Author Topic: Having THE TALK with a current partner  (Read 7027 times)

fire100xz

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Having THE TALK with a current partner
« on: September 29, 2019, 11:17:32 AM »
Hi everyone,
Please give me your thoughts and advice.

My spouse is not interested in FI.  I want to get her onboard.

Key points are:
1. Married for more than a decade.  I do not want to split up
2. I was spendy for many years... I can't blame my partner that I woke up and want FI and frugality one nice morning...
3. I work, but my partner does not.  I cannot just say you keep / save your paycheck and I do mine...
4. I suspect (and we end up fighting whenever I imply this) that my partner does not care about FI since I am the one having to work...
5. It is important to have joint financial goals.  But I have only failed to convince... MMM links and interviews on youtube shared but not read etc...

How do I flip the magic switch?

Please share what has worked...


From MMM blog:
"Now heres the golden nugget of this post: At that moment, a switch flipped in my future wifes mind and she was suddenly very excited about becoming a Mrs. Money Mustache herself."

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/25/having-the-talk-with-a-current-or-potential-mate/

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2019, 11:43:22 AM »
Yes, I was just reading that thread and replying to people who seemed to be making progress

Thank you for highlighting!

KBCB

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2019, 12:12:53 PM »
This is possibly a long road with ups and down but you can get there one way or another.

There is no magical switch. It's knowing the why and telling your spouse how much it means to you. Since you are the one working you can use this is one of the main points. You don't want to work forever. You want to FI!

I read all of that post as well.. The 50 awesome steps. I loved the book "your money or your life" totally recommend!

Evgenia

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2019, 12:43:38 PM »
I'm sure it's been said elsewhere, but chiming in to note that the Playing with FIRE book covers a LOT of this territory very honestly. It may help. Best of luck!

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2019, 01:29:22 PM »
Short term....
-------------------------------------
1. Set up separate accounts, "her" account and "his" account.
2. Divide your paycheck in half. One half goes to "her" account and another goes to "his" account.
3. Setup joint "needs" expenses. Take half from her, half from his account.
4. Rest of the money - you each do whatever you wish. The FI-mided partner saves, the non-FI partner spends.

What is a "need" is decided based on intersection of "needs" from both partners. Anything that is considered a need by one but not by the other does not go into the "half and half" budget.

It sounds simple, but complications arise when the non-FI partner wants to do "joint" things, like eating out.
Well, the solution to that is possible. The FI minded partner will participate in the "joint" things that are not a "need" in his opinion as long as it is funded 100% by the non-FI minded partner's account.

There could be some cases where the FI minded partner thinks something as a "need" but the non-FI partner does not. Same principles apply!!


Long Term....
--------------------------------------------------------------
At the end of the day - this statement is a key one
"I suspect (and we end up fighting whenever I imply this) that my partner does not care about FI since I am the one having to work".

Does she care about you? If yes, she *will* care about the problems you have with working till you drop dead (substitute 70's, 80's etc). I suspect she just does not see why things need to change now, after a decade+ of you implicitly promising to be the one working till you drop dead (by being a spendy one yourself). This is a valid criticism she would raise - if she does!!

If this is the key issue, then you have two choices:
1. Fulfill your implicit promise towards her, and be the provider till you die. Forget about FI.
2. Renege on your "implicit promise". I'd probably also apologize for doing so. At this point, be ready for your marriage to break up. That is the price you need to be ready to pay if you go this route.

Frankly, I and wifey entered with similar setup. No loans since our parents had funded our education. I worked a fairly lucrative career. Both of us were relatively frugal (not by this board's standards, but based on what we understood by frugality then). She resigned her "hobby work" position (college-adjunct in a lib-arts topic). And we had a newborn and <5 years into our marriage when the 2008 shit-storm hit, and I was in the epicenter of it career-wise!!

The issues and stresses I was going through quickly convinced my wife, with some (but not a lot of) leading prompting from me, that she should not be a stay-at-home-mom. Frankly, in my eyes, she had made the responsible "adult"ing choice. She discovered her earlier plans put her family in a lot of undue risk and made some herculean efforts to switch gears and land into a proper career (i.e. not a "college adjunct" type of hobby-work). I'd probably have a lot less respect for her as a partner had she decided to renege on sharing the responsibility even after discovering the risks a "single income" poses.

If your partner is not motivated by a sense of sharing equal responsibility with you, then you unfortunately only have bad choices left!!

Cassie

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2019, 01:40:52 PM »
Have you talked to your wife about returning to work? I am assuming she hasn't worked in 10 years because she has been raising kids but they must be in school by now if that's the case. If no kids no clue why she hasn't been working all this time. Time for a serious talk.

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2019, 11:13:15 PM »
Hi Ctuser and Cassie,
We live in a high salary, high cost city.  As a novice moustachian, I want to save aggressively here, and move somewhere less expensive to achieve FI.  We need to save more, and have a stronger grip on our expenses. 

Yes, you are right.  Joint is the difficult category... what are your insights on:


FOOD
Food is a major cost: eating out,  buying organic.  Food is also in the complicated 'joint' category.

We have done some things:
- cut back on eating out.  Approx once a week now.
- I have gone mostly vegetarian and asked to cut out meat and fish from home cooked meals. My spouse still buys meat and fish for me too, sometimes.  This has reduced the most expensive grocery category of meat and fish by almost half.  I have intentionally not asked my partner to do the same, to avoid conflict and focus on my span of control.

Ctuser:
On splitting bank accounts - it is efficient to have 1 partner do groceries, than do it twice.  Do you deduct groceries of 1 partner from one account, and vice versa?  How can we improve here?


JOINT ITEMS
How do you tackle "joint" items like rent, children's education?  Our rent is ridiculous by MMM standards, but ok by mainstream standards at approx one third of income.  How can I convince reduce to MMM community levels?   

On education, I am told I cannot sacrifice our children's future and "deprive" expensive private school education... which I did benefit from when I was a child...


WORK
My partner claims that working in this expensive city will create more costs.  More so than what the realistic salary will be. 

We are no where near a job search.  My partner says priority is childcare.  I have not pushed this further, as it has only created tension.


PERCEPTIONS
My partner's parents are still working.  Thinks I am being ridiculous or lazy that I want to FI soon... 


I have to "renege on my implicit promise"...

 
Ctuser,
How is your progress to FI?   I am afraid, even if my partner does work, getting both a) increase in come AND b) saving (asking not to spend that extra income) will put too much stress and pressure...




Short term....
-------------------------------------
1. Set up separate accounts, "her" account and "his" account.
2. Divide your paycheck in half. One half goes to "her" account and another goes to "his" account.
3. Setup joint "needs" expenses. Take half from her, half from his account.
4. Rest of the money - you each do whatever you wish. The FI-mided partner saves, the non-FI partner spends.

What is a "need" is decided based on intersection of "needs" from both partners. Anything that is considered a need by one but not by the other does not go into the "half and half" budget.

It sounds simple, but complications arise when the non-FI partner wants to do "joint" things, like eating out.
Well, the solution to that is possible. The FI minded partner will participate in the "joint" things that are not a "need" in his opinion as long as it is funded 100% by the non-FI minded partner's account.

There could be some cases where the FI minded partner thinks something as a "need" but the non-FI partner does not. Same principles apply!!


Long Term....
--------------------------------------------------------------
At the end of the day - this statement is a key one
"I suspect (and we end up fighting whenever I imply this) that my partner does not care about FI since I am the one having to work".

Does she care about you? If yes, she *will* care about the problems you have with working till you drop dead (substitute 70's, 80's etc). I suspect she just does not see why things need to change now, after a decade+ of you implicitly promising to be the one working till you drop dead (by being a spendy one yourself). This is a valid criticism she would raise - if she does!!

If this is the key issue, then you have two choices:
1. Fulfill your implicit promise towards her, and be the provider till you die. Forget about FI.
2. Renege on your "implicit promise". I'd probably also apologize for doing so. At this point, be ready for your marriage to break up. That is the price you need to be ready to pay if you go this route.

Frankly, I and wifey entered with similar setup. No loans since our parents had funded our education. I worked a fairly lucrative career. Both of us were relatively frugal (not by this board's standards, but based on what we understood by frugality then). She resigned her "hobby work" position (college-adjunct in a lib-arts topic). And we had a newborn and <5 years into our marriage when the 2008 shit-storm hit, and I was in the epicenter of it career-wise!!

