I am a competitive person. I played sports for most of my childhood. When my body broke, I turned to competitive choir. I was good. I’m still alright, but in high school, I had all the awards to demonstrate my choir’s and my own excellence. When I got to college, I was competitive with my education. I was really good at school. My transcripts reflect that.
Now that I’m in the working world, I’ve chosen two routes of competition. First, I want to be excellent at my job. Second, I want to save all the money. This post is about saving all the money.
When I started my job, I had little invested. I had my small taxable account and $5500 in an IRA. Hubs had dabbled in 401k investing for years. He had roughly $50,000 saved.
It started innocently enough. I wanted to race him to $100k in investments between our 401k and IRA accounts. My taxable investments didn’t count. He had a huge head start, but I had a fire in me. I already felt like I was incredibly behind with investing, and I knew I was going to hit the ground running.
A race to $100k invested helped both of us. The more we have invested the better. As the CFO of our marriage, I started with a fair approach. I got him into an IRA and we maxed that. We both bumped up our 401k contributions.
Then I got a little crazy. I continued to bump up my contribution before the New Year and set it to max in 2016. Then I got distracted by other savings goals
We are still saving for a house, as we have been since we paid off my loans. Then we booked a vacation to Australia. I created a budget for the trip and set up automatic transfers into our travel account to cover our expenses.
Here I am today, maxing out all of my retirement accounts, saving for a house, saving for a vacation. Yet, Hubs isn’t maxing his 401k. I built it into the schedule for him to set his account to the maximum percentage he needs after we save for Australia. It wouldn’t max in 2016, but it will be all ready to max in 2017 when he has a full year contributing that percent.
The reality is that I’m prioritizing a house I don’t want and a vacation (I’m really excited for) over my husband’s retirement. I’m also choosing to pay more in taxes because his 401k isn’t maxed out. Why do I want to pay more taxes??
And because I’m competitive, I’m trying to win this race to $100k.
I didn’t realize what I was doing with this new plan. As it evolved, the plan wasn’t a bad one. However, now in its current state, it screws him over. I refuse to screw over my best friend.
Would I love to catch up to him? Absolutely. Maybe I will eventually because I have a better 401k match. But I am not willing to prioritize a sweet vacation and a house over his retirement and our future.
I’m cancelling the race.
Since writing this, Hubs bumped up his 401k. He’s still not fully comfortable with investing so he bumped it up as much as he was comfortable. Next year, he’ll max. This year, he’ll be close. I plan to evaluate our cash flow over the next few checks to see if I we have room to get him to max this year. Baby steps.