Can Mrs. RB40 Retire Now?

Last time, we talked about how to get your significant other on your side before quitting a job. This time, we’re making it personal. You see, Mrs. RB40 has been complaining about her job more than usual. She is in a 6 month long leadership training program and it’s adding a lot of stress to her work. Quite a few of her coworkers retired earlier this year and they haven’t been able to hire any replacements yet. There is a lot more work for the people still working and things aren’t going to change anytime soon. This summer has also been extremely busy for both of us and we all feel wrung out.

Mrs. RB40 also turned 40 earlier this year and I think she’s having a mini midlife crisis. She has been practical for many years and seeks financial security of a stable job. Lately she has been talking more about her neglected creative side saying she wants to give it more time. She actually enjoyed putting together the bulletin board project that I delegated to her (for the co-op preschool.)

can wife quit her job now? retire early So can she quit the Human Resource department and devote her time to folding origami at home? Of course, this is a shot of my own medicine. Now, I know how she felt when I told her I wanted to quit my job. J I want to be supportive, but she has to do a little more work to convince me.


First of all, I’m not sure how serious she is about quitting her job. It seems like the general malaise that everyone goes through when work is overwhelming. Would the situation improve after her training is over in October? Is her company planning to hire more people at some point? Her work load would reduce a bit and she’ll be less stressed with more co-workers.

As a man, it’s in my nature to want to fix things when I hear there is a problem. However, I found this isn’t necessary what women are looking for. Sometime they just want to complain a bit and I should just listen with a sympathetic ear. Is this one of those occasions or is it time to rework Mrs. RB40’s exit strategy? Mrs. RB40 isn’t the best communicator and we need to sit down and have a serious talk about this. It’s up to her to convince me that she is serious. For now, we’ll just make some estimates and if she’s serious about quitting then we’d have to do a retirement dry run.


Let’s go over our finance and see how we’ll handle the loss of Mrs. RB40’s paycheck. I’ve been tracking our expenses for many years now and I’ll use 2014 numbers here. It’s really useful to be able to pull these numbers whenever we need. If you’re not tracking your cash flow, I highly recommend it.


We spend about $4,500 per month. That’s a comfortable level for us. Let’s dig in a little deeper. We’ll just go over the big ones and see if it’s possible to reduce them.

Housing: $2,160

If Mrs. RB40 is set on staying in Portland, we would consolidate our properties and move into our duplex. Unfortunately, the proceeds from the property sales won’t be quite enough to pay off the mortgage at the duplex. We’ll need to empty our cash savings to get rid of the mortgage all together. Even with no mortgage, our housing cost will still be around $1,000/month due to property tax, utilities, maintenance, and insurance.

Kid: $330

This is mostly the cost of preschool. We could reduce the number of days Jr. attends preschool and stop going to lunch bunch (noon to 1 pm.) That would reduce the cost to about $200/month. Another option is to take him out of preschool altogether and educate him at home until he goes to kindergarten in 2 years. If both of us stay home, we’d have plenty of time to spend with him. I think preschool is good for the kid so I probably wouldn’t cut back completely unless we really need to.

Groceries: $380

Not much we can do here. I think we’re pretty reasonable with our grocery spending.

Misc: $620

We’ve been traveling more in this year so our expense is higher than previous years. We could cut back on traveling for a while if our income is reduced. We can probably reduce this to about $100/month.

Health Insurance: $?

Currently, we’re on Mrs. RB40’s employer sponsored health insurance plan and we’ll need to find our own coverage once she quits her job. I browsed around a bit at the state’s insurance marketplace website and it looks like we can get a mid tier coverage plan for about $500/month.

Alright, so far we reduced about $1,800 from our monthly budget. I think we can probably cut another $200 from all the other categories so the estimate is a reduction of $2,000/month. Unfortunately, we’d have to add in $500 for health insurance. Our bare bones monthly expense would be about $3,000/month. Would our reduced income cover that?


Currently, our take home income is about $5,500 per month.