The issues and stresses I was going through quickly convinced my wife, with some (but not a lot of) leading prompting from me, that she should not be a stay-at-home-mom. Frankly, in my eyes, she had made the responsible "adult"ing choice. She discovered her earlier plans put her family in a lot of undue risk and made some herculean efforts to switch gears and land into a proper career (i.e. not a "college adjunct" type of hobby-work). I'd probably have a lot less respect for her as a partner had she decided to renege on sharing the responsibility even after discovering the risks a "single income" poses.

If your partner is not motivated by a sense of sharing equal responsibility with you, then you unfortunately only have bad choices left!!

six-car-habit

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2019, 01:40:34 AM »
 a] Are all the children old enough to be in full time school , kindergarden or older ?
b]  Do you believe subjecting them to public school will ruin their lives and future prospects ?

If [a] is true , is there not a part time job your wife could get [ 5-6 hours a day] during the school day , or offset so one of you is home in the morning and the other in the evening / late afternnon, so that there is a parent available at both ends of the school day ?   Then wifes part-time job , can be used to pay for private education....

If {b} is Not true [ they will survive with a public education ] and wife is not willing to work to pay for private ed , you could suggest they attend public school, and put the $$ toward savings.

  Just because her parents are still working doesn't mean you still need to be working at the same age. My dad is at a full time job he grumbles about frequently at 70 yrs old. Why should i aspire to follow in those footsteps ?

 *** " On education, I am told I cannot sacrifice our children's future and "deprive" expensive private school education... which I did benefit from when I was a child... " ***    You are a grown man , providing for several humans. The way this is phrased makes it sound like wife is dictating how things are going to be. Speak up for yourself.

 I would not split money 50/50.  A fair percentage to her, if she "cannot" work due to kids, but not 50%.

 

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2019, 04:56:55 AM »
Hi Six Car Habit,
Thank you for the blunt, but necessary feedback.

A) Yes, almost old enough to be in full time school.  I do want her to contribute financially to the family.
B) Quality of public school here is not great.  I did go through private school which was my parent's decision.

I find it hard to argue back, when the case is put this way:

Do you not want to give your kids the quality education you benefited from, in order to not work when you are not yet even 40?


Also, we had agreed broad areas of focus earlier...
- partner's domain: home, children
- my domain: work

What we eat was part of home domain, and I am gradually taking back those decisions.  Time to review education and rent arrangements.


You are right...  If we all had to work till 65 or 70 because a relative does, there is no improvement and aspiration.  I am trying to change more than 3 decades of habit and inertia to move towards MMM philosophy...
« Last Edit: September 30, 2019, 05:02:04 AM by fire100xz »

mistymoney

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2019, 05:50:18 AM »
If the public schools are not great, then I think that is a serious consideration. Moving might be a better option.


Did you say you were renting? That makes it easier.

you haven't given any numbers - do you have anything saved? What is salary/expense?

What proposed changes have you suggested?

Are you contributing to your 401k and how much? Do you have any consumer debt?

You two need to talk about this without fighting. If you feel you've done the best you can to broach this in a collaborative, let's talk, non-judgmental way and you wife is resistant and picks a fight, and you back down/avoid - you need to get to marital counseling stat.

That communication dynamic is much more of a problem to your future together than anything else.


Linea_Norway

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2019, 05:51:30 AM »
Can you play the health card? Saying that if you continue to work in this stressful job, you might die from a heart attack before you reach 40?

I suggest you make a reasonable budget to live on and reconsider input from your wife on that. Not a retire early extreme budget, but something that a normal person can live from. Like you eat vegetarian now and she doesn't. Then calculate a reasonable amount of cost for food, based on 1 vegetarian and the rest meat eaters. Also suggest budgets for clothing, household products, holidays and a personal spending post for each adult.

When we used to have separate accounts, we just had 1 account for family costs, which was used for groceries, eating out and paying bills. And we had our own accounts for personal stuff. In your case it is different because she doesn't have her own income. But she could put her own monthly spending budget on her account.

You have agreed with your wife on that you will be the main breadwinner. Maybe she married you for that reason (not having to work herself). That makes the situation more difficult to deny her a certain amount of personal spending money. But there is no reason to provide her with an endless amount of spending money. You could suggest some reasonable amount. If she wants more than that, then she can choose to earn her own money. The schooling issue is a bit difficult as she had obvious expectations that you would provide for private schooling.

What if you would agree on private schooling for the children. How much would that cost up to the age that they are 18 and can take care of themselves? How many years of savings would that be? If you con't need to work anymore, there is maybe no reason you need to live in a HCOL area. Could you move to some place with good (enough) public schools?
Is it an option that you keep working parttime until the children are out of school, just enough to finance the schooling?

chemistk

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2019, 06:25:41 AM »
OP - I really think you need to slow down for a second here.

Not because you should withdraw your plans for FIRE - just the opposite! But consider this (and if you already have, consider it again): for more than a decade, you have been a particular person to your wife. And by this, I mean, a long time ago you expressed your wants and needs and developed (in her eyes) into the person she knows you as. She mentally planned her whole life around who she believed you to be. And then - suddenly - you announce this radical change.

It doesn't matter if you were trending this way for a time, in her eyes (at least given the information you shared) this was a sudden and shocking change. Most people don't take major changes all too well, especially if they are directly impacted and have had no say in the matter. Based on how you describe things, that's how she feels - you're threatening to shake a major part of her world up and she's reacting to protect the natural order of her world.

So, before you get ahead of yourself, realize that this will take time and patience.

Step zero - slow your roll on some of the major changes. Where possible, and where it minimally affects her, cut costs/invest/pay debt.

Then, figure out the exact reason why you want to pursue FIRE. Health? Fulfillment? Get out of the consumer world? Commit this to memory and write it down.

Once you've got that going, have an honest conversation with your wife and explain exactly why you want to make this change. Be prepared for a lot of negativity.

After that - the MOST CHALLENGING part: live it. Work slowly toward your goal while respecting your wife's (and your family's) doubts. Do not force anything upon her but lead by example. Take charge of the budget, the bills, etc. but be open and transparent about what you're doing and why you're doing it. Often the 'how' of accomplishing a life of less spending scares people just as much as any other fear.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Some of the advice on the forum and in other resources tries to emphasize that these changes needed to be made yesterday but you've got to remember that nothing will ever work out exactly the same as for other people.

I also recommend reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" if you haven't already. If you can understand how to empathize with your wife and work towards bringing your values in alignment (which may mean sacrificing some of your own ambition if you want to maintain the relationship), you'll find the whole process to be a heck of a lot easier.

slappy

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2019, 06:29:50 AM »
First of all, what is your "why"? Why do you want to FI/RE? I haven't seen it come through in your posts yet. You said you woke up one morning interested in FIRE. That's not going to be enough to "convince" a spouse. How long have you been interested in FIRE?

I think if you made the agreement as to what your roles will be, you need to to discuss that. Marriage is a partnership and it's going to change through the years. You will want to talk about why your "agreement" is no longer working for you. When I got married, we wanted to be a two career couple and any kids would go into daycare. (This was a source of drama with our friends who believed that you don't love your kids if you put them in daycare. Insert eye roll here.)  As it turned out, my husband became unemployed (long story short-police officer who responded to the 911 call where his father died. He fell into depression and could not go back to work). Obviously that changed  things. We talked about him looking for work or deciding to stay home. His experience as an officer (long hours, away from home, no flexibility) led him to want to stay home with the kids. So he did, and now we have three. We literally just talked last night about how we wouldn't have 3 kids if we were both working and had kids in daycare. (Yes, I know it works for some. Not for us, though. We would have just had two kids.)

Anyway, that's a long story just to stay that both partners need to remain flexible in a marriage.

Also, in our marriage, we each have a small "allowance". A couple hundred bucks a month we can spend on our own stuff, no judgement from the other person. Everything else goes into the joint account.

Re: groceries-what about grocery pickup? Places like Walmart, Sams club, and some local grocers offer this service. Shop online, then pick up. This gives you more control over what is purchased and puts less pressure on your wife.

One more thing: what does think your retirement will look like? That can start the conversation and then say "what if we could do those things now?" That worked with my husband.

Malkynn

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2019, 06:32:40 AM »
Finances really are the least of your concerns at this point.
You don't need to be trying to convince her of anything, you need to both get on the same page in terms of what you want from your shared lives.

You both need to work on better communication and goal setting.

