If you are anything like I was before we found FI, I was fairly content in my ways of shopping, spending money, and having a nice car and expensive home. As content as I was though, I was just going through the motions of life. Dragging myself to work every day to a job I didn’t enjoy, just to be able to earn enough money for this lifestyle I didn’t realize we were living.
As you may have read in previous posts, I was not a fan of FIRE when Mr. RRR first introduced me to it. I have to say it was probably because he initially went about it all the wrong ways. He was so excited about it, and like anything else that he enjoys or becomes passionate about, I tried to listen and find some way to agree it…OK maybe not in this instance. I thought he was bat-shit crazy after he started to cut out everything cold turkey and that freaked me out. In not so many words, I was told I shouldn’t go shopping anymore, we couldn’t go out to eat as much as we were, and we needed to limit all matters of consumption (AC, heat, food, clothes, shoes, etc).
Change is hard, and when you’re not expecting it, it can be taken negatively. It’s scary changing your entire life and lifestyle. Now, almost 3 years later, I couldn’t imagine what our life would have been like had Mr. RRR not discovered this journey and successfully pulled me to the dark side. So I thought it might be helpful to share some tips from my perspective for getting your reluctant spouse or significant other on board with financial independence.
1. Talk it out
Communication is one of the most important things in a relationship. You may have to approach the subject carefully, but it’s extremely important to talk it out. If you can’t have conversations and discuss your feelings and viewpoints on important matters, then it’s going to drive a wedge in your relationship, and that’s regardless of FIRE or not.
2. Run the numbers
Even though I’m the engineer, Mr. RRR is the one who runs the numbers on everything. I think it’s because he’s done most of the research on everything and knows what to do and what to look out for. He has a spreadsheet going of all our rental properties and how much income we make from them. Your spouse could have a number-oriented way of thinking, and if you run the numbers and figure out how much you need to retire, it could be the way that you convince your spouse. Tracking progress is also an easy way to illustrate the benefits of being a little more frugal.
3. Weigh the Pros and Cons
Admittedly, I really got on board when I was told I would never have to work a job I didn’t like ever again. To have the freedom to do what I wanted every day instead of slowly dying behind a desk every day was the biggest pro. During many of our discussions, the pros and cons were weighed out. It also helps because it puts things into perspective.
4. Don’t self-sabotage
When I wasn’t as sold on the idea of ‘depriving myself’ for the sake of our future, Mr. RRR thought it was be a good idea to get a really expensive go-kart. His thinking was if he couldn’t get me on board, then we were going to blow money either way and it might as well be on something ‘cool’ and ‘fun’. Granted, I did agree and had input in that purchase, but it was not a wise decision to go the complete opposite of what he was trying to accomplish. But, here we are, so maybe he was right to show me the extreme opposite side as a catalyst for change.
5. Patience, patience, patience
It could take time to get your SO on board. If they’re anything like me, they needed time to process this significant life change. I still have to take time to think about potential rental properties and other life plans. Patience is also key on the journey to FI as well, as it is all about delayed gratification. Lead by example, and eventually you may whittle your spouse down until they can see the benefits and make some gradual changes themselves.
6. Broach the idea in an intriguing way
This one sounds a little sketchy, but in some cases, you have to find a way to make this idea intriguing, almost like you’re giving your best sales pitch. A lot of times our life isn’t pretty and we don’t go out like we used to. We spend weekends painting, landscaping, or buying used appliances. Had you told me how we would be spending our weekends, I might not have listened. But, because I was told I’d never have to work for the man again, I was pulled in. Also, it’s important to know what makes your spouse tick. Would numbers on a spreadsheet explain it best, a list of things they like to do while explaining all the free time you’d have, do they hate their job, or is perpetual travel something they’re interested in enough to give it a serious try?
7. Play to your strengths
My background is engineering so I definitely understand the numbers, however I am not good at talking, arguing my point, or convincing someone to do something. Once I was shown the numbers that we really didn’t need THAT much to retire and it was a lot simpler than working 30+ years, it made so much more sense. Whether you are good at running numbers, making good points, or planning for the future, use that to your advantage.
Like most everything important or a big life event, planning is involved. While Mr. RRR didn’t have an exact plan in place when he tried to get me on board, he had a general idea of what our journey would look like. For me to understand and have a sense of security, I needed to be told what kind of plan he had for our future. Our plans have shifted and changed over the years, but our end goal remains the same, retire early.
9. Use Examples
I would say that I was on board, but not completely sold on the whole thing until after we went to a CampFI. Once I could put faces, people, and families to the stories about early retirement, and seeing real people doing this, it made it much easier to envision it as a serious possiblity. Also, finding someone that you can relate to is key to feeling a little more engaged in your own journey. A blogger that Mr. RRR loves may not resonate with me, whether it’s the story, the writing style, or something else, and a blogger that I may love won’t be someone else’s favorite. We all have different stories, preferences, and goals, but finding the one most in line with your own will help you feel like you aren’t alone on this path.
Ever since Mr. RRR got me on the FI board, I have fully embraced the frugal (cheap?) lifestyle. We are going completely against the norm and what society says we should do, and that can be really hard at times. We are trying to fit 30 years of work into an abbreviated amount of time and that’s really hard at times, but without my husband, partner in crime, and motivator, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’m so thankful he didn’t give up when I gave him a little pushback on changing our future. I hope this helps someone in convincing their spouse, because I can’t envision a scenario where we would be on this journey without my husband.