Author Topic: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!  (Read 9415 times)

albireo13

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When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« on: September 03, 2017, 09:18:24 AM »
Me and my wife are falling apart over finances!  Retirement planning, bills, college for kids is driving a wedge between us.

Me:   61yo engineer, good income, good health, tired of working at my company, want to retire by 65 at latest
Her:  57yo nurse, good income, good health, doesn't like her job anymore, plans to work another 7+ years

Us: 
  lump sum nestegg (IRS, 401K, 403B, etc) = $1.47M
  estimated other monthly retirement income (SS, pensions) = $7300/mo
  Fixed mortgage of $330K at 3.625%,   equity = $110K

Pre-retirement goals:
    * save another $20K to help youngest son in college.
    * pay off all CC and small loans (currently ~$13K)

   Anyway, my wife is driven to paying off bills and saving for college.  She has been taking on extra shifts the last 6 months to the point where her health is compromised, she is depressed and miserable most of the time, hates her job, hardly home so now we are fighting, we have little fun anymore.

We are not extravegant and don't don't spend a lot.  Lately we've been hit with a lot of expenses (several car failures, bills to cover son in college, etc)

Counselling is lined up and next week a financial advisor is scheduled.

  I think we are in good shape for retirement, and she worries more. We are both sad as we are sacrificing "today's" happiness for tomorrow.

When is saving ... too much?  What is a sensible balance between retirement savings and living today?
Maybe we shut down retirement contributions to pay off debt??

Arrgghh ... at wits end.







former player

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2017, 09:41:36 AM »
Given that you say you are not naturally extravagant, what do you normally spend without the mortgage payments and college costs?  When do your pensions etc. start kicking in? If your annual spending is less than $84,600 a year gross (the annual amount of your social security and pensions), then all you need from your nest egg to tide you over until the social security and pensions fully kick in is $84.6k times that number of years.   You've already got way more than that, given that the maximum time you've got is another 7 or 8 years until your wife is 65 and your pensions and social security will start paying out any time from next year onwards.

Now, lets say you use $400k of your nestegg to pay off your mortgage, your small loans and your youngest's college costs.  Others here will tell you to stay invested and keep any debt that is less than 4%, particularly if you get tax relief on the interest.  I'm going to tell you that you need to get rid of all the stress in your lives and one way to do that is to get rid of the debt.    Paying off all your debt and the college costs brings your nest egg down to $1.1m, which is still way more than you need to live at a rate of $84,600 a year until all pensions and social security are paying out.

Now, if you are spending more than $84,600 a year, you need to look at cutting out some expenses.  The obvious one is that with your youngest at college you probably have more house to pay for and maintain than you need.  Downsize!

I don't think you need a financial advisor.  I think both you and your wife have been too busy to stop and look around you at the wonderful world which is out there for you both to enjoy together once you have freed yourselves from the shackles of work.  Good luck.

mustachianteacher

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2017, 09:44:19 AM »
Counseling and a checkup with a financial planner sound like a good idea. Maybe hearing that you are on track and in fairly good shape will reassure her that it's fine to keep saving, but there's no need to make yourself miserable in the present to do so.

More specifically, I don't think you need to "shut down" retirement contributions, but if the adviser agrees, it might not be a bad idea to temporarily divert some money by splitting the contribution amount.

rdaneel0

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2017, 09:50:40 AM »
I think we'd need more information to help much. Why is she so worried about retirement when you have such a huge nest egg? What exactly is her concern and is it based in past experiences or something?

I agree with another poster who mentioned that if it's really causing this much stress, with your net worth you could just pay off all your debts and your son's college and still have more than enough to retire on comfortably. Do you guys have some super expensive retirement planned or something? It seems like there's a disconnect between your actual situation and how your wife is reacting to it.

