Mrs. Groovy on Marriage: Listen Up, Ladies!

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I’m a baby boomer. I’m fifty-six years old and I didn’t get married until I was forty-two. I defy the statistics. Mr. Groovy and I should have grandchildren by now, or at least be preparing for an empty nest. We have no children and this is a first marriage for us both. We got a late start.

When I was single I was super independent. In my 20s and early 30s I was one of those chicks who said, “I don’t need a man to be happy.” I liked dating, but I thought I was way too cool and too liberated for marriage. I enjoyed going out at all hours and answering to no one.

I wanted travel and adventure, but I had absolutely no interest in seeking it out by myself. I didn’t have the urge to backpack through Europe alone or go on hiking trips by myself. And none of my friends had similar vacation ideas. When I looked at hotel prices, single rooms were way too expensive for someone like me, who was always under-employed.

I also wasn’t motivated to improve my surroundings. I had a small apartment, entertained very little and never took an interest in decorating. I enjoyed cooking and wanted to learn how to do it better, but I couldn’t get excited about cooking only for myself.  I occasionally made dinner for a boyfriend on the weekends. But the rest of the time I just threw together meals for myself.

As years went by, my life began to feel very transitional. It was as if I was always waiting for something to happen. Finally, when I reached my late 30s, I admitted to myself that I needed a partner in crime. I wanted a husband. Drumroll, please….in walked Mr. Groovy.

Not so fast. No it didn’t happen that quickly. It took another four years of dating before landing on the Planet of the Happily Married.

So why am I talking about marriage?

Because there’s a lot of discussion in the news about boomers vs. millennials. Recently I found results of a survey done by the Pew Research Center with several interesting takeaways. It found that while only 26% of millennials are married, 69% of them would like to be married. It also found that millennials are burdened more by financial hardship than any previous generation. Other studies imply that economics is a major concern for millennials. They want financial security before marriage.

I find this fascinating. Because I’m convinced, had Mr. Groovy and I not gotten married, I’d still be living paycheck to paycheck, without clear direction for my future. I would have muddled along OK, but I would not have created the life I now have. I was nowhere financially before I got married.

I didn’t marry Mr. Groovy for money. Neither one of us had any. But we made a good team. We were on the same page. We both appreciated “ordinary” and it felt good to find someone to be ordinary with.

After we married, the road to financial freedom took about 12 years. The first few years of our marriage were difficult. It wasn’t until we decided to get out of New York that our lives took a different path.

The match that set us on fire was our “Three-Year Plan” to relocate. Working towards a very specific goal early in our marriage helped us forge a cement-like bond. The plan also made everything else bearable: the crummy jobs, the long commutes, the high price of everything, the small apartment—none of it bothered us anymore. It was all OK, because it was temporary.

So let me tell you the financial benefits of marriage that make me extremely happy:

Two Paychecks

Everything’s easier when you have two paychecks. Even though our combined salaries are not extremely high, our income goes far. Fixed costs such as housing, utilities, insurance, etc. don’t eat up all the money we have coming in.

Supercharge Savings 

We each have employer-matched retirement plans and max out our Roth IRAs. Our portfolio is very diversified and spread out broadly over different asset classes. Because our expenses are low, we have much more money remaining at the end of the month for saving.

Taxes

We save a bundle on taxes. For 2016, married individuals filing jointly can take the standard deduction of $12,600. Each of us can also claim a personal exemption of $4,050. Using these deductions and exemptions, Mr. Groovy and I will reduce our earnings by $20,700 this year. We further reduce our income by maxing out our employer retirement accounts. Lower income means lower taxes.

For a married couple selling a primary home, up to $500,000 in profit is excluded from capital gains taxes, providing both have lived in the home for at least two years. Theoretically, a couple can buy and sell a home every two years and keep the profit tax free, if it is under $500K.

Cleaning

We’ve devised a cleaning schedule that spans Monday through Friday and gets the whole house cleaned in bite-sized chunks of time. Our weekends are now free for fun, and our house hasn’t been this spotless in years!

