Author Topic: Marriage vs Mustachianism  (Read 9927 times)

Crackpot

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Marriage vs Mustachianism
« on: December 09, 2017, 04:48:33 PM »
I am struggling with the decision of whether to propose to my partner.  She's a lovely lady and would love to get married and my reluctance is a source of tension in an otherwise happy relationship.

Having been through a divorce about five years ago, and the accompanying financial fallout, I'm having a hard time with the financial aspect of remarrying, or rather the fear of another divorce, which would be much more expensive later in my life when my wealth is greater. 

I am on track to hit FI in a few years in my mid thirties.  My lady has been a stay at home mother most of her adult years and has effectively zero financial assets and zero income.  She does contribute very significantly to our lifestyle in many ways, just not monetarily.

Appreciate any advice here, from those that have tread similar ground.......

marty998

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2017, 05:53:25 PM »
You need to sit down and have a serious conversation with her. Not us.

You also need to be ok with supporting her financially if she if not going to contribute to this particular aspect of your lives. If you're not ok with this, then I really don't see how you can get married (which you seem to be struggling with).

Talk through your issues with her and come to an understanding. If you want to spend your life with her, you can't very well declare yourself FI without seeing yourselves as a family unit.


atelica

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2017, 05:57:55 PM »
Talk with her.  Are you going to support her?  Does your retirement plan include her?  And are you two agreeing on whether to have more kids, other major life choices?

Also, importantly, what are her spending habits?

Crackpot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2017, 06:23:44 PM »
I understand that we should of course be discussing this together as well, and we are, but I could use a little outside input.  I feel like my position is difficult for her to relate to.  If anyone has been through a divorce in which they were the only family wage earner they might understand what I mean.

I'm okay with supporting her financially.  Her spending habits are very reasonable and frugal.  She's an extremely competent do-it-yourselfer whose skills nicely complement my own.  I expect that she will transition to earning more income later on when parenting becomes less of a full time job, as that is her plan and she is taking steps in that direction at present.  But even if not, my FI plans include covering total household expenditures from investments prior to stepping away from work.

We are in agreement regarding family size, general approach to parenting, lifestyle choices etc. 

historienne

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2017, 06:26:01 PM »
Have you talked about a prenup?  If done right, it can protect both of your interests.  Prenups make particular sense if one or both of you have kids, which it sounds like is the case here.   

Crackpot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2017, 06:32:58 PM »
Maybe that is the logical direction to go.  She did say that she would be okay with a prenup, although I suspect that she would feel somewhat hurt if I followed through with one.  I think that marriage to her will symbolize my faith in the permanence of the relationship, which obviously is something I am struggling with due to painful past experience.  My fear is that a prenup would negate some of the significance of marriage for her.

Yes we both have children which complicates any estate planning concerns.

Spiffsome

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2017, 06:49:14 PM »
In 'Millionaire Next Door', the authors describe the typical millionaire couple as being business owner and homemaker. They talk about how for many couples, having someone who plays good economic 'defence' is an important part of accumulating and preserving wealth. Is that a form of relationship that you could be happy in?

If you marry this woman, you are going to be a team economically as well as emotionally, and the two of you need to be in agreement about what that team looks like. If she's unhappy that you're not proposing, it's a good idea to sit down with her and hash out what's going on in each of your heads - does she believe that your reluctance means that the relationship is not ever going to progress? Are you allowing your previous bad experiences to colour your perceptions about marriage generally? Is she pushing you to become the breadwinner to her and her kids? It is important that both of you understand what's going on inside the other person's skull about this issue; making decisions based on what you think the other person thinks is unlikely to end well.

elaine amj

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 06:54:35 PM »
If the prenup is designed to protect both your interests as well as her children (and not just your own), then that could help with some of those factors. Does she get alimony or child support ? How would she survive without you?

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Syonyk

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2017, 07:16:17 PM »
She does contribute very significantly to our lifestyle in many ways, just not monetarily.

Hm?  My wife stays at home with our kid, but she contributes to our finances very, very significantly.  I describe the process as, "I earn the money, she doesn't spend much of it."  She's incredibly good at finding things for cheap, knows the area thrift stores like nobody else (our kid has an endless supply of books, all purchased for typically $0.25 or less unless they're really nice, and wears cheap stuff that looks fine on her and she'll outgrow before it wears out).

I consider that very important.  She's also a good balance on me in terms of financial risks.  She's very, very conservative financially, which balances a lot of my decisions - if I can't explain to her why it's a good idea, we generally don't do it.

Have you talked about a prenup?  If done right, it can protect both of your interests.