Do you two have an open and ongoing dialogue about your shared future? How did important life plans become "implicit"? Did she ever make it clear that her parents behaviour is what she expects of her marriage?

Did you communicate the emotional process of developing a desire to retire early, or is it something you seemingly randomly jumped to?

At least from your account, it sounds like your wife has very specific assumptions and judgements about what you should want from life. Did you always agree with these assumptions? Were you aware of them? Have you ever shared your feelings about them? Your assumptions?

There are a lot of serious alarm bells here, not the least of which is you hearing that your wife thinks you are lazy for not wanting to work until 70. No happy, healthy partnership consists of anyone assuming the other is lazy.

What is going wrong that this is how your situation is being interpreted?

former player

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2019, 06:40:20 AM »
No specific advice, but a general piece of advice which is: this is going to be a lifelong campaign and you need to plan it carefully.   Get agreement on a change, possibly a small one, let the change bed in.  Then work towards the next change.  Start small: you going mostly vegetarian is an ideal first small step, taking the kids out of private schools is a very big step that is working against your family's cultural expectations and a lot more difficult to implement: it make take years.

DadJokes

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2019, 06:56:17 AM »
My wife is reluctantly on board. She understands the goal and the why, but she also doesn't have the decision process in her head about the future cost of current spending.

For example, this weekend she told me that she needed to get plates, plasticware, and napkins for a baby shower at work. She's a teacher, so throwing showers and whatnot is funded by the employees. She has to buy these items for a party for someone she doesn't even know very well. I tell her that I will pick up the stuff she needs from Aldi. That's apparently not good enough. She needs plastic plates, not paper plates, which cost twice as much. I question whether or not anyone will care what kind of plates they have.

She follows up by saying that if she was in a car wreck but was uninjured, that I would be more upset about having to fix/replace the vehicle than happy that she's okay. In other words, my insistence that no one cares what kind of plates they have at a baby shower makes me cheap.

Despite going through the 50 step thread and other ideas, I've come to accept that she'll never be as on board as I am, but I just have to be happy that she doesn't fight me on most of the big things.

Malkynn

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2019, 07:57:01 AM »
My wife is reluctantly on board. She understands the goal and the why, but she also doesn't have the decision process in her head about the future cost of current spending.

For example, this weekend she told me that she needed to get plates, plasticware, and napkins for a baby shower at work. She's a teacher, so throwing showers and whatnot is funded by the employees. She has to buy these items for a party for someone she doesn't even know very well. I tell her that I will pick up the stuff she needs from Aldi. That's apparently not good enough. She needs plastic plates, not paper plates, which cost twice as much. I question whether or not anyone will care what kind of plates they have.

She follows up by saying that if she was in a car wreck but was uninjured, that I would be more upset about having to fix/replace the vehicle than happy that she's okay. In other words, my insistence that no one cares what kind of plates they have at a baby shower makes me cheap.

Despite going through the 50 step thread and other ideas, I've come to accept that she'll never be as on board as I am, but I just have to be happy that she doesn't fight me on most of the big things.

Well...these things obviously matter to her for some reason.
Have you tried to understand why they matter to her?
By rejecting their value, you are rejecting her values and essentially stating that your values are fundamentally superior in some way.

Here's how I imagine she experienced that exchange:
Her: "plastic plates matter to me"
You: "your priorities are invalid"

My DH has reworked a ton of his habits over time because I've taken a keen interest as to why they are important to him. Either he's come to understand my position that such things shouldn't have value, or we've found a compromise, or I've come around to understanding and respecting his priorities.

When you truly understand why something is important to a person you love, it's a lot easier to work with them on ways to make their needs feel met in mutually beneficial ways.

Your wife doesn't seem to register the numbers side of the opportunity cost of spending, but she may better understand if you communicate it in her own terms. Paper plates instead of plastic plates now for every party amounts to some other much more impressive purchase that could be made in the future. Are plastic plates really worth more than [insert desirable purchase here]?

It's also important to accurately communicate your motivations. It's one thing to spell out the objective benefits of spending less/retiring early, but if she can grasp the internal motivations behind it, she may be far more compassionate in considering your feelings in her spending decisions.

There's an emotional, driving reason behind the desire to leave a career early. It's profound and important. It's not just a "oh, that sounds like a fun idea" kind of life plan. The desire to willingly walk away from enormous amounts of potential salary is something that should really be unpacked in order to be understood.

Understanding each other's motivations and priorities is a pretty big prerequisite for respecting them.  Do you both feel fully understood?

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2019, 08:33:33 AM »
I am not sure I can cover all of your questions. I will try.
We (I and wifey) faced external circumstances (2008 recession, for us) that forced a re-take on our plans. The direction of change was similar to where you are trying to go together with your wife.

Thinks I am being ridiculous or lazy that I want to FI soon.
Very difficult to change someone's perception of "right" or "wrong". I'd say it is almost impossible. If your partner believes your station in life is to work till you drop dead, and her station in life is to be a "stay at home wife" - you can likely not change that. Given this, you can only try to "agree to disagree" here.
At this point, any action necessary to FI early *will* be perceived as unfair by your wife - with a spectrum of fairly predictable consequences.
Are you ready/willing to take these "predictable consequences"? If not, try to slow walk and try to change your wife's moral framework. I doubt that is doable. But that would be your only option.
If you are at a "come what may" stage of your determination of your "FI by 50" goal, then you can use your purse-strings to control things. Go all cash. Cash runs out = no more spending. If your wife wants to spend more in some category, she has to earn herself.
Remember, hard reset usually is the only way to do this. Slow walk does *not* work. Watch the Canadian TV show "till debt do us part" for some tactics that can translate across borders.

Food is a major cost: eating out,  buying organic.  Food is also in the complicated 'joint' category.

We have done some things:
- cut back on eating out.  Approx once a week now.
- I have gone mostly vegetarian and asked to cut out meat and fish from home cooked meals. My spouse still buys meat and fish for me too, sometimes.  This has reduced the most expensive grocery category of meat and fish by almost half.  I have intentionally not asked my partner to do the same, to avoid conflict and focus on my span of control.

In my experience, cutbacks don't work. Cold turkey quits do.
Cutback means you will do mental gymnastics to borrow from future.
We, for example, eat only only to celebrate something. e.g. Someone's birthday (Except mine, because I don't like eating out at places we can afford, except in very expensive fine dining restaurants. And we have decided we can't afford the restaurants I like). We *will* like start going out to the $300for4 dinners out that I like *after* we reach FI. 

Second to eating out, In my experience, inventory control is a big part controlling food cost. We are still in the process of mastering it. Our grocery bill was one of the ridiculous $1000/month ones. I am hopeful after we learn all the mustachian ways, we can drive it down to $500/month for 4 of us. We are not there. Still learning.

How do you tackle "joint" items like rent, children's education?  Our rent is ridiculous by MMM standards, but ok by mainstream standards at approx one third of income.  How can I convince reduce to MMM community levels?   
Your rent does not compute for me. We have lived around NYC and I have always worked in NYC (except for times when I was a road-warrior with a base in NYC). We *never* paid more than 15% in rent. We married early. Even then, when I was earning < $80k/year (low by NYC standards), we never paid > 15% of our salary in rent. One third of salary in rent is especially unjustifiable if your kids go to private school. The only justifiable reason I can think of to live in a high-cost, high-rent neighborhood is good public school.
As of right now, I have a 2 hour one way commute, work from home a lot (thankfully, my work allows it), and have a house that costs 1/3rd of what my colleagues have.
You might need to think out of the box a bit here.

My partner claims that working in this expensive city will create more costs.  More so than what the realistic salary will be.
I think there may be a lot of issues hidden behind this statement that needs peeling back.
Do you do you share of childcare activities? Diaper changes? Feeding the kids. Will they starve if they are with you at home one week when your partner is out for something?
If you do your share of childcare, then your partner can do college in the evenings, weekends etc.

Heck, my wife completed an MS in CS + 25 credits worth of pre-requisites (because she did not come from CS background) in 3 years flat with I working full time + travelling out Monday-Thursday for 2 out of those 3 years. So I *know* it is possible. I don't expect everybody to be capable of such superhuman feats like my wife (I know I am not). But that is no excuse for not trying.

This may be a very difficult and sensitive topic due to her sense of what her, and your station in life is. She probably thinks that it is her right to stay at home and your duty to provide for that. Trying to shaking her our of this may indeed bring your marriage to a breaking point, or indeed break it!

