Author Topic: How have you managed communication w your spouse and what you've learned on mmm?  (Read 3658 times)

Livewell

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I’m struggling a bit right now and thought some perspective from folks on this forum might help.

My wife and I have always been more frugal than the majority of our friends, which enabled us to build a decent nest egg.   Four years ago, while doing some research on retirement planning, I came across this community.   As someone who is financially hard wired, I was quickly drawn into it.   

I made all the mistakes others have, sharing too much too quickly with those around me, then falling back into just educating myself, then trying a more nuanced approach that led to responses from my wife like “we need to focus on now, not worry about 10 years from now.”   We made the decision to have her quit her job to stay home with our second baby, something she didn’t do for our first, and I was happy to have her do it because her high-powered career was not making her as happy as our kids.   Two years later she wants to go back to work because I make her “feel like a teenager having to ask Dad for money”.   Yeah, I haven’t done as good a job as I hoped painting the picture of what can be.   I had hoped that by giving her freedom she would want to enable mine.   I think what she’s been going through is similar to someone that made the FIRE leap without knowing what post-work life would be like – it’s been tough on her and she’s thinking part of getting her mojo back will be going back to work (which is fine if that is really going to make her happy, but I don’t get that impression).

Today our savings is getting in the range of 25x spending, at least the spending I estimated four years ago, and we have zero debt (house, cars).   I’ve compromised over time and bumped up my estimates, and figure we are 3-4 years out from having a very comfortable financial situation.   We do have two young kids and while I’m not into brand new cars (anymore) I don’t want to be divorced so I need to give her what she needs.   

My job is very good by most standards – I make a lot of money, I have freedom to not be chained to my desk.   I also have pressure, it’s difficult to be not “on call” and I’ve been doing a form of this work for 20 years now and I know I’m getting burnt out.    The idea of FIRE is very appealing, but I need to straddle my needs and the needs of my wife.   

OK – so I’m not looking for internet counseling – but I would be interested in what others have done.   I’m thinking now I need to go and paint that FIRE picture more vigorously – set up time and go through it with her.   As MMM says in his articles about "Is MMM ruining my marriage", it's about being in sync on life goals (short and long term).  I really feel we are more in sync than she thinks, other than my focus on long term financial planning (not a bad thing, just more my thing) and my poor reactions to her ideas about spending (which are practical however more fancy than what I would do on my own).
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 11:40:09 AM by Livewell »

KCM5

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Have you floated the idea of her going back to work and you staying home? Then you'll be the one asking for money :)

Livewell

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Have you floated the idea of her going back to work and you staying home? Then you'll be the one asking for money :)

Good thought, unfortunately my income is well above what she could earn

scantee

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Have you floated the idea of her going back to work and you staying home? Then you'll be the one asking for money :)

Good thought, unfortunately my income is well above what she could earn

If you have 25x your spending in investments, why does this matter? You're financially ready to retire today, so her potential income level isn't particularly important. She wants to go back to work to regain her self-esteem and you seem determined to talk her out of it because of your own goals and desires. Not good.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 12:27:23 PM by scantee »

nobody123

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Everyone is wired differently.  My wife has certain lifestyle expectations that we agree on, and as long as I provide that she doesn't care about our retirement planning. We each have an allowance for no questions asked spending, and I let her control how we spend money budgeted for gifts, home improvements, etc., so she has avenues for retail therapy.  She is of the type that a budget is a mandate of how much she must spend (ex: if we budget $500 for xmas presents, she will spend every last penny of it), so our annual budget talk is where I try to minimize that spend so I can save more money and hopefully retire earlier.  She is not spendy, but has no desire to do any extreme MMM things to save more money, and I'm fine with that.

