[Morning! Have a fun – and super adorable – story for you today by Erik of The Mastermind Within blog. The next time someone tells you you’re not going to find love being a financial nerd, you can just send them right to this post! ;) Happy Friday!]
Risk is a funny concept.
Many people talk about risk like it’s something tangible and concrete.
Heck, there are entire divisions in big corporations dedicated to identifying operational, credit, and reputational risks in order to estimate the dollar amount associated with these risks.
Some people are risk-adverse, and others are risk-seeking.
In the financial independence community, we hate risk and love stability.
“Invest in index funds!”
“Stay away from Bitcoin!”
“Bonds are your friend in retirement!”
Well, I’m here to tell a different story.
This story is about opportunity, risk, the pursuit of financial independence, and why I went on a second date in Vegas.
Pursuing Financial Independence
In 2013, I came across the world of financial independence.
Reading about how everyday people could become wealthy in a short amount of time and do what they wanted with their time sounded amazing.
I dove into learning about real estate investing, the stock market, getting out of debt and the impact of fees and taxes on your wealth over time.
All of this was theory at this point in my life as I was still in college.
2 years later, I was finishing up my Master’s degree and ready to start building wealth.
While I had a negative net worth in 2015, I was making $63,000 at age 22 and had all the tools and strategies to eliminate my student loan, make smart choices about my investments, and to start creating wealth for the future.
Dating and the Pursuit of Financial Independence
I’ll be blunt: dating is difficult when pursuing financial independence as a single person.
In 2015, the girl I was dating didn’t understand why I wanted to buy a house and have my 3 friends pay down my mortgage. She didn’t realize why it was so important for me to still live like a college student so I could crush my student debt.
Unfortunately, we didn’t work out.
Over the next few years, I went on a number of dates, dated a few women, but when money came up, we were always on a different page.
A pile of debts? I don’t know about that.
Shopping sprees and going out to eat 5 times a week? That probably won’t work.
Endless make-up and pedicures!?!? Ugh.
While it was tough, I stayed positive. No reason to stress! I was on the path to financial freedom!
The Real Reason You Need an Emergency Fund
Let’s fast forward to the summer of 2017.
In the past 3 years, I’d accomplished quite a bit on the financial front: I’d paid off my student loan, paid off my auto loan, bought a house at 22 and grown my net worth to over $100,000 through house hacking, and now was sitting with a fat bank account.
Last June, I hosted a BBQ at my house for like-minded individuals. I invited some bloggers, entrepreneurs and other people with the goal of financial freedom.
I met my girlfriend there – and it’s all because of my pursuit of FIRE!
But that’s not the end of the story.
That next Friday, 5 days later, I was at work texting my new special friend. She was off to Vegas to meet some of her friends for the weekend and mid-flight had just found out that her friends were not going to be there after all.
“I wish I was coming up to Minnesota to hang out with you instead of going to Vegas alone!” I read on my phone.
I’m not one to mess around: I bought the second house I looked at, bought the first car I test drove, and when I see something I like, I go for it.
I replied, “I could come to Vegas for the weekend….? How much is housing? Tickets are $648, is that good?”
“Housing is free, I was going to stay in my friend’s condo, but they aren’t going to be there. All you’ll have to do it pay for the plane ticket.”
Opportunity, Risk, and Taking Chances
I take chances. I’ve failed many times in my life, but I’m also one of the more successful 25 year olds out there. With a net worth approaching $200,000, a great job paying nearly 6 figures, and multiple lucrative side hustles, I’m doing okay.
With all decisions in life, there is risk. There was risk when I bought my house. There was risk when I joined a multi-level marketing company in college for a month. And, there was risk when I was considering buying a plane ticket to Vegas to meet a financially driven young lady for the second time.
I looked at my bank account: $11,260.73.
All I would have to do is pay the tickets to get there? Free lodging in Vegas? A weekend with an awesome girl?
I bought the tickets. (Don’t tell my mother!)
16 hours later, I was off to Vegas for my girlfriend and I’s second date.
The Couple That Spreadsheets Together Stays Together
I have a confession to make. Actually, two confessions.
First, I’m so cheap that before this trip, I didn’t have a line item in my personal finance tracking spreadsheet for travel.
Second, since it was the beginning of July, and my girlfriend happens to be another personal finance blogger, we spent one afternoon of our 3 day second date updating our spreadsheets together :)
Other than that, it was a pretty low key Vegas vacation (as far as those go). As financially minded people, we kept our losses to $100 total throughout the few days we gambled, and even ate at home at the condo for a few meals!
