I would be doing what I wanted to do, while she continued to work.

Outside of finances, I would probably do more housework as I would have more time.  I don’t see this outcome as a negative however as I love to cook and as long as I had some help cleaning up my massive stack of dishes I create some nights I’d be fine with this arrangement.  I would have time to do all of the things that I wanted to do (which she is generally not all that interested in) such as golfing, reading and other hobbies while she’s at work and if she wanted, we would have plenty of time to do things together.

It would be difficult to explain to our friends and families, with me essentially being a house-husband and my spouse going to work.  Generally we’re viewed as oddballs anyways  (which I would attribute to my personality) so perhaps this new lifestyle would not cause much of a stir.

In general, I’m glad that my wife and I are on the same page – I think that our marriage will be much happier with us working towards the same goal rather than our own ambitions.  Down the road, I think that we’d have much more fun doing things together, rather than spending most of our time apart (which we do now because of work).

Would you go out on your own financially if your spouse didn’t share your goals?  Would you retire earlier (perhaps by decades) if your financial plan that your spouse wanted no part of worked out, while they were going off to work? Or perhaps cut the difference and work longer so both of you can retire to a higher spending amount?

6 thoughts on “What if my Spouse Wasn’t on Board?”

  1. Would you go out on your own financially if your spouse didn’t share your goals? Would you retire earlier (perhaps by decades) if your financial plan that your spouse wanted no part of worked out, while they were going off to work? Or perhaps cut the difference and work longer so both of you can retire to a higher spending amount?

    A difficult question to answer, and here are my thoughts.
    Working together for common goal so you can retire to a higher spending amount sounds great if both you and your spouse can control the spending. However, it could back fire if the higher spending amount brings you into more debt, and then you are no better off, – still miserable paying off debt, just at a higher level. With the possibility of rates rising, you might end up poorer in the end, a death spiraling cycle with no chance to pull up.

    There are some massive savings to be had if one spouse stayed home. Here is a short list :
    1. No after day program, great monthly savings if you have kids.
    2. Home cooked meals, lunches made, coffee served in the morning, dinner made, – no take-outs when your life is busy, all cheaper and healthy.
    3. Vehicle maintenance, – oil changes, brakes, light work on the car, boat, trailer, what ever you have, light repairs don’t have to be done by a mechanic.
    4. Free House repairs, – not having to call the contractor because you don’t have time. Exception is emergences.
    5. Trips to the Library instead of book stores and video rental, – all free at your local library.
    6. Vehicle reduction reduced, no need to spend gas getting to work.
    7. Yard work and snow removal free.

    The question is, how much are you spending going to work? are you breaking even by paying for contractors and mechanics and all the other bills you have.

  2. I am fully expecting to work after my spouse retires as he is 15 years older than me. I am hoping he will want to cook dinners 🙂 – we already save a ton of money due to his handiness around the house and will be able to get by with one less car. It won’t bother me a bit to go off to work and leave him lounging on the sofa, he has worked hard all his life and he deserves it.

  3. The idea of one spouse working while the other spouse retires and is free to help the working spouse when needed sounds great. Fact is my spouse worked for many, many years after I retired and as long as I paid for my share of the expenses, what is the problem? If you have a goal and you think it worth while stick to it. Besides in the economy of today it is easier to get an income from investments, like bonds, G.I.C.’s than it is to find a job, hold it and pray that you are not turfed out on your ear when the next big economic wrench comes down to pike. My wife and I did that and never once had a problem!!

  4. Its quite likely that my wife will continue working when I hang it up… she enjoys her work very much.

    By the time I’m in my mid 40’s, our investments will almost generate as much as my current salary, so our lifestyle won’t suffer much at all after I stop working… we’ve talked about it and she’s fine with it (provided that I have dinner on the table every night).

  5. I didn’t see the original comment, but it seems a very sexist comment actually. You don’t hear people saying that to stay-at-home wives.

    My husband retired 4 years before me and it was GREAT. Much like you said in your post, he took care of our life while I was at work. On weekends and evenings, I didn’t do errands or chores, we had fun!

    Unlike the financial arrangement you mention above, our money is our money, we don’t split stuff. For 20 years we’ve just thrown it in the pot. And when he lost his job, we decided to try life with a retired husband. We both liked it so much he never went back to work. Eventually I joined him in retirement. I NEVER considered him leeching off me. I kind of felt like I was leeching off of him since he took care of all of our whole life! Talk about guilt!

  6. My wife is staying at home to look after our daughter and will likely stay at home permanently. We’ve always viewed our money as “our money” and although it has required a bit of sacrifice to live on one-income, we are managing to get by.

    My wife does not neccessarily share my early retirement goal, as it requires extra sacrifice and savings now while we are still adjusting to single income living…but she knows it’s important to me and supports that goal.

    But there is a fine line and a balancing act that needs to happen to enjoy our lives now while saving for the future. My wife has MS and so we don’t know what the future will hold for us. I struggle with wanting to sacrifice now in order to retire early and enjoy our lives together later, and splurging a bit now on some great experiences, not knowing if we’ll be able to enjoy them together in 30 years and regretting our choices.

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