RWD

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2017, 10:10:19 AM »
You're 61, old enough to start withdrawing from 401k-type accounts without jumping through any hoops. So here's a plan: both of you retire now. Subtract the $20k kid fund and $13k debt from your nest egg. New nest egg = $1.437 million. Per the 4% rule this will support $57k/year in income, assuming it is reasonably invested in low-cost index funds. Your social security and pensions add an additional $87k/year. That brings your total retirement income up to $144k/year! You really don't need to work any more.

albireo13

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2017, 10:27:01 AM »
Thanks.  I agree with a lot of this.

I really hit a brick wall when I try to talk to my wife about this.  She doesn't believe my arguments.
I am hoping that a 3rd party professional (financial advisor) will allay her fears.
Part of it is her previous husband left her high and dry financially. That is a source of a lot of her anxiety, etc.

Our college son is the youngest of 5.  Raising 5 kids really put a dent in our finances.  That plus, a few of our grown kids have low income situations.
We fear that we may need to be able to help them out in the future.

My SS estimates are based on starting withdrawing when I reach 66yo so, I'd like to put off that as long as possible.
If we put off dipping into SS until 66 or so, our monthly pension income would be about $2600 for a handful of years ... a bit on the thin side.
 
Our other concern is health insurance .... bridging that gap until we reach 65yo for Medicare.


« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 10:32:06 AM by albireo13 »

Dee18

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2017, 01:05:23 PM »
"We may need to help them in the future...."
This is something you need to discuss as it greatly changes your financial future.  How much help?  Under what circumstances?  It sounds like you are not sure about your future expenses and that makes it impossible to determine if you have enough.

albireo13

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2017, 02:01:18 PM »
Yes .... very frustrating.  It's hard when your spouse does not want to make the time to talk about finances or financial security.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2017, 02:04:45 PM »
Go to firecalc.com.  Plug in your numbers (or have her do it) and run the simulations.  You both could have retired comfortably years ago if you're not spendy.

I'm sorry for you.  I turn 50 this year.  I have about 440k in my retirement plans and WILL retire in January of 2022 when I can get to my 401k without penalty.  I also have five adult children, the last of which has just finished his education. 

If I were you, I'd quit my job TODAY and gently insist that my wife do the same.  You only have a limited number of days left (like all of us), stop doing what you hate!

Tyson

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2017, 02:18:18 PM »
I think your wife is afraid of having bills.  That's true of many, many people.  My advice is to pay off the mortgage completely, pay off all your small loans, etc... fully fund the $20k college and then..... wait.  What will happen (I am betting) is that your wife will see that there are no more bills to worry about or stress over.  Once that happens (ie, she's emotionally comfortable), then she can see that it's silly to keep working when everything is taken care of already. 

For a lot of people, investment money is not "real" in quite the same way that a bill like a mortgage is.  They feel like the investment can evaporate and then you're screwed because you still have to pay the mortgage, and if there's no income you might lose your home. 

The good news is that you're in a great place to be able to deal with this, by paying off all the bills right now.  Yes, it's not mathematically ideal, but retiring early will be no fun if your spouse is under constant stress due to long term fear of not being able to pay the bills.

GizmoTX

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2017, 03:10:28 PM »
Is your son doing any contributing to his college expenses? Summer internship, part time job during school, scholarship, grants? An internship is invaluable for his resume & experience, even better if it is paid -- post college employers do look for this.

sokoloff

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2017, 03:15:03 PM »
"We may need to help them in the future...."
This is something you need to discuss as it greatly changes your financial future.  How much help?  Under what circumstances?  It sounds like you are not sure about your future expenses and that makes it impossible to determine if you have enough.
Exactly. Put on your own oxygen mask first, meaning deal with your financial future and secure retirement and, assuming you don't do generally stupid things like buy a lifetime annuity, you will likely be in a position to pass along a substantial inheritance when your days are done.

Assuming you don't have children with specific special needs, funding their college education is all that I intend to ensure (and even that is much more than many people do).

You're likely to be in a situation when in retirement you'll be able to give them $25K here and there to help with a downpayment on a house or a family trip or something, but that's all gravy and only "if then feasible". Don't delay your own retirement over it, IMO.

idahofire

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2017, 03:31:15 PM »
To OP: your problems would be my luxury. You guys are doing really well. I wonder why you both are still working. I think, like many of us, you guys are perhaps worrying too much? Enjoy what you have. Be content. You've done well. Why continue to work at this age? Doesn't seem necessary at all.

