This marriage is NOT equal.

I’ve blogged many a times over the years about my Roth IRA and the quasi-obsession I have with making sure I always max it out. Since I love my Roth so much, you would think I would be just as eager to open one up for Girl Ninja. Not so much the case. Homegirl ain’t got no Roth. 

Why you ask?

– Is it because I hate her and want her to be poor when we’re old?

– Is it because I want her to be financially dependent on me so she doesn’t leave me for some other dude?

– Or is it that I’m lazy and just haven’t gotten around to it yet?

I pick option D…. None of the above. 

We, the Ninja household, personally believe starting a Roth IRA for Girl Ninja would be overkill. Yes, overkill. Here’s why…

1) I believe investing 15% of our gross investment for retirement is sufficient.

Could we invest 20%, 25%, or 30% of our income? Sure. But why do we need $10,000,000 waiting for us when we are 65? I’m a firm believer there is a such thing as OVER-investing. 15% diversified through a handful of Vanguard Mutual funds should do just fine over 40 years.

2) I believe historical averages will remain relatively consistent.

Sure the markets could tank and the returns we’ve seen the throughout history could go away. But if they do, guess what? My retirement portfolio is going to be the least of my worries. Having food, water, and ammunition would be top of my priority list.

I mean, most Americans don’t put away 3% let alone 15%. I should, by default, be better protected than the vast majority of my peers. If my 15% invested over 40 years can’t get me by in retirement, I don’t think 20% or 30% would have made me any better off. How you invest (diversifying, consistency, etc) is often more important than how much you invest.

3) We aren’t being reckless.

If anything, we are probably saving too much. If there is such a thing. Sure, we could always save more, but at the same time at what cost? We only get to be in our 20’s once. We only get to have Baby Ninja be a baby once. Occasionally we splurge and doing something nice, but for the most part we keep our nose down and grind. I’m not one of those PF bloggers that will make you feel horrible about driving a nice car, going on vacation, or choosing a career path with a modest salary.

I get that many of you worship your retirement accounts and contribute excessive amounts to them religiously. That’s great. You’ll be hella rich when you’re in the last few decades of your life.

That’ just not how we roll or what we want for ourselves.

Retirement is cool, but so is saving, investing for the short-term, and…GASP… enjoying some of our hard-earned money.

21 thoughts on “This marriage is NOT equal.

  1. Well, yes. I chose to retire close to age 66, when I had accumulated 8 times my latest gross salary in my IRA (not taking social security into account). I actually could say I had saved more like 9.5 times my gross, since 17% of that salary went towards FICA and IRA contributions. And I made that amount saving 10% of my gross plus a 2.5% employer match.

    Will I have enough? Well, what’s “enough”? Life expectancy and expenses are only approximately predictable. What’s more, I’m glad I took about a dozen trips to Europe in my 40s and 50s, as I had more stamina back then and I don’t know if I could still walk six hours a day as I routinely did on my tips to Paris and Rome. It would be a shame to put all that money away and then find you’re too old and sick to enjoy it.

  2. Those are all great reasons. I am more wired like my grandparents and want to accumulate as much wealth as I can so I can make sure my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids can take risks in their life and careers because they have a safety net there just in case (of course they probably won’t know about this safety net, but it will be there).

  3. Yeah, I am constantly torn between wanting to be able to retire a millionnaire, and realizing that there’s no guarantee that any of us will make it to retirement age. It would really suck to never do fun things in deferrence to the future, and then not reach that future.

  4. First off…I personally don’t have a retirement account (just my husband’s). And it is stupid and I should have done it a long time ago, but that is a different story.

    Here is why SHE needs her own account: In case forever isn’t FOREVER.

    You two have a wonderful relationship and I am 99.99% that it is FOREVER. But in the case that you two should part ways, it would be a safety net for her personally.

    i was raised that marriage is forever, and my parents have been married for 42 years. My in-laws were married 42 years when my father-in-law passed away (would have been 47 years this year). And when I got married, I thought forever was forever too. Until we hit a HUGE bump in the road 4 years ago, and I considered ending our marriage.

    Had we gone that route, the attorney I consulted said I could petition to take half his retirement, pension, etc. But in reality, I personally still wouldn’t have anything that was “mine.”

    Just a thought.

    • Amen to this. You do this to protect her and her future because you love her. do it without delay. Really, I wish you both would reconsider your position.