How is your progress to FI?   I am afraid, even if my partner does work, getting both a) increase in come AND b) saving (asking not to spend that extra income) will put too much stress and pressure...
We are ready to lean-FIRE if we relocated to a low-cost area. We're not going to do that.
We are 60% ready to lean-FIRE in-place with 4% SWR. We won't lean-FIRE and I am not comfortable with 4% SWR.
Our house will be paid off in 2029, thereby reducing our monthly outgoing cash flow. At that point we should be truly FI. I still don't expect to voluntarily RE then. I'm a programmer by trade and I like my work. Wifey changed her career to become a programmer too. She used to say she would retire at the first chance. She has also started enjoying coding now - and seems to be changing her tune.

One thing I am learning, and have learned  in this board is that you truly do *not* need to spend much money to enjoy life. So, the mustachian ways may seem very stressful from outside, but are far less so once you roll up your sleeves and really get into it.

On education, I am told I cannot sacrifice our children's future and "deprive" expensive private school education... which I did benefit from when I was a child...
You said your had agreed on domains - right? Education is not a "home" domain. So your wife should have just as much say about your children's education as you have about grocery shopping.

On splitting bank accounts - it is efficient to have 1 partner do groceries, than do it twice.  Do you deduct groceries of 1 partner from one account, and vice versa?  How can we improve here?

With a young family, it is almost certainly more efficient if one person controls grocery shopping.

Your best bet is money-jar, envelope etc. You will need to get your wife to cooperate for this + inventory control etc. to work. This *may* be the flashpoint that really precipitates your relationship crisis. So venture into it only if you are desperate enough in your resolution that you will not back down come what may.
Else, don't!

slappy

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2019, 08:39:01 AM »
My wife is reluctantly on board. She understands the goal and the why, but she also doesn't have the decision process in her head about the future cost of current spending.

For example, this weekend she told me that she needed to get plates, plasticware, and napkins for a baby shower at work. She's a teacher, so throwing showers and whatnot is funded by the employees. She has to buy these items for a party for someone she doesn't even know very well. I tell her that I will pick up the stuff she needs from Aldi. That's apparently not good enough. She needs plastic plates, not paper plates, which cost twice as much. I question whether or not anyone will care what kind of plates they have.

She follows up by saying that if she was in a car wreck but was uninjured, that I would be more upset about having to fix/replace the vehicle than happy that she's okay. In other words, my insistence that no one cares what kind of plates they have at a baby shower makes me cheap.

Despite going through the 50 step thread and other ideas, I've come to accept that she'll never be as on board as I am, but I just have to be happy that she doesn't fight me on most of the big things.

Well...these things obviously matter to her for some reason.
Have you tried to understand why they matter to her?
By rejecting their value, you are rejecting her values and essentially stating that your values are fundamentally superior in some way.

Here's how I imagine she experienced that exchange:
Her: "plastic plates matter to me"
You: "your priorities are invalid"

My DH has reworked a ton of his habits over time because I've taken a keen interest as to why they are important to him. Either he's come to understand my position that such things shouldn't have value, or we've found a compromise, or I've come around to understanding and respecting his priorities.

When you truly understand why something is important to a person you love, it's a lot easier to work with them on ways to make their needs feel met in mutually beneficial ways.

Your wife doesn't seem to register the numbers side of the opportunity cost of spending, but she may better understand if you communicate it in her own terms. Paper plates instead of plastic plates now for every party amounts to some other much more impressive purchase that could be made in the future. Are plastic plates really worth more than [insert desirable purchase here]?

It's also important to accurately communicate your motivations. It's one thing to spell out the objective benefits of spending less/retiring early, but if she can grasp the internal motivations behind it, she may be far more compassionate in considering your feelings in her spending decisions.

There's an emotional, driving reason behind the desire to leave a career early. It's profound and important. It's not just a "oh, that sounds like a fun idea" kind of life plan. The desire to willingly walk away from enormous amounts of potential salary is something that should really be unpacked in order to be understood.

Understanding each other's motivations and priorities is a pretty big prerequisite for respecting them.  Do you both feel fully understood?

Malkynn has a great response here.

Also, what is the price difference between paper and plastic plates? Can you just find a place to buy plastic plates in bulk so that it's less expensive? I know small holes sink ships and all, but I can see how she might feel you are being cheap in this situation. The ability to let small things go that matter more to DH than me has been a difficult transition for me.

DadJokes

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2019, 08:42:18 AM »
My wife is reluctantly on board. She understands the goal and the why, but she also doesn't have the decision process in her head about the future cost of current spending.

For example, this weekend she told me that she needed to get plates, plasticware, and napkins for a baby shower at work. She's a teacher, so throwing showers and whatnot is funded by the employees. She has to buy these items for a party for someone she doesn't even know very well. I tell her that I will pick up the stuff she needs from Aldi. That's apparently not good enough. She needs plastic plates, not paper plates, which cost twice as much. I question whether or not anyone will care what kind of plates they have.

She follows up by saying that if she was in a car wreck but was uninjured, that I would be more upset about having to fix/replace the vehicle than happy that she's okay. In other words, my insistence that no one cares what kind of plates they have at a baby shower makes me cheap.

Despite going through the 50 step thread and other ideas, I've come to accept that she'll never be as on board as I am, but I just have to be happy that she doesn't fight me on most of the big things.

Well...these things obviously matter to her for some reason.
Have you tried to understand why they matter to her?
By rejecting their value, you are rejecting her values and essentially stating that your values are fundamentally superior in some way.

Here's how I imagine she experienced that exchange:
Her: "plastic plates matter to me"
You: "your priorities are invalid"

My DH has reworked a ton of his habits over time because I've taken a keen interest as to why they are important to him. Either he's come to understand my position that such things shouldn't have value, or we've found a compromise, or I've come around to understanding and respecting his priorities.

When you truly understand why something is important to a person you love, it's a lot easier to work with them on ways to make their needs feel met in mutually beneficial ways.

Your wife doesn't seem to register the numbers side of the opportunity cost of spending, but she may better understand if you communicate it in her own terms. Paper plates instead of plastic plates now for every party amounts to some other much more impressive purchase that could be made in the future. Are plastic plates really worth more than [insert desirable purchase here]?

It's also important to accurately communicate your motivations. It's one thing to spell out the objective benefits of spending less/retiring early, but if she can grasp the internal motivations behind it, she may be far more compassionate in considering your feelings in her spending decisions.

There's an emotional, driving reason behind the desire to leave a career early. It's profound and important. It's not just a "oh, that sounds like a fun idea" kind of life plan. The desire to willingly walk away from enormous amounts of potential salary is something that should really be unpacked in order to be understood.

Understanding each other's motivations and priorities is a pretty big prerequisite for respecting them.  Do you both feel fully understood?

I understand her motivations. She cares way too much about what other people think of her. Despite being 28 years old, she won't get a tattoo or drink in front of her parents because her mom might disapprove. As for the plates, she thinks people will think she's cheap if she brings in paper plates, when in reality no one would notice.

Since that personality trait isn't going to change, I just have to pick and choose my battles, which I am pretty bad at doing (I tend to pick and choose every battle).

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2019, 09:52:28 AM »
"I tend to pick and choose every battle"

Me too...

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2019, 10:00:55 AM »
"I tend to pick and choose every battle"

Me too...

I think it is important to distinguish the Strategy and Tactics level battles.

If you and your partner agree on strategy - tactics issues will fall in place. At least they won't break the relationship and become more of "my stupid hubby" jokes.

You want to FI. Is that a legitimate goal -> is a strategy question. As is "is it fair for you to ask me to work till I am in my 80s"?

Once you are on the same page, or at least respect each other's long term strategic goals (or lack of them) and can live with the consequences coming out of it - everything else is much less serious. :-)

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2019, 10:43:25 AM »
First, a huge thank you to all the ideas, responses and engagement.  I am grateful to the MMM forum members.

*Why do I want FI?*
1) Security for the family.  We are a single income family, and I work in a cyclical industry.  "Can I continue to earn a high income for years, decades?"  Save while we can, rather than later say with regret, if only we saved seriously while we had the high income.

2) Freedom. MMM said somewhere (I am paraphrasing) work is better when it is optional.

3) I was always more of a free spirit, but have been stuck in this corporate life.  Within the corporate world, I am fortunate that I enjoy my work a decent amount of time... but I would live to able to go back to myself, following my more "natural" personality tendencies

I came across MMM blog and FI RE about 5 years ago, and have been talking about being excited about these ideas to her on and off.  But as pointed out, this may have been heard by my partner as me just talking (and sharing ideas I read about), rather than an actual change to our lives.