The point (at least to me!) of attaining wealth and means is to have the FREEDOM TO DO WHAT YOU WANT with your time, resources, life etc. For me, that means not slaving at a job 40-60 hours a week and stressing over day-to-day work/life balance issues. But again, you have a wife to consider. I wish you well. Hopefully you can sort things out and get refocused on your priorities together as a couple.

Just FYI, I currently can support my entire lifestyle comfortably on $1200 a month. That's why to me it seems like you guys have A LOT of money built up for FIRE. Working beyond age 54 seems anathema to me.

Goldielocks

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2017, 04:33:44 PM »
I think your wife is afraid of having bills.  That's true of many, many people.  My advice is to pay off the mortgage completely, pay off all your small loans, etc... fully fund the $20k college and then..... wait.  What will happen (I am betting) is that your wife will see that there are no more bills to worry about or stress over.  Once that happens (ie, she's emotionally comfortable), then she can see that it's silly to keep working when everything is taken care of already. 

For a lot of people, investment money is not "real" in quite the same way that a bill like a mortgage is.  They feel like the investment can evaporate and then you're screwed because you still have to pay the mortgage, and if there's no income you might lose your home. 

The good news is that you're in a great place to be able to deal with this, by paying off all the bills right now.  Yes, it's not mathematically ideal, but retiring early will be no fun if your spouse is under constant stress due to long term fear of not being able to pay the bills.

I like this response, it really speaks to the human emotional side of personal finance, and how humans react.

The only difference is that I would only presave / allocate the mortgage PAYMENTS only, not the full mortgage, until the year your full pensions kick in.  e.g., 5 years of mortgage payments put into a separate, dedicated account for that purpose.  You can keep it in the 401k, if you want, just bump it up by the taxes you will pay to use it.  This is a "just in case" allocation, you likely would not use it.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2017, 10:00:05 PM »
Big quick tip: don't see a financial adviser, see a fee-only financial planner.   A financial adviser makes profits the more you invest, and eats a nice sum of any money you invest. He's a salesman, through and through.

Many of them go through quick courses then get extensive sales training, because sales is their business.

You wouldn't take your car budget problems to a car salesman to sort out. Don't take your retirement problems to a retirement salesman.

He may well tell you that you need to save more and more and more, rather than spend what you need....because it'll drive up his own income.

Instead, you can see someone for a small fee who will have no vested interest in selling you stuff. And only use one who's recommended.

Sounds like you're well on the right track financially. You have marriage problems: communication and agreement about goals.  You're already seeing a counselor which would've been my first piece of wisdom.

Also find some couples you both trust who are ahead of you and talk to them.   

Get on the same page about your goals. Learn what her fears are. Sounds like your wife carries a huge burden to ensure her kids are secure. That's something to really nail down. There may be deep fears there that need to be addressed and worked through. You could be talking a small difference or a $10MM difference. Or, if your wife can't set boundaries well with kids who struggle, no amount of money or work will do it. I say that not to scare you at all (this is common) but to illustrate why you need the counseling and support. A church leader can be great for this too.

That's what you need most I think. And to avoid financial adviser
 

Tuskalusa

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2017, 10:30:59 PM »
Hi There. I'm chiming in because I'm a lot like your wife, I think. I hate bills.  I hate uncertainty. I hate debt. It has taken me a very long time to realize that, after a long period of saving, it's actually ok to step back, and to reallocate some of those assets that we worked so hard to save. It's a huge mindset shift. Here are some thoughts to start the process of reallocating assets to make things more pleasant for your family.

1. Put all of your accounts in Mint. Share the login with your wife. That way you both have a solid visual of the net worth you built together.

2. Go over all the beneficiaries on all accounts and insurance policies. Put all of this information somewhere where you both have access. Then you both know that you will all be fine in a catastrophe.