  • RB40’s paycheck: $2,800
  • Rental Income: $100
  • Online Income: $1,700
  • Dividend: $700
  • P2P: $50
  • Misc: $150

Here is our projected income without Mrs. RB40’s paycheck

  • Rental Income: $500 – We could rent one unit of the duplex out as a vacation rental. I’m pretty sure we can get at least $500/month.
  • Online Income: $2,500 – I’ll stop contributing to my i401k and junior’s 529 account. This will increase my take home pay.
  • Dividend: $700
  • P2P: $50
  • Misc: $0 – Can’t really count on these. I’ll just put $0 for now.

Okay, our projected monthly income is $3,750. That’s enough to cover the projected monthly expense of $3,000. The big problem I see here is that I’m not sure how much I can count on the online income. It is good now, but who knows what it’s going to look like in 2 years?

Anyway, it looks like we can handle it financially for at least a few years. The cash flow will be positive so we can keep adding to our dividend portfolio.

can wife spouse quit her job retire?Dry Run

If Mrs. RB40 is serious about this, then we would go ahead with the plan and try it out for 6 months to a year while saving all of Mrs. RB40’s income. That will give us a chance to restore our emergency saving. Once we save up one year worth of expense, then Mrs. RB40 can pull the cord when it’s convenient for her.

What’s the worst case scenario?

As mentioned above, the worst case scenario would be if my online income is reduced. I might have to find a part time job to make ends meet. Mrs. RB40 might have to go back to work in some capacity. Alternatively, we could move to a cheaper location like Mrs. RB40’s hometown or try living in Thailand for a while. Actually, the worst case scenario isn’t very daunting to me at all. I’m sure we can make money somehow.

In conclusion, Mrs. RB40 could retire early, but we need time to prepare. Our finance won’t be as secured without her salary, but it looks like we can get by. Our saving rate will be reduced quite a bit and we won’t be able to help out with RB40 Junior’s college education as much. Okay, this is running a little long. Let’s close up with a response from Mrs. RB40.

Mrs. RB40’s remarks – I’m not sure how much I really want to communicate with Joe right now because it just lands me more work!  My training program is over in just a few weeks.  In fact, I’m supposed to be working on a project for that with a deadline tomorrow, and now instead of working on that, I have to provide comments for Joe’s post!   My general work malaise will pass.  I like most of what I do.  It is just near the end of the fiscal year and extremely busy right now, so it doesn’t help when I come home after a difficult day wanting to take a break and asked to do more.  We’re in the process of interviewing people for some open positions, so hopefully there will be some standouts who we can bring on board.   If Joe stops creating more work for me, then maybe I won’t have as much to complain about.  Sorry, but I am really busy right now, and don’t want to spend time on this.   Ask me again after October 10.  I might have a better answer for you.

The following two tabs change content below.
Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.

Latest posts by retirebyforty (see all)

Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you

66 thoughts on “Can Mrs. RB40 Retire Now?”

  1. I have always been a SAHM. I consider this my job. Therefore, I do not expect my spouse to come home after his long day working and commuting to do anything but relax and enjoy his evenings. This does include being a great father and husband but does not include any cleaning, laundry, handyman, gardening, grocery shopping or cooking jobs. We do have very specific duties and right now we both work non stop during the day so our evenings are relaxed and easy going. Works for us.

  2. I find it interesting that there’s a bit of a turnaround happening on Mrs. RB40’s opinion on work. But, I’m not surprised at it, since around that 40-year-old mark, people’s opinions can change radically. That time period tends to do that.

    As for the stability of passive income, last year, I had a few month bout of vacancy and it’s amazing how fast rental income can turn into a big liability if you have a mortgage. That’s why I’m going to start paying off my rentals soon. Mortgages can help boost cashflow, but they’re probably not great for retirement. But if you plan ahead, you can time mortgage payoffs with retirement dates.

    • It’s just been too busy for her this year. Hopefully, everything will go back to normal in November.
      Good idea about the mortgage. It’s always nice when you don’t have to feel pressured to rent out ASAP. You can take time to screen the tenants better.