I don’t think that second date will ever be topped… and it’s all because of my pursuit of financial freedom.
It All Starts With An Emergency Fund
What happens when the furnace or AC goes out in your house? What happens if your car breaks down, or you get sick? What happens if you need to go to Vegas last second??? There are so many unplanned emergencies to account for. Take it from me: it’s amazing the feeling of having some cash in the bank.
However, around 70% of Americans don’t have $1,000 in their bank account.
That has to change.
An emergency fund is so critical for financial success. Cash is king!
Here are 3 tips you can apply in your life to build your emergency fund and build a strong financial base.
#1. Look at your expenses and identify any areas of weakness you could work on
- Tracking your income and expenses is the first step to financial success. Even finding savings of $10 a day can add up over time. $10 a day is $3,650 a year. $3,650 a year for 30 years at 7% compounded is over $300,000!
- Get a budget! You are literally reading this article on the site, Budgets are $exy.
#2. Work on destroying your debt and eliminating this monthly burden
- Guess what – debt sucks. I’m sure you think this as well.
- It’s easier to save money if you don’t have a monthly debt payment
- Credit card debt is the worst. Paying 20% in interest every month is not something you want to do if wealth and stability is your goal. Destroy your debt!
#3. Invest in yourself and grow your income
- The best investment you can make is in yourself
- If you earn more, you will be able to save more. If you save more, the better chance you will have of being in a situation where if times get tough, you will be ready.
- Become more valuable for more responsibilities and higher pay
After building your emergency fund, you can use this as a launching pad on your way to saving money, building wealth, and reaching financial freedom!
I Met My Girlfriend Pursuing Financial Freedom, What Could You Do?
The path to FIRE isn’t as difficult as it may seem: live below your means, look to eliminate your debts over time, save some money each month, and BOOM, 5, 10, 20 years later, you are wealthy!
Here’s the thing:
I’m not any better than you.
I’m not any smarter than you.
I’m just an ordinary guy in Minnesota doing ordinary things. I wake up in the morning, get dressed, and head to my 9 to 5.
5 years ago, I decided I was going to be financially free and pursue FIRE. Along the way, I met an amazing girl, went on a second date in Vegas, and now am continuing to grow my wealth with the support of a loving partner.
I’m just an ordinary guy doing ordinary things. What could you do in your pursuit of FIRE? (And what are you willing to risk for it?)
Erik runs The Mastermind Within, a blog and podcast geared towards helping you reach your full potential. Erik has way too many side hustles, loves talking about personal finance and self-improvement, and looks to inspire and help others grow and succeed in their career and life. He can also be found on Twitter at @MastermindWithi
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not the first couple to come out of personal finance blogging :) A couple other bloggers (Romeo & Latisha) actually met at one of our conferences and then GOT MARRIED!! Maybe it’s time to start a blog if you’re having trouble finding “the one” too? Haha…
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That is such a cute story…
I met my husband when we were both 17, and grew our finance thoughts together. It has been 20 years now (married for eleven). We still don’t agree a lot when it comes to money.
Thanks BusyMom for the comment :) I’m glad you enjoyed the story!
Starting off, did you have a similar financial mindset, and now you have become more conscious, or has it always been a little different financially?
Y’all are doing something right though! :)
I still love this story-it’s so awesome! And what better way to find someone else aligned with your long term goals and dreams than by meeting folks inside the community. Best wishes to both of you on your newest adventures!
It would be the first place I’d look if my wife ever divorced me, haha….
Thanks Liz for the comment and the best wishes :)
This is such a great story. I can’t wait for the movie version of your meet-cute to come out. Maybe you guys can get some royalties :)
Haha! A movie would be awesome, it would be like the Hangover, but FIRE edition, where waking up the next day isn’t more than a slight headache and breakfast is made from food at the local convenience shop!
Awesome story J!
Pursuing financial independence definitely requires a special spouse that will understand your motives. Its hard to tell most people that you’re into SAVING your money, as apposed to spending your money.
The great part about this trouble though is that once you find that significant other, they are going to be the one that stays by your side through everything!
It is definitely nice when your spouse is on the same page from the start!
Fantastic story, so happy for you! Updating budget and net worth spreadsheets together may not seem romantic but at 25 y’all have got it together more than the majority of everyone who ever dated. Being on the same page about financial goals is such a blessing, and will make your road together much more smooth. I’m sure you’ll do great things!
