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Retirement Discussion. . . Again

October 21st, 2009 at 06:17 am

We had a second conversation in June regarding retirement savings, and that conversation went no where.

I asked Mr H what he wanted out of retirement. I drew pictures of it with stick figures. I drew what I wanted in retirement. (The pictures didn't really mesh very well, no surprise there.) I tried to convince Mr H that if we want things to be a certain way now, we needed to be working towards it. He might agree in principle, but when it gets down to discussing strategies our conversation becomes . . . difficult. He even said something along the lines that he expects some sort of magic to occur to make this all happen.

I have been having discussions with Mr H regarding increasing savings for at least two years. I have expressed my concerns about the future. He agrees in principle, but when it comes to actually doing anything . . . well, he just can't/won't. At this point in our life together, it's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, so I'd say that he won't. This is not a new interaction for us.

Having now tried the "sit down and discuss a problem like rational adults and come up with a solution that works for both of us then implement it" approach -- and failed at it -- it's time for a different course of action.

I've decided to try the "Tom Sawyer fence painting approach." If you've ever read the story ** Tom has to whitewash a fence. He convinces the neighborhood boys that painting the fence is the most fun ever, and the neighborhood boys end up doing most of the work. Well. . . maybe it won't be exactly like that. But I do plan to get the ball really rolling on retirement savings and then convince him that it's really not that hard.

In the past when Mr H has said Yes that's great/I agree/I want that too but No, I won't-can't/It's not me/I forgot/I don't know, I have gone on to do whatever it was on my own. I wanted whatever it was that "we" agreed on enough to do the work. Then in Mr H's mind "Things just worked out." (We'll call that the "Things Worked Out" approach. They worked out for him because someone else did the work.) But that strategy backfired a bit. "We" may have gotten what "we" wanted, but it didn't build up Mr H's ability to do hard things. This time I plan to look for more ways to involve him.

The "Tom Sawyer fence painting approach" is not my preference, but I don't see a lot of other options here. We've had two years and more of basically fruitless discussions. Mr H is not going to change. I'm not kidding myself - at this point I do anticipate putting in way more effort on this than Mr H does. But I'm just not willing to wait until we're 70 to see what happens.



** I think I read this in high school. I hope I get the gist of this right.

8 Responses to “Retirement Discussion. . . Again”

  1. mrs. Says:


    The best thing that I did to get my Mr. on board with the finances was to have him attend a financial seminar offered by our parish. Despite what I said or didn't say, it was helpful for him to hear money matters mentioned in a small group with guided discussions and homework assignments. Mr. is always willing to do whatever I suggest, and I was getting tired from doing it all.

    I can tell how frustrated you are, and rightfully so. Sounds to me like outside help might be warranted. Is he open to that?

  2. LuxLiving Says:

    Been there - doing that!

    Over time I've gotten Hubster involved by having him get on the phone w/me & w/financial service reps about our accounts - a conference call wherein I can ask pointed questions and have the info come from the rep, having him execute a trade or two online with me "IN CASE ANYTHING HAPPENS TO ME where you won't be flying blind honey."

    It hasn't worked great, but it has helped some and he is more tuned into financial happenings on the news and on radio. He is getting better at being able to have informed discussions with, in spite of the fact that he won't read anything about finances.

    I feel your pain.

    Be as proactive as you can. Hopefully, he'll thank you for the "MAGIC" later.

  3. gamecock43 Says:

    ummmm...I had a recent retirement talk with BB.
    It went:
    Me: "We need to increase our retirement contributions"
    Him "I dont think we need to think about retirement. I figure we should let the money we already have in the IRA grow and be our retirement fund. We can use the money we now put to retirement into renovating the house."

  4. kimiko Says:

    I like scare tactics better. Reasonable approach only works with people who are willing and able to follow through. To convince someone who lacks the motivation, you'll need to paint a bleak picture of the worst possible scenario and re-enforce it daily. Yes, I used it on myself and it worked well enough to make me put away that $5,000 a year.

  5. baselle Says:

    I kind of like kimiko's approach here.

    I get that feeling that your Mr. H is thinking in the back of his mind, "I'm gonna die when I'm 66 - why put good money in when she is just going to blow my savings on cruises and "cubs".

    How long do the males live on his side? Is there a dad, uncle, or granddad on his side of the family that you can highlight - good or bad?

  6. mjrube94 Says:

    For my husband, I think part of the problem was that he thought his quality of life was going to suffer and he'd be eating ramen noodles every night. Slowly (very) as he saw that wasn't the case he began to come around. Now anytime he saves money, he tells me "your frugal friends would be proud!"

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    LOL at Kimiko when she said, "I like scare tactics better." Well, you know, yeah, it may have come to that. I would say that's how I got turned around myself.

    But it certainly wouldn't hurt to blend that along with the Tom Sawyer carrot approach. A little bit of both.

  8. daybyday Says:

    I like your game plan. Use whatever works!

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