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Can My Wife Retire Early?

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Can My Wife Retire Early?

Hey everyone, it’s time for our annual update on Mrs. RB40’s Early Retirement plan. The last time I updated this post, it was at the end of a crazy year. 2020 changed the way we worked. Mrs. RB40’s office closed down and she had to work from home. RB40Jr schooled from home. Our home is small so it got pretty crowded. However, Mrs. RB40 really enjoyed working from home. She didn’t have to commute and she can take breaks to do various things around the house. She adapted and she was able to contribute very effectively. Her boss encouraged her to take some challenging assignments and she aced them. As a result, she is moving up in her organization. She is very excited about the opportunities and she is not ready for early retirement. You know, some people just aren’t made for early retirement. Mrs. RB40 enjoys working and contributing to society. She also LOVES having a steady income. It makes her feel secure. This is great for our family because we can put off withdrawal from our savings. The employer-sponsored health insurance plan is extremely helpful as well. We don’t have to deal with healthcare until she stops working.

However, the question remains. Can our finances survive dual early retirement? Can my wife retire? Today, we’ll go over our finances from last year and see what it’d be like if Mrs. RB40 was retired and had no income. At least then we’ll see if she could retire if she wants to. It’s good to have that option. Lastly, I’ll share Mrs. RB40’s updated ER plan. Let’s do a quick recap first.

Quick recap

Here is a quick recap of our current situation. Actually, it’s probably easier to look at our earnings and follow along.

  • I started working full time as a computer hardware engineer in 1996. After 16 years, I retired from my engineering career in 2012 to become a SAHD/blogger. The income wasn’t stable. We had some good years and some slow years. 2021 was not a good year with blogging, but I made up for it with my scooter charging side hustle. You can follow along here if you’d like – my blogging income page.
  • Mrs. RB40 joined the Peace Corps for 2.5 years after college. She started working full time in 1999 but didn’t make much. She went back to school and got her Master’s degree in 2007 and improved her income significantly. If she keeps working, she’ll have a good pension income as well as Social Security benefits.

It’s been 10 years since I retired and life has been fantastic. Some readers, aka the internet retirement police, insist that I’m not retired because my wife is still working. However, I disagree. Why does it matter if Mrs. RB40 is still working or not? This wouldn’t be an issue if I was 65. Most couples don’t retire simultaneously. Mrs. RB40 could have retired with me in 2012. It would have been okay because the stock market did extremely well over the last 10 years. However, we wouldn’t have been able to invest and triple our net worth as we did. Everything is working out much better with a staggered retirement. It’s a good model as long as both people are happy with the arrangement.

Anyway, let’s look at 2021 in detail and see if Mrs. RB40 could have retired last year. Did we need her income to fund our lifestyle?

Can we maintain our lifestyle if my wife retires?

2021 was actually a great year for investors and people with stable jobs. The stock market did so well and gave our net worth a nice little boost, about 13%. That’s way lower than the SP500 index fund, but we have other investments that didn’t do as well. I don’t think our property price increased much either. Portland had a lot of problems over the last few years.

Fortunately, our household income also increased by about 14%. Mrs. RB40 did well at her work and she is steadily moving up. My blog income decreased a bit, but my side hustle income was way higher than expected. We also controlled our spending and didn’t inflate our lifestyle too much. 2021 was actually a very good year. I went to see my parents in Thailand. In the summer, we went camping at Yellowstone and went to relax at the beach. Mrs. RB40 told me that many people at work are struggling with the changes. But we already set up our lifestyle to be comfortable in many situations. That’s why we enjoyed 2021 quite a bit and didn’t stress out much.

All in all, 2020 was a good year for our cash flow. We spent way less than we made and saved 57% of our gross income. In addition, our net worth increased by 13% last year. Anyway, this is how we fund our modest lifestyle in 2021.

This worked extremely well for us, but it would have been a different story if Mrs. RB40 was retired. First, we’d lose her earned income. Second, we’d need to purchase health insurance. Let’s crunch the numbers.

If my wife was retired in 2020…

First of all, our household income would drop significantly if she didn’t work full-time.

  • Online + side hustle income: about $49,000
  • Passive Income: about $60,500
  • Total income (pre-tax) without Mrs. RB40’s job = ~$109,500

Second, we’d spend way more money on health insurance.

  • 2020 total spending: about $43,000
  • Healthcare: estimated $12,000 (This is actually a very high estimate. I’m pretty sure we’d pay way less on healthcare.gov.)
  • Taxes: estimated $12,000 (if Mrs. RB40 didn’t work)
  • Total Expenses ~$67,000

A quick look reveals that income is higher than expense so the financial side looks good. We’d still have a surplus without her paycheck. All in all, 2021 would have worked out just fine.