Eh.  I personally view them as "planning to fail," and have gone out of my way to make my marriage rather hard to break up.

Crackpot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2017, 07:20:20 PM »
The business owner/homemaker team would suit me fine.  We're running a household together as a team now without conflict.  She does have some income from part time work, also we have some shared income, and she does receive child support as well.  So she could support herself without me, albeit in a different lifestyle.  But still by far the largest sources of household income is my W2 income and rental income.  And the disparity will grow over time due to compounding of investments, reinvestment of rental income into additional rentals, etc.  We're just living on a lot less than is coming in.

I don't feel that she is pushing me to support her and her children at all.   

I'm not sure what it means for the relationship to progress at this point.  I'm committed for life, without a legal marriage. I just don't want to commit my income and investments should the relationship end someday.  In other words my support is conditional upon the continuation of the relationship.  This is key for me,  it's not something I ever considered during my marriage, until it was over and I found myself on the hook for supporting two households through alimony and child support and had to drain my home and retirement accounts to buy her out. 

I am allowing my past bad experience to fuel my present caution.  Also having been friends with her through her divorce, I saw first hand how expensive it was for her husband, and I don't care to be in that position someday should things not go well. 


okits

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2017, 07:37:04 PM »
I'm committed for life, without a legal marriage. I just don't want to commit my income and investments should the relationship end someday. 

You've answered your own question.  You do not want a relationship with her that has the financial responsibilities of marriage.  Be honest, and let her decide if she is satisfied with that.

Crackpot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2017, 07:43:30 PM »
I've heard that "prenups...planning to fail" argument, but it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  I don't hold a homeowners policy because I plan for my house to burn down, or car insurance because I plan to crash my car.  But of course things outside of our control can happen to us, in our homes, cars, and marriages.  And while some religious groups, like my Amish neighbors (who incidentally have many house fires, moderate instances of buggy crashes, and even some scattered divorces), are against insurance, for most of us insurance against catastrophic financial losses is a good policy. 

ElleFiji

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 09:08:16 PM »
I've been through a divorce, so I would be happy to go ahead with a prenup in her situation. With my own lawyer. I expect that if I'd had a prenup last divorce, I'd have come out of it financially equal, and not disadvantaged. I'd expect it to reflect the same values and qualities that a revised will would. But if you're both happy and common law, what is the benefit to proposing?

Goldielocks

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2017, 12:23:57 AM »
The most reasonable way forward is to get a prenup that separates what each of you brings into the marriage...

But if she continues to be a home maker, she will be contributing to your joint marriage, so in the event of a divorce the reasonable split will reflect her contributions... note...  AND she would then be older and have even more difficulty to support herself without you.

So a prenup needs to consider how you split finances in marriage.  It can't just be you that increases your personal savings and retirement for your own use (my opinion). She is contributing effort, too.  Perhaps you agree to contribute x per year to her funds, that she keeps if you divorce, but that you don't split up your overall increase in investments or ??
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 01:33:32 AM by Goldielocks »

mxt0133

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2017, 12:44:52 AM »
Eh.  I personally view them as "planning to fail," and have gone out of my way to make my marriage rather hard to break up.

With that logic, does it mean that someone is planning to get into an accident of they put on a seat belt when getting into a car?  What about planning to die early if they get life insurance?  Shit happens.

I never understood it when people say that getting a prenup is planning for the marriage to fail.  People change and that's why people get divorced.  I don't think any thinks they will get divorced when they get married but people still do.


chasingthegoodlife

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Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2017, 01:39:14 AM »
In Australia, (my very non legal understanding is that ..) de facto couples would have many of the same rights in a financial settlement as a married couple.

If you decide not to marry, but keep a household and raise your children together for the next ten years, would her claim upon your assets be significantly different?

Laura33

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2017, 07:18:13 AM »
I'm committed for life, without a legal marriage. I just don't want to commit my income and investments should the relationship end someday. 

You've answered your own question.  You do not want a relationship with her that has the financial responsibilities of marriage.  Be honest, and let her decide if she is satisfied with that.

+1

You have the right to the assets you bring into the relationship.  But if you both decide that one will work and one will SAH, it’s not “my” income, it’s “our” income.  If you are not up for that, and upon any split will insist that every dollar you made during the relationship is yours and yours alone, tell her, now.  She has the right to know exactly what she is signing up for.

Crackpot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2017, 08:05:18 AM »
I'd like to thank everyone for their responses.  I think there's a lot of good advice in the answers I've received and I appreciate all of you taking the time to discuss this.

To the Australian poster, marriage laws differ state by state in the US but I believe that what you are describing, Common Law Marriage, is no longer in effect throughout most or all of the US.

