Author Topic: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?  (Read 5009 times)

tooqk4u22

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Love my DW, it has been great all along the way and we have been successful because we have worked together toward goals, compromised when needed, and just worked hard. A lot of this success can be attributed to different but generally complimentary traits such as introvert/extrovert, stoic/whimsical, put your head down and get to the goal/have more fun along the way. 

But the FIRE thing, this mix is tough.  Don't get me wrong, she is all fore the RE part.  But to do that would require being more mindful about our spending than currently are, and she views that as restrictive.  This is mostly attributed to a couple of things:

1.  living in a typical middle/upper-middle class area where it is all about the normal consumer sucka stuff - I have no problem saying no to going out to an expensive restaurant or whatever whereas to her it is part of being involved with friends/community.   I understand her view but math is math....have 10 friends and each wants to go out here and there it gets expensive quickly.  We do have people over and so do other people but the primary way to connect with friends is to go out...its tough.  I am sure you can tell by the tone that I am the introvert - so not doing any of that crap is a win for me two ways.

2.  facebook effect - why doesn't anybody ever post bad shit, its always look at me, at what I have, and where I am travelling.

3.  She/we grew up without much so she feels we worked hard and deserve it whereas for me it resulted in I don't ever want to be in a financial quagmire.

We are aligned in many ways, even with FIRE for the most part - its just this little nagging issue that gets in the way. To be clear she is not a ridiculous spender, we are talking on the margins here and what many would put in the category of fun money, which I am ok with but something else would have to be sacrificed/maximized.

I also take responsibility for being conservative/worrier (consistent with my other posts I would much rather rely on 3% than 4% SWR). Based on last 12 months spending we are at about 4% but there is a lot of fluff in that number including home renovations/upgrades that if backed out would put us at 3.5% but you know that was actual spending and there always seems to be something.  We also live in moderate COL with high property taxes and kids are in some pricy activities - once they are out of the nest all that goes away so there is long term cushion in there too.  This causes her concern

Basically it comes down to we FIRE but she has to buy a bit more into MMM way (which is BTW nowhere close to MMM in reality) or she works whatever is needed to support her wants, which would bother me and makes it hard for me to walk away. We are partners in this and best friends, so I can't and won't tell her its my way - as with everything we have to compromise and find a solution that works for both of us.

Anybody go through this? What worked/didn't?

prognastat

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 09:36:10 AM »
Hi Tooq, I completely understand the situation. It is very similar to my situation in the things you've mentioned. Thankfully my wife isn't very extroverted and doesn't like going out all the time, but more so than me. However 3 is spot on between the two of us. I don't feel like I need much at all to be satisfied, however she does feel she deserves to enjoy the money she has worked hard for.

I am not in any position to tell you what will completely work since that hasn't quite been figured out for me yet. However some things that have helped for me has been making her understand my feelings on it over the purely financial aspect.

When I talk about moving to a house closer to work I don't just talk about the financial benefits which I leave more as a footnote, but the things that would feel great such as being healthy and being able to bike to work, not sitting in rush hour traffic. Being able to run by the store in the bike as fast as it would be with a car. Being able to drop by the gym at work whenever we wanted to. All those kinds of things.

I also share my feelings about being FI, the things I'd want to do now, but don't because I worry about our financial situation if they didn't work out. I talk about really feeling amazing if I could try those things eventually without worrying that we will be financially hurting.

I'm sure others have plenty more tips but those have worked at slightly nudging us towards FI.

I could be much more forceful, but I don't want to nor feel that it would be productive in the long run since it will likely build resentment and I want it to be something we can both be excited about so I'm trying to be supportive and just share my feelings on it and hopefully that would be enough to make it worth it to her.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 10:07:52 AM by prognastat »

Gin1984

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 09:44:02 AM »
Compromise is important in a marriage.  Yes, she may chose to go out more but I'm sure there are things that you do that delay your FIRE date (requiring 3% vs 4% jumps out).  Go over the budget and find where she finds cut acceptable and then go from there.

big_owl

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 09:51:05 AM »
This is why I like the allowance system.  All bills associated with living (investments, mortgage, insurance, electric/gas...) are paid out of joint money that is contributed as a proportion of your salaries.  Then you each get an allowance and can do whatever you want with it.  She wants to go out all the time....ok she has allowance. You want to buy a new motorcycle...save your own allowance.  Then there's no resentment.  Of course you have to get past how much you contribute each pay to FIRE, but once you get that ironed out then things are easy. 

tooqk4u22

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 10:11:27 AM »
Compromise is important in a marriage.  Yes, she may chose to go out more but I'm sure there are things that you do that delay your FIRE date (requiring 3% vs 4% jumps out).  Go over the budget and find where she finds cut acceptable and then go from there.