I do not know yet what I would do in FI RE.  Phase 1 will be re-exploring for sure. 

As suggested, I will try visioning with my partner... what life could be like in FI RE.  She may think my plan is to just sit around at home all day.  It is a good idea to get her onboard and excited... 

This may help her underatand that I am not just being lazy, but I want to do something else with my life while I am young enough and have the energy to do so...


*Strategy*
I think she is onboard that it is better to be financially secure, and she agrees that I should not have to work until I am 70 / 80 / drop dead.

The main resistance has been the speed of change.  Some years, we spend all the base and we managed to save only the bonus (I view this as 100% spending rate and totally unacceptable, she thinks not a bad outcome)


I think she thinks I should not mind working until I am maybe 50.  We have not discussed specific numbers. Thinking through more by discussing here, seems like this is something else I need to do.


*Communication*
Caveat... I am not as bad as a nagging, complainypants (as MMM would say) as I come across here... at least I hope so...

It is sad, but communication with my partner definitely suffered since we had kids.  During meals, it is hard to have a conversation without interruption by children.  She is meticulous (an admirable trait) but results in her cleaning up and tidying the house till late after kids sleep, leaving very little time for us to have these FI RE talks.

It then comes out in "stressed outbursts" when I am paying the bills or seeing another month go by with little savings accomplishment...

I am hoping that this is a phase and we are able to carve out quality time again soon...


*Rent*
Yes, we are paying way too much (in my opinion... she says she will be unhappy in a smaller place...)  We have a "guest room" that is usually idle, etc... But I do enjoy a short commute by train and no need to own a car (one thing right by MMM!)...

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2019, 10:48:30 AM »
She sounds like an excellent partner!  Congratulations!!



Heck, my wife completed an MS in CS + 25 credits worth of pre-requisites (because she did not come from CS background) in 3 years flat with I working full time + travelling out Monday-Thursday for 2 out of those 3 years. So I *know* it is possible. I don't expect everybody to be capable of such superhuman feats like my wife (I know I am not). But that is no excuse for not trying.

This may be a very difficult and sensitive topic due to her sense of what her, and your station in life is. She probably thinks that it is her right to stay at home and your duty to provide for that. Trying to shaking her our of this may indeed bring your marriage to a breaking point, or indeed break it!

[

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2019, 11:28:57 AM »
...
As suggested, I will try visioning with my partner... what life could be like in FI RE.  She may think my plan is to just sit around at home all day.  It is a good idea to get her onboard and excited... 

This may help her underatand that I am not just being lazy, but I want to do something else with my life while I am young enough and have the energy to do so...
...
...

*Strategy*
I think she is onboard that it is better to be financially secure, and she agrees that I should not have to work until I am 70 / 80 / drop dead.

The main resistance has been the speed of change.
...

These bits make me very hopeful that you would be successful. :-)..

If she is onboard with the strategic direction, everything can follow from there.

Set a goal:
When do you want to FI? Let's say 50.

Work out the math. Calculate how much you need to save per year with conservative market growth assumptions:
1. With your current spending rate.
2. With reasonably reduced spending rate.

I've not used them, but heard there are many FIRE calculators that can assist with these.

If your wife agrees with the strategy, but questions your math, ask her to do her own. Math usually does not lie. Ask her to set the appropriate saving goals assuming you want to FIRE by 50.

This negotiation won't be easy. The savings goals will appear daunting. Perhaps that would be a good time to insert the statement "you know, if you could earn some income then we could reach there with less sacrifices".

Let her choose the appropriate plan as long as it is mathematically sound and gets you to, or close to your goal (of FIRE by 50?).

She sounds like an excellent partner!  Congratulations!!
Thank You!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2019, 05:36:34 PM by ctuser1 »

Linea_Norway

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2019, 12:55:52 PM »
The financial security is the most important thing to focus on. Give her some examples of what might happen if you loose your ability to work. You want to work on reaching that security fastest possible.

Can you plan some time out together? Get someone to watch your children for an evening and go out for dinner together, or to a bar. At least, a place where you can talk. Or on day time, with a walk in the park. Just present it as a date. And then try to findcout if you can agree on your values and general future goals. How to implement them (detailed frugility methods) in detail can come later when you have agreed on the basics.

BrightFIRE

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2019, 02:49:44 PM »
You may find this post by the Mad Fientist's wife a helpful one. https://www.madfientist.com/spouse-early-retirement/ She worked, but in other ways seems to be similar to your wife (and most people). It took her years to come around, but he never pushed her.

"I was one of those people (along with his own family) who would often ask him, Why do you deprive yourself of the things you really want? and Why cant you just learn to relax and spend money without worrying?"

SwordGuy

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2019, 05:37:35 PM »

You've gotten plenty of good advice.

I would suggest changing your behavior first.  Make the changes that you can make that just affect you.  Show that you're not just all talk on this topic and prove that your are serious about this.   Don't be a dick about it.  Just do it.

After you've done it for several months, perhaps your spouse will bring up the topic.   If not, let her know that you love her, but you need her help for the long term.   See how she responds.   You might be happily surprised.   

If her response has been to just spend more because you're spending less, and she keeps that up after you talk again, then you'll know her answer.

Malkynn

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2019, 05:44:38 PM »
I understand her motivations. She cares way too much about what other people think of her. Despite being 28 years old, she won't get a tattoo or drink in front of her parents because her mom might disapprove. As for the plates, she thinks people will think she's cheap if she brings in paper plates, when in reality no one would notice.

Since that personality trait isn't going to change, I just have to pick and choose my battles, which I am pretty bad at doing (I tend to pick and choose every battle).

K...well...sure

But...caring what people think isn't a motivation, it's a manifestation of a motivation. There's an insecurity behind that drive, there's a core struggle that motivates that need for external approval. She's seeking sometime she needs that she doesn't know how to get elsewhere. Why is that??

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2019, 07:08:52 PM »
Thank you for the suggestion!

The vision thing again...
"However, my outlook was significantly changed when we were on our honeymoon and one day my husband asked me, What would be your perfect life?"


After 10 years!  He is VERY patient...
"And so after more than 10 years together, I am finally coming around to my husbands way of thinking. Something I dont think either of us ever expected."



You may find this post by the Mad Fientist's wife a helpful one. https://www.madfientist.com/spouse-early-retirement/ She worked, but in other ways seems to be similar to your wife (and most people). It took her years to come around, but he never pushed her.

"I was one of those people (along with his own family) who would often ask him, Why do you deprive yourself of the things you really want? and Why cant you just learn to relax and spend money without worrying?"

SotI

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #30 on: September 30, 2019, 11:09:52 PM »
I don't have an answer but I sympathize.
My husband, for example, is the (bi-)polar opposite of me in so many things. Financially, this means I am the planner (and main bread-winner) whereas even thinking about the future, financial nest eggs, old age, sickness and death totally freaks him out. To the "stick fingers in ears, la la la" level.

So I decided to let him do with his bit of money and focus on what I can do with mine.
Fortunately, he's very frugal and hands-on in many other ways, so he's not spendy as such and doesn't care about keeping up with the Jonses. He just doesn't want to think about the future and plan, as this often brings out major anxiety.

Still, if your wife is mentally stable and emotionally well-grounded, you may have some success in just moving the mustachian direction by just giving a good example. If not, maybe it helps to figure out where her reluctance is common from (motivation). Good luck, mate!

chemistk

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #31 on: October 01, 2019, 06:00:58 AM »
See, this update paints a much different (much better!!) picture than your initial post. I'll highlight some of the important points:

First, a huge thank you to all the ideas, responses and engagement.  I am grateful to the MMM forum members.

*Why do I want FI?*
1) Security for the family.  We are a single income family, and I work in a cyclical industry.  "Can I continue to earn a high income for years, decades?"  Save while we can, rather than later say with regret, if only we saved seriously while we had the high income.
2) Freedom...
.
.
I came across MMM blog and FI RE about 5 years ago, and have been talking about being excited about these ideas to her on and off.
.
.
It is a good idea to get her onboard and excited... 
.
.
*Strategy*
I think she is onboard that it is better to be financially secure, and she agrees that I should not have to work until I am 70 / 80 / drop dead.

