Re: Second guessing whether I'm off base here
Well, I may be the one weirdo here.....
If you both have decent jobs, it's hard to imagine having 20 years of financial trouble unless you're making decisions that cause spending to be out of control.
I really hate to see people spending 60 hours a week at work - that's seriously valuable time that could be spent loving, nurturing, contributing to community, etc.
Everybody has unexpected expenses - house repairs, car repairs, etc. If you were to put 30% of your gross income into a bank account, would that be enough to cover any two of the unexpected expenses? Unless your routine expenses are too high, you should be able to create this "emergency fund" in about a year...or two.
Have you ever compared your annual spending with the average for people your age? A web search will tell you this info. You can also find the average by category.
About some specific items you mentioned:
- Car repairs. If my car requires a repair that exceeds the cost of a set of tires, I get rid of the car. I buy 5-8 year old Toyotas and Hondas, the low-end models with few toys, with over 100,000 miles on them, and get another 200,000 without any repairs exceeding the cost of tires. There's no reason, ever, to allow a car to hurt your budget.
- You have kids in college. If you have debt other than the mortgage, and you are old enough to have kids in college, you're not going to have an easy time getting ready for retirement. This would be a red flag. How many monthly bills do you have? We have four. Can you reduce? Cable TV ain't cheap.
- Medical bills: In the US anyway, the law stipulates that health insurance includes out-of-pocket maximums per family, that are relatively low, compared with "two decent jobs" - $10k on the high side, $3k on the low side. However, insurance companies and medical facilities make errors all the time, have you held their feet to the fire?
- Natural disasters are usually covered by homeowner's insurance with a small deductible. Are you using your insurance policies, or paying out of pocket?
- Guardianship of niece - not my domain, but would it be reasonable to consider that the expenses should about equal that of having a child her age?
As an example, my brother:
- Underpaid for his profession, for complicated reasons...at his age, median US income for a male is $70K and he's below that. For his profession, median is $100k. His wife does not work, never has. BTW, when you say you both "have decent jobs", how do you decide this? Are you above median income for your age? Age and industry? Maybe you are underpaid?
- Seven children. All went to private school. All went to college, only one had it paid by a grant. All were taught how to work and start a company before age 16, so they all contributed to college, but Mom & Dad still paid 80%.
- Natural disasters? Sold their Florida home at 33% of what they paid, because in one year, three different hurricanes decimated the entire neighborhood, causing brother's employer to relocate to the midwest...no job, no need for home. Insurance paid for every repair, but didn't do a thing about reduced value.
...Some years later, four of the seven kids had found work in New Orleans, and were "living on the cheap" in double-wides with zero insurance. Katrina wiped out $180,000, and my bro took in the kids...and kick-started them on new homes in the midwest.
- Medical? Three kids and two grandkids have required heart stents...which is done 3X in a person's life.
And yet - they've managed to squirrel away a half million in their retirement accounts.
One ONE below-average income.
Have you ever sought financial counseling? Understanding where your expenses are relative to norms is really useful.
I'm not a "suffer so you can survive" kind of person at all - I'm just bothered when I hear about someone spending 20 years with money being more important than stuff that should be more important. Sacrificing your most precious resource - time - for nothing more than money is a crime. It's no way to live.
I would say, instead of asking hubs to "step up to the plate", raise your own perspective to something bigger than money - life and love - figure out how to need less. Life is a LOT happier with less money, fewer concerns, and simplicity.
My guess? His soul has finally told him "this is stupid - 20 years and our biggest concern is materialism? I'd rather die." I got there in my late 20s. Most folks get there before age 40. Those who don't get there until 60 usually die very sad.
There are three kinds of business. Your business, my business and God's business. Whose business are you in? -Byron Katie