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.