Author Topic: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?  (Read 6437 times)

Hudson

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For those that have assisted their partner in seeing the 'light' or 'stroke the mustache', how did you approach it ?

For me I feel it's a bit more serious than FIRE. It's not just retiring early , it's more just looking at retirement period.

If we continue on our current path we may have enough saved to live for 1 year after retirement and would not own our own property.

One of my issues is how do you bring this up and explain the seriousness of it (well to me it's a serious issue) i.e when retirement age comes around we will have no cash of our own and be renting .

My first idea was to make a couple of graphs an show partner where we are headed compared to  where we could be ?

We rely on my income only, I could try and find some a second full-time job but feel I'd be working 2 jobs and giving up on my goals and dreams for while someone else benefits

Friar

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2015, 04:10:01 AM »
I've tried to sell it to my partner more on the virtues of being FI than of being RE; of not having to be stuck in a job that makes you unhappy, purely to pay the bills.

I'm pretty sure she understands the reasons behind why I am frugal, but has problems with a less consumer oriented lifestyle.


Learner

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2015, 05:02:06 AM »
Depending on their personality, maybe some doom and gloom scenarios might help as well?  Something like if you had to go on long-term disability, or were downsized at 60 and couldn't find similar paying work to bridge the gap.

Dream-building might help too - looking at what you can do with the extra time once you retire.

I had the opportunity to take about 9 months of parental leave when our last child was born, and we treated it like early retirement (in terms of time).  It was a great taste of incoming freedom and motivates both of us to get there as soon as practicable.

MMM had a guest post about the "and then?" game.  Basically, you want to retire... And then?  What about after that?  Playing that led to a great discussion during a long trip to visit family that enabled us to lay out our 10-year plan.

Good luck!

Hudson

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2015, 05:11:57 AM »
I think one of the problems I face is the other person may not need to dream about retirement as they quit their job because they didn't like it anymore, so in some way they are retired , but i am the one funding the retirement.

Zamboni

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2015, 06:22:34 AM »
It sounds like you can only fund that person's early retirement as long as you are blessed with a job. Shortly after that . . . cat food city!

Perhaps get your spouse to volunteer with you to deliver some meals to low income seniors? That can be very eye opening. Unfortunately some elderly people live in squalor and it's clear that they have absolutely no way out.

Then, take a week or two gap and then pull out the graph projecting your financial life on it's current path. Mention that the a couple of the situations of the low income seniors really opened your eyes to what can happen, and now you are worried. Show that there will be no money to eat in old age unless things change considerably.

rubybeth

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2015, 06:41:50 AM »
One of my issues is how do you bring this up and explain the seriousness of it (well to me it's a serious issue) i.e when retirement age comes around we will have no cash of our own and be renting .

My first idea was to make a couple of graphs an show partner where we are headed compared to  where we could be ?

We rely on my income only, I could try and find some a second full-time job but feel I'd be working 2 jobs and giving up on my goals and dreams for while someone else benefits.

Is there a reason your spouse isn't working (taking care of children, disabled, can't find work that's meaningful, etc.)? And how old are you? I ask because, at some point, couples do need to sit down and plan their retirement, even if it's at normal retirement age. So you could say you want to have a "finance date" where you discuss the future and look at specifics. You could bring charts and graphs if you think that would help your partner "see" where things are going, or you could build those together. Maybe using a simple retirement calculator that puts the numbers in black and white would be good. Like this: http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/retirement_calculator.htm You plug in your current savings, how much you add to that annually, your expected rate of return, and it spits out a number you'd have to live on. It could be pretty eye-opening.

Once you have the singular scenario where nothing changes, you can discuss possible changes, including options like you picking up a part-time gig, partner picking up work if possible, etc. Then those numbers can be adjusted for every change you make. Otherwise, it may be a beans & rice retirement on social security at age 65 or 67.

As for how I brought my spouse onboard, I basically started reading a lot of MMM right after we snowballed the heck out of our student loan debt and paid off close to $54k in less than four years, and just blurted out to him one day, "What if we just invested all this extra money we've been paying toward debt and were able to retire before age 50?" And he basically said, "That sounds great, let's do it." We've had many discussions since then, and I think that, even though he's pretty hands-off with our money details, philosophically, he's very much a Mustachian--he's genuinely happy with what we already have, all his needs are more than met, etc. Of course, this doesn't mean we live like monks or anything--I think we both see money as a tool that allows us to make choices that enhance our lives.