Goal Setting

Without a partner, I lacked motivation.  My finances were sorry. Retiring with dignity was not just out of the question, it wasn’t even on my radar. My surroundings were a mess. And forget about planning for the future. I certainly couldn’t see myself visiting all 50 states, spending a month in Ecuador, or buying land and building a home. But now I look forward to these things and more with Mr. Groovy. Having a companion who is up for adventure makes all the difference in the world.

Having a co-pilot 

Having a co-pilot helps my sanity. I can bounce ideas off of Mr. Groovy and he’ll warn me when I’m about to do something stupid. A dependable co-pilot is the equivalent of having an additional insurance policy.

Final Words of Wisdom on Marriage

When I even contemplated the “M” word in my 20s, I thought I’d need to find the perfect clone of myself.  He’d have to be passionate about the same things I was. We’d need to think alike, have the same communication style and finish each other’s sentences. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you’re an intense person, like I am, you’ll recognize the truth in this statement:

I find it exhausting to live with MYSELF! I can’t imagine living with SOMEONE ELSE who is exactly like me!

That’s right, I admit it. I’m not easy. Mr. Groovy, on the other hand, is mellow and laid back. After all, he IS Mr. Groovy. He’s cool and even tempered. I’m hot and excitable. We’re a perfect pair. We complement one another. If I had married someone like myself, I would have killed him by now.

And that’s another thing. Divorce is not an option. Early on we agreed we’re stuck with one another. Death is the only way out. To prove it, I challenged Mr. Groovy one day while we were hiking on the side of a cliff in Bryce Canyon, Utah. There was no guardrail and it was an extremely windy day. I was having trouble staying upright. I told him, here was his chance to push me off the cliff and collect the insurance. He’d be the subject of a “Forensic Files” episode, but he’d get away with it.

“Nothing doing,” he said. “What would I do with the money if I didn’t have you to spend it with?”

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22 Comments

  1. Great articles – thanks for sharing. I know our marriage has been great for us both financially for all the reasons you’ve mentioned even through some of the rougher periods. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  2. Haha. You sound like me in the beginning. I got married after 30 and divorced by 35! It just wasn’t what it should have been.

    The thing is, having a partner is what it is all about. I travel alone a lot but I love having someone to say “remember when…” to. You guys are
    lucky to have found each other. 🙂

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks Miss M. I was one month shy of 43 when we got married so it was a long time in the making. I’m only good with doing specific things alone, otherwise I need a partner in crime.

  3. I had pretty much given up on the hope of getting married before I met my husband, and now I can’t imagine life without him. Like you said, everything is more fun with a buddy, and we’re just as happy cooking at home or working in the garden than out on the town, maybe even more, so we don’t have to chase the next shiny thing.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Me too, Julie! I had just about given up myself. And then we met by chance. The rest is history! I’m glad for both of us that we found are partners. It sounds like we lead very similar lifestyles. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Thanks for sharing.

    I originally had no intention of every falling in love and getting married… then I met Karla in college. 🙂 We’re at the other “extreme” – we got married right after graduating.

    We would echo many of the thoughts you shared. Additionally, for us, I started a business in 1996 and grew it until we exited in 2014. I could not have done that – especially as well as I did – without the help of a supportive spouse. It is so important to have your significant other on-board with big things like entrepreneurship, finances, family priorities, etc.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      You’re lucky you found your match at a young age. Mr. G and I often wonder how much “damage” we could have done, had we started earlier. BUT, when we were in our 20s I seriously doubt either of us would have liked the other!

      Wow, you had a successful business for 18 years! That’s amazing. I have no doubt you couldn’t have done it, or done it as well, without Karla. Funny but when Mr G came to me with the idea for Freedom is Groovy he was certain I’d put the kibosh on it. He’s given me total veto power but I liked it from the start. He’s come up with many weird ideas, but this wasn’t one of them.

  5. Great read. I know that my ability to be financially responsible increased when my partner came along. Being on the same page is so important as there really is nothing better than having someone else to help pull you out of a bad time/(financial) decision.

    One difference is that Australia doesn’t have different tax for married vs individuals (just some small differences). So it is much better to both have an average income than one high and one low.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      A partner can surely help keep you from making a bad financial decision. It also helps to have someone to share goals with. We find our goals keep us on track. That’s very interesting about taxes in Australia. I didn’t know it worked differently for married couples. I can see how it would be better for both partners to have similar income levels. Thanks for reading and commenting, Tom.

