One can either work hard for their wealth, inherit their wealth, or marry into wealth. No way is the right way to get rich. Although the most honorable way is probably getting wealthy with your own two hands.
When I wrote the post, “Stay At Home Men Of The World, UNITE!” in February of 2012, I was being a little silly. The post was just a fun way of forecasting life as a stay at home man as I sought to build my online media business. Two years later there’s still a huge bias against men who are stay at home dads or non-breadwinners. Men who work traditional day jobs love to poke fun at men who don’t. Women, on the other hand, don’t seem biased at all against men who don’t work. In fact, I know several men and women who don’t work who ended up being secret lovers!
One of the strategies to retiring early is to have a working spouse. I have a couple lady friends who retired at 32 and now enjoy playing tennis and drinking chamomile tea during the day at my club as their husbands work their private equity jobs. One lady worked in advertising, and the other lady worked in corporate retail. When I asked whether either of them missed working they laughed in unison and said, “Not at all!”
During my time away from Corporate America from 2012-2013, I also met a lot of guys at Golden Gate Park (where I also play tennis) who retired early because their spouses worked. They were a little older on the early retiree spectrum (40-50). One husband’s wife is a cardiologist at UCSF Hospital. Another guy’s girlfriend is an executive at Salesforce.com. No doubt both their partners are doing well. All of the early retiree guys employed nannies to take care of their children during the day so they could play tennis as well. Gotta love it.
Thanks to the strengthening equality of men and women in the work force, more men are able to break free from corporate bondage to live alternative lifestyles. Men can be the stay-at-home parent now. Men can drink beers at the country club after a round of golf with their buddies and not have to worry as much about money anymore. The equalization of the sexes for career advancement and pay have been a big boon for men as well.
In this article, I’d like to share some tips from early retirees who successfully convinced their spouse or partner to continue working so they don’t have to.
HOW TO CONVINCE YOUR PARTNER TO WORK LONGER SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO
1) Advice from a male ex-CEO of a small company: “Treat your spouse like an A+ employee. Even though you guys are a team working towards a greater goal, you secretly want your spouse to be your worker bee so you don’t have to. Give your spouse glowing performance reviews at year end. Sit down with your spouse during the new year and plan out her objectives. Reward your spouse with getaway vacations, shows, and fine dining to keep them constantly motivated throughout the year.
The most important thing you must do as a doting partner is give her a sense of purpose. Unless her work is feeding starving children or trying to eradicate poverty, work is pretty meaningless after a while for everyone. We work because we want/need to make more money so we can live a better life. Give your partner a sense of purpose beyond herself. That purpose should be you!”
2) Advice from a male early retirement blogger. “I’ve convinced my wife to work at least until she’s 55 so that I can stay at home and be an early retirement blogger. My community has grown and if she stopped earning a paycheck we would have a difficult time raising our family. I’d run the risk of having to go back to work and losing my community’s respect since they’d realize I couldn’t have retired early on my own. That would be very embarrassing. I’m gaining momentum convincing people I’m a true early retiree. I’ve also begun making some money online. It’s important I don’t lose momentum.
Every week I tell her she’s great at her job. I also remind her that we need her paycheck so I don’t have to go back into an industry I hate. Thankfully, she likes her job and is good at it. So I asked her to just keep on working until she can no longer take it. I keep her in the loop on how much I’m earning online and tell her that if I have to go back to work, all this money will disappear. She gets it, and is happy to support my endeavors.”
3) Advice from a female MBA grad who worked 4 years in corporate retail. “I met my husband in business school. We didn’t click right away, but when we both ended up working in San Francisco, we reconnected. I worked in corporate retail, and he worked at a venture capital firm, and then as a C-level exec at a fast growing consumer electronics company. After he started making good money, we decided to start a family.
It’s a full-time job raising two kids. Your patience will be tested every single day, and it gets lonely sometimes when you’re the only person in the house. Pool boy, anyone? We employ a day sitter to help around the house. I always thought I wanted to work forever until I had kids. Harvard was no joke and it was expensive too. It is kind of weird for men to say they’ve retired early when they have a working wife, because no wife says they retired early if their husbands have to work. But, more power to them. My husband was very supportive of me staying at home to take care of our little ones. He trusts nobody more than me.”
4) Advice from a male tennis junkie at Golden Gate Park. “My wife is a cardiologist at UCSF. She works with stents and stuff like that for people who eat way too unhealthy and exercise far too little. She’s seen a lot of bad patients or patients who end up dead from a heart attack within several years of seeing her. It’s not a pretty site.
Given I think my wife loves me more than any other man, I decided to make her a deal. I told her that if she let me stop working, I would work out at least four times a week, stop eating pizza, and regain the physique I had when we first met 23 years ago. Many of her friend’s husbands had let themselves go by the third year of their marriage. She agreed to my proposal back in 2006, and I’ve kept up my end of the bargain by playing tennis almost every day and getting back into fighting shape. She makes good enough money as a doctor that it’s kind of pointless for me to make more for us. We lead pretty simple lives by spending free time at public parks and eating $25 meals for two on date night. Life is a good balance now.”
5) Advice from a male artist who used to work in finance. “Like you Sam, I burned out by the age of 35 after 10+ years in the financial services world. I developed chronic back pain and gained about 40 pounds due to all the stress. Thankfully, I saved a decent amount of money and my wife was receiving promotions throughout her career in consulting. The only problem was that she also doesn’t really like her job. She doesn’t hate it, but if it was up to her, she’d join me as a non-starving artist (but maybe we would do a little starving if she didn’t work).
I told her that there was no point in both of us being miserable, and she agreed. She loved me so much that she let me escape the pains of working 70+ hours a week. I made her a promise that if I could retire early, she’d come home to a clean house, with all our errands for the week done, and a foot massage at her request. She smiled at the foot massage reference because that’s what I gave her the first time we met. She enthusiastically agreed that I should get laid off. Healthcare is no problem since I’m part of her plan. We’re much happier as a team now and are trying to have a baby.”
LIFE IS EASIER AS A TEAM
The best line I remember as a teenager when trying to convince a girl to do something for me was the phrase, “If you love me then…...” I used it and it was also used plenty of times on me. I’ve discovered through my interactions with early retirees with working partners, the line still holds true today. It just takes more convincing given adults have much greater responsibilities.
The best way to convince a spouse to continue working so you don’t have to is to give them constant positive reinforcement of how awesome they are for sacrificing for the both of you. Even if they are miserable at their job, if they really loved you, they’d be happy you’re free. Give your spouse greater meaning to work, and they’ll work longer. Besides, the government wants one spouse to stay at home due to the marriage penalty tax. Who are we to deny the government’s wishes?
Readers, any of you lucky enough out there not to have to work because of a working spouse or partner? If so, tell us how you convinced him or her to work for you.