MissStache

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2015, 06:52:47 AM »
Have you started to have "the talk" yet?  Is your spouse receptive at all with any changes you've made so far, or are you still just musing on things?

mskyle

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2015, 07:11:09 AM »
Can you sit down and say, "Look, I am afraid I'm never going to be able to retire, and that if I were to lose my job (or if we were to face any other kind of setback like illness, natural disaster, house fire) we would be hosed. I want us to become more financially secure by doing X." (Where X is cutting down to one car, moving, etc.) Then let your partner suggest their solution. Make sure that they understand that the status quo is not working for you, and that it's making you unhappy.

You don't need your partner to believe in Mustachianism, you need your partner to recognize that Mustachianism (or just not dying in penury!) is important to YOU. And if they aren't willing to make some changes FOR YOU, you really need to think about the relationship as a whole, and how you will feel if nothing ever changes.

DeltaBond

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2015, 07:45:19 AM »
I think one of the problems I face is the other person may not need to dream about retirement as they quit their job because they didn't like it anymore, so in some way they are retired , but i am the one funding the retirement.

Um, this isn't ok.  Your spouse needs to work if you're working AND you don't have kids.  So its not FIRE you need to discuss but getting a job.

Giro

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2015, 08:08:13 AM »
I think one of the problems I face is the other person may not need to dream about retirement as they quit their job because they didn't like it anymore, so in some way they are retired , but i am the one funding the retirement.

Um, this isn't ok.  Your spouse needs to work if you're working AND you don't have kids.  So its not FIRE you need to discuss but getting a job.

+1   I would say even if you do have kids this is still true.  When retiring early is a goal, it really isn't fair for one person to not be working.  It's like they get to live the dream while the other one gets to fund it. 

:/


el_beardo

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2015, 08:59:43 AM »
+1   I would say even if you do have kids this is still true.  When retiring early is a goal, it really isn't fair for one person to not be working.  It's like they get to live the dream while the other one gets to fund it. 
:/

But Hudson has not established that RE is their goal, just his goal - 'hey now I want to retire early, get a job'

Maybe start moving the ball in the other direction, cut back on consumption, get a couple of months savings, get out of debt. Then once you've reduced the dependency on consuming you can note how you don't need all that stuff to be happy, and how having more savings will take the stress out of work, etc.


AlwaysLearningToSave

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2015, 09:17:44 AM »

Is there a reason your spouse isn't working (taking care of children, disabled, can't find work that's meaningful, etc.)?
 

As a sole breadwinner myself, I think this is a very important question.  Assuming the spouse/partner is able, I believe it is very important for both to be contributing to the household's financial future in some way.  That does not necessarily mean working for income, because working as a stay-at-home spouse, full-time student, or another non-money-making endeavor can make a very important contribution to the household's future.  It was eye-opening for my wife and I to calculate the amount of life insurance I need on my stay at home wife just to account for the value of the childcare services I would need to purchase if she were to pass away. 

My wife and I have traded off supporting each other at different times in our relationship.  She supported me through law school.  Now I support her while she is a stay at home mom for our young daughter.  Soon she will be going back to work part time.  We are both comfortable with these various arrangements because each of us is/was contributing to our household's financial future-- one brings in income, the other primarily helps keep living expenses down, improves the quality of our home life, and/or invests in the future.  There is no way we could be as frugal as we currently are without my wife's non-income-producing contributions to our household.  And even though she is primarily a stay at home wife, she still contributes to our income through freelance music gigs and other occasional side-hustles. 

There were some times, however, when one or the other of us was merely idle and we perhaps could have been doing something more productive.  These were some of the hardest times in our relationship and the times when resentment crept in.  And for us, these were just temporary times between bigger things-- a few weeks or months-- and not the long-term status quo.  I believe the resentment would have been bigger if it were a long-term arrangement.

You do not want to find yourself in the position of resenting your spouse's/partner's lack of productivity.  You need to protect yourself and your relationship by setting the expectation that your spouse/partner will contribute to the household's financial future in some way.  Do not unwittingly put yourself in the position of financing someone else's financially dependent early retirement while you squander your own retirement-- early or otherwise.

This is also in part how I approached the subject of FI with my wife.  At the time I discovered MMM, she was a stay at home mom.  I first exposed her to a few of MMM's more innocuous articles, like Frugal vs. Cheap, and Money Does Not Buy Happiness.  She was intrigued by some of the articles-- or at least humored me.  Then, when we had "the talk" I explained that, while I like my job, I am envious of the time she spends with our daughter and wish that I could spend more time with my wife as well.  I don't know that I want to completely stop working early but I want to pursue financial independence so that I can have the freedom to at least work less and spend more time with my wife and daughter.  I explained that I truly believe in and support her being a stay at home mom while our daughter is young and requires a high degree of care, but that will not always be the case.  I explained that, when our daughter is more independent and in school, I don't think it would be fair for her to be unproductive while I continue to support her and be dependent upon a job.  She was understanding of this perspective, perhaps because our roles were once reversed.  We now see pursuing FI as the most fair and equitable joint goal we could have-- we both will be productive until we are FI when we are both free to not work.  When we are FI, if we choose for one of us to not work while the other works, there will be no room for resentment because we will be working by choice, not because we need to work. 

