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How NOT to Tell Your Spouse About FI

by Charles

Relationships. Couples grow together, learn together, and build a life together. Sometimes they learn of a great new idea and what do they want to do next?  Share it with your person. In my case I wanted to share this great new idea of financial independence with HerFI. Well if the title didn’t clue you in, this is my guide on what NOT to do.

The Backstory

I work as an Electrical Engineer. Most of my days are in front of a computer screen, 4 screens to be exact. I work with a lot of data and sometimes this equates to doing some slightly monotonous tasks. These tasks don’t always require a lot of brain power, just lots of eye power. So, this is a perfect time to fire (pun not intended…I promise) up some podcasts.

The podcast episode I listened to that day brushed over three areas that will enable one to achieve FI.

  1. Save more!
  2. Reduce spending
  3. Make more money

At the time, I was focusing in on #2. I thought if I cut out wasteful spending it would put my savings in the fast lane. The gears started turning thinking of all the possible ways we could cut costs. I can’t wait to get home!

Honey I’m Home!

I pull up into the driveway. Had an extra pep in my step that day. Reaching out my hand, turn the door handle, open the door and see HerFI sitting on the couch enjoying one of her favorite criminal shows. My mouth opens and the words start dancing off my tongue, hmm…what could go wrong?

Guess what babe? I want to cancel our Cable, Netflix, and Hulu! If we cut the cord we can save all this extra money and then we can retire in 10 years! Woohoo!”

HerFI’s thumb slowly hovers over the remote to pause the show.

HerFI: “Um…no.”

The image of her starting to mix the mortar for a soon to be solid brick wall was evident. 

I kept pushing her and pushing her, backpedaling into my own grave.

Before I knew it, all hope was lost.

Lesson 1: Do NOT force ideas onto others

I got ahead of myself. Instead of saying we should cancel this and that, I could have described the reasoning for reducing spending to increase our savings. The egg comes before the chicken in this case.

  • Start the conversation – focus on them, find out their dreams/needs/wants.
  • Talk about the future – knowing where we each wanted to be in the future, allowed us to establish commonalities.
  • Establish goals – commonalities became goals, but not just individual goals. Co-goals where each is accountable for the other.

Lesson 2: Do NOT make statements or assumptions

I assumed what HerFI cared about or wanted to spend money on. Assumed we would want the same thing. I also made statements such as: “We are going to stop going out.” Not only did this sound like I was cutting all the strings to fun, I was also no longer going out with HerFI. Causing a serious and valid concern on her part.

  • Make suggestions- Instead of stating that we were no longer going out. I could have said that I did not think buying a night of drinks was in my budget (as we keep separate budgets) and make a suggestion for a group hike with friends or movie night in as a replacement.
  • Be open to change for yourself- While I was expecting a huge change in mindset from HerFI, I needed to be just as open for change in my new-found mindset so we could set compromises.

Lesson 3: Do NOT guilt trip

The oh-so-easy pitfall. I think it strengthens my argument, gives it validity. Just, don’t, do it. EVER!

  • Look for the positive – find something they are doing already that aligns with FI. Build off that and relate it to other aspects that can be improved. No manipulating, only being honest and open in communication with positive changes.

Lesson 4: Do NOT question their purchases

For every purchase I question, HerFI can throw back ten. Either in my past or on my Amazon order list. I do not know why I thought this was a good idea.

  • Grow together – I was still working on my own purchasing habits. Lead by example and change habits together.
  • They are one-of-a-kind – Consider that your partner has different priorities. What she values and spends money on will be different than me. Be okay with it.

Lesson 5: Care about their opinions and feelings

I know. This sounds like the most obvious thing. Yet, when I was excited about my new discovery, I was all about how it felt to me-and did not pause to consider HerFI’s past experiences and how that shaped her view of money and finances.

  • Talk about your history with money– This is the root of both mindset and actions with money. Both HerFI and I have had negative relationships with money growing up as exemplified by our family structure. This shaped our feelings about how to approach it and how to grow from it.
  • These are some questions we covered as a starting point – How did the parents or guardians handle money? At what age were your first aware of money?  Were you poor, rich or simply unaware of funds? How did this affect your life?  Were you managing your money as an adult? What amount of time do you spend thinking about money?

Get out of the dog house

HerFI has truly taught me so many life lessons. Built me into the person I am today, showed me a life I could only dream for. In my pursuit of happiness, the long dark road gleamed just ever slightly. My beacon of hope lies there, in the twinkle of the eye that would become Bethany.

Remember, this is a partnership after all. FI is a wonderful thing to be shared. It is even more amazing when both people work together as a unit. Each pushes the other, over any rut or obstacle you may encounter.

Together, become UNSTOPPABLE!

 

If you have your own experiences telling your spouse about FI, please share them below. We would love to hear from you.

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2 comments

Penny (@picksuppennies) April 9, 2018 - 6:42 am

My husband and I were NOT on the same page financially when we got engaged. (One day, I’ll tell the story. It wasn’t pretty.) We still aren’t totally, but we’re close enough. I love having money conversations with him, though, because every time I think we don’t have enough, he always tells me how rich we are. Perspective is so important 🙂

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Charles April 9, 2018 - 8:17 am

Money is such a tricky thing in relationships. Especially talking about it! Everyone has their own story with money growing up, sometimes you come out of it with good habits, while other times not so good habits. Then trying to get two people with completely different experiences to agree on money? Yeah I feel for you haha. I am really happy you are able to have those money talks with him now though. I may have to steal that saying from your husband, it’s a good way to think about it. I’ll be keeping an eye out for that day you share your own story 🙂

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