  3. From what I read you kinda want her to retire sooner than she is ready. I think she just wants help at work and for the added stress of work to subside. Can she retire most likely yes financially, will she be happy with all the new found free time, only she knows if that is what she wants. Good Luck Joe.

  4. Joe…and thanks for keeping it “real” as they say. Life isn’t always perfect. We don’t all make the “right” decisions every time. We don’t all have positive outlooks all the time.

    A friend recently mentioned to me that she feels like we would miss some of the highs in our lives if we didn’t see the lows through the “Debbie-Downers.” Keep your chin up, and if you see a Debbie-Downer coming towards you, walk on the other side of the street.

  5. Joe do you think that maybe it stressed Mrs.RB40 out that you purchased another rental when she strongly dislikes being a landlord? One of the main reasons you have for moving was so that RBJr wouldn’t have to share a room with your mom anymore and to have some privacy as he grows. However in the new duplex he will be living in an open space and won’t get his own room. And you mentioned that your father might also move in and that he is “disruptive.” I’m not sure what you mean by that but it must be stressful for your wife to have to move to a place she doesn’t want to move to (you mentioned in one of your blogs that she “absolutely does not want to move.”). You are now also adding in another in-law to the living arrangement. Not to mention the fact that you plan to bring random strangers to rent out the upstairs when your parents are in Thailand. To be perfectly honest that living arrangement, coupled with the stress of work would stress anyone out. I know you purchased the duplex for tax reasons and you won’t live in it for another two years but the whole situation is still stressful.

    Also, I’m curious as to why you changed RB40Jr from his pre-school. You said in your blog that the cost wasn’t that much of a difference from the old school so why change schools? Your blog explained what a co-op school is but you didn’t really give a solid reason as to why you were switching schools. You did however mention that his best friend goes to the old school and that your wife was not happy about switching schools. So why do it then? You have mentioned on various occasions that you feel swamped and wish you had more free time so why would you switch his school and add more work to your plate? It seems counter-productive. I also distinctly recall you telling Mrs.RB40 that you would be doing most of the work but yet you delegated the bulletin board to her even though you knew she was swamped at work. I know she enjoyed doing it but it just seems like you create unnecessary stress for her.

    I’m sure once they hire more people she will feel less stressed. I don’t think she wants to retire at the moment. It seems from your blog that she enjoys her job. In the meantime maybe you shouldn’t make anymore big decisions that could add more stress for her. Wait until after October 10th and then go out an enjoy yourselfs. It sounds like you both need it. ????

    • You’re right. I do create stress her out. The duplex thing is still in the work so we’ll see what happens. We might not rent it out at all when we move in.
      The new preschool has a better program. Last year he went to school 2 days/week. Now he goes 3 days/week so even with more time spent in class, I’ll come out ahead time wise. We’ll give it a chance and if it doesn’t work out, we can move back to the old preschool.
      I think I need to step back and let Mrs. RB40 relax a bit. Thanks for calling me out.

      • Ah that totally makes sense now about the pre-school. I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog and my comment was not meant to call you out. I think you are an overall positive person and you seem like a great husband and dad. It shows in your blog that you love your family and I’m sure it is hard to have random strangers commenting on your family life. I think you handled everyone’s comments really well and that says a lot about your character. I wish you and your family all the best! Keep up the insightful blogs!

  6. I have a lot more income than that, and my expenses are quite a bit lower, and I am still working for just a bit longer.

    Your rental income could not only go down, it could be big-time negative. Online income is still working, so you could work more. You have kids, you should think twice…

  7. My husband is also a stay-at-home spouse. He has learned to not go into “fix it” mode when I come home cranky and complain about work because that usually just leads to me getting more upset when he offers advice. He listens to my complaints, makes my favorite food for dinner, and gives me room to relax afterwards. I suggest pampering Mrs. RB40 in the same way while she’s going through a stressful time.
    Also, best of luck to Mrs. RB40! Having gone through leadership training myself, I remember dealing with a lot of frustration and spending extra time at work but the end results were very good for my career and income.