I also spent time talking about what we could do together if we were to FIRE.  We both want to travel together and reaching FI will allow us the freedom to do so, so it was easy to paint a picture of the goal-- the freedom of knowing that we are financially secure and the freedom to do what we want to do together.  Talking about the fairness of the arrangement, the freedom that financial security brings, and painting a picture of the goal worked well for me. 

Part of the reason it worked, though, is that our roles have been reversed in the past and she understood where I was coming from in expecting her to contribute.  If you have "the talk" and your spouse/partner does not respond well your expectation that the partner/spouse contribute, it will be very revealing.  You will then have some tough choices to make.  Here's to hoping it goes well!

nobody123

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2015, 12:00:20 PM »
I think one of the problems I face is the other person may not need to dream about retirement as they quit their job because they didn't like it anymore, so in some way they are retired , but i am the one funding the retirement.

Um, this isn't ok.  Your spouse needs to work if you're working AND you don't have kids.  So its not FIRE you need to discuss but getting a job.

+1   I would say even if you do have kids this is still true.  When retiring early is a goal, it really isn't fair for one person to not be working.  It's like they get to live the dream while the other one gets to fund it. 

:/

Every now and then I get a bit jealous of my SAHM wife, but then this pops back into my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJOI6KAu4Y0

It looks like the issue here is that you and your spouse haven't discussed the expectations you have for each other.  If they quit their job "because they didn't like it", did you support that decision?  Was it even discussed beforehand, or did they just up and quit one day.  Jobs are like girlfriends, you don't dump one until her replacement is in place.  If you were expecting that they would immediately find a new job, but you're empowering them not to and haven't said anything about it, that's on you.

Scandium

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2015, 01:30:50 PM »
I think one of the problems I face is the other person may not need to dream about retirement as they quit their job because they didn't like it anymore, so in some way they are retired , but i am the one funding the retirement.

Ouch. Yeah more details required. This came up when my wife talking being a stay at home mom. She said she couldn't do it because she'd never be able to retire then. I said: "what would you care? You'd already be retired. I'm the one who would never be able to retire!"

Merrie

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2015, 09:01:13 PM »
I wish I knew. I feel like my husband doesn't get it... or, to be more accurate, I guess I feel like if he did get it he wouldn't waste money on frivolous crap. At least his frivolous crap is on the order of $3 at Dairy Queen rather than some $500 (or $5000) gadget. I am the one stuck in an unpleasant job and he is the one being a SAHD when he wants to work, sort of, but sort of not.

nottoolatetostart

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2015, 06:23:47 AM »
Lots of great advice given. I discovered MMM in Nov 2013. It's taken me more than 18 months - but let's face it, it's felt like many, many years to tout the value of FIRE to my husband.

He is getting more on board and discussing on a daily basis what he would want to do if FI. I only say FI because I honestly think he will want to do something to continue bringing in cash because he feels that 40 is too young to retire. Living abroad, traveling even more (one of his big passions) are ways that I have been able to reach him. Also, I've made many graphs for him showing him how we will fund stuff, when we will hit different milestones, what we actually live off of today, etc to get him more comfortable with the numbers.

He has been really supportive of cooking at home, not eating out, driving less, decluttering so we can downsize, on board with going to 1 car when we retire, finding a new smaller home that is walking/biking distance to everything, and paying more attention to our finances. I am really proud of him.

We're both working for a few more years in our professional jobs (about 5 years)...but who knows? It may happen sooner.

DeltaBond

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2015, 06:57:01 AM »
I've read so many of these posts since being on MMM, and it reminds me of something I heard after my first marriage ended...

Choose a partner who satisfies your needs, not your wants.

I'm sure wants are a plus, but basically, being on the same page about finances is very important, and it sounds like a lot of people get married without even discussing life plans.  It is never too late to discuss life plans, because as life goes on, those plans can shift... so even if you didn't talk about this before you got married, talk about it now, and talk about it again later, and again... make sure you stay on the same page through time.  I hate to say this, but if you aren't on the same page now, you might want to consider totally separate pages.  If bringing up the idea of a separation doesn't help them see the light, then they probably never will.

