Column: How To Get Your Spouse To Stop Working, A LANL Story


Nothing is better than driving up N.M. 4 early in the morning several times a year to visit my clients in Los Alamos.

My ritual includes putting on a pair of red Pillotti driving shoes and driving my four door daddy car like it is a mid-life crisis two door convertible up the hill. It’s a lifestyle thing. Yes, my mom lives up in Los Alamos and a decent chunk of clients worked there for years. So, I have a reason to go up there anyway, but I still choose the take the extra time and enjoy the scenery unknown to rat-race city dwellers. Who can resist posting a Facebook page of my morning commute to old friends still living back in NYC or a hellish suburb in Southern California.

My point is simple: I have the career and the lifestyle. Most people who dedicated their careers to LANL probably had their share of matrix management frustrations or irritating audits to deal with over the years. Yet you can’t deny that living in one of the most picturesque parts of the world is hard to give up. So what if you have successfully retired but your spouse is still working that part time job for extra cash?

Let’ me give you three broad strokes to add context to the situation.

Do You Want Your Spouse At Home?

If you have been with your partner for a few decades or more or a lot more, you know what I am talking about. We all need space to maintain our sanity. During our working lives a career provides the time away that makes the heart grow stronger. As we wind down and spend more time around each other, there has to be an escape hatch to avoid relationship cabin fever. While many people choose to keep working full or part time, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “if money wasn’t an issue, would I do something else to get out of the house?” If your answer is yes, keep reading.

Can You Replace The Income From Part Time Work?

This is one of the most sought out questions for my team to solve. Until we can get past the desire to work versus time apart, it’s impossible to get to the heart of the matter. Many times people simply don’t know if they have enough to live comfortably in their current lifestyle long term. So they simply default to living off a pension, a little social security and part time work. This is no way to enjoy your 60s and 70s. Part of the issue outside of simply doing a proper analysis is the fear of dipping into your savings. Remember that you saved money for 30 or 40 years. NOW you are suppose to spend it? Talk about a difficult mental switch.

You Have Enough, Now What?

Cut the cord! We find that once the emotional shock that you can replace your income is addressed, peace breaks out. Suddenly, you can start living again with confidence. Keep in mind most of our client’s were not bent out of shape by these small hurdles we had to jump over. In going through this process you find out a lot about who people really are. Most of the time the real issue wasn’t getting away from the person you want to be with the most. It’s simply an exercise in finding the underling issues with money.

Retirement income analysis, too much or too little risk, and understanding pension and social security benefits are the main culprits holding people back. They just need to tweak their retirement and have a project manager make it work.

If you want to get started, show up to my Social Security Made SIMPLE seminar. This is a free educational seminar that will cover the basics, to strategies, and how to avoid mistakes. All in plain English. It will be held at noon Wednesday, Sept. 23 at Mesa Public Library, 2400 Central Ave., in Los Alamos. We will be on the second floor in the meeting rooms.

Yes, the red driving shoes are coming as well.

Lee Munson, CFA, CFP is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Portfolio Wealth Advisors, a wealth management firm with offices in Albuquerque and Oklahoma City, Okla. Munson began his career in the 1990s as a trader on Wall Street and then relocated to Albuquerque. Munson is a frequent guest on CNBC, Fox Business Network and CNN.

His insights and contributions have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, and CNNMoney. He is the author of “Rigged Money: Beating Wall Street at its Own Game” (John Wiley & Sons). Munson works with families in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Los Alamos. In his spare time he juggles a family while racing cars and skiing Taos.