  8. I must say, I have been reading this for a while and I was wondering to myself, when is the wife going to snap and say enough of this BS! Joe, it sounds like (from what I have read) things are going great for you – but, you have to man up and look after your wife (the main bread winner). Treat her well (doesn’t need to be a huge financial outlay – just HELP/listen), heck maybe a massage or movie. Maybe this is a little harsh on you Joe, but, just my initial reaction.

    Afterall, Happy wife = Happy life 🙂

    Anyway, just my 2c worth – I stil enjoy reading your posts.

  9. Joe
    Your ER plan is on somewhat shaky grounds, because you are not financially prepared for ER. In fact its not even ER in true sense. Its a case of stay at home spouse, which in this case happens to be the dad. Don’t you think it would be better if the two of you worked for another 10 years or so till your 50s and build a solid nest egg (say couple of million) and then retire? I suspect Mrs RB40 is not very pleased with the arrangement and is resentful of you. Assuming you will live another 40-45 years, having to depend on online/PT income seems scary. Whats the point in being retired if you are going to be constantly worried about money. I don’t know where $100/month for vacation is going to take you…Maybe few miles away from home for a night? Won’t you like to vacation in Paris or Venice or Sydney. For a solid retirement plan, I look towards Sams (Fin Samurai) targets. Net worth of 2-3 million plus some other income (rental/dividend) is the minimum you need for a stress free retirement!

    • I’d be dead if I work in that some job for another 10 years. 3 million net worth is a good goal. I think we can get to that point within 10 years if we keep up what we’re doing. If Mrs. RB40 quits her job, then it would be a lot more difficult.

  10. I can’t say I’m exactly surprised by any of this – I’d say, in fact, that it’s been coming. I am interested in your approaches, but as the wife and the main breadwinner in my household I can testify as to how stressful it can be to have a husband who is financially dependent on me. I sometimes feel trapped in work I don’t like, and I hate not being able to take the risk of walking away from it (even though it’s a risk I would readily accept for myself). A recent Time magazine study of stay-at-home spouses made it clear that many marriages include a fair amount (or a lot) of resentment in working spouses over the other’s relative freedom – Mrs. RB40 would have to be a saint not to feel that way at times. I’m glad your blog includes a game plan for starting to be able to cut her loose from her job: Even if she never takes you up on it, it’s good to have this in place and for her to know you’ll support her in that decision. You go, girl!

  11. Give MrsRB40 a break! Do all chores till the project is finished, then take her out for a movie (or something else she would like)! 🙂

    Seriously – I think you are not being realistic on health care costs. Look at what your health care premium would be at, say, age 58 (with appropriate age adjustments for the rest of the family). You need to make sure you can cover that premium amount PLUS your out of pocket max under that policy PLUS co-pays for doctors. If you don’t do that you may be setting yourself up for disaster. Maybe someone will discover the fountain of youth, but until then it’s best to assume that you will grow older.

  12. It looks like you’ve definitely given this some thought and I think you’re looking at it with the right lenses. I remember what it’s like to love a job then become overwhelmed then underwhelmed and then go…uh what’s next. Focusing on increasing online income is definite way to go but will take up more time for sure.

  13. My gut reaction is don’t quit your job. Way too early in the game, especially with a little dependent one heading towards college someday. Scenario at work will change for the Mrs. in a few weeks, new hires, end of training, etc. What about seeing what’s out there for an even better, new job w/more pay? Work for her is not just at the office. It’s getting ready, commuting 2x a day, so add a couple more hours to it. Mrs. RB40 needs more down time to de-stress (think yoga, outdoors), plus some creative outlets-any doctor will tell her that. Get all chores, errands done during the week, to enable her to relax on weekends.
    She’s pulling a lot of weight and needs as much support from you two guys as possible. Women handle (or don’t) work stress differently. Guys just let things roll off their backs.
    Keep socking away the savings, live below your means, and be happy!

  14. As a fellow lady who can be swamped with work sometimes, I just want to wish Mrs RB40 good luck of dealing with it. Hang in there, just two more weeks… And perhaps a little pampering this weekend will do you good?