I think although a prenup isn't terribly romantic it probably makes the most sense given the concerns I expressed in the original post.  I realize that the particulars of this are going to be specific to my jurisdiction so a lawyer will be the way to get informed about what a prenup can and cannot do. 

To the poster that asked, why get married at all...because this is very important to her, and aside from the financial concerns I have in the event of a divorce, I would like to be married as well. 

I appreciate that several posters have mentioned that a prenup needs to consider the needs of both parties, so hopefully we can do that in a way that makes everyone feel secure and happy.

Again, thank you all for your time and insight.

Zola.

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2017, 03:28:11 PM »
Talking about a prenup will be very awkward I would imagine, and possibly quite hurtful. Not an easy thing to manage. Good luck sir

pk_aeryn

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2017, 05:13:55 PM »
How long have you been in a relationship?  Would she be happy with a very long engagement?  Many people get married after being together 3 years or less, but that's still within the early stages, scientifically, as far as brain love chemicals go.  After 5-7 years, if you're still happy together, you're past the stage where brain chemicals cloud judgement and you'all then know whether your relationship can survive the long term.  But really this depends on both parts of the couple being financially sound on their own because l don't think it's fair to want to keep your assets if she works in the home- and perhaps she won't see it as fair to give so much of her time to an uncertain relationship when she could be "gaining equity" in another marriage.

TBH as a lady myself, this is why I am so personally adamant about working full time, always, despite what the millionaire book and mustachianism says about the "cost" for mothers to work- I would be absolutely devastated if I gave up my career and later found a man didn't think I deserved recognition and recompense for those lost years.

It sounds like you'd also prefer to be with a financially independent woman- if you think marrying is just wasting money, you don't have the mentality to be with someone who wants to work in the home


Syonyk

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2017, 09:43:03 PM »
With that logic, does it mean that someone is planning to get into an accident of they put on a seat belt when getting into a car?  What about planning to die early if they get life insurance?  Shit happens.

Certainly, but those are mostly external events.  Me getting married, and vowing to be with my wife until death do us part is not something I take lightly, and that's something I have a lot of control over.

Quote
I never understood it when people say that getting a prenup is planning for the marriage to fail.  People change and that's why people get divorced.  I don't think any thinks they will get divorced when they get married but people still do.

Making it easy and clean to end the marriage makes it less painful to end it.  My goal is to make it quite maximally painful to end my marriage, for either of us.  Mostly for me, since I make the money in the relationship.

It's a deliberate decision my wife & I made when we were planning wedding stuff.  We chose to not do anything in the nature of prenups, as the plan was for her to stay home when we had kids.

YMMV, of course, but that's my view on the issue.  I intend it to be painful to end our marriage, because I intend it (and my wife intends it) to last a lifetime.  Statistically, probably mine, since she's from a family that lives forever.

damyst

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2017, 02:22:58 AM »
TBH as a lady myself, this is why I am so personally adamant about working full time, always, despite what the millionaire book and mustachianism says about the "cost" for mothers to work.

Can you clarify this reference? Is there a purported downside, financially speaking, to mothers working?
Having both sides on their feet financially is a win all around, in my book.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2017, 02:45:12 AM »
It’s wrong that people see pre-nups so negatively because that’s exactly what is needed. Marriages are hard, blended families are hard. You should absolutely protect your financial interests and remove the emotion from it. You’ve been through one failed marriage, the scales should have fallen. Marriage isn’t a fairy tale, it’s work. They way forward is separate what you’ve accumulated by yourself fir what you accumulate together. You have nothing to lose from putting your cards on the table and speaking like mature adults. Awkward, uncomfortable? Who cares. You know what’s more awkward and uncomfortable than a pre-nup discussion, a post-divorce financial arrangement discussion.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2017, 10:24:26 AM »
I don't have much to add, but as someone who's currently going through a divorce the idea of getting married again scares the living shit out of me.  The financial part is bad enough, but I don't ever want to subject myself to the kind of emotional distress I've been through over the past 6 months again.  And yet....I enjoyed marriage and hope to be married again someday.

I wish you the best of luck with your partner.

Syonyk

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2017, 10:48:41 AM »
Can you clarify this reference? Is there a purported downside, financially speaking, to mothers working?
Having both sides on their feet financially is a win all around, in my book.

If there are no kids, sure, but quite a few people have a stay at home parent to raise kids instead of farming it off to daycare.

Josiecat

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2017, 12:15:23 PM »
I would be very cautious. 

damyst

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2017, 12:17:48 PM »
Can you clarify this reference? Is there a purported downside, financially speaking, to mothers working?
Having both sides on their feet financially is a win all around, in my book.

