I’m a single female in my late 40s with no children. At 50 years old, my federal agency will allow me to retire with a full pension. I’m planning to, as I have a significant amount saved in my thrift savings plan, and I will move to a Southern state, probably Georgia.
A friend advised me to find a husband because my impending retirement will cause me to slow down. My response was that at this age, I don’t see any reason to get married and commingle my financial life with someone else. Am I wrong?
“‘If a relationship did not work out, I would have a big problem parting with any of my pension or savings.’”
If a relationship did not work out, I would have a big problem parting with any of my pension or savings. I have worked hard to achieve and accumulate what I have, and I don’t see a life where I would have to split everything 50/50.
My friend said I could get a prenuptial agreement, but I’m not sure that will provide adequate protection. In a worst-case scenario, I would have to pay a lawyer to fight and uphold such an agreement, and that would irritate me as well.
What advice would you give a Maryland or Georgia resident who retired with a federal pension and savings with respect to getting married at this point in life? What protections can I put in place to limit any financial damage?
Jaded in Maryland
Let me start with your friend and your finances, and then we can move on to your retirement plans and the idea of a prenup.
You don’t know what will happen in the future. You could fall head over heels for somebody. Currently, you are not building sandcastles in the sky by fantasizing about a future that has not yet happened, but demolishing them. Leave a semblance of space in your imagination for endless, life-affirming possibilities.
People are full of unsolicited advice, and it’s usually distilled through their own personal experiences and has very little to do with you. Did your friend need a plus-one to help split the costs and enjoy the lifestyle and/or retirement of her choice? Does she feel the need to stage manage other people’s lives?
Who knows? The outcome is the same: You are under no obligation to take her advice to heart, and you certainly don’t need to take her interference personally. Her intentions — good, middling or otherwise — are irrelevant. They are based on her life experience, not yours. Keep doing what you’re doing.
You are in a very fortunate position to be financially secure enough to retire at 50, and you should feel both proud and protective of your savings and retirement and other assets. This column is full of letters from people who were hoodwinked into all kinds of financial shenanigans. You are responsible for you.
That said, there is no reason why you should treat your retirement savings as a gilded cage. If you are happy being single, great. If you want to date, fandabidozi. As anyone who has used Tinder, Match.com MTCH,
“Warning: Start swiping right and left if you really want to feel jaded.”
As for marriage, Maryland and Georgia are both equitable-distribution states. That is, in the event you married and divorced, the assets you and your husband acquired during the course of your marriage would be divided equitably or fairly, but not necessarily equally. That does not include inheritance.
The magic word, as you say, is prenup. Once a dirty word, it’s now becoming less taboo. A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers concluded that more than 60% of divorce attorneys reported an increase in clients requesting prenups. It shows that people take the marriage contract seriously.
As the Alpharetta, Ga.-based law firm Charlton & Glover points out, prenups are legally binding, not limited to high net-worth individuals, and enforceable in Georgia. You must file a notarized, fully executed prenuptial agreement in the county that issued your marriage license or where you live, the law firm says.
“Prenuptial agreements describe how one spouse will pay alimony to the other,” the firm adds. “They can describe how property, assets, debts, child support, and separate maintenance are handled post-divorce.” Other stipulations could include the custody of pets, retirement funds and alimony.
You don’t have to give anyone any explanations as to why you like your own company and choose to remain single, and/or why you might change your mind at some point in the future. You can do whatever you like, whenever you want. It’s your life, your choice and your retirement. Go get ’em. Roll on the big 5-0.
You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
‘We can practically finish each other’s sentences’: I’m getting married in 2023. I want a prenup. She wants to merge our finances. What’s my next move?
‘Am I crazy?’ I’ve paid my fiancée rent for 9 years and spent $10,000 improving her home. She’s also listed on my health insurance. What would you do?
‘I dug myself out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle’: Should I use my bonus to pay off my mortgage, put it in a savings account or Vanguard?