    • I agree, Why not just split the 15% of what you are currently saving if possible. Retirement accounts are something fairly new here in NZ. so I don’t know the rules around accounts in the states. But both my husband and I have one (mainly to get the government contribution) even though I’m not currently in the workforce and it does give me a little extra sense of security.

  5. Being a teacher doesn’t she also have a 403b/Pension? Do you think once all the baby ninjas are in school full time she will go back to teaching? if so, That will be all hers so not having an IRA isn’t such a bad thing…actually it’s how me & hubby are too (except he’s the teacher).

  6. I’m still at a loss for why you dont just use Roth IRA’s as savings vehicles. Just because they were originally invented for retirement that doesn’t mean that’s what you have to use it for. Anything you put in Roth IRA you can take out penalty and tax free. Personally, that is where we are stashing our 6-month emergency fund. Its still accessible when we need it. But anything it is earning is extra and tax free. Versus if we kept it in a savings account to earn nothing. Or kept it in a standard brokerage account where we’d have to pay taxes on the gains.

    Also, you work for the government. Do they still have pensions or has it all migrated to a cash like account? If there’s an extra vehicle for income in retirement then 15% could be more than enough. But for the 90% of others who don’t have access to this, 15% might not be enough.

    And let’s be clear. I’ve seen your net worth updates over the years. You’re saving way more than 15% of your income. You just aren’t saving more than 15% in standard retirement vehicles. Don’t sell yourself short!

    • Yup – the first point is the one that baffles me too. There could be some strategy, like one needs to access the GAINS on the investments before you are old enough to withdraw from the ROTH.

  7. Balance is my mantra for personal finance as well, just tough finding it at times. The one thing that I do like about retirement vehicles is that they are protected from bankruptcy and lawsuits as long as they are “qualified” ERISA plans. Now that I have a little bit of money I fear a lawsuit that could take it away. Now that I have a big emergency fund, I’m now “risking” my money in the stock market via retirement vehicles 🙂

  8. I agree that you gotta spend some $ while you’ve got little one(s) and carpe diem – ’cause you’re right, it does only happen once. That having been said, there is something seriously wrong with your wife not having her own retirement account going. Control issues? What happens if you become disabled and she’s been out of the work force for so long that all she can make is minimum wage? What happens to your child at that point? You can get a retirement account going for her AND still create those memories while you’re young. Presumably, she is the beneficiary of your retirement account, but there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me if she has no “account of her own”.

    • Washington is one of nine community property states in the country. That means, that any wealth or assets that are accumulated after our marriage date, automatically go to a 50/50 split in the event of a divorce. She get’s half the retirement period. Doesn’t matter if it’s in my name, her name, or both our names.

    • Yeah, I agree. It’s almost as if someone else have been doing the writing. Plus Ninja already wrote a similar article in the past.

  9. I felt the same way in my 20s.

    Now I’m in the final months of my 40s and regret not concentrating on wealth building toward financial independence until my mid-40s.

    If my taxable brokerage account were 5 or 10x larger, I’d retire and not touch my retirement funds until my 60s or 70s.

    I wonder what your 60-something self would say to your 20-something self.

    I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite films

    -Jon

    “Time is a funny thing. Time is a very peculiar item. You see when you’re young, you’re a kid, you got time, you got nothing but time. Throw away a couple of years here, a couple of years there… it doesn’t matter. You know. The older you get you say, “Jesus, how much time I got? I got thirty-five summers left.” Think about it. Thirty-five summers.” -Tom Waits as Benny

  10. Why not do it for ninja girl?

    I’d rather have too much, than not enough in my 401k. Once the time goes by, those years are gone. You get one shot at it in life. You never know what inflation or taxes might be like in the future, or if the goverment will change the rules regarding early distributions.

  11. I understand not wanting to oversave for retirement (and I work with pensions for a living). And I admit to not knowing what different retirement and non-retirement accounts you have. But the important question isn’t do you save more but where you allocate the savings. The beauty of a Roth IRA is the money is tax free when you take it (even if they change the rules in the future the past money will get grandfathered in and still be tax free). So the question is – does it make sense to move some of the money you are otherwise investing to a Roth IRA for Ninja Girl so your tax free income at retirement increases.

  12. Regarding the acronym, F.I.R.E.d

    FIRE is an acronym for Financial Independence/Early Retirement.

    It is not a verb referring to employer-actions to terminate one’s holding of the position. It doesn’t mean “fired” from the org.

    -Jon

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