If there are no kids, sure, but quite a few people have a stay at home parent to raise kids instead of farming it off to daycare.

I am assuming that children are part of the picture. This was discussed in detail in a recent thread. Financially, having a parent stay at home for years rather than pursue their career is very costly, even if at first the daycare expenses exceed that parent's take-home pay. A lot of families fail to evaluate this trade-off correctly.
Many families have non-financial reasons to avoid sending their child(ren) to daycare, and that's fine. But like others have noted, if one of the spouses is working in the home, then they're entitled to any income that the household earns. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

ixtap

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2017, 12:38:02 PM »
In Australia, (my very non legal understanding is that ..) de facto couples would have many of the same rights in a financial settlement as a married couple.

If you decide not to marry, but keep a household and raise your children together for the next ten years, would her claim upon your assets be significantly different?

In the US, only about five states have common law marriage laws still on the books.

One of the reasons that we had our incredibly tiny wedding when we left a common law state was because in the middle of the "gay marriage" debates, some states were also flexing their muscles in refusing to recognize common law marriages.

chasingthegoodlife

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2017, 12:59:58 PM »
Damyst, I think many people feel there is a ‘cost’ for both partners to work outside the home in the sense that 2 full time jobs, child rearing, house work and life admin leave little time and energy for the kind of frugal optimisation and thriftiness that set couples up for FI (as well as the day care costs you mention).
Assuming a community based around pursuing FI values work life balance, I would guess that many who were in a decent financial position already would not consider a little extra income worth the stress and time pressure of both parents working full time outside the home.   

The gender politics of work inside and outside the home is complicated ... I could write a lot more about this but need to get ready for work more to come.



damyst

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #29 on: December 11, 2017, 01:41:31 PM »
Damyst, I think many people feel there is a ‘cost’ for both partners to work outside the home in the sense that 2 full time jobs, child rearing, house work and life admin leave little time and energy for the kind of frugal optimisation and thriftiness that set couples up for FI (as well as the day care costs you mention).
Assuming a community based around pursuing FI values work life balance, I would guess that many who were in a decent financial position already would not consider a little extra income worth the stress and time pressure of both parents working full time outside the home.   

The gender politics of work inside and outside the home is complicated ... I could write a lot more about this but need to get ready for work more to come.

My wife and I feel some of what you're describing, so I cannot argue :-) But it depends on the specific situation. In our case, neither of us would find staying at home with the kids less stressful than going to work. Arguably, the resulting mental strain for the SAHP would lead to an increase in anti-frugal behaviour.
In a recent giant daycare thread, I noted a number of working men commenting that "luckily, I make enough money that my wife can stay home with the kids". I didn't see any women commenting that "luckily, my husband makes enough money that I can stay home with the kids".
What I was originally responding to was the phrase ”what the millionaire book and mustachianism says" regarding working mothers. It makes it sound as if there is some kind of mustachian consensus about this, which I'm not aware of, and which doesn't match our experience.

FINate

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2017, 02:06:46 PM »
Respectfully, it seems you're not ready for the commitment of marriage. Ask yourself this: If not for her desire to get married and ensuing tensions, is marriage something you would consider at this time?

A prenup is reasonable to protect significant assets brought into a marriage early on. But I think this is something that should phase out over time (say 10 years or so). When you say "I do" you're committing to build a life-long family together -- even if just a family of 2. Finances are a reflection of our deepest values, so saying that you want a lifelong commitment to build a life with someone while simultaneously trying to keep assets separate over the long term is, IMO, incongruent. At some point your lives are so intertwined financially and emotionally that you really do become a single unit. If that's not what you're looking for at this time that's fine, but be honest with yourself and your partner.

The big question is, is she willing to continue indefinitely in a long-term relationship without marriage? Maybe not, but I don't think it's fair to string her along or to go along with marriage if you're really not ready for it. If you each have fundamentally different visions for the future I don't think there's a way to reconcile that.

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #31 on: December 11, 2017, 02:57:52 PM »
Have the two of you had counseling after your divorces?  Have you had any couples counseling?

My husband and I are each previously divorced.  We did lots of work on ourselves individually after that, and lots and lots and lots of planning before we got married.  I had significant assets; he didn't.  I originally made 3x what he did, and now, I'm supporting the family now while he goes to school.  I'm okay with that due to the tremendous work we both did on ourselves and that I trust that each of us wants to stay married for life.   Neither of us really believes in divorce.

We live in a community-property state; if we divorce, we each get half of what was accumulated in marriage.  That's fair, IMO.  Because we don't have kids together, there is no worry about child support.

