If you are after financial independence then you might have realized by now that it is all encompassing on your lifestyle. Not everyone understands exactly what you are after or why you are after it. Part of the problem is with us in the first place, those of us who are trying to become financially independent. Sometimes we are shy to explain what we are after when instead we should be proud and we should be telling as many people as possible.
So, how do you make financial independence and dating work? If you want to make financial independence and dating work then you need to let your partner know as soon as possible and to be honest with them about what financial independence is and why you want to achieve it.
No one wants to be associated with someone who they think is cheap or selfish. Dating can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Let the person who you are dating know about your goals early on and explain your actions, be honest and get everything out in the open. They will trust you and most likely warm up to your goals. If they don’t then maybe they aren’t right for you in the first place.
I am not an expert on relationships or human psychology. What I can say is that “honesty is the best policy” and if honesty doesn’t get you to where you want to be in a relationship then I don’t think anything will. I don’t see myself as being exactly qualified to give relationship advice, but as it pertains to FI, these are the things that I see as important for letting other people know what you are all about.
Be honest with them
This is probably the only thing you can do because changing your spending patterns certainly is not an option. The sooner you tell your potential partner about your personal finance goals, the better. Luckily, there are so many things that you can do as a date that is not really that expensive at all. You can do things like take a walk in the park, go hiking, board games, coffee, cooking, picnic, museums, etc. The list goes on and on.
It can be tough to talk about personal finances early on because of societal norms, but the longer it is put off, the more misguided and misinterpreted your FI goal can be taken. Speaking of societal norms; financial independence is very far from conforming to our present day consumer society. It is a realization that our system broken and there are far more options out there than we are taught growing up. So you shouldn’t be afraid to deviate from societal norms in many circumstances because everyone who has been successful has done so in order to get to where they are at.
Psychologists have studied human relationships for many years and yet there is no one simple answer to everything. Relationships will never be perfect, and yet honesty creates a buffer between your relationship and the rest of the world. I am willing to bet that when asked about what qualities one wants in a partner “honesty” is near the top of the list a large percentage of the time. If that is not a sign, then I don’t know what is. Everyone likes an honest person.
Honesty goes much further than just telling the truth. Honesty encompasses all aspects of being free from deception. Deceit is an action of concealing or misrepresenting the truth. So while a lie is a misrepresentation of the truth, withholding or concealing the truth is also deceitful. To be honest we must be open and not conceal the truth. This is the stance you should take in any relationship, new or old.
Teach them about FI
One of the best things you can do is to educate others about FI and what it is really about. Introduce them to some of the biggest names in the game. This doesn’t just work well with someone you are dating, this can be applied to friends and family as well. The FIRE movement is gaining momentum every day, and if you are able to get someone else on board then we can all help spread its awareness. I wrote about what the FIRE movement is in this article, I believe that article is a great introduction to what is happening in some of our lives when we realize that there is a way out of the rat race.
The easiest way to teach someone is probably through video. If you have ever watched a good video about FI then show that video to them too. Videos are great for introducing people to FI because it doesn’t really require much commitment or effort on their part. If you need help selecting a good video about FI then here is a presentation given by Mr. Money Mustache (MMM). The video is on Youtube and is 28 minutes long, but jam-packed with information and comedy.
Be sure to mention the 4% rule and what it means as it has become a cornerstone to the FIRE community. If you need help calculating financial independence and the 4% rule, I have written more extensively in this article about how to calculate financial independence. Also, remember the reverse of the 4% rule is 25x annual expenses.
As far as frugality goes, stress the importance of maximizing utility for every dollar spent. That is the real goal. The difference between being cheap and frugal is maximizing our pleasure and limiting waste. Surprisingly, it takes much less money and stuff to maximize happiness than what the rest of society seems to think.
Tell them why you want to be FI
All of our FIRE journeys are different. Although we can take somewhat similar paths, there is no one single way to go about it for everyone. Share your time frames and what got you into the idea. You don’t have to be super specific with numbers and calculations right away, generalities would work for now. Explain your biggest reasons for wanting to escape the rat race.
Some of the biggest reasons include gaining financial security, traveling more, lowering stress, spending more time with family, pursuing careers you are passionate about, starting your own business, etc. Whatever your reason may be, share it with your date so that they can see that you have put a lot of thought into it. This will further build trust as they are able to see deeper into your character. Let’s face it, too often than not we put on a shell when we are dating someone new and we aren’t really ourselves.
Figure out if they are going to be a match
Let’s face it, not everyone you date is going to be a good match for you. If you are on the path to FI then your range might be even smaller. Not everyone has an open mind, and not everyone wants to change. That’s fine. If you are not with someone with a similar big picture then there will always be conflict.
Now, I am not saying that you must enjoy everything the same. Far from it. Having some different hobbies and interests is a good thing because even couples need adequate time apart sometimes. The big picture items are a lot more important though. If you are someone who wants to do extensive traveling and your partner does not then that is a much larger conflict of interest than if you are into hiking and they are into painting. Focus on large scale things and don’t sweat the small stuff too much.
If your potential mate won’t or cannot at least accept your financial goals then it might be a good indication to move on. A spendthrift and a FIRE’er probably won’t make a good match for long. The big picture values are at too far ends of the spectrum. You gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.
The best thing that you can do when you are dating and seeking financial independence at the same time is to let your date know as soon as possible what your financial goals are. Start with educating them on the concept. Videos from inspirational speakers work very well for doing this. Next, let them know your personal goals and how they relate to becoming financially independent. Being honest and open are really the only things you can do. You must decide if you are going to be a good match based on big-picture values and not small-time interests and hobbies.