The main resistance has been the speed of change.  Some years, we spend all the base and we managed to save only the bonus (I view this as 100% spending rate and totally unacceptable, she thinks not a bad outcome)
.
.
*Communication*
.
.
It is sad, but communication with my partner definitely suffered since we had kids.  During meals, it is hard to have a conversation without interruption by children.  She is meticulous (an admirable trait) but results in her cleaning up and tidying the house till late after kids sleep, leaving very little time for us to have these FI RE talks.

It then comes out in "stressed outbursts" when I am paying the bills or seeing another month go by with little savings accomplishment...

I am hoping that this is a phase and we are able to carve out quality time again soon...

So you've got an idea, great! It's taken you 5 years of blog readership to precipitate the 'why' that you've developed but even you admit that it's still woefully underdeveloped. Your wife is on board with something, but you two are on totally different wavelengths. Your messaging isn't consistent and paying special attention to the red and green text, it's very apparent (at least given the information you've thus far shared) that your wife has a hard time believing that your plan for FIRE is actually a real thing.

Your road to being on the same page is both long and short.

It's pretty clear that your wife understands the benefits of saving vs. spending and is on board with making changes. It's pretty radical for someone with little knowledge of FIRE to even think that retirement before 60 is even possible anymore. That's huge (that she feels that way).

However - you definitely need to come up with a better reason for FIRE than that you want your freedom and that you want financial security for your family. If those are the things you want, there's a ton of other ways to accomplish those two.

But more importantly, you are woefully inconsistent - at times your're mum about FIRE but when the shit hits the fan suddenly you whip it out of your back pocket and throw it back on the table. Then when things calm down again, life goes back to normal.

Take a look at your posts in this thread but put yourself in your wife's position. There's no logical order. There's no plan, just a semi-resolved dream/goal. Put your skeptical shoes on for a minute. What sounds more rational to someone who has yet to understand the math and appeal of FIRE: A) Make a sudden, radical lifestyle shift to pursue a goal that runs directly against what most people would consider to be common sense (aka work until you're ~62 and retire with a safe cushion of money) or B) Scale back your spending a bit, save some more case, and plan to retire a few years early provided the house is paid for and the kids have gotten through school?

Before you can ever hope to be on the same page, you (yourself) must first learn to practice what you're preaching. By yourself. You can't make your wife do or not do something even if you think it's the most obvious thing to do.

Oh and the communication? You don't need to wait for her to be done with the dishes. This shouldn't start as a heavy conversation. Perhaps you could help her with the evening chores and chat about it first (after you talk about whatever's on her mind without framing any responses through the lens of FIRE). Or go for a walk. Or talk in the car. This isn't a sex talk - it's a years long conversation to be had.

Laura33

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #32 on: October 01, 2019, 09:47:37 AM »
First, read and re-read Malkynn's posts.

Second, the single-most-important thing you can do is to stop believing that you are "right" and she is "wrong."  There is a very strong ethos on this site that FIRE is the One True Path, and that everyone who doesn't agree is stupid, spendy, consumerist, [insert epithet here].  And if I'm going to be completely honest, deep down I share that belief (I do hang here, after all).

But your wife doesn't.  She is an independent, fully-fledged, grown-ass woman who is 100% entitled to her own views, goals, desires, and preferences.  And she believes that your top priority should be your kids' education, your home, and the kinds of food you eat.  Not coincidentally, those are the areas you have both assigned to her.  And she defines her success at those tasks based on a certain level of perceived "quality," meaning $$$.  So when you ask her to cut back, she sees it as you pushing her to do her job less well.  And when you push more, she starts to believe that you don't see those things as valuable.  And since all of those things are what she spends 100% of her time and effort on, she interprets that as your not seeing her as valuable.  So she sees herself as an equal partner -- you head off in the morning to do the hard work at the office, she stays put to do the hard work at home; and then you have these arguments, and she thinks that you see her as largely irrelevant -- as if you go off every day to do the hard work, and she fritters the day away playing with baubles and trinkets and entertaining herself with nice little hobbies.  And no conversation in the history of the world has ever gone well starting from that point.

So the first thing you need to do is be extremely complimentary about how well she is doing her job and how much it means to you that she puts so much effort into managing all of those invisible things so you don't have to.  And you need to mean it.

And that also means that you don't start your conversation with suggestions about how she can improve how she does her job.  First, because it's micromanaging, demoralizing, and insulting, because it tells her that you don't respect her or believe that she knows what she's doing.  But second, because it doesn't work.  You don't persuade someone by telling them to shop at Aldi instead of Whole Foods; you persuade someone by giving them a reason to want to shop at ALDI instead of Whole Foods.

So how do you do that?  You start by talking about your job, not hers.  Acknowledge that you had a vision 10 years ago of how Things Are Supposed to Be, and she has more than held up her end of the bargain.  But then admit your own weakness:  admit that a decade down the road, you are not sure you can keep up your end for another 30 years.  Because you're missing the time and the connection with her and your kids, and you're physically/mentally/emotionally exhausted by the grind, or whatever.  Talk about how scared you are to be the family's sole provider, without a big pot of savings as a safety net, because you never know what's going to happen with the economy, and your biggest fear is that you let her and the kids down.  And then ask her if she'd be willing to think about ways to help you change course, while still giving her the resources she needs to raise the family she wants.  Note that this involves asking, not telling -- the most critical step to getting her onboard is treating her as an equal partner with equally valid goals.  When you are vulnerable instead of perfect, asking instead of all-knowing, a loving partner will want to jump in and find ways to help you.

Once you guys can get to that point, then you can start talking about ideas.  I'd suggest brainstorming -- everything from stay on your current path to quit and spend a year traveling the country in a van.  Talk to her about what her dreams of the future are -- focusing on the two of you, not the kids, because they're going to be off to college and their own lives in a while.  This is where you can start to imagine things like being retired for 40 years instead of 15-20, like enjoying hobbies and travel while you're both young and healthy and all that.  This is what gets her the buy-in.

And then ask her how you can help.  Because the one thing I can tell you from experience is that you never persuade a partner of the value of FIRE when you dump all of the burdens on them.  If you think groceries are a problem, then you offer to take over the menu planning and shopping -- you set up a time every week to sit down with her and work through what she'd like to cook and negotiate more vegetarian stuff, and then you take your butt to ALDI on the weekend and present her with the groceries she needs.  Etc.

Is it fair?  Nope.  But it's reality.  As Dr. Phil says, do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?  You're the one who has changed priorities, so you need to be prepared to assume some of the extra burden of implementing those new priorities until she comes around. 

And then be patient.  It's a long journey, and she will not come around overnight.  But that's why you keep talking and dreaming together.

Finally, I'm sure you're sitting there saying how do you make time for these conversations when you're so busy with jobs and kids and obligations already?  The answer is:  you fucking make time.  Because if you guys can't even carve out an hour a week to sit out on the deck with a glass of wine, you're not going to have a marriage to look forward to in 20 years, no matter what you do with your finances.  Your connection with your wife has to be a top priority -- even now, even with young kids and full-time job and all of the other daily craziness.  So figure out what needs to change to make that happen -- dropping a kid or after-work activity, forking over money for a babysitter, or whatever.  That is non-negotiable.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #33 on: October 01, 2019, 10:45:33 AM »
My wife is reluctantly on board. She understands the goal and the why, but she also doesn't have the decision process in her head about the future cost of current spending.

For example, this weekend she told me that she needed to get plates, plasticware, and napkins for a baby shower at work. She's a teacher, so throwing showers and whatnot is funded by the employees. She has to buy these items for a party for someone she doesn't even know very well. I tell her that I will pick up the stuff she needs from Aldi. That's apparently not good enough. She needs plastic plates, not paper plates, which cost twice as much. I question whether or not anyone will care what kind of plates they have.

She follows up by saying that if she was in a car wreck but was uninjured, that I would be more upset about having to fix/replace the vehicle than happy that she's okay. In other words, my insistence that no one cares what kind of plates they have at a baby shower makes me cheap.

Despite going through the 50 step thread and other ideas, I've come to accept that she'll never be as on board as I am, but I just have to be happy that she doesn't fight me on most of the big things.

Well...these things obviously matter to her for some reason.
Have you tried to understand why they matter to her?
By rejecting their value, you are rejecting her values and essentially stating that your values are fundamentally superior in some way.

Here's how I imagine she experienced that exchange:
Her: "plastic plates matter to me"
You: "your priorities are invalid"

My DH has reworked a ton of his habits over time because I've taken a keen interest as to why they are important to him. Either he's come to understand my position that such things shouldn't have value, or we've found a compromise, or I've come around to understanding and respecting his priorities.

