Improving Financial Intelligence One Friend at a Time

Six Months. Check!

We’re six months in on our journey to become FI/RE community members. And while I do believe we’re six months closer to earlier retirement, the truth is the what and when financial independence and early retirement looks for us is still a moving target. The good news is we’re executing to the plan that we’ve created, we’re tracking and reviewing it, and we’re adjusting as necessary.

An interesting dynamic we’ve discovered is the sharing of our FI/RE plans with close friends. When we share that we hope to retire in about 10 years, reactions vary from astonishment to nonchalant acceptance. However, there’s hardly any follow up or probing to better understand how we could possibly do this. Do they think we’re stupid rich* and just bragging? Out of our mind and don’t want us to feel bad? Or do they just not care? *For the record, we are definitely not stupid rich.

My hunch is most people generally don’t feel comfortable talking about money and finances. While I respect that somethings are better kept private, I also believe that the financial IQ of society is severely lacking. Think about it: we ask our friends and neighbors for advice on all sorts of things – house projects, gardening, service providers, medical providers, places to visit, recipes – but when was the last time you asked them who they bank with, if they use a financial advisor, how they diversify their portfolio, or what their savings rate is. Why is that?

I feel like the lack of conversation on money contributes to the fact that many Americans make bad decisions with their money. And as a result, many struggle paycheck-to-paycheck, and many more will struggle as they approach retirement.

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Getting All On Board with the Plan to Achieve Financial Independence

In March 2017, I binge-consumed as much material on financial independence as I could find. Luckily, there are some pretty awesome people that have been covering this space for quite a while. So content was a plenty.

But our story actually begins before that. Reflecting on our decision to seriously pursue financial independence and retire early, it’s probably best to share our complete story. Why? Because convincing yourself and your spouse that you can do this is not a realization you come to over a weekend. For us, it was about two years.

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The Simple Bit of Advice That Saved Our Marriage 250 Times

Around 10 years ago we received a simple bit of advice that proves to save our marriage just about every two weeks.

Leading up to our wedding, we attended premarital counseling at our local church. Pastor Mary – a wonderful woman with deep, southern roots – volunteered her time to lead us through the exercise.

Our sessions with Pastor Mary were nearing an end. She was leading us through a difficult topic of debate and disagreements in a marriage, and explaining how a healthy marriage is ultimately one where both parties recognize the need to negotiate and make concessions with each other. Through her probing questions, she sensed that she uncovered a bit of animosity between us. She dug in.

“What’s the one thing that annoys you the most about the other person?”

Wait a minute! You can’t ask me that question! How can I possibly answer that question and end up with a positive outcome?

It was a simple question that was difficult to navigate. With Pastor Mary asking the questions, no PR or interview training was going to let me turn a negative into a positive with this one. Continue Reading “The Simple Bit of Advice That Saved Our Marriage 250 Times”