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Archive for June, 2009

More Retirement Discussions

June 26th, 2009 at 05:22 pm

Mr H and I had another discussion about saving for retirement. ** As I've said before, Mr H's plan is to spend what's available to us now, work until he can't work any more, then let the government take care of him. I don't like this plan. . . at all. I would rather save money now for retirement so we'll have more options when we're elderly. Mr H seems to like the idea of saving for retirement. . . but he's not invested in it. I've been down this road with him before - it means he pays lip-service to the goal, and things go along well - as long as I'm doing the work. But in the end I realize that I'm by myself. It's a crappy way to pursue mutual goals.

After we'd gone down the "How are we going to rearrange the budget to save for retirement?" road for at least an hour, I could see the above scenario developing. Mr H agreed to saving a percentage of our income but with heel-dragging, moaning, and "woe is me". So I backed up. I don't think the problem right now is "How are we going to save for retirement?" but "Why should I (Mr H) save for retirement? What's in it for me?" While Mr H thinks it sounds like a nice idea, he still doesn't see a need for it.

"Why should we eat rice and beans now so we can eat rice and beans later?" "We need to get some enjoyment (with a new TV, vacation, etc.) out of life." "We could die tomorrow. Why sacrifice now?" We can talk all we want about how to shift the money around, but unless he's invested he won't be willing to work hard and to make the sacrifices it takes to save. He's very comfortable with the way things are.

We agreed to discuss it again this Sunday. Of late Mr H has been very good about keeping his appointments with me for these discussions. But I'm not waiting until Sunday to see what happens. I'm going to prepare in advance. And I'm not going to jump into "How do we do this?" - I'm going to prepare for "What's in it for me?"

Mr H is a very visual person, and probably a visual thinker. A spreadsheet, a list of bullet points, a lecture - he tunes out. The trick is how how to sell him on the importance of saving for retirement using visual methods, and with enough impact to get his buy in. I'm not as visual. . . but I'm motivated to convince him that this is important to him as well. I'll keep you posted.

** I actually thought this was going to be a discussion about generating more income, and had my list ready. We didn't discuss it.

Allocation Done

June 12th, 2009 at 05:04 pm

In late April I rolled over my 401k to an IRA. The 401k was with my previous employer, which was sold to another company. I decided that it was time to get out. Actually it was past time but I have been busy with other things.

The IRA is with a reputable company, and I rolled over all of the 401k into a money market fund. I knew that I wouldn't leave it there, but wanted to get the roll over done as quickly as possible.

May has come and gone - it's a tidal wave of activity for people with school-aged children, whose school ends in mid-June. I finally sat down today and moved the money from the money market into various mutual funds. There's nothing terribly exciting about that, except that it's off my task list.

In the process I decided that I ought to study investing a bit more. I know some basics. . . probably not as much as many people here, but more than the average American I'd guess.

In the fall Daisy's coming home for school. She was homeschooled prior to this year. One of the benefits of "away" school for her has been studying with other people. I decided that I'll do a little home school myself next fall. I'll take Latin with her*, I thought I'd review Algebra**, maybe read some history. . . and now I think I'll add investing to my coursework. . .



*Yes, she has studied Latin this year - she likes it and wants to continue. I know nothing, so I guess we'll both learn together. She likes the idea that she knows more than me.

** I am having way too much fun tutoring math.

Car Replacement Negotiations

June 3rd, 2009 at 07:35 pm

At some point during our latest car saga I caught Mr H and told him that we needed to discuss car replacement. He told me that he didn't have time/was too tired/some reason he couldn't do it right then. I said, "Okay, when?" "June 1st" was the reply. He surprised me by remembering this appointment and appearing willing to have the discussion. Frequently he "forgets" this kind of thing.

What came out of this discussion was that we should save about $10,000 for a replacement vehicle.

But as I thought about it, I was uneasy. There is no deadline, and no source for the money for this savings. This means in another year we will have the same conversation because no action will have occurred during that time period. I went back to him and requested a further discussion. It was down hill from there.

Basically, my experience has been problem occurs --> I bring problem to Mr H's attention --> I suggest we work to solve the problem --> Mr H verbally attacks me/reacts by "solving" the problem with the first solution that comes to his head (even/especially if it's one we both hate and it doesn't solve the problem!) --> I later solve the problem by myself or the problem remains unsolved (and uncomfortable for me) --> Mr H experiences that everything "just works out". Dysfunctional? You bet. At the beginning of our marriage I gave him the benefit of the doubt, believed that he would eventually come to see how unproductive this was. Now I realize that I was just way too nice and forgiving . . . but trying to change this pattern requires the full emotional amour because no woman wants to be verbally attacked by her husband. . . and yet I've been down this path enough to know that's pretty much what's going to happen. Much earlier in our marriage I asked Mr H what I could say or do differently to help this situation, or if there was another approach to take. He had no response.

In this instance, the problem is that there is no obvious source of money for these savings. Our budget's stretched pretty thin. Pointing this out to Mr H, and that, if it's not funded it's not a priority, and that bothers me . . . brought the predictable response. Mr H's solution was to sell my car and have us become a one car family, and since Daisy will be homeschooled next year she and I could just stay home all the time. He needs his car for work so of course he'll get to have it every day. It was way less pleasant than I'm reporting it here. Ouch.

At the heart of it though is what seems to be an irresolvable difference in priorities, and an unwillingness to change with circumstances.

Our income is unlikely to go up in the near future. Mr H will not work harder/smarter/more than he is now, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice my home life at this time for another corporate job. (I had two working parents and neither of them were really around to raise us. When Daisy is 18 I plan to work full time and more to make up for what was not saved during this time.) I'm very concerned about retirement savings, planning ahead for seen and unseen expenditures, and having a home life. Mr H appears to be concerned about keeping the house (and only this house) and not having to make any changes to anything about his life. I would be happy to sell the house and go to one car if we lived somewhere where walking and public transportation were more workable. Mr H wouldn't hear of selling this house. We're at something of an impasse.

In the end, I relentlessly forced us to stay focused on the problem. Mr H backed down a bit and apologized. It's progress for us, although sometimes I feel like having to work this hard (and unpleasantly) with him on *every* problem that occurs in our lives is going to kill me.

We agreed to discuss income generating ideas and saving ideas in a couple of weeks.