Got an interesting note from a reader of the blog, and thought I’d pass it along here in case it helps anyone else in a similar position :)
FIRE is awesome, but it is not *everything*!! At least my personal opinion on it!
Here’s her sitch, followed by my response and then hopefully some feedback from y’all since I’m not too sure I addressed her specific question, haha…
Hi J –
Hope it’s alright I float into your inbox with a personal finance (annnnnd slightly personal) problem.
I’ve fallen for a hyper-dedicated FIRE enthusiast. Don’t get me wrong – we still splurge on craft IPAs and high-quality outdoor adventure gear without any guilt, but it is always top of mind for him.
We’re at an interesting junction. We plan to move in together in September, but we both agreed we need to be on the same page about finances, specifically long-term financial goals. We’re both 30 and feel pretty confident about what we’re both looking for, i.e. no time to f*ck around.
He works like a dog and lives big on the weekends.
I’m a self-employed creative who has traveled internationally and been a digital nomad for the past 2.5 years. I’m ready to ramp up my business and continue building on my career freedom and lifestyle – AND MAKE MORE MOOLAH. I casually contribute to my IRA and savings. I’m ahead on paying off my student debt. I overall live a pretty simplistic, frugal, minimalist lifestyle.
Crossroads: He wants to ensure we’re on a similar life trajectory. With more money, there are more options. He thinks I should continue freelancing on the side, but return to the 9-5 salaried and packed-benefit lifestyle to sock that $ away EARLY and let it grow. I get it, I get it.
*Cue hours of excel # crunching and Googling self-employed tax, pass-through income tax deductions, solo 401(k)s, etc.*
My question to you: How do couples navigate long-term financial goals and find healthy ways to sync up their goals?
I read a few of your posts on the topic, but because we’re in the earlier stages of our relationship, I’m mostly curious about what you would advise or if you know how your readers approached the life partner evaluation phase in regards to their financial habits and goals.
I adore this man and support his FIRE ambitions – and I certainly would like to get there myself, but I feel at a crossroads with my own career ambitions and what’s financially realistic for me right now.
Know that was a bit of an overshare, but appreciate the gentle ear and no rush to respond or even if you don’t have time to address… this letter helps me process all the same.
Here’s what I wrote back:
I re-read this a couple of times now, and the one thing that keeps coming back at me is that it seems like you’ve *already* figured out the place you want to be in right now, and that’s the place you’re currently in! Only with more money down the road, right? And if so – that’s a beautiful place to be :)
Now obviously the issue here is that it doesn’t mesh as well w/ your partner’s version of the future, haha, but interestingly you’re already kinda living that future of freedom and fun ;) Whereas he’s working like crazy most days and then gets to enjoy for a bit until going right back to it… Not that your job isn’t just as wild at times, but *lifestyle* wise you’re kinda living it already, right? At least that’s my sense of it…
So my vote of course would be to *not* go the 9-5 route unless you really feel it in your heart, but to def. keep focusing on those passions of yours and finding new ways to make money if at all possible. You won’t get the 9-5 benefits as much, but imagine if you strike something hot and then it just flows in??! It’ll def. make up for it over time! And if not, maybe you *then* go try the 9-5 route after a set amount of time? I feel like that could be a happy medium between the two.
“Give me 2 years to just kill it, and if I can’t make it happen then I’ll go back to the 9-5 route and call it a day.”
I feel like everything works out better when there are timelines in play and everyone knows the deal :) But again – just my 2 cents from afar – it’s hard to advise without knowing you two or your entire picture! Hope something helps here though!
A couple days later I got a response from her, but before I share it I’d love to get YOUR opinions on this so she can get a more well-rounded perspective ;) Since obviously I was more pro-Lila than FIRE Lover which wasn’t exactly fair of me, haha… (Sorry FL!) Though I do think the *time frame* idea is a good one!!
So what say you?! What would you do if you were in Lila’s or FIRE Lover’s shoes?! How do you keep the financial peace in your own relationships?
Please share any and all thoughts so we can help these two love birds keep making that dough! The couple that FIREs together, stays together!! ;)
UPDATE: Thanks for all the great comments today everyone! Here’s the original response from Lila after our initial correspondence: “J$, your response made my week, nay MONTH. Honestly, you nailed what my heart has been feeling, and my brain has affirmed. I’m going to keep at it and propose a realistic timeline that I feel good about. And besides, I think what is most important is that our values around how we engage with money align. We both value minimalism, saving and investing, and we truly believe that money is a tool to access freedom. With more money, come more options. I think with time, we’ll be able to intertwine our parallel paths in a more meaningful way.”
UPDATE II: From Lila after reading everyone’s notes: “Oh boy! Just took a peek. I appreciate that most folks are #TeamLila, haha – and that most of the commenters are women and looking to protect me, as well. It’s difficult because my FL isn’t trying to squash my dreams, he’s just trying to invest in our future. His argument is, “I don’t want you stressing about when your next project will come (and the money) for the next 20 years.” He’s never traveled and he wants to give back in meaningful ways. So his hope is to hit his FIRE goal to be able to do those things. He just worries that when he gets there, I won’t be able to join him and he wants me there. : ) Life is a series of conversations. I’m glad we’re in a place where we can continue to explore our options in a way that doesn’t compromise my dream to work for myself.”