  6. I am a millennial and got married to my now husband at 28. Currently 30. We have been together since university when I was 22. I have always wanted to get married. You are right though, things tend to work out better when you marry someone that compliments you (we are almost polar opposites in terms of our personalities) but we have much of the same goals. I am finding though it is tough to get our finances up and going at times. We just got debt free but we live in an expensive city so we need to have our money stretch. Our goal is to gain experience here and then move to a small town as our kids (unborn) grow. Thanks for the post.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for commenting Pamela. I hope you realize it’s a great accomplishment to be debt free, let alone at a young age and in an expensive city. You must be doing a lot of things right!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I know what you mean, Jaime. I used to hate Valentine’s Day too. That’s my next post topic, how Mr. G and I spend ours.

  7. I like your comments on the value of shared goal setting & discipline in marriage. My wife and I are both pretty goal-oriented, but much more so together. At the same time, my unmarried older brother (in his 50s now) seems to have always lacked someone to help give his goals focus.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Two people can accomplish so much more together when they’re committed to each other and their goals. By the way, love your “What are you going to DO?” People ask us that about everything: What are you going to DO living in North Carolina? What are you going to DO on vacation in Alabama? And we’re so jealous you only have 2 states to go.

  8. Great post! I got married the first time at age 23. I always wanted to be married and have a partner, and I liked being a husband. But after a couple of decades, I found myself divorced and starting over, both romantically and financially. I was lucky enough to find love and marriage a second time, but not until I was 56. By this time my outlook on finances had changed quite a bit and fortunately my second wife shared my goals and my frugal viewpoint. We’ve been a great team for the past 10 years and while there might have been a time or two where we wanted to push each other off the cliff, it’s been lots more better than worse.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks so much Gary! Wow that’s a great story. I’m really glad you remained optimistic about marriage after a divorce. You’re not only lucky to find love and marriage again, but lucky to connect with a woman with a similar mindset. I think that’s key. Value systems need to be similar in order for marriage to work. And I loved reading your last sentence. It made me laugh out loud.

  9. Just posted a stat from the U.S. Census Bureau on marriage 29.5 and 27.6 years – Median age at first marriage in 2014 for men and women, respectively. My wife and I got married at 29 and 28. We are much better as a team!

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for the stat, Brian. And thanks for ignoring “Ladies’ in the title and coming on over to read and comment. You’re lucky to have found your teammate n your 20s. We always ponder what life would be like if we had gotten an earlier start. FYI, whenever I thank Mr. Groovy for doing something for me, he says, “We’re a team!” He’s even gone around the house singing the lyrics from the song from the Wonder Pets cartoon, “What’s gonna work? Teamwork!”

  10. As someone who got married at 38 to someone of 46 (first time for both of us), I see a lot of the same factors. (we’ll have to work on the cleaning, though). Jon is very good for me, both on a personal level and a financial level, and together I think we are a lot more focused on the future. He also helps keep me more accountable.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks for commenting Emily. It sounds like you have a wonderful marriage. I can tell from your blog, too.

      The one big difference between us is that you have a child. Not that there are any guarantees in life, but I can tell from your parenting skills that your daughter will be there for you when you get older. Mr. Groovy and I are pretty conservative about the size of our nest egg because we may have to pay for help if one of our nieces or nephews won’t help take care of us. We’re close with them but they have their own parents to worry about. Mr. Groovy, I and my brother take care of my aunt. We moved her from FL to assisted living in NC and she’s now in a nursing home. She has dementia but was very good at hiding it for a long time. I kid you not, but the Board President of her condo in FL called social services to get her “help” but in actuality, he was trying to buy her condo out from under her. My brother and I now have POA, and watch over her health and finances like a hawk. I can’t count on anyone to be as meticulous with Mr. Groovy and me, as we are with my aunt. The nursing home is very above board, but we put them on notice from day one that we’re watching. My mother (identical twin of my aunt) had dementia and my father had Parkinson’s so losing my wits is a huge concern.