I Tricked My Fiancee Into Doubling Her Retirement Contributions

Last month, my fiancée agreed to start making $50/mo contributions to her Roth IRA. We setup her up with an automatic contribution program so she wouldn't have to think about (otherwise it would never happen). I was really excited that her finances were starting to get on track.

However, the more I thought about it, the more anxious I got. My fiancée has been working as long as I have, and while she doesn't make much (she's a teacher), she hasn't made saving for retirement a priority. I think she needs to make up for lost time, but I feel she sees retirement contributions as lost money.

I continued to be bothered by this nagging worry that I needed to get her back on track sooner rather than later. I had originally thought that we could start small - slowly getting her to make contributions and when she got raises I could push her towards increasing her contributions. However the more I thought about it the more frustrated I got - we needed to accelerate this to make up for lost time.

Earlier we had also agreed to each make monthly contributions to a wedding fund. I began to see an opportunity to make everyone happy - I know my fiancée couldn't pass on free money, and I felt I needed to push her towards contributing more money in her Roth IRA.

I called her one night and told her I had an idea. I thought it was more important to start building up her Roth IRA more than mine. I suggested I take $50/mo from my Roth IRA contributions and instead could contribute the extra $50/mo to the wedding fund if she would take $50/mo of her wedding fund contribution and put it into her Roth IRA. From her perspective, the wedding fund contributions stay the same, but an extra $50/mo goes into her Roth IRA.

Naturally she agreed and we immediately bumped up her Roth IRA contributions to $100/mo from $50/mo. Of course I left my Roth IRA contributions the same and now just pay an extra $50/mo to the wedding fund. I think it was a smart move that will pay off after the wedding is over - I'll stop contribution to the wedding fund, but I hope she will still be contributing to her Roth IRA.

A bit of trickery, but with good intent.

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Comments (20)

hope your wife doesn't read your blog :P

Very good move, she will thank you in the long run

Sneaky, very sneaky! I think she'll understand the importance of retirement money once it starts to collect and when that retirement age starts looming closer. I've never thought about it myself until recently; now I understand it's importance even if I can't contribute as much as I'd like to it and I'm sure your fiancee will be the same way in due time.

It's nice that you want to increase contributions for your fiancee, but why can't you just tell her that if she contribute $50/month more your wedding fund will still stay intact? or is it the matching incentive that gets her?

My believe is my fiancee sees more urgency in saving for immediate things like the wedding, new car, new house, etc and is in the mindset that she can start saving for retirement later.

By proposing this idea, there is no effect (eg no sacrifice on her part) in order to save more for retirement.

This certainly doesn't fix the issue in my mind - we still need to work through how we are go save more for retirement. However this "stop gap" does help us close the gap a bit - we won't be getting as far behind.

does you fiancee have the opportunity for a 403b plan for pretax contributions? if so, setting a aside a percentage of salary increases contributions automatically when she gets pay raises/promotions.


10% of $40,000 sets aside $4,000

10% of new salary $45,000 sets aside $4,500

one doesn't really notice the effects of the increasing contributions since the income increased.

just a thought to consider

Kenny - she currently doesn't contribute to a 403(b) or 401(k) plan - her employer has both although no matching contributions. I briefly looked at the plans and didn't think highly of them at first glance.

At this point I have been focusing my attention on the Roth IRA since I think it makes the most sense since we has a big difference in our income levels (hers is a lot less than mine). I want to milk that as much as possible while we can.

We have verbally agreed that any annual raises will be targeted for additional retirement contributions and I think at that time we will re-examine the 403(b) and 401(k) plans.

Your right - it will make it much easier to save if its a % of her income and she can't see it/touch it before its moved over.

I was under the impression from many of my friends that teacher retirement plans were very good and they didn't really have to worry too much about it. I think that I heard they get around 75% of the average of their final three years salary...forever. That is awesome.