The key to our choice to remarry was trust.  We chose to trust each other and put ourselves at emotional and (in my case) financial risk.   That, to us, was the essence of marriage.  We work to choose each other every day.

pk_aeryn

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2017, 10:56:00 PM »
Quote
What I was originally responding to was the phrase ”what the millionaire book and mustachianism says" regarding working mothers. It makes it sound as if there is some kind of mustachian consensus about this, which I'm not aware of, and which doesn't match our experience.

I didn't mean to imply that there is unanimous agreement on that.  Just that it's fairly common to do the math on whether it makes sense to be a one or two income household.  I can't speak for anyone else, but I agree with you that I think it's better to be two - a lot of people think that alimony and child support is an amazing windfall for divorced women and it's just so rarely true.

remizidae

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2017, 11:12:31 PM »
I think many people feel there is a ‘cost’ for both partners to work outside the home in the sense that 2 full time jobs, child rearing, house work and life admin leave little time and energy for the kind of frugal optimisation and thriftiness that set couples up for FI (as well as the day care costs you mention).

I agree that when both partners work, you're less likely to do stuff that saves a little money in exchange for a lot of time. Like making your own laundry detergent, gardening, canning your own food, washing Ziploc bags, couponing, hitting four grocery stores to get your cost per meal down by 10 cents. I'm not knocking this stuff, but it has a fairly low return compared to the salary that a full-time professional job will bring you. Not to mention, as others have said, the huge cost that a nonworking wife will bear in the case of divorce or death. I've read too many stories about women who went from upper-middle-class luxury to minimum wage and food stamps to ever go that route.

Come to think of it, that happened to my mother. She and my father never got divorced, but when he got laid off in his 50s, and she wanted a job to bring in extra income and health insurance, guess what, despite having an advanced degree and some work experience, minimum wage was all she was qualified for. Don't let that happen to you.

okits

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2017, 11:46:21 PM »
I think many people feel there is a ‘cost’ for both partners to work outside the home in the sense that 2 full time jobs, child rearing, house work and life admin leave little time and energy for the kind of frugal optimisation and thriftiness that set couples up for FI (as well as the day care costs you mention).

I agree that when both partners work, you're less likely to do stuff that saves a little money in exchange for a lot of time. Like making your own laundry detergent, gardening, canning your own food, washing Ziploc bags, couponing, hitting four grocery stores to get your cost per meal down by 10 cents. I'm not knocking this stuff, but it has a fairly low return compared to the salary that a full-time professional job will bring you. Not to mention, as others have said, the huge cost that a nonworking wife will bear in the case of divorce or death. I've read too many stories about women who went from upper-middle-class luxury to minimum wage and food stamps to ever go that route.

Come to think of it, that happened to my mother. She and my father never got divorced, but when he got laid off in his 50s, and she wanted a job to bring in extra income and health insurance, guess what, despite having an advanced degree and some work experience, minimum wage was all she was qualified for. Don't let that happen to you.

I think the financial benefit of a SAH partner is that you have two people prioritizing one career.  The SAH spouse accommodates the other's need to travel for work, put in long hours to win promotions, pursue extra credentials, free up mental and physical energy towards furthering that career.  Compare to a family where two careers mean you must split the non-career-furthering activities and the career sacrifices.  (The Millionaire Next Door example is of a family with a business where the husband works the business and the wife tends the home, children, and may pitch in with the business as well.  The degree of success would be different if both spouses were running their own separate businesses, full time.)

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #35 on: December 13, 2017, 07:52:43 AM »
Can you clarify this reference? Is there a purported downside, financially speaking, to mothers working?
Having both sides on their feet financially is a win all around, in my book.

If there are no kids, sure, but quite a few people have a stay at home parent to raise kids instead of farming it off to daycare.

This is an offensive characterization of working parents.  Believe me, I raise my own kids, despite the time that they spend in their (high-quality and much-beloved) daycare.  It also has no bearing on the prior discussion, which was specifically about the financial impact of both parents working. 

Freedomin5

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2017, 08:05:51 AM »
The financial benefit to both parents working is that you're not putting all your eggs in one basket. If one breadwinner loses their job, your family can still have a hope of making ends meet.

Laura33

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2017, 08:45:29 AM »
I think many people feel there is a ‘cost’ for both partners to work outside the home in the sense that 2 full time jobs, child rearing, house work and life admin leave little time and energy for the kind of frugal optimisation and thriftiness that set couples up for FI (as well as the day care costs you mention).

