I recently retired at 55 and have been living common-law for eight years. I have one child, 27, a married 30-year-old, and two grandchildren, ages six and ten.
My spouse’s children, 20 and 23, live with us.
On retiring, I received a substantial lump sum payment and invested it. Our net worth (house not included) is over $1.6 million.
My wife retires in five years, collecting over $500,000 or $45,000 yearly pension.
I like to give my grandkids things they wouldn't normally receive - horse-back riding lessons, overnight trips to a waterpark, amusement park season passes, etc.
I’d limit spending on both to no more than $5000 total annually. My daughter works part-time and her husband works constantly, so my taking the kids out helps my daughter get caught up.
Do you think $5000 annually for both grandkids for the next six years is too excessive, considering our circumstances?
This issue has caused many heated arguments as my wife feels that I think the lump sum is MY money only and that I’m not thinking about making it last until we die.
I’ve seen my financial advisor and feel extremely confident that $5000 per year is completely manageable.
I prefer to help my kids, my wife's kids, and the grandkids now while I can see them enjoy themselves.
I spend very little on myself other than a used boat.
Does anyone else out there think a $1.6 million nest egg is a problem?
Well, it is… relationship-wise. This isn’t about spending that sum, which your financial advisor has already confirmed is manageable.
Instead, you’ve discovered that personal spending, when living in a union (and especially one involving children from previous unions) is a topic which easily becomes emotional.
And I’m seeing what’s missing in the details that riles your partner.
There’s no mention of planning for helping her future grandkids similarly, though you’re aware she won’t amass the same savings as you have.
Also, she has a legitimate concern about how you two will manage if you both, hopefully, live a long life together.
She deserves some reassurances – e.g. if your investments don’t grow much or you have losses – that you’ll cut back accordingly.
Also, if one of you has high unavoidable expenses, the grandchildren’s “enjoyment” fund can be missed during that time since they do have responsible parents.
But most important, your partner needs to trust you and you must trust her. She must feel that you’re in this generosity-mode as a team.
However, if it keeps causing arguments, there’s more that’s bothering her. That’s what you’ll have to probe more deeply, with some counselling sessions to air it all out.
My two cousins (sisters) always ask how much I paid for various purchases (renovations, toilet, kitchen counters, furniture, furnace, car, etc.).
It doesn't matter what it is, they'll ask.
I wouldn't mind if they were in the market for a similar item but no, they’re just curious.
I'm always taken aback as no one else ever asks.
I'll say I'm not good with remembering numbers, but when caught off guard I'll disclose the price and then be mad at myself.
Is there a gentle way to not answer the question?
“Gentle” doesn’t work because they’re nosy beyond being curious.
They want to know your business… for comparison to what they’d spend or wouldn’t (forms of one-upmanship).
Be straightforward: “I don’t discuss my budget.”
Or toss it off: “I spent the going rate. If you need a toilet, check out the prices online.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the father who blames his two university-age daughters’ distance from him on their mother’s “brainwashing,” (May 29, May 3):
Reader – “My husband has two adult daughters from his first marriage. It was a most toxic divorce. He didn't see his daughters for years.
“Then he found a book that helped him understand and deal with what he was experiencing.
“While every divorce is different, I would strongly urge people (the children and the parent) to read this book, Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome - breaking the ties that bind" by Amy J. L. Baker.”
Ellie – Amy J.L. Baker is a developmental psychologist, researcher, and author who’s written about co-parenting with a toxic ex-partner.
It’s a topic all too common in some post-break-up situations, with lasting bitterness and anger, and their damaging effects on the children caught in between.
It’s an excellent resource book, along with personal therapy, towards healing.
Tip of the day:
For long-term couples, money and its uses are rarely just “personal.”