Of course I know that doesn't make you set for retirement at all...but it is a much better start than those of us in the corporate world are getting.

I have heard the same thing, but I have reviewed the NC retirement program and it is not adequate for us.

My fiancee is required to contribute 5% of her salary to it (not sure if she can opt out of the plan all together) and it does have a old-school pension formula based on years of service and salary for something like the last 5 years of employment. There doesn't appear to be any matching contributions. The funding for the pension basically comes from her required contributions and the interest from those contributions.

I should probably break this down in a seperate post, but the results are not very encouraging. My fiancee will probably stop working for a period of time when we start our family and there is uncertainty as to whether she would return at all.

Given the poor pay of teachers in NC (I understand it is much better in other areas of the country) and the uncertainty about how long she will be working there - I think its prudent to maximize retirement contributions.

I don’t think your approach was deceptive at all; you simply used a creative and effective way of describing the flow of money between the different accounts/funds/etc. Because it sounds like your finances are still separate at this point, it doesn’t matter where the money is coming from as long as you fulfill your promise with regard to the shared account. Great job!

Reading your posts is like eating potato chips – I can’t stop at just one . . .

But why not just tell her you'd kick in an extra $50 to the wedding fund if she doubled her retirement contribution? Why lie about taking it out of your retirement to put into the wedding fund? You'd have accomplished the same thing and been truthful about it, to boot.

Well, I hadn't wanted to write this comment, but, what the heck. It is NOT good idea for a saver to marry a spender. My ex-wife couldn't save a penny. Life is too short than to figure out new ways to "trick" her to do the rational thing.
I had built up a net worth of about $500K, which was cut in half to $250k when we divorced. She spent all hers in two years after we divorced, while I managed to get mine back to where it was and beyond, but many lost years there.
A wife is the most expensive thing you can splurge on if she does not have the right financial behaviors.
Hope you have, or else, you had better get a pre-nup. Or else you need to up your goal to 4 million, because statistically speaking there's a 50% chance yours will end in divorce.
My new wife is a better saver than me, and that "nagging worry" about her saving is a thing of the past.
Having said that, I wish you and your fiancee the best.

Its not that bad - I have to remphasize for my fiancee's sake - to me the most important quality is that she "spends less than she earns". If I married someone as cheap as me I would be in bad shape ;-). My fiancee helps balance me out.

She will be thanking you in 40 years.

I don't think there was anything tricky about it. It is in her best interests, and you'll both be further ahead in the long-run. I do agree with kate, you probably didn't need to make up a story about where the money was coming from.

If your out-of-pocket wedding cost is going to be $6,600, it will take a long time of contributing at $100/mo to get it funded. :) I'm glad I have a cheap wife; our entire wedding went down for just over $3,000, nearly all of which was covered by my father-in-law. Our honeymoon was one night at a bed and breakfast. Thank goodness my wife (and I) come from frugal (not poor, frugal) families.

Currently our monthly contributions to our "wedding fund" are at $550/mo.

Im drooling over the thought of only spending $3,000. Any suggestions?


It's geared towards brides, but I read all the tips and tell my fiancee about them. Although I have to admit, they are mostly common sense type of things. And no, I haven't bought the ebook.
We have used some of tips and will end up saving around $2500.

"Im drooling over the thought of only spending $3,000. Any suggestions?"
Don't have one? We spent around $4,000 when we got married and $3,000 of that was on the rings. The other thousand were wedding clothes (no wedding dress or Tux, just nice clothes we both can wear again), no photographer (had my host sister take pics) and a courthouse wedding. It turned out well, but I doubt your fiancéé would go for it.

A bit of trickery with good intent is still deception. You should learn negotiating and communicating skills with your fiancee before you get married. If she is the spender and you are the saver, you'll need to learn how to be a team and work it out together. What if she lies to you about how much she spends or what she spends it on? It's better to be truthful and not have more money saved for retirement, then to start off your married life with dishonesty.

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