To satisfy any curiosity, I'm not against marriage by any means.  I am now remarried with someone who is on the same page as me financially, and meets all my needs, and some wants, too.  It IS possible, but if you're supporting another adult who is perfectly capable of working who makes you feel taken advantage of, that is not a marriage.... not even a good relationship.  Not even close.

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2015, 07:01:48 AM »
"Right now our retirement plan is this revolver with two bullets in it.  I'm eating the first one, you're on your own.  I have an alternative plan, but we sort of need to start today."

little_brown_dog

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2015, 11:51:03 AM »
My husband is naturally pretty financially savvy, so I lucked out big time. Ironically, I've found that our traditional roles (him primary breadwinner, me domestic manager) also help. He doesnít argue my frugal attitude toward our expenses since Iím the one who manages our home (cooking, cleaning, budgeting, etc). If I say we are cleaning with vinegar and water, thatís what we are doing since Iím the one who cleans. If I say we are eating beans and rice, thatís what is happening since Iím the one who cooks. Because these areas arenít his primary realm of responsibility (and he doesnít want them to be), heís happy to just let me save money while taking care of things. I should mention this only works because Iím naturally frugal, eco-friendly, and non-materialistic. This arrangement wouldnít work if I was abusing his hard work by frivolously spending money on things for myself or dumb stuff we donít need. My ability to keep our expenses  low allows him to work hard at saving for retirement, so everything works great.

In fact, the only time we disagree about finances is when he wants to buy some fancy new gadget and I think it is unnecessary. In these instances, I first affirm ďwow thatís really cool!Ē but then try to get him to think about the necessity of it ďI donít know babe, we already have a computer, and a tablet, and our smart phones Ė do we really need amazon echo too?Ē 9 times out of 10 he agrees. The other times, if he really wants the toy, I let him go for it. I just want him to consider the purchase fully first before he buys, and he respects that.

RobinAZ

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2015, 04:01:45 PM »
"Right now our retirement plan is this revolver with two bullets in it.  I'm eating the first one, you're on your own.  I have an alternative plan, but we sort of need to start today."

Totally using this.  Thank you.

Scandium

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2015, 08:24:26 AM »
My husband is naturally pretty financially savvy, so I lucked out big time. Ironically, I've found that our traditional roles (him primary breadwinner, me domestic manager) also help. He doesnít argue my frugal attitude toward our expenses since Iím the one who manages our home (cooking, cleaning, budgeting, etc). If I say we are cleaning with vinegar and water, thatís what we are doing since Iím the one who cleans. If I say we are eating beans and rice, thatís what is happening since Iím the one who cooks. Because these areas arenít his primary realm of responsibility (and he doesnít want them to be), heís happy to just let me save money while taking care of things. I should mention this only works because Iím naturally frugal, eco-friendly, and non-materialistic. This arrangement wouldnít work if I was abusing his hard work by frivolously spending money on things for myself or dumb stuff we donít need. My ability to keep our expenses  low allows him to work hard at saving for retirement, so everything works great.

In fact, the only time we disagree about finances is when he wants to buy some fancy new gadget and I think it is unnecessary. In these instances, I first affirm ďwow thatís really cool!Ē but then try to get him to think about the necessity of it ďI donít know babe, we already have a computer, and a tablet, and our smart phones Ė do we really need amazon echo too?Ē 9 times out of 10 he agrees. The other times, if he really wants the toy, I let him go for it. I just want him to consider the purchase fully first before he buys, and he respects that.
Wow, so your husband doesn't cook or clean at all? What does he so, just go to work and come home? And watch sports or something? My wife would (rightfully) never put up with that! I work, but I can still do at least half the cleaning, probably more. And a fair share of cooking and child care. And he has to be treated like a child and kept from buying new toys?

Well whatever works for you. Traditional gender roles sure sound great..

little_brown_dog

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Re: How to discuss/address the seriousness of FIRE with partner ?
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2015, 10:09:03 AM »
scandium - my husband works 12 hour days while i am at home most of the week. so yes, i do the vast majority of cooking/cleaning other items because i simply have the time. it makes sense for the person who is at home more to pick up more of the domestic duties. it wouldn't be a fair labor distribution to have him work 12 hours each day and also pick up 50% of the home duties (after all, i'm not picking up 50% of the working hours in the office). for the record, he does all of the home tasks i can't or am not inclined to do, like all of our renovations, maintenance, yard work, etc.

for years we both worked 12 hour days and then spent the evenings and weekends desperately trying to fit in all of the housework. we were fried and miserable. now we both have more free time to spend together and we are much happier with this arrangement. perhaps you should withhold judgement until you know the full story.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2015, 11:28:18 AM by little_brown_dog »