From the rulebook (p. 26 in the revised PDF on the FFG website):
- Some Objective Cards state “Now I…”. This requires a player to actually fulfill the requirement during the first step of the Status Phase. For example, one Objective Card reads “I now spend 20 Resources (2 victory points).” In order for a player to receive these two victory points, he must have enough Trade Goods and unexhausted planets to spend 20 resources during the first step of the Status Phase.
Your wife is correct. You must have the required number of resources and/or Trade goods to spend during the status phase. You are spending resources right now towards that objective -- hence the use of the word "Now".
The tense in Objective descriptions is very important. Other objectives use phrases like "I have" instead of "I had" to disqualify players who both capture the objective and lost it within the same turn. If you capture all planets in another player's home system and lose it to a neighbour within the same game round, you have not satisfied the requirements for the "I control all the planets in another player's Home System" objective. You may have briefly "controlled" those planets in the past, but you no longer "control" those planets right now during the Status Phase.
There are Objectives that depend on previous events, such as "I have controlled Mecatol Rex the entire Strategy Phase and Action Phase of this round". But those are rare. (And if you lose Mecatol Rex before the Status Phase, you haven't satisified that objective anyway.)