Is your issue that she wants to spend more than you've budgeted, or does she really miss her career that much?  Frankly, if I was in your shoes, I would let her go back to work and let her spend 50% of whatever she takes home after paying for daycare.  You stick the other 50% towards your FIRE fund.  See if going back to work makes her happy, or if she just wants to quit again in a few months because she'd rather take care of the kids.  If she's still working a year from now, you can have a conversation about how long each of you still want to work, and your FIRE planning.  It sounds like your job is tolerable, so I wouldn't immediately quit to stay home with the kids if you're going to have to go back to work in a few months if she decides to quit.

trollwithamustache

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I've noticed that the ladytroll, while she says she believes in how capital works/grows/throws off dividends, she definitely comes from a family that does not. (all flat broke, brother drained his 401k to go shopping once, I have no idea where her budget/save gene came from, maybe the milkman?)  One of her jobs is running financial plans/forecasts for a financial advisor so I know she intellectually knows how capital works, but if we aren't in front of the spreadsheets it fades from her mind a bit and our capital becomes more like cash savings.    If her dad can't retire at 65, this talk of us retiring or semi--retiring over 20 years before that is crazy and not something she talks about with family.

Money is very emotional for people and this one took me a while to figure out since for us its a perception thing more than a control thing if that makes sense. She already had legit savings when we got together.

She has also bounced back and forth on the working/not working never with any real rational reason behind it.  I figure I'm lucky I found a very financially responsible girl  and if she does stop working this year, its good for the kids and I'll be full time a bit longer. If she keeps working we stay on a more accelerated plan.

My longer term solution is part time work. As we get more FIRE-ey I will get more picky about assignments being interesting and liking/respecting who I work for, but that can be changed as needs/costs change.

I also suspect that I am required to work so she can tell people (mom) what my job is. Principle Engineer/Consultant at my own practice may only be a couple hundred hours worked a year...

Novik

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Seconding KCM5 - if you want to not be at work and she does, why not make that happen?

I hear you that her income will be lower than yours, but if you have 25x your 4 years ago spending, you sound very close to your FIRE number, even with increased spending since.

Why not be a SAHD, which will make her transition back to work 100x easier, maybe work on a side hustle, and coast on her income alone while letting your stash grow for a few more years before you have to draw down?

What would the hard numbers look like for this scenario?

tonysemail

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FWIW - I'm planning to become a SAHP while my wife continues to work.
I make about 50% more than her.
But she feels like she's hit her stride and really enjoys her work right now.
Some people need a career for ego and mental stimulation.
I count my blessings that my wife wants to support me while I retire early.

Re painting the FIRE picture- that is something I haven't had much success with.
You need something to retire TO and if she doesn't have that hobby, then you just end up watching TV all day and depressed.

Zikoris

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I basically just try to simplify things a lot, because he has little interest or knowledge of most of the math-related things. Our lifestyle was jointly agreed on, and I set up and manage all our investment accounts. I do all the tracking and forecasting as well, and basically just let him know from time to time how close we are to FIRE.

I'm incredibly lucky that he has the personality type where he's perfectly happy to go along with whatever systems I come up with, as long as I make it pretty easy - like, there are specific spots in the fridge where I stack his work lunches and snacks for the week, and as long as there's stuff there to grab, he won't eat out.

Livewell

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Have you floated the idea of her going back to work and you staying home? Then you'll be the one asking for money :)

Good thought, unfortunately my income is well above what she could earn

If you have 25x your spending in investments, why does this matter? You're financially ready to retire today, so her potential income level isn't particularly important. She wants to go back to work to regain her self-esteem and you seem determined to talk her out of it because of your own goals and desires. Not good.

The nuance on the investments is the goal I thought made sense four years ago is not the same now, it's higher due to kids, hcol area we've chosen to live in and more thought about what expenses we are likely to have.  We are getting close though, about 21x. 

I'm fine if she wants to work, if that makes her happy.  It was not a good thing before.

Livewell

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Everyone is wired differently.  My wife has certain lifestyle expectations that we agree on, and as long as I provide that she doesn't care about our retirement planning. We each have an allowance for no questions asked spending, and I let her control how we spend money budgeted for gifts, home improvements, etc., so she has avenues for retail therapy.  She is of the type that a budget is a mandate of how much she must spend (ex: if we budget $500 for xmas presents, she will spend every last penny of it), so our annual budget talk is where I try to minimize that spend so I can save more money and hopefully retire earlier.  She is not spendy, but has no desire to do any extreme MMM things to save more money, and I'm fine with that.

