Reaching Financial Independence Before Marriage

by FI Fighter on November 21, 2013

in Thoughts

ice

I never would have pictured my life turning out the way it has. I graduated college, got my first job, went to grad school, jumped around to different companies, moved to Orange County and then back to the Bay Area, and started the journey to financial independence. Pretty standard stuff.

Now…

I’m on the verge of completing this arduous journey, which should conclude by the end of 2014, or sometime in early 2015.

If that happens, there’s a very reasonable chance that I will finish the quest single, and unmarried.

An Outlier

You know, it’s crazy. When I was a student in high school, I knew other people who were pregnant with kids even before high school graduation. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, but today, I can’t even wrap my head around that thought. It all seems so scary! How do you raise a kid when you yourself have no real life experience? No college education, no skills, and most importantly, no money.

It’s gotta be a hard knock life just to make ends meet. Fast forward to today, and I find myself in a situation where I make six figures, have no real life stress (no family or kids to support), good health, and I still struggle to make ends meet. If I have it tough (which I don’t), how must these other people be feeling? It’s easy for me to grind it out because I know that the end is near. I know that financial freedom is just around the corner… but what if there was no light at the end of the tunnel?

If I really analyze the situation, it seems like I attacked life in reverse order of almost everyone else. Go figure, it’s just like me to go and screw things up. 😉 Really, how many people achieve financial independence before settling down and starting a family? I’m sure it isn’t unprecedented, but I doubt that it’s all that common a finding either.

I guess I’m just an outlier.

The Future

But it is what it is. I’m not going to dwell on it or anything. The purpose of this blog entry is to really just reflect on this recent thought of mine. Suppose I did reach financial independence and found myself single…

I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world. Actually, it could be a lot of fun. I would be able to do the following:

  • Since I don’t have a family or kids, I can come and go as I please. I can live in any country for any duration of time. I do as I please.
  • I’ll have all the time in the world to work on my “game” and date around. The thought of mingling with different women in different parts of the world does have an exciting allure, I must confess.
  • Life will slow down. I’ll have ample time to work on myself and really discover who I am. This will help bring out the best in me. I’ll no longer be a boring, monotonous drone (this is the impression a female co-worker once told me she had of ALL male engineers lol). When starting a conversation with a woman, I’ll actually have interesting things to say.
  • My mind, body, soul, and spirit will be revived. I’ll work hard to build up optimal health and eliminate all stresses. This can only be a good thing. I want to radiate strong, positive energy.
  • When the time comes, I’ll only be 30! I should have plenty of good years remaining.

Just the Beginning!

So, the future is something I’m definitely looking forward to. Sure, it would have been wonderful to have met someone when I was younger and to be settled down by now. Lots of people are, and I actually don’t think I have any remaining friends who are still single. But rather than feel bad about the situation, I’d rather try and put a positive spin on it. Life happens, so you just gotta roll with the punches. I didn’t ask for this, nor plan for it. But I’ll make the most of what I got.

For anyone else out there who’s wondering… don’t worry, you’re not alone!

And besides, life is just beginning for me! I’d rather be in my shoes as opposed to someone who hates their job, is tied down with kids, has a huge mortgage and car loans, and feels trapped in life.

After all, I’m that guy who does things in reverse order!

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Connie @ Savvy With SavingNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 9:14 am

Congrats! You definitely seem like you’ve experienced a lot of success. My boyfriend and I have been together since we were teenagers but we’re really in no rush to get married or start a family. Even though we’re headed in that direction, we want to be financially stable before taking that next step. And plus, we’re only 25…plenty to time! 🙂

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2 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Connie,

At 25, you’ve still got plenty of times to figure things out. Good for you for wanting to straighten out the financial situation first. Too many young people rush to the altar without having much, or any financial stability. This typically just leads to bigger problems later in life.

Best wishes!

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3 Roadmap2RetireNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

FI Fighter,
Your progress and goal sheets are an inspiration. Great work on getting financially independent by the age of 30.

What do you intend to do after you “retire”? You have alluded to traveling and the excitement that comes with it. Wishing you the best in your journey and your quests.

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4 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Roadmap2Retire,

Thanks! Glad those are coming in handy, as I like to be transparent with my progress. It’s the only way to really share the journey as it is unfolding.

After “retirement”, I would like to take a lot of time off to travel. I’ve never traveled internationally, and am longing to do so. Once I get my fair share of r&r, I’ll probably start mapping out the next chapter of my life. I may pursue real estate investing full time (this is work, but FUN work), or just take on other random jobs (teach English overseas, volunteer, tour guide, etc.). Or, just work on hobbies that I’ve put off b/c I’m always too busy (guitar, photography, weight lifting, etc.)

