Friday, December 14, 2007


When I was in my first marriage I started putting money into the company employee savings plan, a 401(k). After a few months we got a statement in the mail, and for the first time, my wife became aware that we had $900.00 tucked away in that plan. She wanted that money, and she pestered me and hounded me to get it out for over two months. I told her that the taxes and penalties for early withdrawal would cost us $300, but she didn’t care. I finally relented, withdrew the money, and she took the $600 and "paid off the Mastercard", or something like that. And I forgot about putting money away in the company savings plan.

That woman and I parted company a few years later at her request, and the first thing I did was to start putting money away in the company 401(k) again. With the company match, and by watching and managing my investments carefully, that nest egg grew until four years ago when I was able to combine it with a company buy-out and retire comfortably at the age of 56.

I regretted that our marriage ended the way it did, but some things are just not meant to be. If I had stayed in that marriage, I’d be over 60 years old now, with no savings and no prospects for a comfortable retirement. I didn’t see it then, but when she demanded a divorce, it was my lucky day.

I remarried 11 years ago, to a lovely woman who had never been married before. She had always managed her own financial affairs, and we never even thought about merging our bank accounts or other financial matters. In fact, we’d been married for four years before it occurred to me that I should put her on the company health insurance, and she should do the same with me where she worked, and we’d be double covered. And because she’s always maintained a stellar credit rating, when it came time to find a home, we were able to finance the purchase of a brand new home with no income other than our monthly withdrawals from our retirement funds.

Marriage is a partnership, and ideally, it should be one that works for both parties. Saving should be a part of that partnership, and saving for retirement should be part of your saving strategy.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda, did. Thank heaven.

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