Let's face it: Pursuing FI requires a unique perspective, commitment, and patience level. Your FI dating partner will most certainly need to be on board with that goal. Part of dating is looking ahead to the future. If the relationship ends up being long-term or permanent and you decide to keep your finances separate, you don't want to be retiring early and traveling the world alone while your significant other is running from creditors.How much financial information you discuss will depend on how serious the relationship is. At the early stages of dating test out their level of frugality and ask non-judgemental questions. If they are on board with FI that's great, but just being open to learning more is wonderful. If things get serious be sure to have a full understanding of their finances, goals, and mindset.
So how does one work on finding love as they pursue FI? Here are some suggestions.
Table Of Contents
- FI Dating Done Right
- Ask The Right Questions At The Right Time
- Be Willing To Educate
- Plan FI-Friendly Dates
- Hang Out In The Right Crowds–Before And After You Meet
- When Things Get Serious
FI Dating Done Right
Dating can be a daunting experience in general. Dating while on the path to FI can be additionally challenging. Check out surveys on the number of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you’ll find that up to 75% of your dating choices are in a dire money situation.
The average credit card debt balance per U.S. household (this includes non-debt-holding households too) is over $8,500. It seems that the majority of people aren’t being particularly responsible with their money. And if you’ve ever been in that situation, now that you’re on the road to FI you probably don’t want to go back.
Ask The Right Questions At The Right Time
Okay, so you might not want to start off your first date by asking if you can see the guy’s (or girl’s) credit report. However, once things start to seem like they’re heading toward exclusivity, it’s okay to bring up the subject of money.
Walk gingerly in this area, and be careful not to come across as bragging or condemning. When I first met my boyfriend of a year-and-a-half, we met at an online dating site and talked via phone and text for ten days before we agreed to meet in person.
I had just gotten on the road to FI when we met. We had discussed just about everything during those first ten days, and when we casually and humorously talked about money, I knew we could be headed for good things.
Here’s an excerpt from some of those early texts.
Him: You have one heck of a house. I feel like I’ll need to double my income to keep up with you, LOL.
Me: Are you kidding me? I can’t wait to sell and get out from under this mortgage. Don’t at all feel intimidated. I’m frugal as all get out. I’m all for having fun and going on trips etc., as long as it’s in the planned budget. But I’m also a big believer in spending moderately. I’ll never let money become a god, but I do believe it’s important to be responsible with it.
Him: I’m the same. Watch what I spend. If it’s a fun weekend I’ll cut loose. Then I go back to saving, LOL. Glad to hear you’re on the same page. We’ve pretty much talked about everything in the last week. Now that we’ve touched on financials, should we just meet at the church?
Be Willing to Educate
What happens if you meet someone you really like and they’re not into the whole FI thing? Should you cut ties immediately?
Not necessarily. You could try educating them on better money management; just be sure to do it in a non-judgmental way. Explain your financial history and how you came to create your path towards FI.
If they seem intrigued, ask them about their view on finances. Ask what money was like when they were growing up, and if there are any stories they remember that may have influenced their views about money.
If they’re not on the same page as you, take the next few conversations and make casual remarks (when it fits) about how being fiscally responsible has changed your life. Or tell them about funny conversations you read on the ChooseFI Facebook page.
Since you're in the early stages of dating at this point, you don't need to make money a major conversation focal point at this stage of the game. The goal is to try to get them thinking about money. Be willing to share what you know in a non-authoritative way, simply as a way to get them (hopefully) thinking about life without debt and with a plush savings account.
Plan FI-Friendly Dates
Once you've made your financial values clear, back them up with ideas for inexpensive dates. Don’t cheap out on every single date, but throw in a few movie nights at your place where you cook a restaurant meal at home.
You can also do other FI-friendly dates like going for a hike at a local park or browsing a used bookstore. Gauge their interest in being financially responsible. If they’re constantly wanting to plan expensive outings and not okay with frugal choices, you may want to reconsider if this is the person for you.
Related: 7 Cheap Date Ideas Out On The Town
Hang Out In The Right Crowds–Before And After You Meet
Finding someone who will partner with you on the road to FI can be tough. But you’ll improve your chances of doing so by hanging out in the right crowds.
For instance, you’ll probably have a better chance of successful FI dating by hanging out in the ChooseFI online community or by going to local FI networking groups than you will by spending every Friday night at the local bar.
I’m guessing that the typical FI’er won’t be interested in blowing serious cash on bar drinks every single week. It’s possible you’ll find like minds there, but not necessarily probable.