Is your issue that she wants to spend more than you've budgeted, or does she really miss her career that much?  Frankly, if I was in your shoes, I would let her go back to work and let her spend 50% of whatever she takes home after paying for daycare.  You stick the other 50% towards your FIRE fund.  See if going back to work makes her happy, or if she just wants to quit again in a few months because she'd rather take care of the kids.  If she's still working a year from now, you can have a conversation about how long each of you still want to work, and your FIRE planning.  It sounds like your job is tolerable, so I wouldn't immediately quit to stay home with the kids if you're going to have to go back to work in a few months if she decides to quit.

I have resisted doing a budget, maybe setting that would be good for managing expectations we can both agree to and live with.   I make 5x what she did, so I trading positions doesn't work.  She's considering something part time.

Livewell

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FWIW - I'm planning to become a SAHP while my wife continues to work.
I make about 50% more than her.
But she feels like she's hit her stride and really enjoys her work right now.
Some people need a career for ego and mental stimulation.
I count my blessings that my wife wants to support me while I retire early.

Re painting the FIRE picture- that is something I haven't had much success with.
You need something to retire TO and if she doesn't have that hobby, then you just end up watching TV all day and depressed.

I think you're right, she needs something outside of the kids.  I'm all for it.  My career is all in or all out, she has a part time option

Livewell

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I basically just try to simplify things a lot, because he has little interest or knowledge of most of the math-related things. Our lifestyle was jointly agreed on, and I set up and manage all our investment accounts. I do all the tracking and forecasting as well, and basically just let him know from time to time how close we are to FIRE.

I'm incredibly lucky that he has the personality type where he's perfectly happy to go along with whatever systems I come up with, as long as I make it pretty easy - like, there are specific spots in the fridge where I stack his work lunches and snacks for the week, and as long as there's stuff there to grab, he won't eat out.

I think you hit on it - your lifestyle was jointly agreed on and you just manage it.  I really think that framing might work for us, thanks!

neo von retorch

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Two years later she wants to go back to work because I make her “feel like a teenager having to ask Dad for money”.

If I understand correctly, this is the only/core issue. I imagine you have joint finances but if she wants to buy something, she goes through you. Have you considered an allowance approach, one that hopefully feels equitable? In other words, bills and necessities come from the joint account. But you each get a fixed monthly allowance to spend as you see fit without any judgement from the other party? (And if you want to throw your allowance in savings, feel free!) I think it would be important that she felt like she was part of deciding what is a "necessity" and how much the allowance should be.

SilveradoBojangles

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My husband is super logical/math-minded, and has great respect for what I have to say because it's pretty rare that I say "we should do X random thing the internet said", so he was probably more open to MMM than most would be. But he was still the spendier partner, and had a long history of buying himself whatever he wanted with no negative consequences like debt or poverty, and even had managed to save quite a bit.

What really got him on board was 2 things: 1) Talking about our dreams for the future, as well as our fears, and 2) talking about what makes us happiest and really trying to allocate our spending to align with that. These conversations really tap into the emotional sides of money, and helped us see where we had similar values/goals, and where they differed. From here, it was actually pretty easy to create a budget/savings plan that reflected those goals and values. He had to do more work to change his habits than I did, but he did it and now sticking to our budget is second nature for him. Far and away the best thing about that man is that when something is important to me he listens, and he makes the changes necessary to operationalize it.

I will say that one area where we differed was on stocks vs. index funds. He has made a lot of money on stocks over the last 10 years, and felt it was a superior method of investing. I think some stocks are fine, but my investment strategy is largely based on index funds. But then he came across an article and got excited about Vanguard and index funds and told me all about it. I resisted the urge to say "Yes, I know all about that, in fact, I told you all about that 18 months ago" and just said, yup, that's who I have an account with, they are great.

Slow&Steady

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I have resisted doing a budget, maybe setting that would be good for managing expectations we can both agree to and live with.   

I think this is very important!

My husband used to get very annoyed because he thought I was watching what he spent too closely... I used to get very annoyed because I couldn't figure out why he would spend $3 every day at a convenience store instead of buying the same things from the grocery store for much cheaper.  A budget that we both agree on has reduced the level of annoyance greatly.  However, it has taken a lot of work to get to that less annoyed state.  For one it took a well to get him to sit down and provide input because he felt a budget was just me dictating what he could spend money on. 