When you truly understand why something is important to a person you love, it's a lot easier to work with them on ways to make their needs feel met in mutually beneficial ways.

Your wife doesn't seem to register the numbers side of the opportunity cost of spending, but she may better understand if you communicate it in her own terms. Paper plates instead of plastic plates now for every party amounts to some other much more impressive purchase that could be made in the future. Are plastic plates really worth more than [insert desirable purchase here]?

It's also important to accurately communicate your motivations. It's one thing to spell out the objective benefits of spending less/retiring early, but if she can grasp the internal motivations behind it, she may be far more compassionate in considering your feelings in her spending decisions.

There's an emotional, driving reason behind the desire to leave a career early. It's profound and important. It's not just a "oh, that sounds like a fun idea" kind of life plan. The desire to willingly walk away from enormous amounts of potential salary is something that should really be unpacked in order to be understood.

Understanding each other's motivations and priorities is a pretty big prerequisite for respecting them.  Do you both feel fully understood?

Very well articulated point here. This approach is applicable to many realms of interpersonal conflict.

Lady SA

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #34 on: October 01, 2019, 12:28:31 PM »
agreed on the above responses, it sounds like you are blindsiding your wife in moments of stress with what sounds (to her) like a desperate fantasy. Everything is going along like she thinks is normal, then you get a big bill and then have a sudden outburst about never working again? I'd probably be skeptical and concerned too.

See if you can re-frame FIRE as something beneficial TO HER. What does she want? How would FIRE help her or make her life easier/better? Or how would FIRE benefit your kids (in a way she agrees with)? Maybe phrase it like "If we are more financially secure and independent, I'll be around much more to help you raise the kids and run errands and take the kids to the doctor -- we can share the parenting load instead of it all being on your shoulders". That could sound incredibly appealing to her! Or maybe "we would have the financial security to go on month-long vacations every year" or "If I'm at work less often, I can spend more time with you and the kids"

Remember, selling the FIRE lifestyle to her is all about finding out what about FIRE would benefit HER. If she can envision an easier/better life for herself (and the kids) and how FIRE would help make that a reality, and that FIRE is actually within your family's grasp, she would be more likely to eagerly get on board.

------

My DH was incredibly skeptical about FIRE in the beginning. He didn't understand it, he thought it was impossible, and just wasn't interested in the idea at all. But I just kept living a frugal life and explaining to him what I was doing and why, and I would show him the progress we were making, and what we could use that money for. I kept bringing up "dream" conversations with him, asking him what he would like to do if he never had to work for a paycheck any more. And what if BOTH of us never had to work for a paycheck any more? We could spend more time together, go on more vacations and trips to places we have dreamed of seeing, more time for our hobbies, more time for our future children. He always bemoans the fact that there aren't enough hours in the day to do all the things he wants to do -- and I chirp up that "soon, you'll have 8 hours a day back in your control and you can spend all that time tinkering with your 3D printer if you want!"

I just simply put as many factors in place on my own as I could, and just by giving him relatively frequent updates/insights to how what we are doing is buying us both the freedom to do what we both truly want to be doing, he is now entirely on board. He can't wait for FIRE! He brings it up himself, like "In a few years when I don't have to work anymore, I'll..."

It did take a while for me to wrap his head around the concepts of FIRE and how it would benefit him and both of us, and it also took a while to slowly change our spending habits to support FIRE. Some simple things I just did right away, like getting better rates on insurance and changing phone carriers. Things that didn't materially change his experience but saved us money. Then I began a sneaky campaign on our spending categories that if changed, he would definitely notice or feel "deprivation". I had to pick my battles carefully and slowly, one at a time. Lots of significant change at once would have spooked him.

Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and alienating your spouse and making them feel unheard or uncared about or overly deprived is going to be a lot more painful (and expensive if it gets to the point of divorce!) than simply finding acceptable compromises. If that means you have to plan for a certain higher level of spending in FIRE, so be it. My and DH's spending is about $10k per year more than I think is necessary, but it makes him happy and content now and in the future. He knows how many more years of working that extra $10k per year costs, but we are both ok with this. We have come to that compromise together and are now executing on the plan together, and we both still get exactly what we want: more time, more freedom, and a comfortable level of spending that gets us what is important to us. But figuring out what is important and why (and if there are acceptable alternatives) requires having frequent conversations with each other.

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2019, 08:17:02 AM »
Gearing up to having these discussions with my wife... thank you for all the suggestions and ideas... and the constructive criticisms!  Very helpful in bringing out key insights.

FI45RE

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #36 on: October 02, 2019, 10:52:47 AM »


I just simply put as many factors in place on my own as I could, and just by giving him relatively frequent updates/insights to how what we are doing is buying us both the freedom to do what we both truly want to be doing, he is now entirely on board. He can't wait for FIRE! He brings it up himself, like "In a few years when I don't have to work anymore, I'll..."


I think this is key. I had to learn (the somewhat hard way) that this technique/strategy was what brought my SO on board to the idea of FIRE, and I have seen similar changes in her outlook on work, life, FIRE, etc.

DadJokes

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #37 on: October 02, 2019, 11:15:31 AM »


I just simply put as many factors in place on my own as I could, and just by giving him relatively frequent updates/insights to how what we are doing is buying us both the freedom to do what we both truly want to be doing, he is now entirely on board. He can't wait for FIRE! He brings it up himself, like "In a few years when I don't have to work anymore, I'll..."


I think this is key. I had to learn (the somewhat hard way) that this technique/strategy was what brought my SO on board to the idea of FIRE, and I have seen similar changes in her outlook on work, life, FIRE, etc.

I read an article today about the power of visualizing financial goals here. While putting the numbers in front of me is all I need to get on board, I'm thinking of some kind of homemade graphic that we color in as we progress will work better for my wife (and our child as he gets older).

Nick_Miller

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #38 on: October 02, 2019, 11:47:24 AM »
OP, I know your head is swimming with all of this feedback, so I'll keep mine brief.

1) Walk the walk. Show that you're willing to make sacrifices. It would very odd for a committed/loving spouse to see their spouse make sacrifices and not be phased at all. I drive a 16-year-old vehicle. I buy my work clothes from Target and Kohls. I've saved $2,000 in quarters over the past couple years out of my "blow money." And I'm attorney making a good living. My wife recognizes that I'm willing to make sacrifices that affect only me.

2) Show her how HER life will be better/more exciting. Even the best of us are really self-motivated at heart. It allows humans to survive and evolve. So focus mightily on what SHE wants, and how tightening your belts NOW will get her what she wants LATER. Will you being FIRED give you all the flexibility and resources to travel more in your 50s? Maybe do some long travel that can't be done in one or two-week increments? Will you being FIRED give you more quality time together to learn new skills, or pursue couples' hobbies? What does she like doing?

*The only issue will be if she's ALREADY getting everything she wants...which I fear could be the case. It's pretty hard to sell someone on an alternate strategy when that person already has everything they want.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 12:16:34 PM by Nick_Miller »

mm1970

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #39 on: October 02, 2019, 11:55:01 AM »
Quote
In my experience, cutbacks don't work. Cold turkey quits do.
Cutback means you will do mental gymnastics to borrow from future.
We, for example, eat only only to celebrate something. e.g. Someone's birthday (Except mine, because I don't like eating out at places we can afford, except in very expensive fine dining restaurants. And we have decided we can't afford the restaurants I like). We *will* like start going out to the $300for4 dinners out that I like *after* we reach FI.

That's interesting.  I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say that - it likely depends on both your personality AND where you are in life at any given time.

I've used BOTH "cold turkey" and "slow changes".  When I have more time...cold turkey is the way to go.  When I was married, had a full time job, and was fat - I lost almost 60 pounds by calorie counting and treating my food intake as a part time job.  Because it literally was.  At least 20 hours a week.

Fast forward to life...having a full time job (still), husband (still), and now 2 kids.  For me right now...slow, steady cutbacks are WAY easier.  To be honest, that's been true since we had kids.  Dinner or lunch out? We cut back to once/ week.  Then once/month.   Desserts?  Twice a week.

Cable TV?  First cut to basic cable, then cut it out completely.  Then cut back out internet speed.