  15. I’ve always considered RB40’s situation as a “pseudo-ER”… By any measure I can see, you still very much need her work income Joe. Without it, your situation is a bit tenuous – especially with a child in the mix.

  16. Hey Joe,

    Yeah, I know you were well-intentioned with this post, but as others have noted I think your wife needs more support. I know we can all get caught up dreaming or thinking into the future, but it’s really important to be present in the here and the now. There were a few things that came off as offensive, borderline sexist, and overall insensitive.

    But I’m sure you’ll figure it all out.

    Best of luck.

  17. Appreciate all your honest comments and enjoy the posts.

    With your technical background and degrees, have you ever thought about teaching online college classes? I’ve been teaching database courses for 10 years and can make $700/mo with one and $1400/mo with two. I use this money to pay for three kids in college. In a few years, this will be again, added income.

    The amount of time needed to teach (facilitate) is well worth the outcome.

    • I haven’t thought about that. How much time does it really take? I just don’t have any time right now. If Mrs. RB40 quits her job, then I’ll have more time to try different things.

      • Max time is 5 hours per week. Remember, if you teach the same course over and over, not much time is needed.

        You aren’t actually teaching, but facilitating classes and bringing your real work experience to the class. It’s win-win for the students and your budget.

  18. Here is where I think could use a few cut backs if you really want to do that bare basics.

    Kid FREE: Like you said you can educate him at home for free. And days you and the MRS. need a day off hire a babysitter. It would be a lot cheaper then the pre-school, and may I say probably a better job than the pre-school. If you are worried about him playing with other kids, take him to a friends house.

    Housing FREE: Why don’t you live in the one of duplex’s. Your rent would be FREE (or some what) and you would be able to keep a better eye on your investment.

    Groceries: Coupons. Change that $380 to $$300. $80 bucks savings monthly. It’s a lot of work and knowing where the sales are but it’s worth it. I save 90% in my Groceries monthly and a lot of what I’m getting is usually free. Not only food but clothes. For example Sears as the shop your way account. They send me free money monthly usually $10 bucks. I make sure I buy what ever I’m buying no more then $12 dollars. And the difference of two dollars I use a coupon of 30% plus what ever points I have accrued= FREE. Takes 1 hour of my day and walk out with jeans, clothes, food for nothing or as close to nothing as possible.

    • We’re planning to move into our duplex in 2 years. It’s due to tax reasons.
      Groceries: Sure, I’ll try to coupon more. I’m not very good at it. I need to figure out how to do this.

  19. Hey Joe, what are you doing to make her life easier during this time of stress? MM’s suggestion is a good one, but I’d take it further. How about taking over all of her household duties for a while? Get them done while she’s at work so you can be available to minister to her when she gets home. Rub her feet, massage her shoulders. Zip your lip and open your ears. Yeah, I am suggesting you take over everything and expect nothing of her (not even sex!) for at least two weeks. Do not be a source of additional stress to her right now. Use your power to help her get through this class. Offer to help with her project, even if it’s just making sure she has all the needed supplies or something to eat when she’s hungry. You have an opportunity to be her hero right now, and all I hear (based on this article) is you sounding suspiciously chump-like. Your family deserves better from you.

    • I’m doing pretty much all some of the household chores right now. She could use a massage, though. I promised to give her one tonight so I just need to remember it.
      Zip it and listen is good advice. It’s tough for guys to do that. Sorry to come off chump-like… Not exactly sure how I did that, though. Can you expand a bit? I’m a bit dense that way.

  20. Buy her flowers. Buy her wine. And wait till after the 10th before you even think about mentioning this again. “Hey babe, why don’t you quit now and we’ll move to Thailand next month?” is likely to produce a negative response (and possibly a black eye) when what Mrs RB40 is looking for is a little sympathy that she’s rushed off her feet at work right now… a job she clearly enjoys.

    Flowers & wine…

    • Yes, when Jr. heads to school, I’ll expand my online business and try to make more money. If that doesn’t work out, I probably would try some other self employment business. That might be a good time for Mrs. RB40 to take a few years off if she’d like.