I’m so looking forward to early FI! Believe me, I won’t be bored.

All the best!

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5 FI PilgrimNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 10:01 am

You certainly did a great job getting on top of you financial future at such a young age, I love reading your story. But from a guy who got married at 23 and had his first child at 27 I can say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel fortunate to have had the growing, stretching experiences that I’ve had as well (mainly because of kids), even though I’m nowhere NEAR financial independence yet. It’s interesting to think about!

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6 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 11:32 pm

FI Pilgrim,

Thanks, I appreciate the kind words. I’m glad life has worked out so well for you thus far.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that life doesn’t always follow a planned script. Would I have loved to have been married by now, settled down with a family? In another life, I’m sure I would… however, things just didn’t work out that way, for whatever reason. So, I just work with what I’ve got. Just trying to stay positive and live life to the fullest. When the timing is right for all that, I’ll embrace it with open arms.

Take care!

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7 writing2realityNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

This post reminds me of some of Sam’s posts over at Financial Samurai. Certainly you might be an outlier, but that doesn’t mean where you stand is any better or worse than others. Currently your passion and focus has been on financial independence and things like relationships can go by the wayside in the pursuit of those passions.

Jumping on the stealth wealth bandwagon pioneered by Sam, I’d would certainly say that if you start dating after you’ve achieved financial independence you would probably want to keep your relative wealth hidden from those you are casually dating. No need to attract the wrong type of individual.

Either way, there is no right or wrong way to go about life, and I think you’ve been tremendously successful, completely independent of your marital status.

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8 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm

writing2reality,

Thanks for the comment. The focus on reaching financial independence has been great, but I do my best to always remember that there are much more important things in life, namely family, friends, and human connections.

With that said, if I do indeed reach early FI before marriage, I’m pretty certain that will complicate the whole dating process a bit more. You make a good point, and I will have to be extra careful with my decisions. Love can make you blind… and I will have a lot to lose. Finances is definitely a topic I have zero interest in disclosing, especially in the early stages.

Yeah, I’ve learned that you can’t plan life every step of the way. Just do the best you can and the chips will fall wherever they’re supposed to fall.

Thanks for stopping by!

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9 The First Million is the HardestNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm

There’s really no need to get too caught up in when these big life events take place. Most people are pushing things like marriage and starting a family off later and later than they used to. If you’re not even 30 yet you’ve got PLENTY of time left before this should be a “worry” . Just enjoy the ride 🙂

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10 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Jay,

That’s true that the current generation is pushing marriage and family farther out than in generation’s past. I can understand the reasons, for sure. It isn’t easy to make it in today’s ultra-competitive society. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with finances, and it ends up being more difficult than anticipated.

I’m definitely not worried or stressing over anything… just kind of realized that the path I’m on is rather unconventional, so wanted to share it.

All the best!

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11 KK @ Student Debt SurvivorNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Love it! Being an outlier is a good thing in my opinion. Like you, I knew people from my high school graduating class who were pregnant soon after high school. Those folks are already married and divorced and remarried in some circumstances. Each day I’m thankful that I’ve done things different than my peers (some are happy and I’m happy for them, but I’m also happy for myself). I’m 30 and never married, no kids and no debt (I think that makes me a total weirdo by some standards, but I’m fine with that).

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12 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

KK,

Yeah, I’m not surprised that a lot of those high school situations don’t work out. A lot happens between high school and college, and people do change an awful lot.

You’re doing great! You seem to have you life together, and having ZERO debt puts you well ahead of the curve!

Best wishes!

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13 Financial SamuraiNo Gravatar November 22, 2013 at 8:42 am

Great goal and achievement! But who knows? You might find the love of your life TOMORROW! 🙂

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14 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

Sam,

You never know! Stranger things have happened 😉

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15 LeighNo Gravatar November 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

I remember one of my guy friends saying that when women get to 30, their primary requirement is that the guy they’re dating actually has a job and wants children. How do you plan to deal with that? You don’t want the women you’re dating to think you’re a complete bum and broke, right?

I don’t know whether I’ll be married or not by the time I am financially independent. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. It all depends on how things change in the next few years. I’m not going to stop saving in hopes that I will save more once I’m married. I do hope I will save more once I’m married, but that’ll be because of two incomes, not because of getting married. I’m not going to put a romantic relationship on the backburner or travel in order to quit work sooner – that’s not a balance that I want. It’s important to be happy now and not just plan for the future. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m still saving a ton and will probably get to FI at some point in the next 10 years, but I would also happily take a pay cut to work fewer hours, even if it meant postponing FI. I have enough in easily accessible funds right now that I could live off of my savings for about a year and a half without cutting any expenses. So if I wanted to quit work and travel for a little while, I could probably do that and then go back to working.