No question.  3% would be one of them.  Me being a worrier in general would be another.....what about this and that, me simply not being comfortable with the idea of me being FIRE but her still working (more my hang-up than hers) when with current savings rate gets us enough to both FIRE with her wants.  I also am a control nut in like a like to plan for or have an answer to any potential issues that could come up.....I fully realize that this is not a reasonable or rationale way to be but hey I at least I know myself and can admit it and therefore work on being better about it.

IDK....all these people on this forum that have FIRE'd, are close to or chasing FIRE without SO or kids have it easy as it is only about what they want/need....they are their own worst enemy usually.  Far different when you have another to factor in (in my case 4 others) even if they are on all on the same page let alone different page.


neo von retorch

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 10:19:53 AM »
Partnership or not, there's nothing more human than making choices for yourself. In a way, this is why allowance can be a good system. While you make a decision as a partnership to set an allowance amount, 100% of the choices made about how the allowance is spent are individual.

Even if you don't go to an allowance system, "being a control nut" is not an acceptable solution ;) Yes, plan what you can plan for, but also be sure your partner understands the choices she is making, including the impact they have. "Going out with friends 12 times a month adds $20,000 to our annual budget, and as such, means we cannot be comfortable financially independent together for three additional years. Is there some way we can find a way to ensure you get the socializing you need without extending our financial independence date by as much? What would you suggest?"

tooqk4u22

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 10:29:16 AM »
This is why I like the allowance system.  All bills associated with living (investments, mortgage, insurance, electric/gas...) are paid out of joint money that is contributed as a proportion of your salaries.  Then you each get an allowance and can do whatever you want with it.  She wants to go out all the time....ok she has allowance. You want to buy a new motorcycle...save your own allowance.  Then there's no resentment.  Of course you have to get past how much you contribute each pay to FIRE, but once you get that ironed out then things are easy. 

Partnership or not, there's nothing more human than making choices for yourself. In a way, this is why allowance can be a good system. While you make a decision as a partnership to set an allowance amount, 100% of the choices made about how the allowance is spent are individual.

Even if you don't go to an allowance system, "being a control nut" is not an acceptable solution ;) Yes, plan what you can plan for, but also be sure your partner understands the choices she is making, including the impact they have. "Going out with friends 12 times a month adds $20,000 to our annual budget, and as such, means we cannot be comfortable financially independent together for three additional years. Is there some way we can find a way to ensure you get the socializing you need without extending our financial independence date by as much? What would you suggest?"

We do the allowance thing somewhat...I definitely agree with it.  Figuring out the amounts and determining what is or isn't essential household spending not so easy. 

Just for clarification, my comment was not about controlling her or day to day stuff it was meant more as an acknowledgement of my own issues of trying to control the uncontrollable (think of it as catastrophic risk mitigation if you will).....like I said, I am working on it and getting better at it every day at convincing myself that it is irrational to try and control the uncontrollable.  As an example of controllable, Just this week the washer crapped out, had to get new tires and brakes, and something else so pretty expense week so far....no worries because all that is planned for ultimately controllable because stuff breaks or wears out....that stuff doesn't bother me a bit.     
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 10:36:09 AM by tooqk4u22 »

zarfus

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2016, 10:42:52 AM »
I'm a cheap-ass.  I had to learn to let go a little bit, and she had to learn to see the big picture.  So when we have arguments, it usually comes down to "well, one of us is a little out of line".  From my perspective, that means either:
- I take a step back and say "yea, this really isn't a big deal, stop being a cheapass"
or
- I illustrate how financial decisions affect the big picture. For example "this trip will be nice, but it would postpone FIRE by 3 months" or something, and we can either rationalize it or drop it.