I started by letting him pick a $ amount per week that he takes out in cash for spending money.  As I assumed he had no clue how much all of those trips added up to so he gave me a dollar amount that I knew was lower than he spent and they he thought was fair and generous.  Having this spending money in cash meant that I didn't have to track it so I was almost immediately relieved of my annoyance and I wasn't asking him about each purchase so he was no longer annoyed either.  After the first 1-2 months he realized that what he thought was fair and generous was far below what he had been spending in the past and he started to make adjustments to his spending habits. 

We started the budget that included cash spending probably 3 years ago and we still struggle occasionally so it takes time.  It did help a little when I stopped calling it a budget and started calling it our spending/savings plan.  And for what it is worth this feeling your wife has might be completely unrelated to her working or not working and more related to how you 2 handle spending/savings/communication about (like my husband and I).  All of our annoyances happened when we were both working, he is now (as of Dec 1) a SAHP.

TrMama

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I had hoped that by giving her freedom she would want to enable mine.   I think what she’s been going through is similar to someone that made the FIRE leap without knowing what post-work life would be like – it’s been tough on her and she’s thinking part of getting her mojo back will be going back to work (which is fine if that is really going to make her happy, but I don’t get that impression).

So, I did almost exactly what your wife did. Quit work when our 2nd was born and thought I wanted to be a SAHP until they were both in school. I even treated SAH like having a job. Kept a notebook and everything. It was both excruciatingly hard and I was quickly bored out of my tree.

The thing about being home with young children is that it's the complete opposite of freedom. You are totally at the mercy of your little, tyrant bosses. There are no lunch breaks, no holidays and no one tells you what a great job you're doing or  pays you (which is just a proxy for being told you're doing a good job). You don't get to go to the bathroom alone and you can't quit.

After being out for 2 years I went back to my old job and have been happy ever since. I get to pee alone! I get a lunch break! And a paycheck!

In retrospect, I had no idea what being a SAHP would really be like. Turns out the job wasn't for me and I'm glad my husband was understanding of my 180.

Bee21

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Good to read how others manage it.

Op, how much longer are you planning to work?  If you have 25× your annual expenses, you can retire and let the wife work part time for her little luxuries. That might make her reconsider. You can both work part time and share childcare.

Staying at home with the kids might be a problem for her. It is way harder than i thought. Maybe she just needs to get out of the house for a bit. I work part time and this works for us, but in our relationship I am the one interested in fire. The husband is slowly getting on board, but it will take us ages, because he has zero interest in investing (think cash in bank, investing in the sharemarkrt is gambling) and his non negotiables are quite expensive (cos a real man drives a truck. And a boat).

AZDude

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I’m struggling a bit right now and thought some perspective from folks on this forum might help.

My wife and I have always been more frugal than the majority of our friends, which enabled us to build a decent nest egg.   Four years ago, while doing some research on retirement planning, I came across this community.   As someone who is financially hard wired, I was quickly drawn into it.   

I made all the mistakes others have, sharing too much too quickly with those around me, then falling back into just educating myself, then trying a more nuanced approach that led to responses from my wife like “we need to focus on now, not worry about 10 years from now.”   We made the decision to have her quit her job to stay home with our second baby, something she didn’t do for our first, and I was happy to have her do it because her high-powered career was not making her as happy as our kids.   Two years later she wants to go back to work because I make her “feel like a teenager having to ask Dad for money”.   Yeah, I haven’t done as good a job as I hoped painting the picture of what can be.   I had hoped that by giving her freedom she would want to enable mine.   I think what she’s been going through is similar to someone that made the FIRE leap without knowing what post-work life would be like – it’s been tough on her and she’s thinking part of getting her mojo back will be going back to work (which is fine if that is really going to make her happy, but I don’t get that impression).

Today our savings is getting in the range of 25x spending, at least the spending I estimated four years ago, and we have zero debt (house, cars).   I’ve compromised over time and bumped up my estimates, and figure we are 3-4 years out from having a very comfortable financial situation.   We do have two young kids and while I’m not into brand new cars (anymore) I don’t want to be divorced so I need to give her what she needs.   

