Author Topic: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death  (Read 1668 times)

rob in cal

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  I'm kind of fascinated how people's lives can be changed for good or ill based on a single event.  In the case of being able to have FIRE status or not, I've come up with some interesting scenarios.
In the case of marriage here are some scenarios. Single guy is fired, living modestly (say owns a couple of rentals, maybe 300 k in stocks), no dependents, age 46, all of a sudden falls in love with and marries a single woman with 4 kids under age 16. With his new family size he is no-longer FIRED and gets back into the workforce to earn addition money for his newly expanded family. Scenario two, someone who wasn't quite at FIRE, age 57, marries someone of about the same age with no dependents who is just into FIRE zone, and together they can make it work for both to be FIRED. Scenario three, easily fired person marries a spouse who has dependents and is nowhere near Fired, but because the fired person is so far into the fired zone, the new family is also fired. There must be plenty of all these types of situations happening.
   Divorce scenario one, married couple with two college age kids, total assets of 1.3 million, one spouse didn't want the other (the main breadwinner) to retire yet, but after they divorce and split the assets equally, main breadwinner, now single could potenitally be fired with 650k assets maybe once kids are done with school.  In this scenario a divorce leads to fire, and thus represents liberation from the wage slave treadmill.  Probably much more common is a messy divorce destablizing the whole asset accumulation phase of a married couple so that instead of both being fired at a certain point, neither is, and fire is delayed many more years instead.
  Death. Obvious scenario one is a significant inheritance which pushes someone who was maybe five or ten years away from FIRE to immediate FIRE status, or much much closer to it. Scenario two is the perhaps sadder, but intriguing situation where a spouses death frees the other spouse who was the only or main breadwinner to fire, since the deceased spouse had been the one insisting that the surviving one keep working, just to keep accumulating more unneeded savings. I could actually see some dark comedy movie based on this situation, tying into the reality that there must be plenty of millionaire households out there where the main breadwinner is just working because of their spouses desire for them to do so.
   Anyone fall into any of these situations?

thebrowze

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2018, 11:42:07 AM »
I sorta do.  I had a parent (Parent A) pass away last year who owned a business that is today quite profitable (but took DECADES to get there).  Parent B wants nothing to do with the business and disclaims their share of the inheritance, so it is now owned by the parents' three adult children (my siblings and me).  Parent A was very much a spendthrift and basically a textbook anti-mustachian.  The three children and Parent B are more reasonable (although some not completely mustachian by any stretch).  Basically the business produces enough profit that it would cover all 4 households total expenses (and then some) and all 4 are in HCOL areas.  But because of the nature of the business we cannot sell it for anything even approaching the NPV of future profits.  We also grew up in this business and have no desire to sell it, as owning it provides significant fringe benefits besides the income.  So basically I took over a portion of the business and although do not have investment balances to call myself 'FIRE' I am basically on a coast-FIRE trajectory at this point.

A side note on Parent B:
Parent B worked in a very lucrative career and could have probably FIRE'd in their early-40's, if not sooner, even with three kids in private school and a VHCOL area.  However, Parent B kept working well into their mid-50's because of Parent A's spendthrift ways and failed business attempts creating a sense of fear.  Because Parent B worked so much longer than would have been necessary Parent B now has probably 5X what would be needed for FIRE, based on current spending, and is still socking money away because expenses are more than covered by side hustles taken on to keep the mind occupied.  As it is Parent B retired in their mid-50's.  If my parents had gotten divorced I don't know that it would have changed anything for Parent B, but FIRE would have been an option more than a decade earlier.

Arbitrage

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2018, 12:30:20 PM »
My family-related financial fears are primarily around disability, not death.  Specifically, centered around my parents-in-law.  Both have been divorced multiple times.  MIL is still working, earns and spends a lot, and lives nearby.  I'm sure she has some savings, but with her spending habits/expectations I doubt her stash is sufficient if she suddenly can't work. 

FIL is forcibly unemployed/retired, and lives far away in a LCOLA.  I *think* he can subsist on social security, but is terribly irresponsible with money and would be in a world of hurt if a medical or other emergency crops up.  BIL is broke and unable to help, so we could be stuck with FIRE-killing bills if something happens to either one of them. 

No significant inheritances awaiting us from any corner.  Death of a spouse...I'd not be able to FIRE if that occurred, as my DW has no real life insurance other than the basic 1x salary through work (she's deemed largely uninsurable due to being a cancer survivor).  DW could FIRE if I keeled over, if she so chose. 

partgypsy

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2018, 01:58:26 PM »
Hmm. My summary is, for me, divorce has a very negative effect right now, but not such a big one in the long term.
I was the breadwinner, and he worked pt the entire time we were together, even before marriage/kids. I'm not in the fire early camp. The thing that was important to me and I was campaigning for is being able to step down to 32 hours a week, so I could have a better work/life balance. That's obviously not going to happen. I'm also losing the "free" summer vacation to his family cabin, which is a loss. At least my kids still benefit.

