Telling Your Spouse About Your Early Retirement Plans

So you’re obsessed with the idea of leaving the workforce early, but have no idea how to approach the subject with your spouse. Well, have no fear, because I’m going to lay it all out for you.

I don’t want to necessarily quit the workforce early, but I have brought some radical finance ideas to my wife’s attention over the years and as a result, am highly qualified to walk you through this.

There are two types of people that will be reading this article:

  1. The type that doesn’t want to work

  2. The type that has done the work on the front end and put their family in a good spot for the future. Typically, running a business from home or freelancing and want to move into doing this full-time.

If you’re type 1, then this article is not for you. This article is for type 2’s that have set up additional streams of income or at least have a plan to continue to earn income aside from their employer.

How Do You See Your Families Financial Future?

If your spouse were to approach you and ask, “Honey, where do you see us financially in 10 years?” What would your response be?

If you’re going to lob some extreme finance lifestyle ideas at your spouse, then you need to come prepared. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Answer these 5 questions:

  1. What is your timeline for early retirement?

  2. Do you have any plans to earn income?

  3. Do you plan to work for yourself?

  4. How will you ensure the family remains financially secure?

  5. What if your spouse loses their income for some reason?

These are serious questions to consider. It sounds nice to not have to work any longer, but the reality is, life will still happen. If you can answer these primary questions confidently, then you can move on to the next section.

How Soon Do You Plan To Quit Working?

Financial independence is a great way to consider early retirement. Becoming cash flow independent gives you a lot of leverage to have that conversation with your spouse. Cash flow independence is when you’re earning enough income to replace your primary income.

If/when this website provides me that kind of income, I would definitely consider working for myself from home (shhh I haven’t told my wife yet).

If you’re planning on just up and quitting your job with no means to replace that income, then I have a feeling this is going to be a tough sell to your spouse. Have you considered that you may just not like your current job? Maybe explore some other industries before going all-in with quitting.

How Are Your Finances Today?

Do you have a budget in place? Do you have an emergency fund? The reason I ask is that you should be working to set yourself up for financial success before considering leaving the workforce.

If you have enough income aside from your W-2 job, that’s great! But let’s ensure you have a strong financial foundation prior to considering leaving that guaranteed income behind.

We want to make sure you have a budget in place, an emergency fund in place, have income coming in, and are able to contribute enough into retirement to meet your retirement goals.

If your finances aren’t combined with your spouses at this point, then I have bad news for you. Convincing them that you want to stop working for your employer may not go over so well. Separate finances is complicated and it may create resentment if your spouse feels like they’re paying for everything.

What Does This Mean For Them?

Will your early retirement plan involve your spouse having to work additional hours? Will it require them to increase their income? You need a good idea of how this decision could effect your spouses working careers.

Kayla just started working full-time. She loves teaching and as of today feels like she can do it until she’s too old to work. That’s great news for me!

Not only do we have access to a 457(b) retirement account, but she is on a solid income trajectory that could support our family if anything were to happen to my income.

How Will You Spend Your Days?

If you’re planning to work for yourself or still earn income somehow, you will probably be busy most of the day. If you don’t have plans to earn income or work at all… Then how do you plan to fill your days?

As a husband, I would be pretty irritated if I left for work all day and came home to find my wife in the same position I left her in. Humans need to be busy and engaged. Maybe it isn’t back-breaking labor that’s right for you. Maybe you can volunteer, or run a blog that earns additional income.

Answer these 5 questions:

  1. How will you fill your days?

  2. Do you have any goals you plan to work towards?

  3. Do you have kids you’re going to tend to?

  4. Do you plan to make dinner and household chores during the day?

  5. How will you fight the urge to lay around all day?

Start Acting Like You’re In Retirement

When you are actually able to quit your full-time job and work for yourself or live off retirement income, your life is going to change. You’ll no longer be required to get out of bed on time, show up to the office, take a quick lunch break, and finish work by set deadlines.

You need to become your own boss… Better yet, become your own drill sergeant. You should be the embodiment of how you will be post-retirement.

This means, getting up early, cleaning yourself up, helping get the kids ready, doing chores, possibly making breakfast, etc… Be the best version of yourself leading up to the conversation with your spouse.

Get them to See It as Positive, Not Scary

I work 40 hours per week as an account manager, in my off time, I’m working on this website. I’m working well over 60 hours per week. If I were making the same amount of income at both of these “jobs,” she would see it as a benefit for me to quit one of them.

Are you catching what I’m putting down?

Having the Conversation With Your Spouse

Assuming you’ve answered all of these questions for yourself, you're emulating how you will behave after quitting work and you have a budget/financial plan in place, then I would consider you ready for that conversation.

You’re more than likely emotionally involved in this decision to retire early. Your spouse likely is not. It’s common in our marriage for me to be excited about something and bring it to my wife before I’ve thought it through. This usually leads to me getting defensive and irritated about the whole thing. Let’s avoid that.

Understand that this may be a multi-part conversation. You will likely need to get micro-commitments from your spouse. Example:

  1. Get them to agree to a budget

  2. Share with them your additional streams of income (if any)

  3. Talk about your financial future and understand their goals

This could be 3 separate conversations over a year’s time that could lead to you having a quality conversation about potentially leaving the workforce behind.

Summary

You’re now prepared to cross the tundra. Depending on your spouse’s level of financial literacy, trust in you and your current financial state, this conversation can go in many different ways.

I really want to illustrate the importance of understanding yourself and your own vision for the future prior to involving your spouse in the conversation.

Also, be careful of your reaction to their reaction. We want to keep financial conversations light and productive. We don’t want anyone feeling attacked or that it’s an ultimatum conversation you’re having. Remember, marriage is for life.

If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with a family member or friend. At the very least, leave a comment below or connect with me on Instagram.