Indecent Proposal

Source: Husker Law
Bylaw 1.7(a)(4-3) of this blog's charter states… 'A topical post relevant to retirement must be published at least once a year'.

Ah, yes. It’s that time again. As always, my apologies to international readers, whom I assume must scratch their heads at the financial sausage-making that is American retirement planning. I’ll fill all of you in on a little secret: We don’t really understand what we’re doing either. But once every three months we get up on a chair and scream “No-load mutual funds!” at the top of our lungs before sitting back down with a Sudoku magazine.

Alert readers might notice that I finally made headway with those bean counters at HQ. It took a few memos of justification and also some Zoom calls (which in hindsight were needlessly contentious), but I’m nevertheless happy to report that I succeeded in enacting a change in this blog’s charter. As shown at the top, your humble blogger is now responsible to write only one post related to retirement per year, down from the previous requirement of three. That’s less head-scratching for me, and less coffee consumption for you. Win-win!

As we now enter the second half of this year, I am cognizant of the clock ticking down to the last months of my receiving a special supplement in my pension. This supplement was the catalyst for my taking early retirement seven years ago. It lasts until I turn 62, which will be this coming December. In theory, the supplement is designed to be a bridge to the start of social security.

But while I can start social security at that age, and thus replace the money that I’ll be losing in my pension, it doesn’t mean that I should. Doing so for me personally would be foolhardy given that there is an 8% delayed retirement credit added to your eventual monthly payout for each year that you hold off starting social security payments, up until age 70. That’s a big incentive to wait.

It’s an important decision that for most people ultimately comes down to one’s own circumstances. Your health plus the amount of savings you’ve saved up are the key drivers in choosing the right time to start. No two people’s situations are usually the same.

In my case, I plan to delay starting social security until I reach my full retirement age (age 66 and 10 months) and more likely even beyond that date. Our financial advisor currently has the start date pegged in his fancy-schmancy spreadsheet for when I turn 70. Of course, In not-so fine print at the bottom I’ve also noticed that he has, “fees subject to change.” Even he can’t make up his mind.

In any event, next January my monthly pension payment will be reduced. On a tangential note, this blog will transition at that time to a Go Fund Me page. And here you were thinking that all this Grade A humor would continue to be complimentary forever, eh?

Source: Penny Hoarder

What doesn’t change, though, is the alimony obligation I have each month to my ex-wife. The terms of our divorce decree are that she receives alimony for life unless she remarries (if there are any single men reading this who have personal savings and a live pulse, please reach out to me. We should talk).

Shortly after I retired, I was fortunate to have negotiated a 50% reduction to the original amount specified in the divorce decree. However, with my now facing a smaller pension in six months, I took it upon myself last month to reach out to her to see if I could negotiate a further reduction that would eventually culminate to an ending of alimony payments at the start of her own social security.

As a sweetener, I added some upfront cash with a number, followed by a comma and a few zeros at the end.

As a second sweetener, I added more cash but with a slightly lower number, followed by a comma and still a few zeros at the end.

I also offered to have all of this written up by a lawyer at my expense.

I thought myself creative. I thought myself reasonable. I even thought myself generous!

My ex-wife unfortunately thought none of those things. She cannily had her attorney write me a long message explaining in great detail how I am neither creative, reasonable, nor generous. I further learned how fortunate I am that the earlier negotiated alimony reduction actually saves me quite a bit of money, and that it will CONTINUE to save me money going forward. George Orwell couldn’t have put it any better. After I finished reading, I stood up on a chair, only this time rather than announcing my love of no-load funds, I alternatively shouted my allegiances to Big Brother. All it took was having things explained to me, after all.

Luckily, my years of saving is tossing me a lifeline. As outlined in an earlier retirement update, I started distributions earlier this year from my 401(k). While the acclaimed 4% rule of withdrawals isn’t exactly allowing for wine store purchases from that top row of Bordeaux bottles, I can probably choose one from the middle row of Columbia Valley vintages, while at the same time still make the alimony payment. If the creek don’t rise…

You can’t fault a fella for trying. Well, okay, obviously someone in this story obviously did. But there’s still something to be said for tossing a good ‘ol Hail Mary pass now and then. Now if you’ll excuse me, for some reason I have this inexplicable urge to buy a few Powerball and Mega Million tickets.

Until next time…

44 thoughts on “Indecent Proposal

  1. No, any lottery winning will not go to your ex so that’s an excellent (but delusional) plan. I’ve never understood the concept of alimony for life. Having been married before and quitting a very lucrative position to move with the spouse’s job, I was “rewarded” with 3 years of transitional alimony until I could find myself another lucrative position which surprisingly (I wasn’t getting any younger!) I did. Keep in mind that no matter how bad the odds are, someone wins that lottery.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It is good to have a dose of humor although I’m sure all of these topics are not funny to you. I’ve always understood child support but except in the case of infant children, I’ve never understood alimony. It seems like a person would pick themself up, dust themself off, and go about their life on their dollar, but apparently not so much. You need that middle row bottle of wine to continue to celebrate the 50% reduction. After that buzz wears off though, I think you are back to looking for an eligible bachelor or a winning lottery ticket. I hope your lottery experiences are better than mine – I average 0-1 number. 🙂 Good to hear from you, Marty.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, so much I’m suppressing in this story, Judy. But suffice to say I agree with everything you’re saying here. I’m always hopeful for an eligible bachelor to materialize to lessen my load. Hope springs eternal! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Here’s the Serenity Prayer:
        God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage the change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha, ha…a Go Fund Me page. Challenging to plan ahead with dollars required/health/life span. Likely many layers to the alimony story. Marty, you remind me how Hindsight is 20/20. The middle row of vintages…..palatable and often exquisite.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of my favourite sayings: you don’t get if you don’t ask. Sorry your negotiations didn’t go far. It was worth a shot.