My job is very good by most standards – I make a lot of money, I have freedom to not be chained to my desk.   I also have pressure, it’s difficult to be not “on call” and I’ve been doing a form of this work for 20 years now and I know I’m getting burnt out.    The idea of FIRE is very appealing, but I need to straddle my needs and the needs of my wife.   

OK – so I’m not looking for internet counseling – but I would be interested in what others have done.   I’m thinking now I need to go and paint that FIRE picture more vigorously – set up time and go through it with her.   As MMM says in his articles about "Is MMM ruining my marriage", it's about being in sync on life goals (short and long term).  I really feel we are more in sync than she thinks, other than my focus on long term financial planning (not a bad thing, just more my thing) and my poor reactions to her ideas about spending (which are practical however more fancy than what I would do on my own).

First thing that came to my mind was role reversal. You stay home with the kids while the wife works. With 25X spending, that is not going to hit you financially. You can test out the post-FIRE lifestyle.

Other than that, I have said this before, but the early years of raising children is extremely stressful. Sometimes I think you should just coast by until the youngest is 5-6 years old. Then you can you start making life changes(because you are finally getting enough sleep to think them through properly).

Cpa Cat

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If your wife feels like going back to work will help get her mojo back, then she should go back to work.

I found out that I was one of those weirdos who gets a lot of self-esteem and confidence from having a job. It runs the whole gamut of issues - I like to feel valued and receiving money for my labor is rewarding for me; I like to solve problems and help people, which I do through my work; I like that people respect me and my knowledge, which my job gives me. I have also found that limiting my free time makes me less likely to waste it. I get a whole lot of positive feedback from all angles now that I'm self-employed.

I was never one of those people who said, "But what will you do when you're retired! I'd be bored!" I can imagine all sorts of things. It just turns out that I feel better about myself when I'm working. For now. Maybe it'll change when I get bored or tired. I certainly did not feel this good when I worked for "the man."

Livewell

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Quote
Two years later she wants to go back to work because I make her “feel like a teenager having to ask Dad for money”.

If I understand correctly, this is the only/core issue. I imagine you have joint finances but if she wants to buy something, she goes through you. Have you considered an allowance approach, one that hopefully feels equitable? In other words, bills and necessities come from the joint account. But you each get a fixed monthly allowance to spend as you see fit without any judgement from the other party? (And if you want to throw your allowance in savings, feel free!) I think it would be important that she felt like she was part of deciding what is a "necessity" and how much the allowance should be.
She's been using "her" money until recently, now we're using "my" money.  Really it's ours of course.   This is a core issue I need to address, thanks for your insight.


What really got him on board was 2 things: 1) Talking about our dreams for the future, as well as our fears, and 2) talking about what makes us happiest and really trying to allocate our spending to align with that. These conversations really tap into the emotional sides of money, and helped us see where we had similar values/goals, and where they differed. From here, it was actually pretty easy to create a budget/savings plan that reflected those goals and values. He had to do more work to change his habits than I did, but he did it and now sticking to our budget is second nature for him. Far and away the best thing about that man is that when something is important to me he listens, and he makes the changes necessary to operationalize it.


This is really sound advice.  I am going to try this.  She doesn't care about the investments.  Thanks for the feedback!

I had hoped that by giving her freedom she would want to enable mine.   I think what she’s been going through is similar to someone that made the FIRE leap without knowing what post-work life would be like – it’s been tough on her and she’s thinking part of getting her mojo back will be going back to work (which is fine if that is really going to make her happy, but I don’t get that impression).

So, I did almost exactly what your wife did. Quit work when our 2nd was born and thought I wanted to be a SAHP until they were both in school. I even treated SAH like having a job. Kept a notebook and everything. It was both excruciatingly hard and I was quickly bored out of my tree.

The thing about being home with young children is that it's the complete opposite of freedom. You are totally at the mercy of your little, tyrant bosses. There are no lunch breaks, no holidays and no one tells you what a great job you're doing or  pays you (which is just a proxy for being told you're doing a good job). You don't get to go to the bathroom alone and you can't quit.

