Sort of a strange question. Spousal sacrifice and debate over early retirement


I know that this is a really strange question to post here, but I’m a fairly devout Catholic, my wife is non Catholic, and our two kids are devout Catholics. This is a topic that’s causing huge stress in my household and is a constant source of tension between my wife and I.

I’m 55 years old, married and have one kid who is finishing high school this year and who wants to be a veterinarian. I have another kid in his third year of college now and who probably has a couple of more years to go. My house is paid for and we have no loans.

I have two jobs basically, one being a super high stress desk job and another in which I own cattle that are run on an in-laws place. I have about $2M saved up, part of which I inherited. I’d like to quit the high stress job right now but every time I mention this it provokes outright panic of the highest order with my spouse, who maintains that it’s absolutely impossible. She pays the household bills and maintains that insurance alone will kill us (she’s 44 and her’s approaches the $1,000/month.

If that’s the case, we’ll never be able to retire.

So here are my questions:

  1. Is she right (I know, that’s almost impossible to answer, but we live fairly conservatively); and
  2. If she’s wrong, has anyone else gone through the "oh no, you absolutely must not quit discussion).

This is one thing we almost can’t discuss in our household as the level of emotional drama that comes up every time I mention this is just over the top. I’m almost ready to simply quit and then announce I’ve done it, which would be bad, but at least that’d be over. I’m so worn down and tired from the stress of my desk job that I really think I won’t last until retirement age if I keep working it as it’ll kill me one way or the other, and its sucked all the joy out of living completely. I keep thinking of the example, however, of sacrifice on the part of men towards their spouses as they ideal I should be living up to, and if so, I’m pretty massively failing at that. I’m sacrificing, but only because the panic keeps that cross up there, not because I’m willing enduring it.



There are really too many variables, in anyone’s financial life, for strangers on the internet to answer question #1.
Have you sat down together and gone over all the actual numbers? What your income is now vs. what it would be if you just worked the cattle, and how each compares to your expenses? Are the cattle profitable now? If not, what would you have to do, and how much would you have to spend, to make the cattle business profitable? Have you researched how much the cattle market fluctuates in your area? Is there any possibility of getting a lower-stress job, and still working the cattle part-time?

Whatever the answers are, I strongly recommend against just quitting and then telling her you’ve done it. Not a good marriage plan.


Here’s what you do— the two of you sit down with pencil and paper and figure out your budget and how those bill will be paid. And retirement. And veterinary school.

Then you will KNOW if you can retire


My first thought would be to compromise (or at least see if she would be open to this):

You quit the high stress job, when you have another job lined up with similar or better pay and benefits.
It solves the insurance issue and hopefully she won’t be as panicked because you still have an external source of income and aren’t relying on the cattle.


I finally got her to agree to do just that this morning. It was actually her suggestion, after I got her to discuss it calmly.
Maybe we’re finally getting somewhere.


I love your Avatar, fwiw. It illustrates how I feel most days at work. . . and how trying to bring this topic up usualy makes me feel.


Simply the interest alone on 2 million USD (if it were paying 5%) would be a comfortable living. Sit down with a financial planner.


Actual photo of my guardian angel. :smile:


Quit and live off your savings and the cattle business? Or find another job and then quit? That makes a big difference in the equation.

Sit down with her and look at the budget. Look at the income from your day job and the cattle business, the outgo from the business (i.e. net income), all the things your day job is paying for (pre-tax deductions like healthcare, 401k, life, disability, dental, etc.)

Then see what the bottom line is. Can you find a different job that replaces all or most of the income and benefits? Can she take a job that replaces part of the income? What is the plan for your younger child’s education? Are they on their own or are you paying for college and vet school?

The health insurance is a major consideration at your ages. You are still 10 years away from medicare and she’s 21 years away. So, it’s not like you can “never” retire, but certainly not at 44 and 55 if you have only $2M saved. You also don’t mention if that is in retirement type vehicles-- which you can’t draw from until you are 59 1/2. You need to go to a site like “” to run scenarios on your retirement. Also use your company’s 401K calculators to see where you stand.

My husband and I have a farm and beef cattle, so I understand that-- you need to seriously do the numbers and see if that is making or losing money, how it works out on your taxes, and whether you could live off of it and pay for private insurance.

Sit down and do all the numbers TOGETHER. Assure her you aren’t going to make any decisions that damage the family or put you in a precarious position. If she does all the bills, she likely has a better handle on where everything stands than you do. Especially if she does the farm books as well-- you need to see if that is really making money or if it’s more of a hobby situation that you should reconsider.

No, you shouldn’t have to stay at a high stress job you hate. But, you can’t unilaterally decide to quit at 55 and retire. That’s not really feasible from what you’ve told us here. The best approach may be to find a different job you think you will be happy in and run the numbers for that before quitting your other job. You could also talk to your current employer about a transfer within the company.


Sounds like the kids are older…have you discussed with her taking a job so you can drop the second one…every situation is different, but having been there and done that, for me 55 is to young to retire…might be easier to “down size” the discretionary expenses.


If you have the wealth you state, but not a clue as to whether or not you can reasonably retire, then you need to be working with a financial planner. Find one who is credentialed and who works on a fee-only basis. Research what current credentials you should be looking for in your geographical location. Do not work with somebody who has an interest in selling you financial products. Make sure your wife is at all the meetings and together the two of you express your concerns and work with the financial planner. You have to have correct and complete data to be able to make a decision about retirement.


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