I agree that when both partners work, you're less likely to do stuff that saves a little money in exchange for a lot of time. Like making your own laundry detergent, gardening, canning your own food, washing Ziploc bags, couponing, hitting four grocery stores to get your cost per meal down by 10 cents. I'm not knocking this stuff, but it has a fairly low return compared to the salary that a full-time professional job will bring you. Not to mention, as others have said, the huge cost that a nonworking wife will bear in the case of divorce or death. I've read too many stories about women who went from upper-middle-class luxury to minimum wage and food stamps to ever go that route.

Come to think of it, that happened to my mother. She and my father never got divorced, but when he got laid off in his 50s, and she wanted a job to bring in extra income and health insurance, guess what, despite having an advanced degree and some work experience, minimum wage was all she was qualified for. Don't let that happen to you.

I think the financial benefit of a SAH partner is that you have two people prioritizing one career.  The SAH spouse accommodates the other's need to travel for work, put in long hours to win promotions, pursue extra credentials, free up mental and physical energy towards furthering that career.  Compare to a family where two careers mean you must split the non-career-furthering activities and the career sacrifices.  (The Millionaire Next Door example is of a family with a business where the husband works the business and the wife tends the home, children, and may pitch in with the business as well.  The degree of success would be different if both spouses were running their own separate businesses, full time.)

I kinda see it as a choice between two jobs.  I don't like the implication that a SAH parent doesn't have a "job" almost as much as I resent the implication that I have outsourced the raising of my own kids. 

But like any other decision of which job to take, you have to consider the financial ramifications of each, the temperament/suitability/"fit" of each, and the impacts on lifestyle -- and you need to do that analysis for both partners.  E.g., some people enjoy running a tight ship and managing a household more than others, and some are naturally better at it than others (personally, I'm good at the "frugal" part, but not so hot at the patience-with-kid-management-all-day part).  Similarly, some people want to be freed up to throw themselves into their careers, while others (like my DH) do not want the pressure of being the sole provider and don't want to sacrifice their own time with the family.  And you can succeed in your career both ways: I know several men who have followed the "freed up to work" path with great success; at the same time, my DH has been very successful in large part because he and his bosses both know he doesn't need this job and can walk any time.

But I do completely agree that most people look at the finances wrong, because they focus on the short-term salary impact without really considering the long-term impacts on career earnings and SS over the course of a career.  Of course, if you're on this board and targeting FIRE, those impacts will not be nearly as significant as for someone planning a standard retirement age.

scantee

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2017, 08:58:07 AM »
I think many people feel there is a ‘cost’ for both partners to work outside the home in the sense that 2 full time jobs, child rearing, house work and life admin leave little time and energy for the kind of frugal optimisation and thriftiness that set couples up for FI (as well as the day care costs you mention).

I agree that when both partners work, you're less likely to do stuff that saves a little money in exchange for a lot of time. Like making your own laundry detergent, gardening, canning your own food, washing Ziploc bags, couponing, hitting four grocery stores to get your cost per meal down by 10 cents. I'm not knocking this stuff, but it has a fairly low return compared to the salary that a full-time professional job will bring you. Not to mention, as others have said, the huge cost that a nonworking wife will bear in the case of divorce or death. I've read too many stories about women who went from upper-middle-class luxury to minimum wage and food stamps to ever go that route.

Come to think of it, that happened to my mother. She and my father never got divorced, but when he got laid off in his 50s, and she wanted a job to bring in extra income and health insurance, guess what, despite having an advanced degree and some work experience, minimum wage was all she was qualified for. Don't let that happen to you.

I think the financial benefit of a SAH partner is that you have two people prioritizing one career.  The SAH spouse accommodates the other's need to travel for work, put in long hours to win promotions, pursue extra credentials, free up mental and physical energy towards furthering that career.  Compare to a family where two careers mean you must split the non-career-furthering activities and the career sacrifices.  (The Millionaire Next Door example is of a family with a business where the husband works the business and the wife tends the home, children, and may pitch in with the business as well.  The degree of success would be different if both spouses were running their own separate businesses, full time.)

With increased assortive mating, relationships with big disparities in earning power are becoming less and less common. There are far fewer couples today where one person can earn $150k and the other can earn $30k. In cases like that, it makes sense for the lower earning person to not work and instead focus on money-saving measures. Today, it is much more common to see couples where both people can earn $30k or both can earn $150k. In both of these cases, it usually doesn't make financial sense for one person to stay home, albeit for very different reasons.

Work environments have changed quite a bit in the past few decades as more women have entered and stayed in the professional work force. I think this change makes the MND argument fairly outdated. What they don't account for in MND is the availability of good paying jobs that are also flexible. It's either good-paying jobs that require 110% or low-paying "easy" jobs. If both parents can score decent paying jobs with flexibility that is often the most compelling option.

