Importance of a significant other’s role in your path to FIRE (financial independence retire early)

 


Leonardo Da Vinci:  “Life without love is no life at all.”

My wife and I are recent early retirees at ages 51 and 48.  We have been on this journey to reach financial independence and to retire early for the past 10 years or so.  We finally reached that on August 2020.  Since August, we’ve been traveling to various locations in the eastern parts of the United States with our companion, a Pomeranian dog named Toby.

In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on the importance of a significant other’s role in reaching financial independence and to retire early.

My wife and I met in college in New York City.  I remember telling her that she looked like the partying type (she was pretty!)  I loved her reaction when I told her that (she couldn’t believe I had said that to someone who just met).  I had literally met her for the first time in the second floor cafeteria that day.  I guess I wasn’t very socially aware...

For whatever reason, I just knew she was someone I could see myself marrying when I saw her for the first time.  I can’t explain it...It just felt right with this person.  

We hit it off soon after that.  It started as a friendly greeting, then it became in depth conversations about everything.  We talked about our love of music, movies we liked, New York City attractions, our friends in college, among others.  

When we were together, we could talk to each other without feeling awkward.  When we would meet at a train station on our way to school, we would both be giddy to see each other.  There was camaraderie and love between us.  

So, in 1996, we got married.  We could always communicate well and decide things together.  Things like renting our first apartment, getting a new job, or figuring out whose parents we should visit first, weren’t issues for us.  We didn’t fight much on money issues.  We knew to at least not overspend each month, usually...

Even when we both decided to move to Hawaii, we would talk, so we could avoid any potential conflicts.  

It was in Hawaii when we had our first major fight.  I wanted to move back to the mainland, near the east coast, while my wife did not.  Hawaii life suited her better than it suited me.  I got ‘rock fever’ or ‘island fever’ after about year and a half...I got tired of feeling stuck in a confined space that is an island...

The fight lasted few days, but my wife realized I was getting antsy to be living in an island.  Frankly, our job prospects weren’t very good in Hawaii.  We both worked for minimum wage.  I worked at a transportation company and my wife worked at a retail store...There was no financial incentive to stay there and we also realized we needed to seriously start thinking about our retirement.  In Hawaii, jobs we had wouldn’t provide that...

In 2006, we made the move back to the mainland, specifically, Pennsylvania.  Pennsylvania is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from New York City and it was a good location due to its good job prospects in the Delaware Valley.

I knew I could get a job that paid more than minimum wage.

As you well know by now, the job that I got in Pennsylvania ended up being my last job.  This is the job that allowed me to be financially independent and to retire early.

After this long and winding introduction to our marriage, I’m guessing you’re waiting for the punchline.  

Well, here you go:

  • When looking for a significant other, be sure you both can communicate constantly.  Share your thoughts, fears, and future plans with your significant other.  
In life, you’ll be guaranteed to run into all kinds of problems.  Most are money related, but others like family issues (why we’re only spending time with your parents but not mine) and relationship issues (why I don’t help out with cooking, dishes, etc,), will come up sooner or later. 

Everyone has issues.  It’s just learning to deal with these issues that makes us adults.  Resolve issues together.  Talk it through.  Adapt and change.  Remember, no one’s perfect.  If we were, the world wouldn’t have so many problems!
  • When it comes to money matters (this is considered the number one reason why couples divorce), you should both be truthful about your finances.  Share what debt you each have, share your principles on money matters, figure out how each parents’ penchant for money matters affects each of you, and always plan things TOGETHER!
The simple act of communicating with your significant other, then deciding on a solution together is what makes relationships last.  This way both parties have a stake in a successful completion of whatever you both decide on.  

The more you cooperate, the better and stronger your relationship will be.  
  • Sit down on a regular basis to discuss things that are important to you.  
For financial topics:  Plan out, write down, and commit to what you’ll both do to reach that goal.  Revisit the goal you set out regularly to see how you’re doing.  

For family/relationship topics:  Discuss then commit to what needs work.  If you’re only visiting one set of parents, visit the other equally (or close to it as you can).  If you need to help out with house chores, discuss then commit to what you’re going to do.  Revisit the plan regularly.
  • When you’re a couple, it’s more important that BOTH of you are equally committed to FIRE (financial independence retire early).  
You cannot go about it separately.  If one of you wants to retire but the other doesn’t, then that will be an issue later on.  Constantly communicate how and why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Revisit it regularly to reaffirm your goals.
  • It’s better to have someone to share everything with and to love, than being alone.  Food tastes better when you’re enjoying and savoring together.  Experiences feel amazing when you have someone to enjoy it with.  Humans seek interaction with others, to find love, to share love, to truly feel happy.  I believe it is one of life’s greatest achievements to find someone to love and to be loved...
In conclusion:

The importance of your significant other’s role in reaching financial independence and retiring early cannot be underestimated.  Without both of you understanding each other’s motives and each other’s financial history, path to FIRE is fraught with dangers.  

Constant communication is an integral part of being a good partner.  In money matters, it’s even more so, as one person’s financial history and beliefs can either sabotage or assist in the path to FIRE.  Only by talking things through can both of you come to an understanding of what needs to change for the better...

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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