3.  Get a realistic budget set up in YNAB for current expenses. The goal here is to get a realistic view of what you earn and spend each month. Might not be any need to reign in any spending....just need to get a realistic picture of what you need each month.

4.  Meet with a financial planner with all this data and discuss how to reallocate assets to simplify semi-retirement.

Once you both feel comfortable that the wolf is not at the door, things might get easier.

Let's us know how things go!

firelight

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2017, 12:35:27 AM »
You've gotten great advice here. One question I'd add to the discussion is have a heart to heart talk with wife about how much you both want to help your kids. Be realistic, they can borrow money for college, for career, for home etc. But you can't borrow money for retirement. Also economic out patient care is a disservice parents do to kids, IMO.

Once you have a solid number, you'd be able to better assess your 'needs' on retirement.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2017, 02:26:51 AM »
You've gotten great advice here. One question I'd add to the discussion is have a heart to heart talk with wife about how much you both want to help your kids. Be realistic, they can borrow money for college, for career, for home etc. But you can't borrow money for retirement. Also economic out patient care is a disservice parents do to kids, IMO.

Once you have a solid number, you'd be able to better assess your 'needs' on retirement.

+1.  And realize wife may need some work to give you a reliable number, from what you've said. She may struggling with boundaries for her kids, and watching them struggle some in life.  (If she had trouble letting them leave the nest, that's another warning sign. Albeit a common thing.) But helping can actually do them a great disservice.

There's a whole book on this issue that's informative (and applies just as well to kids): When Helping Hurts.  Link/referral: http://amzn.to/2vEzogL

FWIW, I have relatives who stepped in and helped kids often.  Later, they died. The money source suddenly ended. Now, they're all in ruins except a couple (and one of those struggles).  They're unused to being fully independent, don't plan for it, and don't do it well.  And they feel entitled to a life they can't regain.  It's ugly.  Don't be those parents.  Any inheritance would be squandered too. It's setting kids up to fail, especially adult ones. 

I knew from my parents that the "bank of dad" would close after college, and it did. I never used it much anyway.  And paid for grad school myself. But it set me up to take responsibility for myself.  I'm far better off for it.

Set the kids up for success.

FIREFTW

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2017, 06:08:41 AM »
OP: I am concerned for your wife as this was my story once upon a time.  I was making 45k a year base salary but hated my job and was miserable so I wanted a career change so I decided to go back to RN school.  I wanted to graduate debt free so I started working overtime.  At first it was just a little but then it crept up to has many as 173 hours in a two week period at one time.  I made as much as 60k in overtime one year.  I gained 30lbs, started losing my short term memory, and felt/looked wretched.  I overshot the amount it would have taken to save for RN school.  Looking back at all the time I lost that I could have spent enjoying life it wasn't worth trading that kind of life energy for money.  When I stopped all of a sudden and quit my job I: backpacked around Europe for a month and half, went to Bottlerock 2016 to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Florence and the Machine, and Stevie Wonder, took up MMA and yoga, and basically just STARTED ENJOYING MY LIFE! I am always going to advocate for saving money/financial independence and preparing for a rainy day.  However, it makes no sense to 'attempt to get to a place where you are not worrying about the day after tomorrow if the process constantly puts you into worrying about the day after tomorrow'. I would hope that you allow her to read this post and see what others have to say on the matter as most of us are not licensed financial planners and how no conflict of interest into her situation other that concern for her well-being.  I hope that everything turns out alright and that she sees the value in not working yourself into the grave so to speak.  Most people who have attained financial independence and lived to actually enjoy it don't work massive amounts of overtime....

Gone_Hiking

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2017, 08:30:07 AM »
OP, I've zeroed in on this:

I am hoping that a 3rd party professional (financial advisor) will allay her fears.
Part of it is her previous husband left her high and dry financially. That is a source of a lot of her anxiety, etc.

I think I could relate to your wife.  My trigger was being laid off and my symptoms are similar.  What helped me was a visit with a financial advisor who was also willing to discuss my quirks and put my fears in perspective.  Don't delay.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2017, 08:57:11 AM »

Assuming you don't have children with specific special needs, funding their college education is all that I intend to ensure (and even that is much more than many people do).