Note: I think there are other good reasons to have one parent stay home -- the best reason being if it makes the person at home happy -- but that is a different concern than the purely financial ones discussed here and in MND.

mm1970

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2017, 02:06:39 PM »
Quote
I kinda see it as a choice between two jobs.  I don't like the implication that a SAH parent doesn't have a "job" almost as much as I resent the implication that I have outsourced the raising of my own kids. 

But like any other decision of which job to take, you have to consider the financial ramifications of each, the temperament/suitability/"fit" of each, and the impacts on lifestyle -- and you need to do that analysis for both partners.  E.g., some people enjoy running a tight ship and managing a household more than others, and some are naturally better at it than others (personally, I'm good at the "frugal" part, but not so hot at the patience-with-kid-management-all-day part).  Similarly, some people want to be freed up to throw themselves into their careers, while others (like my DH) do not want the pressure of being the sole provider and don't want to sacrifice their own time with the family.  And you can succeed in your career both ways: I know several men who have followed the "freed up to work" path with great success; at the same time, my DH has been very successful in large part because he and his bosses both know he doesn't need this job and can walk any time.

But I do completely agree that most people look at the finances wrong, because they focus on the short-term salary impact without really considering the long-term impacts on career earnings and SS over the course of a career.  Of course, if you're on this board and targeting FIRE, those impacts will not be nearly as significant as for someone planning a standard retirement age.

Pretty much this.

A lot of people like to look at mothers working and the math as "daycare comes out of mom's paycheck", when it's really BOTH parents' children, and costs need to be seen as such.

What would be ideal, to me, is more flexibility.  We have quite a lot of it, but honestly - with two elementary aged kids, it would be awesome if we BOTH could work 75%.  But we can't, because work is not set up like that (in part).  ALSO we are both good at our jobs and work at small companies - so they rely on us for a LOT.

Daycares are great and they are no more "farming out childcare" than schools are "farming out" education.  I love my kids but I don't have the temperament to manage them 24/7.  Even 5 hours at home with them on a day off school (canceled due to wildfires, now canceled for 3.5 weeks, whee!) was enough for me.

I honestly have no desire to prioritize ONE career - what happens if that career goes into the toilet?

Crackpot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #40 on: December 16, 2017, 05:06:21 AM »
Wow! I thought this thread was done last week and stopped checking in on it.

It took an interesting turn, veering into the stay at home vs. two working partners debate.

My only input would be this....

The choice is complex and depends on numerous variables, not just the math of it.  Either choice can lead to a happy healthy family life with sound finances.  There are many, many excellent ways to raise a family.  The main thing is to enjoy the experience, even as you work towards make it even better in the future. 

okits

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #41 on: December 16, 2017, 09:36:49 AM »
Wow! I thought this thread was done last week and stopped checking in on it.

It took an interesting turn, veering into the stay at home vs. two working partners debate.

My only input would be this....

The choice is complex and depends on numerous variables, not just the math of it.  Either choice can lead to a happy healthy family life with sound finances.  There are many, many excellent ways to raise a family.  The main thing is to enjoy the experience, even as you work towards make it even better in the future.

The relevant message in that part of the discussion is, if the wage earner in your domestic partnership thinks their contributions to the family are "theirs", the other partner would do well to be a wage earner, too, because caregiving and household management contributions cannot be separately held the way financial wealth can in the case of a break up. 

It's fine that you feel this way (the money you earn during your relationship is yours if you two split) but you need to be honest with her about that.  She needs to know that she may someday be the sole breadwinner in a single-parent family with no assets, and what she invests her time into now has a direct bearing on how easy or hard that will be.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #42 on: December 16, 2017, 09:49:43 AM »
I expect that she will transition to earning more income later on when parenting becomes less of a full time job, as that is her plan and she is taking steps in that direction at present. 

I expected the same thing from my wife when parenting young children was finally in our rear view mirror. Unfortunately, thats not the way it worked out. Years of being dependent on my income created a long term dependency that I am still struggling to ameliorate. YMMV

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #43 on: December 16, 2017, 10:34:47 AM »
I expected the same thing from my wife when parenting young children was finally in our rear view mirror. Unfortunately, thats not the way it worked out. Years of being dependent on my income created a long term dependency that I am still struggling to ameliorate. YMMV

I mean, that's... kind of one of the deals made in marriage, at least in a lot of cases.  My wife takes care of the kid (soon to be kids), takes care of the house, and I earn money.  She's capable of earning a living, has done it in the past, but at this point, her contribution is far more in the way of "efficiently spending money" than it would be earning it.  We laugh about how expensive kids are supposed to be to clothe, because it turns out that you can outfit a toddler from a thrift store for dollars a month.  Dollars!  I'm sure she'll be more expensive to clothe later, but if she wants anything particularly expensive, she can earn the money for it herself.

