Posted on August 29, 2016
“The goal of marriage is not to think alike, but to think together”
Ganked from the internet somewhere
Mr. Tucker and I enjoy an extremely compatible marriage. Generally speaking, we are on the same wavelength and that allows us to decisions together with little fuss. Unfortunately, this compatibility can also mean we’ve sometimes made bad decisions – together, happily – but decisions that were still detrimental to us. For example, quitting smoking – it took us way too long to quit together because we spent many years agreeing to give in and smoke when we had a beer, or when we were out socially. One of us would say, “Just the one…” and the next thing you knew, we were back smoking full time. It was never good cop/bad cop with us: no one was ever the cop!
Mr. Tucker and I slipped into a comfortable pattern where our responsibilities were divvied up according to aptitude and interest. He does a lot of the cooking and cleaning; I do the finances and manage the schedules for the family. That is, until recently. I sent an email to Mr. Tucker with the title “You could retire in 5 years,” with a compound interest calculation I did being the body of the message. That piqued his interest! I am guessing that the fact that he was going through an incredibly busy and stressful time at work probably sweetened his interest even more than usual but for the first time in our marriage he wanted to sit down and talk budgets.
Oh the sweet, sweet sound of the word “budget” to my ears!
In all fairness, he let me run with the budget for this long because I enjoy it, everything got paid, and we were saving and having a good life overall. I’d always consult with him for the big decisions and so it was easier for him to just let me manage it. But I think that having me incapacitated this spring nudged him more in the direction of learning about our finances and when I sent him the compound interest chart, it pushed him into wanting to learn more. Here are some compelling reasons:
– If I died tomorrow he would have to take over the finances. It’s in his best interest to learn how I manage things, what we budget for certain things, and to know where our investments and important papers are.
– Although he gets the girls on the bus in the morning and off the bus at night, we both want to have a parent home when the girls are in high school. Our life was definitely much calmer when a parent can take over the administrative life tasks of the family.
– He went and requested the status of his investments from his two previous companies and was pleasantly surprised to see their growth over the past couple of years.
– Given that I am a public servant, my job will have more security and more benefits (including a pension) than his job has, making it more lucrative for me to stay in my position & have him retire early first (caveat: if I become permanent, I am currently only a term). My job also has more options for flex-time and I can do compressed work hours*.
– I was home with the kids for years while Mr. Tucker worked full time. He also works super long (yay IT!) hours and could use a break. That’s an exciting prospect to him.
Our strangely inexpensive beach wedding
But wait! There’s more!
I may have not mentioned it, but we live in a relative’s house and that relative is looking to sell the property when their mortgage comes up for renewal in spring 2018. As this person is older, they are looking to tie up their financial affairs. For a bit of background, I own a condo and they own a house so when they retired and I got pregnant, it seemed logical to switch residences (and mortgage payments!). Because this house has been in our family since it was built in the middle of the last century, it is in a great location, and it’s in a neighbourhood where our family has put down roots, we are definitely keen to buy it! It’s also being sold to us at a good price – lower than market value but still fair – which sweetens the deal.
On top of that, Mr. Tucker and I have a unique opportunity to be completely mortgage-free if we can save $50 000 in 2017. So we are hunkering down more than usual and our goal from January 2017 to January 2018 will be to get that amount in the bank. It’s a lofty goal, and given our other financial responsibilities from now until the end of 2016, we won’t be able to really start until then.
Look for our updates on that, starting in January.
A six-year timeline
Given that we need to spend next year saving for the house, we are giving ourselves a 6-year timeline for getting Mr. Tucker retired. We’ve run the numbers, and since we can live off one salary and still have a pretty great existence, this will be our overall goal. The first year – 2017 – will be for saving for the house, and then the next 5 years will be hunkering down and getting that money in the bank for a 2023 retirement date.
Naturally, this only works if things stay the same or get better. It depends on Mr. Tucker keeping his current position for the next 5 years unless something phenomenal happens such as his company being bought out and his stocks going through the roof. But we aren’t hoping for miracles for this plan, we will use the turtle plan: slow and steady wins the race. A million and one horrible things could also happen but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t have a plan. I am pretty sure no one EVER has said that they saved too much money to deal with the emergencies thrown their way.
A goal without a plan is just a dream
Because I am a super cheeseball (something Mr. Tucker is definitely not) I have set up a visual chart on the back of our bedroom door to mark our progress. Of course – because I am le fromage – I have peppered the door lightly with fun images and sayings we will have to see once a day. My reasoning is that if the chart and goals is one of the first things we see in a day, we may be more likely to make good decisions. I am not above pulling out all the psychological stops to get our brains in gear to achieve our goals.
I will say though, the fact that we have always only counted on one salary and that we’ve always had our investments come out of our accounts like a bill, has helped us immensely. Since we have never used the extra money for day-to-day lifestyle inflation (our money went to travelling as much as possible) we aren’t used to having a huge amount of cash leftover. When we were living on one salary things were incredibly tight because there was not a lot of room for extras, and when I picked up a part-time job we earmarked it for travel, childcare, and (for awhile there) paying off debt. Now that I am looking to work full-time for the foreseeable future at a much higher salary than I have experienced previously, we can take that money and stick it all away, allowing to imagine a future where our money will make money for us.
It’s like the cards know us?
I am sure it will be a rocky road with plenty of challenges along the way but I would rather have this goal than to just take the money we will be making and boost our current lifestyle. In all honesty, I don’t think there would be any value-added in boosting our current lifestyle because we already have so much we pay for on one salary that we enjoy: a YMCA membership (subsidized by Mr. Tucker’s work, and that gives us discounts on childcare & free swimming lessons and activities for the kids and the adults), skiing in the winter, music lessons and Girl Guides for the kids, dragon boat for me, jam for Nick. We are also walking distance from the library, a wonderful park with a wading pool in the summer and a skating rink in the winter, and neighbours who enjoy a night of card games in the ‘hood over fancy dinners regularly. While there will always room for improvement in the savings game, our life is pretty full in terms of stuff and activities.
So hopefully over the next little while I will document our trials and tribulations here. I don’t anticipate perfection but it will at least be an interesting and creative journey.
A fun way to get moving in winter
*This is subject to manager approval but generally means I can work extra hours in order to take more time off in the summer, or take a longer period of time off to travel etc. I also have work-from-home flexibility.