I would like to think my friend www.pfgeeks.com for allowing me to piggyback and add some of my ideas and experiences to a wonderful post he shared in the ChooseFi Facebook group (www.choosefi.com/facebook) about how his spouse came on board (as we tend to say).
I’ve been working with my partner, P, for two years on financial independence (FI), Mustachianism, Minimalism, Frugality, and how to handle to money. We’ve butted heads, figuratively a few times, and I’m always learning something new about her, myself, our relationship, and how FI fits into our future.
P definitely has a scarcity mindset, based upon her upbringing. I am slowly changing from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. Scarcity is the fear of not having enough and an abundance mindset is that you have more than you need (at least for a simple definition for this writing). We both fight mental illness, specifically anxiety, and others. Since working towards FI my stress and anxiety has gone down significantly and my contentment has slowly increased. However, P and I still have a long way to go to be “in the same book” rather than on the “same page” so to speak.
I have found solace in different philosophies. Stoicism, “Mustachianism,” Minimalism, and Frugality. I would suggest looking into some of these philosophies for anyone who is interested in financial independence and not aware of them.
Pfgeeks.com offered 10 great steps to help your spouse understand why financial independence is so important and the freedom to create and enjoy that comes with it. His tips are excellent, in my opinion, and I’ve actually used some of the techniques he has mentioned to help P see why FI is important to me.
1. Set up a “No Strings Attached” monthly allowance. – I agree, P has an allowance she spends a month and I’m not allowed to ask questions or veto purchases. (she doesn’t feel comfortable helping with the bills and still says she’s uncomfortable handling “my money.”)
2. Automate when you can. – again, I agree. Saves fighting and budgeting, auto payments are wonderful (make sure you’re ahead to not overdraft!). I’m a big fan of PYF, Pay yourself first!
3. Show your spouse the stark reality of retirement. – This case is unique in my instance. With P’s disability and not having an income or disability insurance, we have 1 income. I do not want something to happen to me and we have no income. I’ve mentioned how my retirement and disability insurances are set up and my back up plans. I’ve always shared my idea of my FI retirement plans.
4. Make room for fun! – The best part is fun can be cheap or free! P and I just get in the car and go. We also search around town for free and entertaining stuff. We also like to chase local history, covered bridges, or “lost things” that most people either don’t know about or just take for granted. One of the greatest tools of FI is finding free and cheap entertainment that helps you progress to FI.
5. Celebrate financial wins. – I’m guilty of not doing this enough. I do enjoy getting exciting crossing milestones. I only have 1 debt now (student loan) over 10k. I should have celebrated with P, but instead threw more money towards debt. We did recently celebrate a life milestone for her daughter so that was a fun, budgeted expense.
6. Create shared goals. – Another tip I could work better on. P isn’t exactly sure what her goals are and not sure what would make her happy. I hate feeling like I’m blaming her disability, but it is difficult to get her to open up about her future. I try to open and share my goals at appropriate times, but I need to make this a more solid action.
7. Strip away the numbers and make it simple. – Another tip I agree on. If your spouse isn’t a “spreadsheet nerd” the numbers won’t matter. Richmond mentions how doubling a car payment helps pay the loan of faster, leaving more for retirement. I try this approach with P as well. When she gets into her “I want stage” I mention how we would rather have money for retirement and I could quit working early and travel more if we get out of debt faster.
8. Extend a lot of grace. – Another big “I agree.” P needs constant reassurance and constant grace. I try my best to help her fix the problem instead of criticism. Be quick to praise when your spouse/partner does things to advance your FI journey.
9. Talk about your finances. – I try to keep things as simple as possible, and show P how much money we have for X or in the budget, so when she asks me quickly I have a small teaching moment. Which brings up number 10.
10. Teach a little at a time. – I can’t show P how Roth IRA’s work over tIRA’s or Mad Fientist’s breakdown of complicated tax code. I can at times explain to her that it’s more beneficial to pay of my student loan that compounds interest rather than my car with simple interest or how compound growth can work for us.
Again, thanks to Richmond for creating this list and allowing me to add my situational uniqueness to it.
The single most IMPORTANT advice I can give is do not talk about sacrifice, deprivation, or giving stuff up. If you or your spouse feel like you (or they) are giving something up, than your why is not your top priority.
I was driving with P earlier and we were talking about her therapy session. Something that helped her get on board is by discussing our FI “roles.” P is definitely not math oriented or spreadsheet excited. We have worked together to figure out that she enjoys the challenge of grocery shopping and meal planning.
We have set some parameters that these task are challenging enough to her that she doesn’t feel bored or underwhelmed, but not too difficult where she doesn’t feel like it’s too difficult of a task for her (bear in mind she has physical limitations and cannot drive and has to carry groceries to the home of about a half mile, if I can’t pick her up). She also feels since she can’t contribute as well on the income side, she can help control the outgo side of our FI journey. However, she has developed and maintained a meal planning system that keeps our budget small and bellies full (for more on her system check out my post called “The Brain.”)
P and I also discussed our mindset and I shared how minimalism and working towards FI and taking actionable steps has set me up to feel more of an abundance mindset and shift out of a scarcity mindset. We also talked about mindfulness, her BPD (borderline personality disorder) and how she feels she may not be able to shift to an abundance mindset.
I have also been able to switch P to a frugality and minimalism mindset just by offering suggestions. For example we went to the Christmas lights at the zoo and P wanted to keep her ticket. I wasn’t sure if we were able to keep them so I told her to take a picture (Minimalist suggestion) and she said “that’s a great idea.” Also we prepped and went to the zoo early, and we only had to pay the price of 10 cans of food donations, which was actually cheaper than the price of parking.
“Getting your spouse on board” is a fairly common question. The answer is simple, but not easy. Much like the path to financial independence. It’s very similar, set common goals, work harder and smarter, and set your priorities. The best way, in my opinion, is to get your spouse on board by being “selectively hardcore” about what’s most important to you and comprising in other areas.
Actionable steps: Sit down with your spouse and just ask about common goals, what retirement and financial independence mean to you both, and start just tracking your expenses and help your spouse realize just how much waste (money, consuming, time etc.) you actually have before you start managing everything.