It's been much easier to make small changes, get used to the changes, then think "that didn't hurt" and cut back a little more.

mm1970

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #40 on: October 02, 2019, 11:57:35 AM »
Quote
And that also means that you don't start your conversation with suggestions about how she can improve how she does her job.  First, because it's micromanaging, demoralizing, and insulting, because it tells her that you don't respect her or believe that she knows what she's doing.  But second, because it doesn't work.  You don't persuade someone by telling them to shop at Aldi instead of Whole Foods; you persuade someone by giving them a reason to want to shop at ALDI instead of Whole Foods.
+1 on all that Laura said, but this struck me in particular.

As mentioned above - that's sorta what I did on many of our cut backs.  We used to eat out too much.  Rather than making my husband quit, I started packing his lunch 4 days a week.  But he still ate out Fridays.  Then, on his own he cut back to once/ month.

Likewise, my hubby REALLY likes TV.  Used to be a big thing with him.  I was all excited about cutting costs and suggested getting rid of cable, and he flipped out on me!  Then 3-4 years later, he suggested it himself (of course, right before I went out on mat leave...luckily I could stream cooking shows on Netflix while nursing).

Linea_Norway

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #41 on: October 02, 2019, 12:47:50 PM »


I just simply put as many factors in place on my own as I could, and just by giving him relatively frequent updates/insights to how what we are doing is buying us both the freedom to do what we both truly want to be doing, he is now entirely on board. He can't wait for FIRE! He brings it up himself, like "In a few years when I don't have to work anymore, I'll..."


I think this is key. I had to learn (the somewhat hard way) that this technique/strategy was what brought my SO on board to the idea of FIRE, and I have seen similar changes in her outlook on work, life, FIRE, etc.

I read an article today about the power of visualizing financial goals here. While putting the numbers in front of me is all I need to get on board, I'm thinking of some kind of homemade graphic that we color in as we progress will work better for my wife (and our child as he gets older).

The rich, broke, dead graph is a very good visual tool. But probably much more effective for people over 40/50 than younger people.

fire100xz

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #42 on: October 03, 2019, 08:31:46 AM »
What would a perfect life be for you?  If you could choose. [in a relaxed moment] 
Response: let's not talk about this right now.  I don't want to fight with you.

I need to plan better, and take a gradual approach... but also work to align with her on longer term strategy...


Note: my discretionary spending over the last 12 months was approx zero.  Looking at my expenses now, it is less than $20k a year (apart from joint items like rent, tuition).  But this forum made me realize there is more I can do myself, which only impacts me.


Gearing up to having these discussions with my wife... thank you for all the suggestions and ideas... and the constructive criticisms!  Very helpful in bringing out key insights.

Malkynn

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #43 on: October 03, 2019, 08:41:52 AM »
What would a perfect life be for you?  If you could choose. [in a relaxed moment] 
Response: let's not talk about this right now.  I don't want to fight with you.

It sounds like she interpreted your question as a way for you to start a conversation where you are going to try and convince her to accept a life plan that she has already said she is against.

The thing is, she's not totally wrong.
She's smart, she knows you, she knows what you are getting at.

You guys have a big mountain to climb in terms of communication, and it's going to take far more than a few open ended questions to get her invested in a discourse about something that she feels she can better control through putting her foot down and refusing to discuss it.

You're going to need to learn how to engage in healthy conflict.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2019, 08:43:46 AM by Malkynn »

Laura33

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #44 on: October 03, 2019, 08:54:37 AM »
What would a perfect life be for you?  If you could choose. [in a relaxed moment] 
Response: let's not talk about this right now.  I don't want to fight with you.

Eesh.  Well, there's your problem -- there is clearly a lot of negative history here.  She feels so burned that she's not even willing to open up to you right now.  That, btw, is a relationship killer with or without FIRE.

You're going to need a lot of patience to work through that.  Honestly, forget broaching the topic of FIRE at all until you've shown her that she can say what she feels being jumped on.  Start by acknowledging that your behavior has made her feel that way, that when you get frustrated and jump down her throat, you see that she shuts down to protect herself, and so she has naturally learned not to want to talk about money at all.  Apologize -- sincerely.  Tell her you really do want to know what she thinks and feels so that you guys can build a life that gets both of you what you want.  But don't force the issue -- she will need space and time to believe you again.  In the interim, just behave in a way that shows her you mean what you said (a/k/a don't get angry/frustrated at her like you have in the past).  And if and when she does feel safe enough to talk to you, just keep your mouth shut and listen.  No helpful suggestions, no solutions/fixes.  Just really trying to hear what she says and understand where she's coming from. 

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #45 on: October 03, 2019, 12:28:20 PM »
You're going to need to learn how to engage in healthy conflict.

Double this!!

It's a "game" - in the mathematical "game theory" sense, not in a "you'r playing a game with me" sense.

Your wife wants the status quo to continue. She may only begin to think of alternatives if it becomes evident that is no longer an option!!

Conflict on such a core issue *may* risk breaking up your family. I'm not sure, however, what kind of a "family" you'd be protecting (if you choose to) where the basic channels of communication are blockaded!! Maybe you could try working on opening the communication channels for X number of months or years - and then launch into conflict once you have exhausted all options.

Tailor your strategy of conflict based on your personality. I don't engage in conflict unless I am sure I am ready to escalate to the absolute bitter end - whatever that may be. So I seldom engage in conflict - if ever!! When in conflict, I find if calming and empowering to always have the strategic if/else statement rehashed in my brain for at least a few steps ahead - with end states clearly considered.

I've seen people also use conflict as a "testing strategy". I don't understand how that works. Don't you lose credibility if you bark a lot and then back down when you get real consequences? But I guess many people must think this to be a good strategy - else they won't do it.

Malkynn

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #46 on: October 03, 2019, 12:44:20 PM »
^there are many forms of conflict.

Constructive conflict doesn't equal getting into a fight with someone or even being adversarial. It means two people hold conflicting positions and can either avoid the conflict or address the conflict.

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #47 on: October 03, 2019, 12:51:16 PM »
^there are many forms of conflict.

Constructive conflict doesn't equal getting into a fight with someone or even being adversarial. It means two people hold conflicting positions and can either avoid the conflict or address the conflict.

How do you have a constructive conflict where the communication channels are blockaded??

Im genuinely curious!!

Seriously!! Id likely have a very adverse reaction if Im ever brushed off with contempt (like it came across) by my SO.

Im pretty sure as would my wife!!

I remember last time I was playing a game (civ 5, for the curious) and did not pay attention when my wife tried to start some conversation for the entire weekend. Lets just say it wasnt fun afterwards, and she was justified!!

Malkynn

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #48 on: October 03, 2019, 01:00:45 PM »
^there are many forms of conflict.

Constructive conflict doesn't equal getting into a fight with someone or even being adversarial. It means two people hold conflicting positions and can either avoid the conflict or address the conflict.

How do you have a constructive conflict where the communication channels are blockaded??

Im genuinely curious!!

Seriously!! Id likely have a very adverse reaction if Im ever brushed off with contempt (like it came across) by my SO.

Im pretty sure as would my wife!!

I remember last time I was playing a game (civ 5, for the curious) and did not pay attention when my wife tried to start some conversation for the entire weekend. Lets just say it wasnt fun afterwards, and she was justified!!

Yeah, if two people don't have an established pattern of constructive conflict, they aren't likely to suddenly start out of nowhere. It's a skill that can be learned, but like any other skill requires work and practice.

I would think that if someone is being shut down on an important issue, the first step is to talk about how there's a communication problem in the relationship and take responsibility for their role in that problem.

ctuser1

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Re: Having THE TALK with a current partner
« Reply #49 on: October 03, 2019, 01:46:44 PM »
I would think that if someone is being shut down on an important issue, the first step is to talk about how there's a communication problem in the relationship and take responsibility for their role in that problem.

I think we are all biased by our own experiences!!

In my experience, communication breakdown's like that, in a long-standing relationship comes with a *lot* of negative, self-reinforcing inertia. Softer methods like "taking responsibility" etc will be unlikely to make a single iota of difference.

I view a family is a team. In management speak, teams are said to go through 4 stages: forming-storming-norming-performing. After 10 years, this "team" has done their share of "norming" to the status quo and are "performing" to their own level of efficiency.

If you want any of that status quo to change - you need to regress back to the "storming" stage. The only way teams do that is via disruptive changes. That is fairly certainly going to involve adversarial conflict with a chance for the family itself to break up.
 
OP's wife feels her familiar, comfortable, "stay at home" retirement plan is for hers to take for granted. You don't threaten that without pretty strong fight-back!!