You're likely to be in a situation when in retirement you'll be able to give them $25K here and there to help with a downpayment on a house or a family trip or something, but that's all gravy and only "if then feasible". Don't delay your own retirement over it, IMO.

This.  We allowed our sons to live with us while they attended college.  They decided where they wanted to go.  Some went locally, some did not.  All of them worked during school and attended state schools.  The youngest has some developmental issues and we helped him with trade school tuition.  We were and are very careful about allowing them to impact our finances over the long term.  In establishing expectations over time and being clear about what we will and won't pay for, we feel confident that we'll be able to retire soon and they'll be able to support themselves.

MBot

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2017, 09:41:56 AM »
Big quick tip: don't see a financial adviser, see a fee-only financial planner.   A financial adviser makes profits the more you invest, and eats a nice sum of any money you invest. He's a salesman, through and through.

Many of them go through quick courses then get extensive sales training, because sales is their business.

You wouldn't take your car budget problems to a car salesman to sort out. Don't take your retirement problems to a retirement salesman.

He may well tell you that you need to save more and more and more, rather than spend what you need....because it'll drive up his own income.

Instead, you can see someone for a small fee who will have no vested interest in selling you stuff. And only use one who's recommended.

Sounds like you're well on the right track financially. You have marriage problems: communication and agreement about goals.  You're already seeing a counselor which would've been my first piece of wisdom.

Also find some couples you both trust who are ahead of you and talk to them.   

Get on the same page about your goals. Learn what her fears are. Sounds like your wife carries a huge burden to ensure her kids are secure. That's something to really nail down. There may be deep fears there that need to be addressed and worked through. You could be talking a small difference or a $10MM difference. Or, if your wife can't set boundaries well with kids who struggle, no amount of money or work will do it. I say that not to scare you at all (this is common) but to illustrate why you need the counseling and support. A church leader can be great for this too.

That's what you need most I think. And to avoid financial adviser

Yes, this is so important. Don't trust someone whose job it is to sell you products --- there are other ways to calculate what you can do. I like the advice about paying off/getting rid of the bills first. It may not save the absolute maximum amount of interest, but it could emotionally bring you both to a much more comfortable place.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2017, 02:19:17 PM »
OP, I've zeroed in on this:

I am hoping that a 3rd party professional (financial advisor) will allay her fears.
Part of it is her previous husband left her high and dry financially. That is a source of a lot of her anxiety, etc.

I think I could relate to your wife.  My trigger was being laid off and my symptoms are similar.  What helped me was a visit with a financial advisor who was also willing to discuss my quirks and put my fears in perspective.  Don't delay.

You cannot logic away all fears. There is no logic in the world that can remove her anxiety.

Imagine she was terrified of spiders. This could be a realistic fear (some spiders can kill and harm humans); or it could be an irrational phobia (scared of tiny, harmless, but nonetheless creepy little spiders). No amount of science or statistics about how harmless the tiny spiders are is going to make her see things your way.

Step into her reality first. If the financial planner won't deal with the quirks, spend more time with the counsellor.

Tyson

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2017, 02:48:52 PM »
Agreed, people fear large financial commitments, especially in the absence of income from a job.  Hence my suggestion to pay of the mortgage now.  It's causing your wife quite a bit of stress and anxiety, and you have the power to change that right now.

albireo13

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2017, 03:29:19 PM »
Update ....   my wife finally looked into her retirement/pension situation and found she actually has ~$300K more than we thought!
So, now lump-sum (non-pension or SS) assets are  $1.79M!

She still feels the "golden handcuffs" of her job.

Tyson

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2017, 05:12:09 PM »
Update ....   my wife finally looked into her retirement/pension situation and found she actually has ~$300K more than we thought!
So, now lump-sum (non-pension or SS) assets are  $1.79M!

She still feels the "golden handcuffs" of her job.

