Posted by Dave on October 26, 2010
There was a comment on my post last week which basically stated that if I retired before my wife, I would be “leeching” off of her work. As the comment was more directed towards Tim than myself, I deferred to him on it, but it did raise an interesting question – what would happen if my wife had no interest in early retirement and preferred to live as a “normal” person rather than saving a significant percentage of her money every month for our combined goal.
Honestly, if tomorrow she told me that she didn’t want to follow our current plan, I would understand – those savings are pretty boring on a month-to-month basis. The money that my wife is saving could easily be turned into new clothes that she may get greater enjoyment from, something she used to do before I met her and was part of the reason how she racked up $20,000 in credit card debt. The problem with a long-term plan is that it is long-term, the results won’t be seen for years, while new clothes can be had today.
My wife and I have our bills together, but apart – everything is split and whatever is left we’re free to spend. If I were retired and she was still working because she had chosen different goals, our finances would not change – I wouldn’t stop paying my half of the bills, all that would change would be the way we would use our time. I would be doing what I wanted to do, while she continued to work.
Outside of finances, I would probably do more housework as I would have more time. I don’t see this outcome as a negative however as I love to cook and as long as I had some help cleaning up my massive stack of dishes I create some nights I’d be fine with this arrangement. I would have time to do all of the things that I wanted to do (which she is generally not all that interested in) such as golfing, reading and other hobbies while she’s at work and if she wanted, we would have plenty of time to do things together.
It would be difficult to explain to our friends and families, with me essentially being a house-husband and my spouse going to work. Generally we’re viewed as oddballs anyways (which I would attribute to my personality) so perhaps this new lifestyle would not cause much of a stir.
In general, I’m glad that my wife and I are on the same page – I think that our marriage will be much happier with us working towards the same goal rather than our own ambitions. Down the road, I think that we’d have much more fun doing things together, rather than spending most of our time apart (which we do now because of work).
Would you go out on your own financially if your spouse didn’t share your goals? Would you retire earlier (perhaps by decades) if your financial plan that your spouse wanted no part of worked out, while they were going off to work? Or perhaps cut the difference and work longer so both of you can retire to a higher spending amount?