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 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.

4 thoughts on “Why is Mrs YFG not at Financial Independence?

  1. Hi. I think this is another massive point that is missed by most with an interest in FI, or at least very under-rated, namely the quality of your relationship with your partner. If they don’t block you because they disagree with your philosophy on money or just can’t control themselves, then you have a serious brake on your ability to achieve your goals. But if they work with you, your future will be so much brighter because your efforts can be turbo-charged; if you look at those who’re doing the best with FI/RE, (MMM, ERE, TEA, The Ermine etc.) it’s because they are proper partners in all ways.

    So I think that this goes some way to distinguishing between those able to make serious gains towards FI and the rest of the population, who either have no interest or can’t seem to get any traction with their efforts. I only achieved FI by mid-life and at a very modest level, because I parted ways (at great personal cost) with a wife who despite significantly out-earning me, always spent whatever we both earned, no matter how much that was. I also think this factor is quite hidden because it’s a taboo to discuss marital disagreement with outsiders and not many people are going to like a frugal partner. They’ll probably think the frugal one just doesn’t want to spend on them because they are ungenerous or don’t think their partner is worth it; so it needs a great amount of skill to show them you are doing it for both of you to have a much better quality of life – and they have to trust you enough to believe it.

    1. Hi FI Warrior – thanks for a great comment. I agree that this is a point that is missed or glossed over – not only in the FI community – but also in society. There is a huge focus on romantic love in finding a life-partner, but very little in whether you match with core values. I’m current reading a book called “30 lessons for living” where the author interviewed 000s of elderly Americans for their view on life lessons. On marriage the number one thing they almost all agreed on is you should marry someone who shares your core beliefs.

  2. ‘you should marry someone who shares your core beliefs’

    Yes, if you think about it, its one of those things that’s so obvious but that somehow not many people get – if a couple differ in a fundamental belief that is important to at least one of them (money matter, children, religion for example) how can that not just be a delayed explosion when the lust wears off?

    I read an interesting social study, showing that there’s generally a north-south divide in Europe on what marriage is seen as for, with the north taking the more anglo-american way of seeing your partner as ‘completing’ you, with the attendant danger of them therefore being held responsible if you’re unhappy for anything; which is impossible for any human being to measure up to. In the south (I’m ethnically a Euro-Med, so believe this) there’s a totally different cultural expectation, with partners seen as just someone to share the effort of raising children with, so not necessarily to grow old together, be fun, help earn etc., while that is obviously a hope, anything more is a bonus as opposed to taken as given.

    A recent comment on a Monevator article was taken as merely humorous but I think was more important than people give it credit for: ‘people can put days of research into the most appropriate phone contract for their needs, but marry a stranger knowing zilch about their medical, financial or criminal records’ Yet how can this be funny when choosing the wrong partner as I found to my personal cost can massively damage your life, my quest for freedom was set back a decade due to a divorce that a quick comparison of fundamental values would have predicted on day one? Some people never recover in their lifetime from one of these shattering events, then say they are unlucky, but as I admit to myself in my case, ”No, you were not being very smart at the time and then you had to pay for it”

Have some thoughts or comments? Please share!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.