If not now, then when?

albireo13

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2017, 05:28:31 PM »
Logic has nothing to do with this.

Another Reader

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #27 on: September 04, 2017, 05:42:01 PM »
For some more feedback from people closer to your age and in similar situations, try the forums over at early-retirement.org.  In your wife's shoes, I would be more likely to listen to what people like me have to say.

Goldielocks

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #28 on: September 04, 2017, 07:23:32 PM »
Logic has nothing to do with this.

Pay off all debts.

Put 7 years of mortgage payments into a separate account (fixed income, maybe).
Set up a fund of XX for kid support for future (or a new car for you at age 65).
Put 4 years of living expenses into a fixed income or cash-ready fund.

Give her 2 months after setting it up, and ask her again.   I guarantee that she will see the light very quickly once the payments are gone.  She may want to work still, but maybe not the overtime and may want to use work funds to buy "fun times" with you.

MarciaB

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2017, 10:06:22 PM »
How about a gradual tapering off of work (fewer shifts, fewer hours)...while doing the other important things that have been suggested. If she hates her job, what would more time off (while still working) look like? Might be good to ease into retirement (a controlled slide, if you will).

Laura33

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #30 on: September 05, 2017, 08:17:19 AM »
Logic has nothing to do with this.

This is 100% accurate.  Think about it:

-- Your wife was left high and dry by her former husband.  That scars a person.*  Even though she got through it, any insecurity is going to trigger an emotional flashback.
-- You yourself admit that your marriage is in trouble because of your disagreements about money.  I guarantee you that every argument you have -- every time you get frustrated with her -- triggers her fear that this is going to be the time that you leave.  The more you disagree, the less possible it is for her to even think about dialing back -- because how is she going to survive if she quits her job and then you leave just like he did?   The job is her safety line, and you are going to pry it out of her cold, dead hands.
-- Add to that that she has kids who are struggling.  She naturally doesn't want them to be in the position she was in.  So she feels compelled to keep working even more to keep them safe.

That is her reality: a world in which you trust someone, and he leaves you high and dry, and you have to start over on your own again. 

This is an emotional issue, not a financial one.  And all of your attempts to convince her are just adding fuel to the fire.  You are focusing on the finances, trying to persuade her that you have enough, that she can relax a little and enjoy life.  But you are doing it by arguing over money, by getting frustrated, by fighting -- all of which just exacerbates her fears and insecurities.  She is never going to be able to trust that the two of you have enough to retire on until she is 100% confident that it really will be "the two of you" forever.  So the more you push her to cut back at her job, the more you actually push her to work harder, because once you leave, the job is all she has left.  This is an issue for counseling -- you don't need to persuade her that she is financially secure, you need to persuade her that she is emotionally secure.

* My dad left my mom when I was a toddler and she was underemployed.  After several years on food stamps, she got her Ph.D and ended up becoming a tenured professor AND starting her own consulting firm to boot.  She adored my stepdad, but not once did she share even one cent's worth of finances with him; for 38 happy years, they split bills 50/50.  She is also still working at 71 -- not because she needs to (she always saved and is worth several million now), but because she just can't not work for those emotional/security reasons.

martyconlonontherun

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #31 on: September 05, 2017, 09:57:25 AM »
Me and my wife are falling apart over finances!  Retirement planning, bills, college for kids is driving a wedge between us.

Me:   61yo engineer, good income, good health, tired of working at my company, want to retire by 65 at latest
Her:  57yo nurse, good income, good health, doesn't like her job anymore, plans to work another 7+ years

Us: 
  lump sum nestegg (IRS, 401K, 403B, etc) = $1.47M
  estimated other monthly retirement income (SS, pensions) = $7300/mo
  Fixed mortgage of $330K at 3.625%,   equity = $110K

Pre-retirement goals:
    * save another $20K to help youngest son in college.
    * pay off all CC and small loans (currently ~$13K)

   Anyway, my wife is driven to paying off bills and saving for college.  She has been taking on extra shifts the last 6 months to the point where her health is compromised, she is depressed and miserable most of the time, hates her job, hardly home so now we are fighting, we have little fun anymore.

