How to Sell Your Spouse on Early Retirement

Negotiations are often required when one spouse retires significantly before the other.

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Do you dream of retiring early and sailing off into the sunset with your spouse? Many working couples would like to retire around the same time. However, some households also stagger their retirement by a few years or more. Here are some reasons one spouse may want to retire before the other:

  • Many husbands are older than their wives. If you’re at least 10 years older than your wife, then you probably will want to retire several years earlier than her.
  • A high stress career can take a toll. If one of you has a high stress profession, then you might want to retire early and get out of the pressure cooker.
  • Women have longer life expectancies than men. It often makes sense for women to work longer because they will live longer.
  • Some parents take time off to raise children. One parent might be in his or her peak earning years at the same time the other is ready to retire due to time spent out of the workforce.
  • Having one spouse working can be financially rewarding. You can get health insurance coverage and build up a bigger Social Security benefit.
  • When one spouse retires before the other, both of you will need to make adjustments to your routines. It could take some convincing to get your spouse to let you retire early. And you certainly don’t want to jeopardize the family’s standard of living. Here’s how to get your entire family on board with an early retirement plan:

    Demonstrate the need to leave your job. Many of us are stressed out all the time, and it’s bad for our health and disposition. Consult your physician to see if chronic stress is wreaking havoc on your body and mind. There are ways to cope with stress, such as eating a healthy diet and exercise, but the best remedy is to get away from the constant stress. If your job is stressful and you want to leave, then you need to convince your spouse that the family will be better off without all that stress. A loving spouse will be able to see that a longer living and healthier partner will be best for the family.

    Save all of your paychecks for a year. Before I left my engineering career, I saved all of my paychecks for a year. All expenses and bills were paid from my wife's salary and our passive income. You need to show that your household can function without your paycheck. You might need to cut some expenses or generate some extra income on the side to make it work. This will give your savings a big boost as well. If you have to tap into your pay during this year of saving, then you probably aren’t ready for early retirement.

    Take a sabbatical. Early retirement sounds great, but it isn’t easy for everyone. Some people enjoy work and the structure a traditional job provides. Taking a sabbatical is a great way to see if you are ready for early retirement. If you can’t handle the unstructured lifestyle, then you could go back to your job or find a different job in the same field.

    Don’t bother your spouse too much. Men who are accustomed to being busy all the time usually have a difficult retirement transition. They want to have fun in retirement and expect their wife to accompany them to all kinds of activities. This will drive your spouse nuts. The retired spouse needs to find ways to occupy their time, such as cultivating some hobbies, volunteering or even working part time. Many wives are terrified of their husband retiring because they think he will demand too much attention.

    Do more chores. Pick up a few more chores as you get ready for retirement. That’s why the sabbatical is good to help you transition. You can figure out which chores you can offload from your spouse. I like cooking, and it’s not a big deal for me to cook every weekday. Taking over shopping, vacuuming, cooking and paying the bills will go a long way to help convince your wife that early retirement is a good idea.

    Early retirement can be tough for the whole family. Include your wife or husband in the discussion and come up with a good plan. Most spouses are reluctant to support early retirement because of the finances. However, if you can show the benefits to the family, then you have a better chance of gaining their support.

    Joe Udo blogs at Retire By 40 where he writes about passive income, frugal living, retirement investing and the challenges of early retirement. He recently left his corporate job to be a stay at home dad and blogger and is having the time of his life.