  21. I feel like Mrs. RoG could have written the “wife’s response” at the end! I’d say she might just be wanting to vent a little steam from work. My wife has monthly cycles (ha ha yeah I know) at work where she’s busiest the first week and then it’s relatively easy the other 3 weeks (other than one particular ridiculous issue that I could write a novel about).

    Knowing the numbers and how feasible it would be to have Mrs RB40 retire should be reassuring to her. While it may make sense to save her income and build up a nice cash reserve (exactly what we’ve done for the last year), she could probably quit tomorrow. It might put some more pressure on you to make income online, but at the same time it would free up your schedule to devote more efforts to making online income.

      • Ha ha, yeah! This morning at 7:10 as I lay asleep and my wife kissed me goodbye as she was heading out the door for work, she asked me “do you ever feel a little guilty?”. I said “A little”. Then my alarm clock went off at 7:15 and I had to get the 3 kids up and ready for school (well 2 of them ready for school), then feed and entertain the 2 year old all day. Do dishes, cook, clean up the kitchen a tad, pick the kids up from school. And finish off a blog post for Monday. This early retirement gig is more work than I thought it would be!

        Just take it easy and hopefully her work situation will enter a period of relative ease in a couple weeks.

  22. Joe, this is a surprise but not a surprise.

    What happened that made her go from “I love my job and will work forever” last year to now this besides just more work?

    We must convince out spouses to work longer so we men can stay retired longer! I would just give her lots of encouragement and tell her that she is doing it for the family.


    • Joe,

      I don’t think you should follow this advice. Telling your wife that she is doing this for the family is not a good idea! Be supportive and take on more of the at-home duties until things calm down for her. Don’t say a word about it, either. Just do it.

    • Yea Joe, stop giving Mrs. RB40 more work to do. She didn’t say she wanted to retire, just wanted to vent about work. Plus, it’s probably not a good idea to mention that she might be going through a mini midlife crisis…especially if she read the post! haha I know what you mean about wanting to fix problems…happens to me to. But like you said, sometimes they just want someone to listen to the problems. And I probably would have went through the whole breakdown to see whether she could retire early too…I guess we have a similar mindset! =)

      • Yes, I admit my listening skill is poor. That’s why we need to communicate through this blog sometime. 🙂 I’m much better with written words.

    • Yeah, that’s not a good idea at all. There are other ways to pay for college, though. The kid will have to work a lot harder if we can’t help pay for higher education.

  23. I also think it depends on how much runway you have. If you have 5 years of expenses in the bank… then you have plenty of time to figure out how to make it work. If you are counting on that online income month-to-month, then it’s a much tougher call.

    Regardless, your trial run of reduced spending is an excellent idea. It’s really easy to pull projected numbers, but actually living it can really give you a confidence boost. I know it has for us. We’ve cut back a lot. Not because we need to, but because we wanted to know our projections were really possible and sustainable.

    • We have more than 5 years of expenses in our taxable account. Hopefully, we don’t have to touch that, though. Taking a trial run is a huge confidence booster. We did that before I left my job and we know we would be fine. I’m pretty sure we can do the same for Mrs. RB40 when she’s ready.

  24. You say, “The big problem I see here is that I’m not sure how much I can count on the online income.”

    I agree. $2,500 of the total $3,750 is a large part.

    On the other hand, if you have been able to create $2,500 of monthly online income, perhaps you can duplicate this in some other area, increasing it to $5,000. As Richard Koch, author of “Living the 80/20 Way”, says, “Look at where your success is coming from. It’s likely no accident.”

    • Wow, I didn’t realize you read RB40’s blog, I read several of your books and have really benefited from them. I had meant to write you a quick letter or postcard of gratitude for your writing but hadn’t gotten around to it. What a pleasant surprise.

      Seems reasonable enough.

    • My plan is to work on my online business more once the kid goes off to kindergarten in 2 years. I’m pretty sure I can increase it, but it will take more time than I have right now.
      Thanks for your comment.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.