We are not extravegant and don't don't spend a lot.  Lately we've been hit with a lot of expenses (several car failures, bills to cover son in college, etc)

Counselling is lined up and next week a financial advisor is scheduled.

  I think we are in good shape for retirement, and she worries more. We are both sad as we are sacrificing "today's" happiness for tomorrow.

When is saving ... too much?  What is a sensible balance between retirement savings and living today?
Maybe we shut down retirement contributions to pay off debt??

Arrgghh ... at wits end.

I'm a MMM newbie but my question is what is your current spending? Your stache is really nice and I'm jealous of it, but if you combine make $150k (totally random guess based on average nurse/engineer salaries).  I would imagine 15% of your salary plus match would've got that over the year and only 1/3 of a mortgage paid off (Plus CC debt?). If you got a late start and didnt start saving until late 30s, you probably already adjusted your expenses down to play catchup. But if you both started putting in your 20s, and currently only contributing 10%, and your current expenses are 100k+ with loans, you may want to look at that first. If you are used to spending money when working, I would imagine your retirement costs will be high as well if you are used to nice dinners on vacations, etc.

wenchsenior

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #32 on: September 05, 2017, 10:53:43 AM »
Logic has nothing to do with this.

This is 100% accurate.  Think about it:

-- Your wife was left high and dry by her former husband.  That scars a person.*  Even though she got through it, any insecurity is going to trigger an emotional flashback.
-- You yourself admit that your marriage is in trouble because of your disagreements about money.  I guarantee you that every argument you have -- every time you get frustrated with her -- triggers her fear that this is going to be the time that you leave.  The more you disagree, the less possible it is for her to even think about dialing back -- because how is she going to survive if she quits her job and then you leave just like he did?   The job is her safety line, and you are going to pry it out of her cold, dead hands.
-- Add to that that she has kids who are struggling.  She naturally doesn't want them to be in the position she was in.  So she feels compelled to keep working even more to keep them safe.

That is her reality: a world in which you trust someone, and he leaves you high and dry, and you have to start over on your own again. 

This is an emotional issue, not a financial one.  And all of your attempts to convince her are just adding fuel to the fire.  You are focusing on the finances, trying to persuade her that you have enough, that she can relax a little and enjoy life.  But you are doing it by arguing over money, by getting frustrated, by fighting -- all of which just exacerbates her fears and insecurities.  She is never going to be able to trust that the two of you have enough to retire on until she is 100% confident that it really will be "the two of you" forever.  So the more you push her to cut back at her job, the more you actually push her to work harder, because once you leave, the job is all she has left.  This is an issue for counseling -- you don't need to persuade her that she is financially secure, you need to persuade her that she is emotionally secure.

* My dad left my mom when I was a toddler and she was underemployed.  After several years on food stamps, she got her Ph.D and ended up becoming a tenured professor AND starting her own consulting firm to boot.  She adored my stepdad, but not once did she share even one cent's worth of finances with him; for 38 happy years, they split bills 50/50.  She is also still working at 71 -- not because she needs to (she always saved and is worth several million now), but because she just can't not work for those emotional/security reasons.

100% agree.  A lot of the posters on this thread seem to be falling into the trap that the OP has been, thinking you can argue the wife out of an emotional position with raw logic and numbers.  It's like talking two different languages. 

I have a similar dynamic in my marriage re money, though not nearly as intense.  I don't attach a lot of emotion to $ except for a sense of freedom related to having slightly more options, and freedom from worry over all but insurmountable medical bills.  Whereas, my husband has TONS of emotional responses to money...he has a more emotional personality and he grew up very poor and had no financial support making his way.  It took me a long time to understand why he would shut down from financial discussions, or get so angry over just paying monthly bills that we could afford, or simultaneously agonize over spending money on himself but resent the idea of budgeting and saving for something he wanted to buy.