And in the context of an early retirement forum, by the time my kids are out of the house, I intend to be quite comfortably retired, and plan to do quite a bit of traveling with my wife.

This thread has a lot of entirely foreign-to-me views on how people think marriage is supposed to work.

Laserjet3051

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #44 on: December 16, 2017, 05:32:18 PM »
I expected the same thing from my wife when parenting young children was finally in our rear view mirror. Unfortunately, thats not the way it worked out. Years of being dependent on my income created a long term dependency that I am still struggling to ameliorate. YMMV

I mean, that's... kind of one of the deals made in marriage, at least in a lot of cases.  My wife takes care of the kid (soon to be kids), takes care of the house, and I earn money.  She's capable of earning a living, has done it in the past, but at this point, her contribution is far more in the way of "efficiently spending money" than it would be earning it.  We laugh about how expensive kids are supposed to be to clothe, because it turns out that you can outfit a toddler from a thrift store for dollars a month.  Dollars!  I'm sure she'll be more expensive to clothe later, but if she wants anything particularly expensive, she can earn the money for it herself.

And in the context of an early retirement forum, by the time my kids are out of the house, I intend to be quite comfortably retired, and plan to do quite a bit of traveling with my wife.

This thread has a lot of entirely foreign-to-me views on how people think marriage is supposed to work.

Yes, the implicit understanding was that while she was home taking care of the kids, I would pay for all of us, which I happily did. What I did NOT agree to ( once the kids were older) was that she would continue to stay home for years not bringing in any income. My net worth trajectory puts me retiring at no earlier than 65, so yes, I do expect her to leave the couch on occasion in search of income; kids are rarely even at the house anymore.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #45 on: December 18, 2017, 01:22:59 PM »
LaserJet, is she finding the kinds of jobs she wants?  She may have been out of the job market too long, as mentioned above.  Or finding very negative attitudes in the field she is looking in.  Not to mention ageism.

General comments:

I know a lot of older people, coming out of divorce or widowhood, who actually do cohabitation agreements instead of marrying.  In these cases there are usually significant assets and/or children from the previous marriage.  Of course they are not usually planning a new batch of children together.  However,  it certainly clarifies the financial aspect.

A spendy spouse can wreak a family's finances whether they are earning income or managing the home.  It takes 2 financially sensible people to have the finances work well.

If a SAHS is a good home-maker, costs will go down considerably, but even in a both members of the couple working household the expenses don't have to be horrible - they just shouldn't have 100 hour/week jobs that suck their energy.  There is a reason working-outside-the-home women joke about needing a "wife" - what they also would appreciate is someone doing some of the heavy lifting at home.  They usually end up working 2 jobs, the one at work and the one at home.

If OP's future wife works hard at managing the home and then finds that all her hard work (and it is hard work, and she is not accumulating SS/IRA, etc. for her retirement) is not appreciated, then the divorce he doesn't want may well hit him.  People in a good marriage are a team in all aspects of their lives.  Including the finances.

thegardener

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #46 on: December 18, 2017, 08:12:02 PM »
Maybe as part of talking with her about your relationship, discuss your views on marriage. You state you view this as a relationship for life and that you don't want it to end. Are there any situations where that might change? How does she view the relationship? Is it the same? Can she think of any situations where it might change?

topshot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #47 on: December 20, 2017, 07:20:06 AM »
I just don't want to commit my income and investments should the relationship end someday.
To be frank, you're either all in or you're not, and your statement shows that you at least aren't.

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #48 on: December 20, 2017, 08:31:24 AM »
I just don't want to commit my income and investments should the relationship end someday.
To be frank, you're either all in or you're not, and your statement shows that you at least aren't.
I'm not sure of the context surrounding this statement, but it's important to consider that in most cases (in fact, all cases that I know of) you only give up half of what you earn and invest during the marriage in the event of divorce.  What you bring to the marriage will still be yours even if you get divorced.

topshot

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Re: Marriage vs Mustachianism
« Reply #49 on: December 20, 2017, 09:13:11 AM »
I just don't want to commit my income and investments should the relationship end someday.
To be frank, you're either all in or you're not, and your statement shows that you at least aren't.
I'm not sure of the context surrounding this statement...
If you were meaning my statement, "all in" as in fully committed to the marriage. Financial aspects should have no bearing on that decision.