In conclusion, Mrs. RB40 could have retired in 2021 if she wanted to. We’d continue to save and our net worth would increase by a good amount. Here are the numbers from previous years. 2021 was pretty good.

She doesn’t want to retire yet

For now, Mrs. RB40 doesn’t want to retire yet. It doesn’t look good for me because this site is about early retirement, but life isn’t all about me. If she wants to work, then she shouldn’t retire. Early retirement is a great fit for me, but it isn’t for everyone.

Most people want to be productive members of society. We are wired to contribute and a job makes people feel important and useful. Work gives your life some structure. You have goals and missions to accomplish. That’s why I believe 99% of the population should work in a job they enjoy rather than retire early. Working is just easier as long as the environment is nice. Early retirement sounds exciting in theory, but it’s not a good fit for most people in real life. You have to set up your own goals and structure. Most people can’t handle that kind of freedom.

Work is central to most people’s lives and Mrs. RB40 is no exception. Here are some reasons why my wife doesn’t want to retire yet.

  1. Mrs. RB40 likes work. She is a model employee. Mrs. RB40 excels at her job and receives excellent annual reviews. She continues to perform very well at work so why retire? Nobody wants to quit when they’re a star. Also, she is moving from middle management to upper management. It’s an exciting time for her. The extra income is quite nice too.
  2. Mrs. RB40 wants great healthcare coverage. Her employer-sponsored healthcare is very good. We all have some minor health issues and we really appreciate the solid health insurance policy. I don’t think we can do better with HealthCare.gov.
  3. Mrs. RB40 likes being busy. I enjoy relaxing and doing things at my own pace. My perfect day would be to hang out at home, blog a bit, read, play video games, and cook. Mrs. RB40, on the other hand, seems to find something to do whenever she has a day off. She’d garden, bake cookies, fold origami, visit the museum, volunteer, or rearrange the furniture. I suspect she’d be bored if she doesn’t go to work.
  4. Mrs. RB40 likes being a productive member of society. She has a social conscience. I don’t mind doing my own thing and I don’t care what other people say. She cares about other people’s opinions. Being retired is not how she sees herself at this period of life (the 40s.)
  5. Mrs. RB40 does not have a post early retirement plan. Currently, she doesn’t know what she would do if she retires. She has many interests, but she doesn’t have a passion project. Also, she’s not sure what to do with unstructured freedom. I suggested that she work at Retire by 40, but she doesn’t really care about blogging or personal finance. It’s not her passion. It would just be another job for her even though she’d probably be very helpful.
  6. Mrs. RB40 likes being social. She has friends at work. Adjusting to a smaller social circle is one of the most difficult things about early retirement. I did fine because I’m an introvert. Mrs. RB40 is an introvert, too, but she likes being social occasionally. Also, I have online friends through blogging. It’s not the same as in real life, but online social interaction is adequate for me.
  7. Mrs. RB40 enjoys making money. She loves seeing her retirement account grow every year. She also likes buying nice work clothes. Now that she brings home the bacon, she feels like she can afford nicer stuff occasionally. Fortunately, she is very careful where the money goes. If she didn’t have any income, she probably wouldn’t spend any money.

These are some of the reasons why she isn’t quite ready to retire yet. That’s perfectly fine with me because she’s doing very well at work. She’s not stressed out all the time like in her previous job and she rarely brings work home.

Why change?

We are in an ideal situation right now. Our household income is solid and our net worth continues to grow every year. Mrs. RB40 enjoys work and I like being home. This SAHD/blogger lifestyle is a much better fit for me. Mrs. RB40 wouldn’t be happy in this environment just as I wasn’t happy in a corporate setting. Life is good for both of us, so why change? Let’s keep it going like this while it’s still good.

Early retirement is an option for Mrs. RB40, but the timing just isn’t right yet. She is still doing well at work. She is excited about the opportunities and she is forging ahead. She isn’t going to retire in 2022. Instead, we’ll come up with a new plan.

New target – 6 months sabbatical 2022

Planning is tough when things change so often. For now, Mrs. RB40 enjoys her job so it doesn’t make sense to retire. Instead, she’ll take 6 months off in 2022 and see how it goes. We’ll travel for about 3 months and enjoy the rest of the time off at home. (Hopefully, things will be opened up by then.) It’ll give her a taste of early retirement. We’ll evaluate the situation again at the end of the year.

For now, she plans to work until our son graduates from high school. That’ll be the summer of 2029. It’ll still be early retirement. We’ll still be healthy enough to travel and enjoy life for a few years.

Alright, that’s it for today. We’ll evaluate the situation again early next year to see how 2022 went. Stay tuned to see if Mrs. RB40 will really take 6 months off in 2022. Thanks for reading!

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors. They have a really good retirement calculator.

  

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

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