I would say "look how much you are earning, GO YOU!" and he would think "I can't  believe someone is paying me so well for something I like....someone will eventually find out I'm a 'fraud' and fire me." I would say, "If you want to do a big trip next year, let's start budgeting for it now so it doesn't derail our savings" and he would hear "You don't make enough money".  I would say, "Go ahead and pursue that new hobby" and he would think "Ok, but I need to buy the cheapest materials possible to do it" and then he'd get angry at the materials hindering the pursuit of the hobby.  I would say, "When we retire..." and he would hear, "When you an old man worthless to society and waiting to die..."  I would say, "We need to consider LTC insurance" and he would think, "Eventually someone might need to wipe my butt for me, and that is terrifying, so I'm going to get angry at you for even raising the possibility!"

Etc etc.

It took us years to understand how different were the emotions attached to ANYTHING related to accumulating or spending $.

This needs to be your focus in counseling.

sobezen

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2017, 03:37:12 PM »
Facts may not care about feelings when it come to financial planning, but since you are in a relationship (and not by yourself), you need to also address the human-side to retirement planning.  OP instead of dedicating time to see a fee based CFP, perhaps you both can see a marriage counselor?  It is clear she has a lot of fears and those directly impact how she processes and views the world.

Dmy0013

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2017, 09:09:55 PM »
Honestly I didn't read everyone else comments...

Sounds like your pretty frugal? Based on your mortgage sounds like your in a low cost of living area...

Sounds like your monthly income from your pension should suffice?  Plus you have 1.5 Mil invested / in bank...

I know what I would do first think tomorrow morning

FIRE 20/20

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #35 on: September 08, 2017, 05:23:43 PM »
Logic has nothing to do with this.

This is 100% accurate.  Think about it:

-- Your wife was left high and dry by her former husband.  That scars a person.*  Even though she got through it, any insecurity is going to trigger an emotional flashback.
-- You yourself admit that your marriage is in trouble because of your disagreements about money.  I guarantee you that every argument you have -- every time you get frustrated with her -- triggers her fear that this is going to be the time that you leave.  The more you disagree, the less possible it is for her to even think about dialing back -- because how is she going to survive if she quits her job and then you leave just like he did?   The job is her safety line, and you are going to pry it out of her cold, dead hands.
-- Add to that that she has kids who are struggling.  She naturally doesn't want them to be in the position she was in.  So she feels compelled to keep working even more to keep them safe.

That is her reality: a world in which you trust someone, and he leaves you high and dry, and you have to start over on your own again. 

This is an emotional issue, not a financial one.  And all of your attempts to convince her are just adding fuel to the fire.  You are focusing on the finances, trying to persuade her that you have enough, that she can relax a little and enjoy life.  But you are doing it by arguing over money, by getting frustrated, by fighting -- all of which just exacerbates her fears and insecurities.  She is never going to be able to trust that the two of you have enough to retire on until she is 100% confident that it really will be "the two of you" forever.  So the more you push her to cut back at her job, the more you actually push her to work harder, because once you leave, the job is all she has left.  This is an issue for counseling -- you don't need to persuade her that she is financially secure, you need to persuade her that she is emotionally secure.

* My dad left my mom when I was a toddler and she was underemployed.  After several years on food stamps, she got her Ph.D and ended up becoming a tenured professor AND starting her own consulting firm to boot.  She adored my stepdad, but not once did she share even one cent's worth of finances with him; for 38 happy years, they split bills 50/50.  She is also still working at 71 -- not because she needs to (she always saved and is worth several million now), but because she just can't not work for those emotional/security reasons.

I was going to respond to this post, but Laura33 wrote what I wanted to say but only far better than I could have.  There are times to have a discussion with your partner about facts and logic, and there are times to hug them and help them through the emotional turbulence.  I think this is the latter.  I would take a little while to eliminate any attempt to convince her of anything and just be there to listen to and empathize with her concerns.

clarkfan1979

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Re: When is it being too anal ... finances impacting marriage!!
« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2017, 06:51:41 PM »
It seems like your wife is miserable because she is working too much. Saving too much doesn't seem to be the problem.

She should stop working those extra shifts at work.