We are an active duty military couple (14 years in) with one child and gross income of about $120,000 (with pay and allowances) per year. I’m 40, he’s 34. I have a Bachelors in Business and have almost completed a Masters in Finance. We’ve had money issues in the past, but dug ourselves out back to having a very good credit rating. I had even saved some money in TSP but we emptied it when we bought a house. We now have $70,000 in debt from car/student/consolidation/loans, and some credit cards. I have a plan to work on paying it off so that in 9 months we will be down to $45,000 in debt. At that time it is our intention to take a military bonus that will completely pay off all of our debt.
Next year, my husband will be deploying for a year and wants to save to buy a sports car. I told him I would be happy to help him save for it and calculated that if we put 15% into our TSP and $5,000 a year each into Roth IRAs to get our retirement savings going again we could have $30,000 invested in our retirement AND I could still have upwards of $40,000 saved when he returns. He insists that we shouldn’t start investing until after his trip so that we can have as big a savings for car/vacation as possible. Is there any advantage at all for waiting? How can I convince a stubborn spouse that it’s in our best interest to save for the future- we’re not getting any younger.
What you are facing is extremely common. To directly answer your question: the earlier you start saving the better due to the time value of money. Being that you are close to completing a graduate degree in finance, I’m sure this resonates with you loud and clear.
Your husband, on the other hand, may not have the same financial acumen. That said; perhaps a way you can convey the importance of saving now versus buying a sports car is explaining to him the amount of money you will need to save by retirement in order to fund your retirement cash flow needs.
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For example, if you determine that you’ll need 80% of your current income or $96,000; let’s just say $100,000 to keep the math simple, you’ll need to have a certain amount of money saved up to make up the difference in income between his military pension and Social Security (if SS is even around!). Let’s say his pension will be $50,000 and you’ll have $25,000 in Social Security income – that means you’ll have a deficit of $25,000 in order to have the $100,000 income you need in retirement. How do you get the other $25,000 and also ensure that it is “inflation-proofed” throughout your retirement?
You’ll need a capital sum (retirement savings) of at least $625,000! How did I arrive at this number (I’m sure you are ahead of me, since you are the finance person!)? I simply took 4% of $625,000 and arrived at $25,000, the amount you need to satisfy your total income need of $100,000. I use 4% because, over time, this withdrawal rate should be sustainable and enable inflation-proofing of your income, so that each year you can increase the $25,000 by the inflation rate (which historically has been around 4%).
The bottom line is, don’t rob money from your retirement accounts like TSP, 401k, IRA and do start saving, yesterday! The sports car is not an investment, it is an asset that immediately depreciates the second it is driven off of the lot! I hope this helps.
Mr. Bennett is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional (CFP®), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), Accredited Investment Fiduciary™ (AIF®) and Managing Partner of c5 Wealth Management, LLC. He holds a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) with Honors from Indiana University – Kelley School of Business and a BA from the University of Florida. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Economics from SMC University. Mr. Bennett has completed the Advest Institute’s advanced program on portfolio analytics and behavioral finance at Harvard University.
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