After being out for 2 years I went back to my old job and have been happy ever since. I get to pee alone! I get a lunch break! And a paycheck!

In retrospect, I had no idea what being a SAHP would really be like. Turns out the job wasn't for me and I'm glad my husband was understanding of my 180.

It's amazing how difficult and rewarding raising young children can be.  No one can tell you what it's like until you're there, in the middle of it.   My wife wanted to do this, but I think quickly found herself trapped and bored.  I have been very supportive of her getting out of the house, but I still get to "pee by myself" (LOL) every day.   It's tough to go from corporate driver to SAHP, even if you really love your kids.   


Op, how much longer are you planning to work?  If you have 25× your annual expenses, you can retire and let the wife work part time for her little luxuries. That might make her reconsider. You can both work part time and share childcare.



First thing that came to my mind was role reversal. You stay home with the kids while the wife works. With 25X spending, that is not going to hit you financially. You can test out the post-FIRE lifestyle.

Other than that, I have said this before, but the early years of raising children is extremely stressful. Sometimes I think you should just coast by until the youngest is 5-6 years old. Then you can you start making life changes(because you are finally getting enough sleep to think them through properly).

We have 25x annual expenses of where I thought we'd be when I started looking at this four years ago   The goal posts have moved a bit - having kids is expensive and I have a better handle of our true costs now.   As earlier stated, we are close, probably 21x as expenses stand today.   

AZ dude, you are TOTALLY right about how hard it is.   We are ok on sleep (knock on wood) but there is little downtime so tired nontheless.  I know this is part of me being burnt out.   

If your wife feels like going back to work will help get her mojo back, then she should go back to work.

I found out that I was one of those weirdos who gets a lot of self-esteem and confidence from having a job. It runs the whole gamut of issues - I like to feel valued and receiving money for my labor is rewarding for me; I like to solve problems and help people, which I do through my work; I like that people respect me and my knowledge, which my job gives me. I have also found that limiting my free time makes me less likely to waste it. I get a whole lot of positive feedback from all angles now that I'm self-employed.

I was never one of those people who said, "But what will you do when you're retired! I'd be bored!" I can imagine all sorts of things. It just turns out that I feel better about myself when I'm working. For now. Maybe it'll change when I get bored or tired. I certainly did not feel this good when I worked for "the man."

I just want her to go back because she wants to.   Likely she'll do a part time gig once our youngest is in preschool, 20-30 hours a week.   It would allow her to still be home when the kids come home.   Unfortunately my job is all in or all out.


Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses!





« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 01:42:14 PM by Livewell »

the_fixer

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I am new to this community but I try to find things my wife is interested in and things we have in common and share little bit here and there that will get her interested / excited.

For example

She is an engineer and is great with math, process improvement and geeks out on that stuff. Yesterday I shared the firecalc website with her and she thought it was really interesting and after reading the site and inputting data said wow we may actually be able to do this.

She loves to ride a bike, she used to ride about 40 miles each way to work and back, would do century rides every weekend and even did some ultra cycling races that were 504 miles in 48 hours just out of love of riding her bike so I shared one of the pages on MMM about bike's and she thought it was cool.

We love to travel and each time we are heading home she always gets sad and wants to stay we have talked about traveling when we retire and that is a great start to the conversation IE when do you want to retire, what would you like to do in retirement? where do you want to go? Oh you want to ride your bike a bunch and travel sounds great lets see if we can find a way to make that happen.

We both want to be healthy and live long enough in retirement so we he keep each other motivated, we go to the little gym in our townhouse community together 3-4 days a week then come home and cook dinner. We both really enjoy it, I need the encouragement and it is something we do together that she enjoys.

I try to work it from the team prospective. What are our goals and ambitions? what do we want to be when we grow up? what are the real things that make us happy.

Once we figure that out it is just a matter of making it happen

ender

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Quote
Two years later she wants to go back to work because I make her “feel like a teenager having to ask Dad for money”.