    Alimony was probably a good idea at one time. But it has morphed into a tool that lawyers and (and supported ex-spouses, for that matter) use to enrich themselves beyond the intent of the law. I’m sorry that you are on the receiving end of that misuse – I might even go as far as to say abuse.

    If I were you, I’d buy one of those lovely top shelf vintages any way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In my experience when I’ve sat down with my financial guru there are so many variables that may, or may not, impact my bottom line if I do this, or don’t do this, that it’s best to tune out what is being said, and live moderately well while hoping for the best. Those gurus mean well, of course, but winning the Powerball seems like the best plan to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment, Ally, reminds of a famous reaction from Harry Truman. Angry with advice he was getting from his economists, he threatened that was going to ‘chop off of their limbs’ because he got tired of hearing sentences started with, “On the one hand…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha! I’ve never heard that story. I love it, and feel the same way as HT. People talk about lawyers being shifty, but financial gurus are worse in my experience. 🤨

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I am glad that my husband’s practice wife didn’t require a long-term financial commitment from him. Divorce and money are two emotional subjects; put them together and you can have a powder keg. I’m sorry your creativity didn’t work out but maybe you can feel a little better knowing that the letter from her lawyer must have cost her some $$. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question, Vy! The sustainability of the social security system is precarious, and it was that way prior to the pandemic. There’s enough money in its coffers to pay fully until 2034. Congress is going to have to fix the funding mechanisms for it prior to that in order to refill those coffers. At the moment they can’t even agree on how to fix roads and bridges! 😩

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I almost feel guilty being amused at your expense. Sorry the negotiations didn’t work out. Since you brought up wine, might I suggest one of my cash flow tips (aka reaching for the bottom shelf)? Manage a Trois Silk, a California Blend, is available for less than $8 at Total Wine and not too bad slightly chilled. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nah, no worries, Tracey. I wouldn’t have posted my story if I couldn’t find humor in it. I’m pondering having one of those huge Publisher’s Clearinghouse-like checks printed up to send her as a souvenir of what might have been. 🙂 Thanks for the wine tip!


  8. Whenever I read a tale like yours Marty, I can’t decide whether to feel proud of myself for walking away with nothing, or whether I should berate myself for walking away with nothing 😉 😀 Himself & I don’t have much, but we do have our self-respect, our independence and are both (largely) content – which we feel is the important bit. I don’t expect either of us will be retiring any time soon, but we’re enjoying our time together – and I’ll take that over a big pay-out any day of the week. Except for a lottery win – that I’d be happy to accept! One day I might even remember to buy a ticket…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, Deb. Independence and complete financial separation must be the best feeling, post-divorce. This blog was born out of such frustrations (all those posts since deleted), and this post is the first time I decided to vent (share?) publicly again. But I figure humor along with a dose of “retirement education” (or whatever substitutes for that here) is healthier than staying angry. I think you definitely have the best outlook. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was awarded alimony…but if the ex dies…it goes away. Also…if I chose to have a relationship (fat chance,) and we’re together longer than 90 days…alimony goes away. Now…the ex was shacking up with “it” for two years before I filed for divorce…without my knowledge and while still trying to play husband to me….but no penalty for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. After reading this I can placate myself a bit, after finally completing negotiations with about to be ex, that we were already both retired by the time we split. Now I find myself in a real limbo in more ways than I want to think about. The biggest thing putting me in this position, now that divorce is over except for the paperwork, is waiting for my mom to die. I know that sounds gruesome but many of the issues around my divorce are related to her, and of course also to my dad and the way they raised me and my sister and then how we raised ourselves after we left their house (the first time).

    Bottom line is their bottom line has been pretty good for a pretty long time which was probably a root cause of the differences of opinion between me and my husband and me and my sister about how Mom should be cared for in her old age and infirmity. IDK how much of this you might have caught in my comments on your posts but if you will I would appreciate if you could pay a short visit to my new website that was created to both get me better at laying out a blog (IDK if you saw or followed my old one but it is and was a freakin’ mess) and at processing what happened there and where I go from here.

    Here’s a link to the about page which will have to be updated.

    I will probably remove some of the posts that specifically refer to the beginning blogging course that inspired me to create the new blog. There are a couple of “good” posts that I will keep so, depending on how much time you have or want to invest for my benefit, please check it out and let me know what you think of this “new start” for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Sue. Oh, I am so sorry for all the drama you’re currently going through, and what’s brought you to this point also. I know only too well what it’s like to have an aging parent with dementia, though in my case my role was limited to financial support and regular visits. Living and taking care of someone is a whole different ball of wax; so no, I don’t find your comment about waiting for her death to be upsetting at all. I get it.

      I try never to read in-between the lines about people’s intent, especially when they leave comments on my blog. For one, I’m terrible about first impressions and am usually wrong! 🙂 But also, I find it better to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Here on out, though, I’ll certainly understand the context of your comments better.

      I just signed up for your blog and added it to those I follow in WP’s Reader. We got back from vacation only yesterday, so it’ll take a couple of days for me to catch up with everything. But I do promise to check out your posts!

      Liked by 1 person

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