The couple who spreadsheets together stays together! I’m excited to see where we will be in a few years, and yes, it’s definitely a little easier when we are on the same page financially when I want to throw some money towards an investment vs. go out for a nice dinner!
I absolutely love this story. I’ve been telling a single family member to go to FIRE meet ups to find love. At least you would know they are good with money from day one.
I’m a big fan of talking about the positive sides of taking risk and this is a beautiful example. Flying to Vegas for a second date? YES! Sitting side by side updating spreadsheets, you guys were meant for each other. Who’s going to get to do the updating if it becomes one spreadsheet?
The only thing this story misses is the two of you crushing it at the poker table. Don’t you know FIRE people don’t gamble? We “invest” by playing games that we have the edge in.
Hope it works out with you two.
“Who’s going to get to do the updating if it becomes one spreadsheet? ”
Haha… the only $$$ fights will be happening right there! ;)
Well unfortunately, we were playing slots and blackjack… the statistician always is kicking myself because I know the odds, but as long as it’s playing with fun money then it’s okay :)
But yes, taking risk where the odds are in your favor is the essence of being successful: no reason to set yourself up for failure before you start…
And for updating if it becomes 1 spreadsheet? That is a good question :)
I’ll probably do it because my spreadsheet is better ;)
You guys are awesome. Talk about starting off a relationship on the right foot! Especially when most couples’ biggest argument is FINANCES…
Great story, Erik. Glad to have you guys in our neck of the woods.
Thanks Cubert for the comment :)
Looking forward to seeing you soon!!
A story with personal finance, financial freedom, and love.
What could we ask for more? Great way of finishing this week. :)
Great advice: simple but always spot on!
Thanks for the comment GTRetire!
Aww this is such a cute story. Thanks for sharing it with us, Erick!
I listen to the FIRE Drill podcast and often hear Gwen mention you. It’s great to hear it from you though. Hope to meet you both one day!
I hope to meet you as well some day!!
I’m up and coming – watch out ;)
A match made in FIREy heaven, should be solid! Nice story and have fun you two!
Thanks for the comment Team CF and we will :)
Great story. I was very entertained, though I only wish you did spend a little more in Vegas to get full enjoyment out of that amazing city! The shows are incredible. I recommend David Goldrake, Magician at the Tropicana.
I like how you transitioned your story into the importance of an emergency fund. That’s terrific writing skill.
I originally wanted to title the post, “the real reason you need an emergency fund: second dates in Vegas” :)
I appreciate the compliment on my writing – it’s a work in progress but it’s definitely becoming better!
Congrats on the success! Yes, oftentimes all it takes is doing small simple ordinary things consistently over time in order to achieve your goals. Saving and wisely investing a good portion of your earnings from a young age helps tremendously.
I love what you are saying and that’s my life motto: simple daily disciplines added up over time result in huge success!
Thanks for the comment!
That may be your biggest gambling winning in Vegas. The odds really were in your favor. Good post and story Erik.
(I see what you did there!!)
hahah I love it, thanks Bernz for the compliment :)
Hey, you guys know I love you both. I remember seeing Fiery Millennial last summer, and she said, “I’ve met someone. He flew to Vegas for the weekend to see me.” And suddenly you walked up next to her. I won’t lie: I remember being impressed. You reminded me of myself when I was in college: young, cool, and willing to take risks to just doing whatever the hell you wanted. Fast-forward a year, and my wife and I see you guys on the regular, and look forward to growing with ya both. Once this snow melts, I’ll be replacing my skiis in the garage, with my bikes and golf clubs, and I can’t wait to have a mastermind conversation with you out on the links. I got Amanda golfing last summer. Let’s get Firey Millennial golfing eventually, and then we can be the early-retirees one day smashing the ball on a week day when everyone else is at work. That is one of my dreams.
It’s been a pleasure to meet you as well over the last year and I’m really glad that we have a similar mindset and a love of fun :) We will definitely get out on the links!!
There’s a par 3 near your house that I’ve played before and is pretty fun (and cheap ;) ) When it gets warm, that will be great to do together!
What an awesome story! I always tell my children the first person you put in your life will either help or hinder your long term goals so find someone on the same page. I don’t think couples always agree on money but if you are building wealth together…you gotta be doing something right. I am jealous that you are starting so young with this attitude…I was 35 when I got the attitude. Best of Luck!