If I understand correctly, this is the only/core issue. I imagine you have joint finances but if she wants to buy something, she goes through you. Have you considered an allowance approach, one that hopefully feels equitable? In other words, bills and necessities come from the joint account. But you each get a fixed monthly allowance to spend as you see fit without any judgement from the other party? (And if you want to throw your allowance in savings, feel free!) I think it would be important that she felt like she was part of deciding what is a "necessity" and how much the allowance should be.
She's been using "her" money until recently, now we're using "my" money.  Really it's ours of course.   This is a core issue I need to address, thanks for your insight.


This is where having a mutually agreed upon budget can be a key. If you don't preplan what you will spend, ie budget, then every time she spends money it will be "your money" -- because you never "gave permission" to spend it. A budget is that permission.

My wife and I touch base every month with a budget date. She is now vitally involved in our finances and we much more a team.

erae

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I, too, was a step ahead of my spouse in seeing the MMM light. My spouse and I have similar values, so I knew we were aligned in wanting freedom from work sooner than a traditional retirement age, but we both were making assumptions and decisions that weren't going over well with the other.

Our solution was to bring in a frugal financial planner who guided us through reflection questions about our shared and individual goals, went through the last six months of our spending and flagged areas that looked especially high, set monthly goals to lower our problem areas, set up a tracking doc for us to keep an eye on our spending, set up an investment strategy for us to execute, and talked with us about how adjustments to our spending/earning would change our FIRE date. As a regular MMM reader, there's not much that he said that was new to me, but it was nice to get our plan fine-tuned and - more importantly - working with him created a space where I wasn't the one tasked with painting the picture. He was painting the picture for the two of us to talk about together, so it neutralized some of the power dynamics and communication patterns within our marriage that can make those conversations unproductive.

I'm happy to share the information of the guy we worked with via PM, but any frugally-minded financial planner could likely provide a fresh framework for you and your wife to have a better conversation. And as much as it pained me to pay $1,000 to someone to provide a second opinion on our already solid financial plan, we left our consultation with our planner way more focused, and I know we made that money back in reduced spending within a month or two.


« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 06:36:29 PM by erae »

nobody123

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Totally agree that nobody can tell you how your life will be affected by raising kids.  To add some context to my earlier post, we're in a similar situation.  Wife quit her day job (made about 1/2 as much as me) when kid #2 arrived.  However, she quickly realized she needed "adult time" and started freelancing at her old job a couple of days per week and devoted a lot of time to a couple of organizations.  She's slowly realizing that she likes her freelance work more than volunteering, and she's adjusted her schedule accordingly.  I haven't had the same job / role for more than a couple of years at a time, and I don't expect my wife to either. 

We do have monthly reviews of our expenditures where we talk about our progress towards short term financial goals (vacation, furniture purchase, etc.) and any big expenditures we know of in the next month or so.  We only really track key areas, I am not going to go line by line on the grocery store receipts and question why she bought brand name peanut butter.  I trust her to spend responsibly, so if she bought the kids new shoes, I assume it's because they needed them.  In general, we agree on a lifestyle that has a savings component in the budget, so if we accidentally overspend one month it's not a big deal.

I will admit I had a hard time at first when "my paycheck" was seemingly funding the RE lifestyle for her that I would like to enjoy.  But, then I realized that I couldn't handle being a SAHD and her being a SAHM is the best option for our family at this point.  As long as we agree on the lifestyle we want to live, I take care of the financial part, and she takes care of running the family, which is a job of its own.

MsPeacock

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I had hoped that by giving her freedom she would want to enable mine.   I think what she’s been going through is similar to someone that made the FIRE leap without knowing what post-work life would be like – it’s been tough on her and she’s thinking part of getting her mojo back will be going back to work (which is fine if that is really going to make her happy, but I don’t get that impression).


The thing about being home with young children is that it's the complete opposite of freedom. You are totally at the mercy of your little, tyrant bosses. There are no lunch breaks, no holidays and no one tells you what a great job you're doing or  pays you (which is just a proxy for being told you're doing a good job). You don't get to go to the bathroom alone and you can't quit.

This x1000. I think it is a mistake to try to talk with your wife as if this is a financial decision for her.  Finances are not why she wants to return to work, from what I can gather of this thread. She wants to go back for connectedness with other adults and the wider world and a different sense of purpose. You should support her (particularly if you wish to stay married). There is not "let" in this or "your money" and "her allowance" etc.