The next couple years will financial rebuilding years due to additional expenses (having to buy my own car, attorney fees, also big house expenses that happened to fall after ex left). Ironically my overall timelines for being able to retire, etc doesn't really change.
 
downsides for ex, he will need to pay his own health insurance. He now rents instead of being part of a couple which is paying off a house. Most likely unless he has another windfall, will rent his whole life. He has to work more hours now than when he was married, to pay his share of the bills. I would say that he will have a lower standard of living come retirement age - Except, his side of the family has money. He inherited almost a brand new fancy minivan, and money after his dad died (20, 25K?), and most likely will inherit more money/land after his mother passes on (she's healthy). He's never been particularly concerned about the future or planning and so far it seems to be working for him! I want to make sure my kids have security and stability so I don't have that luxury.   My side of the family has no money.

I guess I would say, hypothetically, being married should allow each partner to both have higher financial security and also lower workload, since there is only 1 household and you can share tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, bill paying. The actual reality may vary. My reality, it's a bit of a wash. in contrast there are some people who are married to addicts, alcoholics, very sick people, and being married actually increases their burden.   
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 03:29:55 PM by partgypsy »

CindyBS

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2018, 03:30:19 PM »
Our situation is that seemingly out of nowhere, my oldest son was diagnosed with cancer at age 13.  Most kids with cancer get it under age 7 or so.  I immediately stopped working to become his full time caregiver.  That was 2016, I still haven't returned to work.  He is doing much better, but still has a significant amount of medical appointments and care needed.

Our FIRE is delayed due to this, but not as bad as it could have been since I did not earn a significant part of our income before hand (DH primary breadwinner) and both stock market and housing market did very well since then.    We are fortunate that the major repercussion for us financially is that retirement savings is reduced, living well beneath our means for years was a lifesaver.  For most families in our situation it leads to a financial nightmare. 

FWIW, and I say this in a nice way . . .  When you are in one of these severe crisis with huge financial impacts - it is all consuming.  Childhood cancer is like a bomb going off in your life and the damage touches EVERYTHING.   I was not naive to the fact a severe event could happen, and in fact grew up with a parent with a disability due to an event.  I would recommend not devoting a lot of energy to this.  I am all consumed with my situation but I am so glad I had decades of my life that were pretty care free and not thinking of tragedy.  Enjoy the good times.  Hopefully you won't have something happen, but if you do, you may be like me and happy the what-ifs didn't consume the good years too. 

MonkeyJenga

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2018, 05:38:36 PM »
It wasn't divorce, but I became FI when a LTR ended. Together, with his spendier living standards, I had a far-off, uncertain timeline. Alone, and able to make flexible housing choices, I was instantly covered under the 4% rule.

I would recommend not devoting a lot of energy to this.  I am all consumed with my situation but I am so glad I had decades of my life that were pretty care free and not thinking of tragedy.  Enjoy the good times.  Hopefully you won't have something happen, but if you do, you may be like me and happy the what-ifs didn't consume the good years too. 

It's great y'all were financially prepared for such a stressful change! I like your viewpoint above.

dude

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2018, 07:53:12 AM »
Many times I've contemplated the effects of a potential divorce on my FIRE plans. In the end, I've figured that even if I wound up with half my pension and half our assets, I could live a pretty luxurious existence in Costa Rica/Panama/Mexico/Ecuador, etc. I don't necessarily wish to test that hypothesis, but it is kind of freeing to go through the mental exercise.

RedmondStash

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Re: gaining or losing Fire status due to marriage, divorce or death
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2018, 09:44:01 AM »
FWIW, and I say this in a nice way . . .  When you are in one of these severe crisis with huge financial impacts - it is all consuming.  Childhood cancer is like a bomb going off in your life and the damage touches EVERYTHING.   I was not naive to the fact a severe event could happen, and in fact grew up with a parent with a disability due to an event.  I would recommend not devoting a lot of energy to this.  I am all consumed with my situation but I am so glad I had decades of my life that were pretty care free and not thinking of tragedy.  Enjoy the good times.  Hopefully you won't have something happen, but if you do, you may be like me and happy the what-ifs didn't consume the good years too.

This is a really nice perspective. Thanks for sharing it. Fretting about possible but unlikely problems really doesn't gain us anything. I tend to fret a lot, and it does me absolutely no good. You deal with what's actually in front of you.