Author Topic: Helping a spouse retire  (Read 2707 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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Helping a spouse retire
« on: December 23, 2014, 02:24:22 PM »
Okay, this is probably a dumb post and kinda embarrassing but where else can I ask this question?  I'm the frugal one in the family and I manage the finances.

For almost half of our married life, I did not work. During that time it was living paycheck to paycheck and robbing Peter to pay Paul, although my husband still contributed to his 401(k). A few years ago, I went back to work and we beefed up our retirement accounts. We also started keeping a budget which I wish we had done years ago. Once I went back to work, any OT my husband earned became his own spending money for gifts and other things that he was not accountable for. This was on top of maxing out his 401K.

He will be retiring when he's eligible for medicare. He may or may not decide to work per diem at that time. It's strictly his choice. I will still work for awhile because I enjoy my job and it forces me to leave the house. He will not be drawing Social Security until he's 70, because he's the higher income earner and older than me. When he retires, our net worth will be 1m+ which includes our home that we're getting ready to put on the market.

In spite of knowing that, because he will not be getting a paycheck, or even Social Security, he feels like we don't have any money. We can live off of my paycheck but will probably have to stop our after-tax contributions. I'm not sure how to approach things so that he doesn't feel like we're broke and so that he has money. Currently he keeps $200-300 a month from his OT.  Even if his overtime is more than that, he will add the rest to our general fund. It's almost as if our savings doesn't count because he can't "see" it. Giving an allowance seems kinda childish since he can buy whatever he needs. Any thought, ideas, suggestions? He's commented about it several times, so I know it's bothering him although he really,really wants to retire.

Future Lazy

  • Bristles
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Re: Helping a spouse retire
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 02:44:56 PM »
Step number one, show him your budgets!

Show him where you're tracking expenses, income and savings, and show him what your savings are going to look like down the road. Believe it or not, numbers can actually be comforting. Knowing the million dollar nest egg will be there might help relieve that 'broke' feeling. Set up a bookmark on the computer or an app on his phone where he can go and see that money being managed.

Perhaps it's a better suggestion that he could take up different/part time work instead of retiring? Maybe put his time into a hobby that pays back?

Have you asked if he wants an allowance type setup? He doesn't need an allowance now, but might if he does decide to retire. If you're both getting the same allowance - $50-100/mo, or whatever - that's a lot less like parenting and a lot more like budgeting as a team. Maybe put aside $100/mo (for example) out of what you're making now to simulate what this would look like in the future?

It sounds like it might be less about feeling broke and more about not bringing home the bacon. If he's actually more upset about not being the breadwinner, and giving that role over to you, letting him share in the budgeting process might help relieve some of that. Remind him of how long he took care of you and kids and...?) before you returned to work, and express that you're willing (if not happy!) to trade those roles and give him some rest and time to reinvent himself. Have you asked him about this?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Helping a spouse retire
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2014, 03:11:39 PM »
In spite of knowing that, because he will not be getting a paycheck, or even Social Security, he feels like we don't have any money.

When your husband reaches full retirement age, he can file for Social Security benefits and suspend it immediately which will allow you to file for spousal benefits.  This will allow him to continue to increase his primary insurance amount to the max when he reaches 70 and allow you to collect some SS insurance.  This will also allow the spouse to increase their primary insurance amount up to the max when they reach 70 because they will be drawing the spousal benefit an not their own primary benefit.

This might help alleviate your husbands anxiety about not having enough funds.

Check out the book:

Social Security Strategies: How to Optimize Retirement Benefits by William Reichenstein and William Meyer


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Helping a spouse retire
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 05:43:01 PM »
Thanks for the suggestions mxt0133 and KaylaEM.

Mxt, I've done research and simulations with SS. It looks like it would be best for me to file at 62, for him to file and restrict at 68 and draw off my SS, and then file for his own at 70. Please let me know if I'm looking at it wrong, and thanks for the boom suggestion!

Kayla, we use Mint and he use to go in there and "look" but a few months ago there were glitches and I unlinked our investment accounts and just kept it for budgeting. I did set up a Personal Capital acct but neglected to set up the app for him. My bad. It's probably more information than he wants,  but I can show him where to look for the overview. Honestly, it's only been  the last six months that I have finally grasped that we can do this and be okay. I think it hit home when I realized that our Social Security income, once he turns 70, is more than our current living expenses. I'm looking at the numbers daily. I mention harder for him to grasp especially after careful. Even though I told him we can draw down from our investments, I don't think he fully grasps that.

He may stay and work part time where he's currently at. Even if he only did one or two shifts a week, it would help him feel like he had his own money. That's strictly his choice. He knows I don't mind carrying the load after he did for so many years!

I definitely need to talk to him some more about his feelings and trying to find where they stem from. I prefer to save my overtime and he prefers to have his. That's okay because in many ways I benefit from his overtime. He will use it to buy gifts or extra things we might need or want, but things that aren't necessity. In other words, he will use it to buy things for me that I am able to buy for myself.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and taking the time to respond.