There's just something about personal finance and financial independence. Once it clicks, people want to jump in with both feet. But sometimes there's a catch. If your money is more than just you, it's important to get your partner and your family on board with financial independence.
But how do you do that? That's exactly the question that someone left me recently. Let's take a look at the question and then explore some steps to get your partner on board with financial independence.
My name is also Andy. I invest in Vanguard index funds and I’m pursuing financial independence to retire early.
I’m trying to get my fiancé on board with the goal to achieve FIRE. Do you have any advice on how to go about doing that when your partner doesn’t seem too interested?
Congratulations on finding the FIRE Movement and committing to improving your financial life!
While I love the concept of FIRE–and it’s often misunderstood based on the Retire Early part–getting someone you love on board with what can be seen as a radical concept in our society can be QUITE difficult.
I made many many blunders with this in my relationship. Here are just a few:
- Encouraging my new wife to sell her car that she loved.
- Continuing to talk about numbers, facts, and figures when my wife wasn’t motivated by them.
- Pressing hard for financial independence, ignoring my wife’s needs, and ending up in marriage counseling for it.
Now, I’m not saying that financial independence and FIRE is a bad idea. In fact, I think it’s a fantastic idea if executed in accordance with what works best for your relationship.
Ways to Get Your Partner on Board with Financial Independence
Because I suspect you love your fiancé MORE than you love being able to achieve financial independence, let’s talk about how to choose your path together.
That may look like the traditional FIRE path or it may be your own unique version that works well for you and your fiance.
I think when we look at our finances in a black or white way, it can cause a lot of tension in relationships.
So with that in mind, I have a few ideas for you to try …
Ask Your Partner Some Fun Questions
Since you two are entering into a life-long partnership together, I’d recommend finding out as much as you can about your fiance’s dreams, passions and desires for life.
With this information, you’ll be able to be a more empathetic partner and perhaps find a middle ground for a version of financial independence that works best for both of you.
So during your next date night (not in passing), ask your fiance some fun life questions.
Here are a few to get the ball rolling:
1. What do you spend your money on that makes you happy?
This question will give you a preview of your partner’s passions and what makes them smile. These could be indicators for you on what are your finance’s “must-haves” in your relationship.
If you come up to your partner when you’re planning your FIRE journey and say, “we need to cut out clothes shopping” and they love “clothes shopping” … this can spell disaster for your relationship and your chances at FI.
2. If you had $1,000,000 and had to give it away, what would you do with it?
Your partner's answer to this question reveals where their passions lie. Are they all about family? Are they all about saving the planet?
With financial independence, these dreams for giving back time and money may become more of a reality. Also, see how you can incorporate a small version of this passion today.
3. What are your dreams for life?
You're getting married because you love your fiance. You want the best for them. Together, you are going to be enhanced versions of yourselves and go where you've never gone before. So where is that place for your partner?
- Do they want to travel the world?
- Are they interested in having a bunch of kids and be involved in their activities and sports?
- Do they want to own a business someday?
All of these questions will lead to eye-opening and incredible conversations that start your marriage off right. The openness, transparency, and honesty that come out of these discussions will hopefully lead to a great start to your marriage.
And a more directed conversation around what financial independence means to both of you.
Share Your Passions and Desires Too
Using these same questions or additional ones that make sense for your relationship, share your passions for life as well.
Help your partner know where you stand, what you care about and why it’s important to you. This open communication will do wonders for your long term relationship together.
When you’re sharing, leave out the numbers, spreadsheets, and compound interest charts. Speak from your heart.
Perhaps you’re working in an industry you don’t like and want to transition out. Or you have a small business idea in mind that you’re dying to get off the ground.
Suppressing your desires isn’t healthy for the relationship either (believe me, I’ve done that too … that’s how you create a future volcano that explodes when you least expect it). So share with your fiancé just as they have shared with you. This is when the real conversations of FIRE begin.
Redefine FIRE with Both of You in Mind
With this new found information (on both sides), I’d like you to throw out the FIRE playbook and write your own script.
That’s right! Get rid of some of the FIRE classics of cutting the cord on cable, buying rental properties and shopping at Aldi. Because your fiance might LOVE cable TV, they may never want to own a rental property and they may be a die hard for Whole Foods!
Craft your plan with your fiance’s needs in mind and your needs in mind.
I’ll give you an example. When Nicole and I were working together to help me transition out of my career and into a life of entrepreneurship, I brought up that having a cleaning lady seemed like a waste of money and we should cut it out of our budget.
OH MAN was that a bad move!
Nicole absolutely LOVED (and still does) the type of help around the house. She craves a tidy, clean, and orderly home. So when I threatened that tidy, clean, and orderly home with my budget crunching, that did not go over well. That was one of her “must-haves”.
Those “must haves” are different for all relationships. And I bet you have some “must haves” too.
For me, I love having money for vacations, kids' activities, and certain expensive healthy foods! I could care less about clothing, furniture or even cars.
So do this discovery and create a plan that works best for both of you.
Closing Thoughts on How to Get Your Partner on Board with Financial Independence
I’ve spoken to dozens of couples about their FIRE path, plans, victories, and failures.
One resounding theme from most all of them was they wished they hadn’t been so intense and raced to the finish line as quickly as they did.
So as you’re planning your path to FIRE whether it’s investing in the stock market or real estate, make sure you’re putting your relationship first so that you have someone to enjoy your financial independence with.
Still wondering how to get your partner on board with financial independence? Care to share any tips that you've used?
Let us know in the comments below.
Getting two people on the same sheet of music in a family for financial independence is a hard thing sometimes. Some people like to spend and others like to save and invest.
It can be hard for sure. A little compromise and empathy can go a long way.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and for the great advice. I will ask my fiance these questions and we will have to put together a plan. I think as long as were both open and honest with each other we will be fine. I liked the part where you said that we should define what financial independence means to both of us. Thanks again for providing great advice.
I’m so glad it was helpful Andy! Please let me know if you have any other questions along your journey.
Great advice. I wonder sometimes why people who don’t share their core values on money and family and faith and other important areas get married. I guess its that hormones thing? Life is so much easier if people don’t have to navigate so many serious conflicts in how they view the world. Your advice is awesome at steering people to find win win compromises where people can overcome serious disconnects in their values, but if people dated and married more wisely a lot of problems would never come up in the first place. I would like to think my wife and I were smart 42 years ago when we married someone very similar in our world view and values, but maybe we just got lucky. Anyway, I think its great that you are giving such sound advice helping people navigate marriage, family and money issues.
I really appreciate that Steve! I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life and in my marriage, but I will never regret choosing Nicole as my wife. That is one area I got it right!
I’m so glad you feel that same about your wife. 42 years is incredible!
Great article! My spouse and I put together a 10 year plan in 2015 to achieve FIRE. Halfway through our plan, things haven’t gone the way I expected. Mostly good, some bad, but I think you hit the nail on the head with being flexible. We have made some decisions that delayed our FIRE timeline but that is what’s best for us. For us, the entire goal of FIRE wasn’t necessarily to stop working, but giving us the flexibility of not having both of us work full time until a traditional retirement age.
Flexibility is key! I like how you’ve rolled with the punches and keep moving forward. There’s no “one right way” to do this marriage and money stuff. You are creating the right path that works for you.