As people on the path to financial independence know, it can sometimes be hard to stay true to your financial goals while still being very involved socially with your friends, family, and coworkers.
I learned this lesson this past weekend. I was asked to go to a dinner that was $50 prix fixe. Add in NYC sales tax of 8.875% and 18% gratuity and you’re looking at about $64. Plus subway there and back, and I would have been down 70 bucks for a dinner. So I commented back “that’s out of my price range.” Boy did I regret that. The person who invited me responded with “what do you need to save for? YOLO. A ring only costs $10 grand.” Next time I’ll just say I’m busy.
For reasons similar this, I’m in what I like to call “Financial Independence Stealth Mode.” Sounds pretty bad ass if you ask me, but in actuality it is more of a pain in the ass than anything. I really got excited the other day when a coworker told me about a new fancy Starbucks coffee machine that was installed at work. He told me it’s a life saver since the coffee tastes good, and he spends too much on coffee and is trying to lower his expenses. I really wanted to blurt out “I know exactly how much money I waste on coffee, and I’m currently trying to cut this expense out to speed up my financial independence date.” But in reality I just ended up saying “you and me brother.”
I’ve noticed in life you are always going to have friends and family that never really take charge of their finances and will live paycheck to paycheck for their foreseeable future, and not ever set financial goals or plan accordingly. The last thing these type of people want to hear about is how you are contemplating your domestic/international mutual fund allocation in your brokerage account or how you are struggling to decide how to deploy your capital since you’ve already maxed out your 401k, IRA, and HSA for the year. It’s tough to know when to share your experiences and personal finance advice, and when to shut up. With close friends and family, I’ll usually just say “If you want to get to X financial goal, I’ve done a lot of research and here is how you should approach it.” But with coworkers and friends who aren’t that close, I usually just keep my mouth shut.
Decisions about who you surround yourself with on this journey have to be made and those decisions can be tough. True friends and family will understand your goals, and be accommodating. Those that are spendy-pants and aren’t willing to take charge of their personal finances are people I’ve been removing from my circle over the past year or two.
Sadly, in “real life” only four people know about my goal to retire in my 30’s. It’s sometimes tough to differentiate between my personal life and Fervent Finance who is allowed to speak his mind freely about financial independence without any repercussions. Therefore I’ve realized it is great to have some outlets to be able to share your goals and discuss financial independence. Personally this blog has been great for this. I can share my ideas with like-minded individuals, learn about what has worked and not worked for others, and spread the financial independence gospel. Also I’ve learned, as Justin at RoG wrote about, optimal spousal selection is key. I’ve been very lucky to have a girlfriend who is sipping the financial independence Kool-Aid with me. It’s so much easier to be on this journey when you have a partner in crime who shares similar goals. She’s great when I want complain about how bad some people are with their finances, as I know readers don’t want to hear about that all the time.
While it may be a pain to be in Financial Independence Stealth Mode, I’ve found it works best for me. If someone wants to talk personal finance with me and is open and willing to listen without judgment, I’ll be happy to share my story. In the meantime I’ll confide in this amazing online community and bug my girlfriend every time I get excited when I make a deposit to Vanguard.
P.S. – The picture in this post is of the hyped up Super Blood Moon from Sunday night, from a midtown Manhattan vantage point. More like super disappointing if you ask me.
Are you in Financial Independence Stealth Mode? Have you had to make some tough decisions lately to keep your life and goals in line?