Yeah!! If only we ALL have our $$$ epiphanies early and when dating!!! Much harder after the fact and/or if only one person has the epiphany and not the other :)
Thanks Lisa O for stopping by and the comment :)
I completely agree! Now I just have to get her on the same page with how clean the house should be!! ;)
Haha….there is always something! Just pick your fights for what really counts. Your taking to a women with OCD and I get picked on because it all has a place and needs to shine :)
I just heard Gwen talk about this on her podcast! What an awesome story!
Now that JMoney has sold RSF he has time to start a FIRE dating site, right? ;)
I’ve already bought the domain: BabesWithBudgets.com ;)
Actually J$, I laughed at the domain at first. But it’s a good idea. :)
That’s awesome…. Pair it up with DudesWithDollars.com and we have a winner :)
Okay – that was good too :)
Now you guys just need a corny slogan!
You put yourself out there and Gwen went for it! It’s hilarious that you didn’t have a travel line in your budget before buying the plane ticket to Vegas! I’m glad it’s working out!
My hubby and I are both suuuper frugal, so we compliment each other well. Our first “date” was a free walk along the canal in the middle of winter, our second date we split a dinner, and we knew it was a frugal match made right away. Glad to see your story here too Eric!
:) I was waiting for someone special before looking to travel around and spend my money… it was better to put it into investments :)
I’m glad that you and your husband’s mindsets align as well – makes it much easier!
J I think your next big site should be a FIRE dating service. I’m sure one of our/your techie friends can build that app. I want in! :)
Haha… “Only those with budgets are allowed in” ;)
What a great story! Now who is going to be the first personal finance blogger to start a FI tabloid or matchmaking blog? ;)
DudesWithDollars.com is coming to you soon… hahaha
Such a great story Erik! I was wondering how you two met, haha. Thanks for sharing!
Also we need a Northstars meet up soon so I can meet everybody!
Yes! We will have one when it warms up, I want to have a BBQ at my house!
Thanks for stopping by :)
Good post. I think it’s good that you dated a few women who didn’t work out first. Gwen is pretty awesome so I think you guys will be great together. Having the same financial outlook and goals will help a ton. Good luck!
FIRE dating app?
Yes! I think all of the FIRE developers and business people should get together and brainstorm….
We could definitely pump something out in a month!
Always love to hear your story – it definitely helps to meet someone who you know will be financially compatible – and who shares a lot of the same passions as you do. You’re already starting off further ahead than most do. Having met you two in person – I can see you’re two very genuine people – and I’m so glad you’ve found each other!
Thanks Peter for the compliment :)
I’m very glad I’ve met you as well and am looking forward to hanging out again this Spring!
I love your story!
My husband had me when I tried to pay for one of our early dates and he said “I’ve got this, you’re in my budget”.
I love “a couple who spreadsheets together stays together”. It’s definitely been true for us. We keep our money separate so still update our spreadsheets side by side each month. We had a competition to come up with the best long term model–his won but with my input.
Best of luck combining households, it’s such an exciting time!
That’s awesome on the long term model… it’s very hard when you start to achieve at work and then compounding takes over (I know I’m quite a bit ahead of schedule even with some failures!)
Thanks for the comment Liz!
You found a keeper there, Liz :)
You guys are made for each other, what a great story.
Love the spreadsheets on the date episode, how cute!
:) Thanks for stopping by Ms. ZiYou!
Thanks for inspiring some hope! This is my biggest frustration – finding a partner who shares my sense of frugality. I thought I’d come close, finding someone who essentially financially independent, but that turned out different than I thought. She had the money to do the things she wanted, including some very expensive hobbies I might enjoy but can’t afford (downhill skiing, for instance).
Maybe I need to host my own frugality/FIRE meetup at my house! WausomeFrugal. J Money is invited for sure! Oh, the ideas are percolating!
Hey B.C. stay positive!
Living with an abundance mindset is all we can do – eventually you’ll find the one and I know you’ll make it work!!
Will do, brother! I really like the idea of hosting a frugal meetup that your post inspired. I also had the idea for an app called FrugalDate, where one of the metrics would be your annual saving percentage. It would be a fun experiment if nothing else!
Yes to the app.
Double yes to the house party!!!
With Mastermind and J Money, it be a party up in the ‘nortwoods! lol (I do have a bar area in my basement, and plenty of homebrewing friends, so…)
Man, I love this story and also hearing it from your point of view. Who knew spreadsheets could elicit such a strong bond between 2 people. But seriously $650 for a flight to Vegas?? While I understand that it was last minute AND the middle of summer, I used to go there all the time and refused to pay over $80 RT. Glad you bit the bullet and took the chance. You two are definitely a power couple to look up to!