Good luck!

little_brown_dog

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2016, 11:07:39 AM »
Sometimes strict budgeting doesn't work for people - it certainly doesn't mean you can't achieve FIRE.
We actually don't restrict much because we fill our savings first, and then whatever money is left over after savings and expenses can be spent however we want. In my experience, people butt heads over savings goals because they are bickering about how much to save AFTER most expenses, so it is like this mini battle for scraps. He wants to save the extra $100, she wants to spend it on something enjoyable for the here and now. We just flipped the scenario and set a savings threshold as a required expense every month. So for us it works out like this:

1. Husband automatically has the IRS max taken from his paycheck for the 401k - money we never see, so we never miss it.
2. Set automatic savings for the IRAs and college fund every month, just like we would for any recurring bill payments. Since the auto savings are targeted to achieve our goals for the year, there is no need to stress about saving more than what is allocated.
3. Set up direct deposit to always deposit a certain amount into our efund so it is always getting refilled as needed.

With this plan, we end up saving aggressively without ever feeling like we are missing out because the money is already allocated to our goals first. We are comfortable with the amount we save via this method, so anything left over after this and expenses can be used as we see fit. There is no panic or resentment over "wastefulness" because we have arranged our system to be inherently frugal. If we wanted to harm our goals, we would have to purposefully change our savings allocations just to accommodate something as silly as eating out. Naturally we don't do this because that is a ton of effort, and because you can't miss what you don't see. So if after everything is said and done, we want to go out to eat each week, or go on a trip, or whatever, then we do so without hesitation.  I feel like it strikes a nice balance between saving/FIRE and actually enjoying life now.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 11:20:50 AM by little_brown_dog »

AZDude

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2016, 12:03:08 PM »
Quote
which would bother me and makes it hard for me to walk away

Sounds like the problem is with you. You are unwilling to let your DW live the life she wants, without any logical reason for doing so. If you have enough saved up where at 4% SWR, your spending is covered, then certainly if your wife keeps working to pay for her social activities while you live the dream... I mean... what the hell is the problem? You are trying to force her to be like you. That is not happening, will never happen, and is kind of a bad move.

Anyway, not being harsh, but... you know... your mindset bothers me a little bit.


tooqk4u22

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2016, 02:32:59 PM »
Quote
which would bother me and makes it hard for me to walk away

Sounds like the problem is with you. You are unwilling to let your DW live the life she wants, without any logical reason for doing so. If you have enough saved up where at 4% SWR, your spending is covered, then certainly if your wife keeps working to pay for her social activities while you live the dream... I mean... what the hell is the problem? You are trying to force her to be like you. That is not happening, will never happen, and is kind of a bad move.

Anyway, not being harsh, but... you know... your mindset bothers me a little bit.

Not  harsh, I fully admitted it.  Aside from the fact that I am more of a 3-3.5% SWR kind of guy, part of the issue is figuring out between us what is "core" expenses and what is "life she wants expenses".  I know I can't change her anymore than she can change me, but I like the idea of both of us being checked out together so "WE" not "ME" are free to give where we we want and when - aside from kids schedules (pretty limiting so maybe who cares).  Maybe I would rather keep going until we can cover fully or maybe  I will work on letting it go.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2016, 04:06:45 PM »
How does your wife feel about her work? Is continuing to work part-time a viable option for her? If she wants to be able to continue spending money on things that add value to her life without the worry and stress from you, perhaps she would be open to continuing to fund these activities with her income.

FIRE isn't an all or nothing proposition. You can FIRE while she continues to work part-time. The key here is aligning values and expectations.

big_owl

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2016, 05:33:55 PM »
I've read this a couple times and I really can't figure out what you're trying to communicate.  The issue is just 3% vs 4%?  Or reconciling your differences in spending habits?  I'm just confused.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Ah Marriage, want FIRE but Probably Can't - what's the compromise?
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2016, 06:45:23 PM »
This was totally my situation particularly because I was all in once I read about it. We also did whatever we wanted to do whenever we wanted to do because money was really not an issue BUT as I got older and "saw the light" I made the change. It took me 3 years of getting her to totally be on the same page and even now there is still some discussions where I need to shed some light. I have notice though at times I question things she sheds the light which proves to me shes understanding and is on board. My point is there is not guaranteed time frame but if you keep going along with it, mention things you have saved and learned, she will eventually make sense of it all and come on her own terms which is what you want anyhow. Be patient and I am sure it will all come through for you!