Dear Amy: Dear Amy: My wife of almost 40 years and I are in our early 70s. We are retired and live comfortably on two pensions and two Social Security checks. From day one, I was the one responsible for major expenses (e.g., mortgages, insurances, investments, etc.) and she had shown no interest in our finances. It’s important to note that we have no children and are debt free.
I have always been a saver and she has always been a spender. By careful saving and investing, I was able to build a nice nest egg. Last year I was able to convince her to attend a meeting with our financial adviser so she knew where our investments are in case I become disabled. This was a bad decision. She was in awe of the amount of money we have in that nest egg.
She now thinks that we are “rich.” We were both raised in working-middle-class households and I am proud of the amount we have saved for our senior years, but we are far from rich. My wife’s spending has become borderline out of control. When I question some of the frivolous expenses, her standard response is “we can afford it” or “you can’t take it with you.”
We both had a parent in long-term care so we know how expensive it can be. I’d hate to see the nest egg dwindle before we need it for SERIOUS expenses. Any suggestions on how I can handle this, short of taking legal action (that, of course, is not really an option).
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Dear NOT Rich: According to a basic calculator offered on AARP’swebsite (aarp.org), most people will need the equivalent of 10 to 12 times their base yearly income in order to generate enough income to retire and maintain their lifestyle through retirement. This will differ according to where and how you live. This can amount to between 1.5 and 2 million dollars, based on various factors such as your age, your health and other financial obligations.
You might have erred in keeping your nest egg secret from your spouse for all these years. If you and she had worked together on your finances earlier in your lives, she might have benefitted from some basic financial education and been able to curb her spending now.
You should both work with a financial planner to lock down your nest egg so that you don’t have access to it for daily spending. You both should agree to a monthly budget for spending, and use debit instead of credit cards for purchases. You should also do some estate planning in order to designate how your nest egg can be spent after death. Researching the cost of local assisted-living facilities could open her eyes to this potentially extreme expense, which might fall on one or both of you.
Dear Amy: I am 33 years old, happily married with two kids.
My mother has always been selfish. Into my teen years she chose drugs over me. She claims that she is “clean” when I contact her, but all she does is complain about her illnesses.
I am the one who has to do all the contacting. She never calls me – this is the same pattern she gets into when she is on drugs again. She tries to portray on Facebook and to the rest of our family that she is this wonderful grandmother to my children, when in fact she has lied to them and made false promises.
I cannot let her do to my children what she has done to me all of these years. We had no contact for over a year, and I thought this would help her to understand where I was coming from, but I am starting to see that it did nothing.
Should I block her on social media and give myself a break from her again?
Dear Distressed: You should “mute” your mother on social media, because her postings seem to trigger your unhappiness and anger. Let her into your life “IRL” (In Real Life), if she can manage to initiate contact, and be circumspect and protective regarding your children.
Dear Amy: Sometimes people make me crazy. “Snubbed Cousin” was upset because she didn’t receive a “thank you” for a wedding gift.
A gift is just that – a gift, given freely, without an expectation of reciprocation. The joy is in the giving!
Dear Upset: Expecting a thank you is different from expecting reciprocation. Offering thanks is an acknowledgment of gratitude.
Email Amy at email@example.com.