My Wife’s Values Jeopardized Our Retirement Plans

Should I take the money and run?

Wife's values of exercising and eating healthy can jeopardize our retirement plans Geancarlo Peruzzolo, roberthyrons | Canva, Dean Drobot | Shutterstock

When we considered retiring early, at sixty-two (me) and fifty-nine (my wife), we worked with a financial planner to determine if we had enough money in our investments to make it work. Our planner was the very picture of flexibility and encouragement as she calculated several scenarios so that we could make an informed decision.

As is true for many retirement planning scenarios, she set our life expectancy at 100 years. The results showed that we wouldn’t be able to fully fund our lives should we decide to jump ship and retire when we hoped. We felt disappointed and pored over her calculations to see how we could impact the plan. That’s when we noticed the expected expiration date for our lives and knew how we could tweak our plan in favor of an early retirement.


Neither my wife nor I expect to live to see 100, and we believe this is an accurate assumption. My maternal grandmother lived to ninety-five, and my mother made it to eighty-nine, while my wife’s mother died unexpectedly at sixty of a heart attack. Playing the genetic odds, neither of us thinks we’ll make it past ninety.

RELATED: The State Of Mind That Keeps You Alive Longer, According To Research


With this fresh information, we contacted our planner and had her adjust our plan to reflect an end date of ninety for both of us. That tweak put us in the black for the duration of our lives. This was great news, and we pulled the trigger on retirement a few months later.

We all know that creating financial plans for retirement combines metrics, historical statistics, and educated guesses. We do our best to plan, hoping it plays out as we envisioned it would. I try not to think about the proverb that says we plan, and God laughs because the divine may be laughing his or her ass off. Let’s hope not.

We’ve been retired for nearly three years now, and though we spend more money than we’d budgeted, we've been able to earn enough money each year to offset the difference. We hope to delay utilizing our investments for another couple of years to maximize our earning power, and we plan to stagger when we tap into Social Security. The closer we get to dipping into our savings, the more nervous I feel, so I want to ensure we make wise decisions where money is concerned.

I’m not bragging, but I will tell you that I’m doing my part to see that our financial plan is a success. In other words, I’m on track to exit stage left at ninety, if not before. My wife, on the other hand, is not. While we’re in this relationship for the long haul, and I love her dearly, I’m feeling a certain kind of way about her choices. If things continue the way they’re going, her lifestyle may cause our financial plan to crumble.


You see, the thing she values the most (besides me, of course) is her health. She’s been a certified health coach for years, a former physical therapist, and was an endurance athlete long ago. She loves nothing more than tweaking her routine to enhance her health. She reads the latest studies, exercises daily, eats an optimized diet, and takes a regimen of supplements that promote longevity.

RELATED: The Secret To A Long Life (Hint: It Has To Do With Your Friends)

Do you see where I’m going with this? The other day, as I watched her lifting heavy weights in a variety of ways, I realized that she had put her wellness values above our financial goals and that this could potentially screw things up for us. Concerned, I called a meeting with her to discuss this problematic behavior.


“I’m doing my part to ensure our financial plan is viable,” I said, “But you are putting things in jeopardy with all this working out and eating well business.” She looked at me in a way that made me think I had said something wrong.

“What?” she said in a bewildered tone.

How did she not see my point? Clearly, because of my love for her, I choose to limit my exercise and eat things I know are bad for me. Perhaps ‘limit’ isn’t the right word. It might be more accurate to say that I rarely exercise.

Each day that I skip my evening walk or hit the Dairy Queen drive-through for a Blizzard (Turtle Pecan Cluster, if you must know), I feel really good inside because I know I’m selflessly doing my part to die by the time I’m ninety. You’re welcome, my Love.


These choices I make are for the greater good, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I don’t think she appreciates how my brain thinks about this because when I told her all this, she laughed — loudly.

The whole point of having a financial plan is to feel secure about the future and to ensure there is enough money in the bank to live comfortably until it’s time to ride off into the sunset.

Shouldn’t we each be doing our part to make that happen?

happy older retired couple LightField Studios / Shutterstock


RELATED: The Secrets Of Retirement No One Tells You

Every time I hear about someone living past 100, I get a bit angsty. Would I want to live that long? I don’t think so because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be feeling spry at that age, thanks to degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis.

My wife, though, has other ideas, and if she continues what she’s doing, I’m afraid 100 is a good bet for her. Recently, she proudly showed me a video of a random 105-year-old woman who was competing in a sprint race, as though that was something to aspire to.

“That’s pretty remarkable,” I said, “But don’t get any ideas. We need to kiss this world goodbye by the time we’re ninety,” I added helpfully.


I’m (mostly) kidding. I stand in awe of my wife and the discipline with which she lives her life. I am truly a better woman because of her. I’m also aware that no matter how much planning we do, we simply don’t know how life is going to play out.

It’s a bit of a dance, isn’t it? Trying to figure out our life expectancy and how much money we’ll need twenty or thirty years from now is challenging. The best we can do is make an educated guess based on statistics and formulas and then hope we don’t hit many snags.

When considering retirement, we found working with a flexible and smart financial planner was vital. I’m so grateful for our advisor. She’s been wise, patient, flexible, and creative with us and it’s clear she heard us when we shared what we wanted to do.


Being retired has been an interesting learning experience for both my wife and me. The key for us has been to remain fluid and flexible because life — and the financial markets — are constantly shifting.

Now that I think about it, based on how I feel most days, I probably need to up my exercise game if I want to see ninety. I hope I’m around for my grandson’s graduation and maybe even his wedding if he chooses to get married. He’s only four, so I should probably consider scheduling a health coaching session with my wife so I can live long enough to enjoy the things I’m looking forward to.

RELATED: We Retired Early — One Secret That (Regularly) Saves Us

Kim Kelly Stamp (she/her) is a writer and speaker who writes about authenticity, retirement, relationships, and life on the road.