When Things Get Serious
So what happens when you’ve met someone you really like? You’ve spent some time dating this person and now things are starting to look like they could get serious. You’ve learned all about their five love languages, you're compatible in a lot of ways, and things are going strong.
What’s next? How can you be sure that the two of you are financially compatible before you decide whether or not to make it a real commitment
Listen: What Are The 5 Love Languages?
Discuss The Details
This is the time when you and your FI dating friend need to start talking about details. If you aren't sure exactly what questions to ask, YNAB has some great money questions here to ask at every stage in a relationship.
At this point, it’s perfectly okay to ask more direct and specific questions about their finances, views on money, and what their financial plans for the future are. It’s all right to ask to see their credit report and bank/investment account statements at this stage.
While you're looking at their financial information, make sure you show them yours too. Model the transparency you want from your significant other. You’ll want to assure them that you're practicing what you preach so that they are just as certain about you stand financially as you are about them.
If you’re comfortable with their plan for finances, great! Move ahead with your plans together knowing you're on the same page.
If you’re not comfortable with where they are but they’re open to discussion, planning, and changing their ways if need be, that’s great too! Work together to help your partner get a plan in place and then have regular financial checkups with them to ensure they’re making progress.
If they’re not interested in changing their financial ways, you may want to tell them that their haphazard ways with money are making you hesitant about continuing forward with the relationship.
Make A Plan
When you reach the point where things are going well and you're on the same page financially, it's time to work together to create a solid financial plan. This is where you lay out the details about how you’ll manage money together as a couple. What that plan looks like has to be acceptable to both of you.
Will you keep all monies separate? How will you split the bills? Will you work together to live off half your income?
What about retirement savings and non-retirement saving and investing? What will be your plan be for future potential possibilities as you age? How will you handle assets?
Every couple is different and every situation is different. In my case, my boyfriend is very financially secure and responsible. However, he spends more money on toys than I’d ever feel comfortable with.
I would never want to have his toy expenditures be a source of strife if we chose to get married, so our financial plan would likely include a generous amount of “play” money for him. Maybe that would be separate finances or simply a large amount of play money for each of us in the budget. He could spend his play money and I could save mine!
Since every couple is different, you’ll want to take each person’s spending habits into consideration as you make your financial plan. As someone who’s been married before, I know I wouldn’t get married again or cohabitate without a solid financial plan in place–and neither should you. There's too much at stake.
Include a Fail-safe
Having a fail-safe should be part of your plan. A fail-safe is something that gives a plan security and makes it much less likely to fail. It can come in a variety of forms.
Let me give you an example. When I was married before, we’d decided I would be a stay-at-home mom and he would earn the income. All of the money was put into joint accounts and he held all the retirement accounts.
When we divorced I was suddenly faced with raising four kids on my own with little income, no savings, and what would come to be tens of thousands in lawyer bills and survival debt. I’ve worked very, very hard to overcome the divorce debt and build up an emergency fund.
It was a scary time, and I can tell you that I won’t ever let that happen again. Although I love the romanticism behind completely joint finances, I know that that idea isn’t comfortable to me anymore.
If and when I marry my beau, we’ll probably do some kind of plan where we have some joint accounts and some individual accounts. This is my fail-safe. Even though I trust him completely, I was burned before and know that protecting myself is vital to feeling financially secure. We can plan some financial management aspects as a team and yet still have our own individual goals and money too.
Your Plan Should Fit Your Situation
Above all, your plan needs to fit your situation. Maybe that means completely or partially separate monies or a prenuptial agreement. You need to make your financial plan personal, but I highly recommend having at least some individual savings and investments in your own name as your fail-safe.
Personally, I would caution against staying in a relationship with a partner who continues to be financially irresponsible on the basis that you will always have separate monies. Divorce court doesn’t really give a hoot what you agreed on money-wise.
The truth about life is that things don’t always turn out as planned, and you’ll want to protect yourself financially should that happen. After all, you’ve worked very hard to get where you are financially. No one else should be allowed to ruin that with their bad habits.
You don’t have to choose a partner that has identical financial goals. People have made commitment and marriage work with vastly different opinions on finances. But if you find a partner that has similar financial goals as you do, you’ll have established an extra-firm foundation for your relationship.
Finding love when you’re on the path to FI is possible. Yes, your pool of FI dating partners will be smaller than a non-FI partner pool. Look in the right places and know what you want out of a partner. And when you find “the one,” you'll find happiness in planning and enjoying your FI journey together.