Why is Mrs YFG not at Financial Independence?

Whilst I have reached Financial Independence in my late 20s, my better half hasn’t yet. So how can only one of us have achieved FI and not the other? Are we not working together? To put it simply, we are different people and have different motivations.

Mrs YFG, like me, grew up in a single income middle-class family with a stay at home mother.

Her parents were much younger than mine were when they had children. They married straight out of university. They bought a house just before the 90s interest rate hike, and coupled with two young children, halving their income and buying a home, didn’t have much at that point. She grew up saving and worked from the age of 11 to pay for what she wanted (mainly comics and barbies). She spent her birthday money to get the toys her parents (understandably) wouldn’t buy.

My mum on the other hand owned her own home and had been working for decades before she met my dad. She was not university educated and money was tight for her. When she first moved into my childhood home she had a bed, sofa, table and chair and two electric heaters with very little else. My dad had owned businesses before I arrived. My dad was a frugal man who resented paying for anything he could make or improve himself. His wise investing and refusal to spend meant that he squirrelled away money for his early retirement and he semi-retired in his late forties. I saved all my birthday money, I never spent anything on myself. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than seeing those pounds build up in my little paper savings book.

Both of us did well in school and both went to university, where we met. Mrs YFG studied hard and got a first class law degree. I was more sensible and got a 2:1.

Mrs YFG went into study again for her LPC which was 18 months of student living on top of university. She didn’t start really earning until two years after graduating when she started her training contract (training as a solicitor). I started work a few months after graduating with a proper salary whilst studying as an accountant in my spare time. We moved in together in London and split everything equally – it made financial sense to move in together (romance isn’t dead).

Once Mrs YFG started earning she quickly out-earned me, but she also out-spent me. She needed (at that time) fancy clothes to fit in at work, the handbags and the nights out. She’s also hopeless with gifts and charity and is ridiculously generous – a virtue but not something that will help you to FI.

Things gradually changed over time but she didn’t really sign up to the FI idea until 2017. She’s finally cottoned on.

So what did she do? She started caring less about the opinions of others.

  • She doesn’t spend money on beauty treatments or hair cuts. Once or twice a year she gets a hair cut and she does her own everything. She did her own hair and makeup for our wedding, refusing to pay for anyone else to cock it up instead. Funnily enough, people often compliment her on her “beautiful natural” hair asking her which expensive salon she goes to.
  • She is paid for her brain not for her looks (luckily) and does not invest in makeup, but does spend on sensible skincare. The idea that businesswomen have to wear makeup or look a certain way is a very sad aspect of the modern office. But I know what she really looks like so she can’t fool me.
  • She stopped buying fancy clothes (and by fancy I mean dresses at £250 a pop. She has eye-watering amounts of money in her wardrobe). She does long hours and realised that what matters was comfort, not an expensive brand.
  • She stopped buying breakfast and coffee or snacks – she took it to work instead. Granted, she does buy lunch or dinner, but often it’s on the client so I can live with that.
  • She made choices on the basis of whether the money was more important or whether the item she wanted to buy was more useful.
  • EBay- for items that are valuable enough to flog, she flogged them. You can either give away the item for free, or make some money out of it for a bit of effort.

Mrs YFG has always been on the Financial Independence journey with me, but has now created her own path.

Freedom to fail

For Mrs YFG, Financial Independence is freedom to fail. She can try to earn money doing something she loves, and it might not work, or she might not love it in the end, and that’s OK. For me, FI, was about doing what I wanted when I wanted – not having to do put up with other peoples’ nonsense.

Until very recently, Mrs YFG’s view of failure was not being a “good” lawyer. Not succeeding in her chosen career or not achieving the gold stars which have encouraged her through life to where she is now. Losing her job, or moving on to a job which was not adequate in her eyes, was a failure. For me, failure was being forced into doing things that led to me being unhappy.

But when we discussed we both agreed – we both wanted freedom. Mrs YFG had thought that if she was senior enough or rich enough, she could make decisions and work for herself. What she realised over time is that if she spends her salary, she’s wedded to the job. I find Mrs YFG an inspiration, she does a job that she loves and she is great at it. My old bosses often said I was great at my job, but I hated it. Mrs YFG inspires me to keep failing until I find something that I love doing.

Why I don’t have a joint account with The Wife

As a couple, Mrs YFG and I share many things, including a love of wine, carbohydrates and our bed.

What we do not do, and will never do, is pool our finances. We do not have a joint account (other than our joint mortgage). We pay for things separately and have separate credit cards. This is not because we don’t view money as a joint thing- quite the opposite, we just trust and respect that we have our separate shit to deal with. We are open and transparent with our finances, we just see no added value in pooling them.

To summarise how we work it:

  • Mrs YFG receives her salary into her own account, saves half and then does her own spending, some of which are for us and some things are for her.
  • I spend out of my current account as and when needed, and my passive income accumulates in other accounts.
  • At the end of every month we regurgitate all our transactions and add up our expenses. The shared expenses (mortgage, council tax, food) are all split equally. I have a fancy pants spreadsheet for this.
  • Yes, this means that we both see what each other has spent each month – no secrets here. We will have a glass of wine and do the spreadsheet which is a fun evening for me, not so for Mrs YFG when I see her credit card statement.
  • Once everything is totalled, Mrs YFG pays me half of the shared expenses so we are even.

Some people think this is weird, what’s mine is yours, right? But we have always lived as equals and know we are in it together. It’s irrelevant who pays the bill.

Separating our savings and finances allows us to separately track our paths to FI.

So are you both at FI then?

I’ve reached FI. Mrs YFG hasn’t reached it yet, but as a couple we are almost there.

Mrs YFG had a different relationship with money growing up and she had more years of unpaid study before she was earning. She also, by her own admission, spends more than me. She values material goods (like clothing and cosmetics) in a way I do not, so naturally she isn’t as frugal.

We have the same shared disdain for fancy cars, houses and holidays, but in some respects she is not as anti-capitalist as I am.

Tips:

  1. Track your expenses and spending. This can be done on an app (Monefy or similar) or manually on a spreadsheet.
  2. Be honest about what you are spending to your partner and, more importantly, why. If it is to try and make yourself feel better it won’t help.
  3. Pay off credit cards in full by direct debit every month.

We pay our own credit card bills in full every month by direct debit. Mrs YFG likes to pay for house stuff on her credit card for things because (a) she can remember the details by heart; (b) she gets the points on her card; and (c) she has a bigger credit limit

Hello there.

After much encouragement from my wife, I’m finally sharing my story. I reached financial independence at the age of 26 and live a semi-retired life. I started my FI journey at age 16 and thought I would share my experiences, and my ramblings on the world, on this page. Enjoy.