One of my big things I’ve been working on lately is to live in the present rather than the future or the past and I think I’ve definitely been doing a lot better at that with my current relationship 🙂 My boyfriend and I have been dating for about 6 months, but we’ve known each other for over 5.5 years now (met in college, moved to the same city after we were each done college, worked together for a while, lived in the same apartment building, and about a year later, started dating). We may have even met over 8 years ago, in our first semester, but that was just a passing hello if we did know each other. (Don’t worry, I’m still saving plenty. Just trying to concentrate a bit less on money…)

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16 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 22, 2013 at 9:20 am

Leigh,

The word “retire” gets thrown around loosely and the definition is getting murky. When I say reach financial independence, in my mind, all that means is that I make enough passive income to offset my monthly expenses. The whole point of doing that is so I can stop playing the 9-5 rat race game.

I agree that life needs to be balanced. It’s no fun when it isn’t! But for whatever reason, I’ve found myself way too focused on work (I’m positive I’m not the only one). I don’t want to live this way, but I didn’t come up with the rules, and in certain industries this is just the way things are. Those who can put up with it, will last 30+ years, easily. Others like myself are burned out and need to desperately be repaired. Once I reach early FI, I don’t want to do ANYTHING for at least 6 months. I just want my r&r. And I want to desperately start traveling the world.

But after that, who knows? And that’s what makes the allure of early FI so damn appealing. I’ll be 30 and still have my whole life ahead of me. Just b/c I’ve reached early FI doesn’t imply that I’m going to just bum around all day doing nothing. I already know I don’t have the personality for that. I like challenges. I like building stuff… So, the unwind period is to make up for a lot of lost time. After that, I will strive to build a more balanced life. I very well could end up working again and I have no problem with that. But I need to be able to work on my own terms!

I think it’s great that you’ve found balance in your life, and it isn’t a bad idea to delay FI for a few years if you feel the need to, to better balance the present/future. Yes, enjoying today is a must b/c tomorrow isn’t guaranteed!

Thanks for stopping by!

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17 JoeNo Gravatar November 22, 2013 at 9:55 am

Great job! Congratulation. I’m very luck that my wife is also frugal. We also put off having a kid for a long time and that gave us a chance to build our finances.
We should get together next time I head down to the Bay Area. 🙂

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18 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 23, 2013 at 11:11 am

Joe,

Thanks! That’s great that your wife is also frugal… I’m thinking this whole journey would be a lot easier if I could find the right partner to help me tag team this 😉

Yes, please let me know whenever you’re in the Bay Area. We can meet up and grab a bite. I’m sure there’s a ton of things I can learn from your experience. I’d love to hear first hand how the early retirement thing is working out so far.

All the best!

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19 Michelle @fitisthenewpoorNo Gravatar November 24, 2013 at 9:21 am

Amazing blog post! I did things the “right way” by getting married at 26 with a load of debt. Both husband and I have some regrets about not fixing our finances first (not the whole marrying part). We would have loved to start our marriage “fresh” and we both have guilt about the debt we are essentially giving to one another.

You are going to make your future partner a very lucky person! Rock on!

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20 FI FighterNo Gravatar November 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Michelle,

Thanks! The debt/finances can be fixed over time, so most importantly, I’m glad you are happy and married the right person! 🙂

I’m doing this solo, but I would imagine having a spouse would be the best person to have by your side for support and encouragement.

Thanks for stopping by!

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21 IntegratorNo Gravatar December 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm

FIF,

If it’s any reassurance, I met and married my wife in my early 30’s. We were both already independently doing reasonably well at that point it. It helped that we both had similar goals and objectives. I think part of the fun with being with someone is having someone to share progress and celebrate with as you achieve goals, it’s a shared endeavor. Don’t be too concerned given where you are, plenty of time for you yet to meet someone you share a common bond with.

Enjoying following your path to FI.

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22 FI FighterNo Gravatar December 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Integrator,

Thanks for the comment. That’s a wonderful story, and I’m glad things worked out so well for you!

You’re right, this whole journey/progress would be a lot more fulfilling to share with someone. But until then, I’ll just have to be optimistic and keep moving forward. Looking forward to the day when I find someone to share this journey with.

All the best!

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