Hey Mrs. WoW! You are also coming from a lot closer (I was going from Mpls RT), and also, it was the 4th of July, on a weekend, AND the next day!!
Oh well, for free housing, I think I did alright (and not to mention potentially adding $$$ to our cumulative net worths if all goes well :) )
And there’s that!
I knew this was a good place to date! I KNEW IT. I told either CMO or Amy from LZ about it a year ago because….what’s a central pillar of love, life and everything in between? Your wallet (and how you manage it.)
Thanks Lily for the comment and stopping by :)
I hear you Erik. My husband and I spent a full day of our four day vacation in Montreal this winter budgeting for the current year and developing a spreadsheet to help track our income sources and estimate our withholding (we are self-employed). In our defense, it was really cold out.
It was about 110 in Vegas so really hot out :)
Thanks for stopping by Heather
I love every single thing about this post. (And there’s a special place in my heart for Vegas.) Having a solid handle on finances totally opens us all up to the ability to take risks and have adventures.
:) I’m glad you enjoyed it!!
Definitely think you should have an emergency fund for adventures :)
Epic story! Heard that one on your podcast as well which was great. Crazy that you didn’t have a travel line in your budget spreadsheet though!
You two need a reality tv series to show everyone how they should be living ;)
:) Glad you enjoyed it YFK!
It’s always great to be with someone that is like-minded. It just makes things easier & go smoother. Glad he found someone.
I wish it worked out that conveniently for all of us! Good for them.
Awesome story, Erik! Wishing you and Gwen the best of luck on your future adventures!
Thanks J for stopping by :D
Haha…why do I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t have a FIRE blog? That’s a fantastic story! I wish I were as smart as you were in my late teens. I didn’t get started on my FIRE journey until my late 30s when marriage #1 came to an end. Oh to have 20 more years of saving. Keep up the good work and good luck with your relationship!
Thanks JB for the comment :)
Best of luck to you in the future as well!
That is an awesome story! Birds of a feather flock together.
Personal finance can be a real touchy subject and one that many couples usually cannot see eye to eye on – it is great you found someone in the same space and mindset. :)
Very nice story! Congratulations!
Concerning the g/f who isn’t into personal finance & FIRE.
Here are some unromantic facts of life. Girls can be mercenary. If they are looking at two guys where everything else is equal, they’ll go for the one with the better prospects. The attractiveness of a guy holds its value longer than that of a girl. (Just look at the age of Hollywood actors/actresses.) This is unfair. It is also biology. Take it up with the Creator.
Thus the guy need not compromise in his teens and twenties when choosing finance over romance. Letting the girl go who doesn’t understand your need for positive cash flow or your desire to buy income property instead of status symbols is no calamity. The worst case would be to marry her, and then after you make your nut, she divorces you and you pay alimony/child-support.
Much better to wait for an improved net worth to attract someone like-minded. And being like minded reduces likelihood of an unhappy split and unhappier divorce settlement. And having kids with someone like-minded means the next generation will be smarter/better/richer.
Glad that your experience was positive. I’d say mine was the exact opposite haha.
You dated a blogger who liked to spend all their money?? :)
I loved the story.
I knew I had found the one when I went Ice Skating with my now wife for our first real date in college. We needed to get some water afterwards, so instead of me stopping at the convenience store for the long drive home, I went into the grocery store and walked out with a 1 gal jug that cost $0.30. I was pretty proud of my find and she appreciated it. She also proceeded to tell me how much she hated the mall, which “going to the mall” was still a thing in the year 2000 (cue Conan O’Brian music)
Haha yup… Malls were THE THING back then! Probably still are if you’re a teenager :) There’s only so much hanging out you can do online until you actually need to see someone in person (where you can then get back online and share all about how you’re now hanging out at the mall – hah!)
Great story, Eric…
…somethings are well worth spending money on.
As someone who has ridden buses in Ecuador with your girlfriend, I can say you definitely made the right call. :)
Isn’t she great? :) Thanks for stopping by and the comment JL!
I met my husband at work, but he was the cheapest person in our floor too, so match made in heaven. Your story is super cute!!
Thanks Ruby for stopping by! :)
“The Couple That Spreadsheets Together Stays Together”
I send monthly debt reports to my wife – what we call a “debt snapshot.” It contains a copy of the debt tab and the net worth over time tab of my money spreadsheet.
I also have my Mint account – which is linked to all of our spending accounts – send alert emails to her email in addition to mine.
She married well!!
I am a big fan of celebrating a life more ordinary! kudos!