Author Topic: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself  (Read 12656 times)

gerardc

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I'm wondering what you would do in my situation. In short, I am soon reaching FI with roughly $1M net worth (this allows me to cover my own expenses). I am still working and earning 8-10X what my GF does. We've been together almost 1 year. She's working full-time and frugal as well, but her low income prevented her so far from saving more than few thousand $. We're at the stage where we're thinking of moving in together, and maybe eventually have kids.

The problem is I could quit work and FIRE by myself, but I would need to keep working a few years if I wanted to cover her share of expenses (and maybe better provide for kids). Is it fair and realistic to FIRE myself and cover my share of expenses while she works (probably for a long while)?

I noticed that most couples here who reach FIRE do so together, after many years of joint planning and execution. It feels that my situation, getting into a relationship after reaching FI, is a different scenario, and I'm not sure how to approach this.

I'm obviously wary of being taken advantage of, so I'd try to protect myself financially, but I'm also trying to make the relationship work somehow. Is it doomed to fail?

bacchi

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2019, 06:37:48 PM »
I only see resentment if you FIRE and your SO continues working unless you're doing all the cleaning, cooking, and kid work. Do you plan to handle all of the household chores or will you be sleeping in, hiking, and binge watching netflix?

The most important thing is to have a conversation about it when the time comes.

deborah

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2019, 06:43:27 PM »
How much do you like to work? Is adding a year or two of work a deal breaker for you? If she had 1/8 of your housing/fixed expenses, would she be saving the same percentage of her salary as you are (ie. is she just as frugal as you are)?

I don't think it's fair to expect her to work for long enough to cover her FIRE, and I think you should both aim to be FIRE by the time you have kids. As bacchi says, unless you plan to be a SAHP, and housecleaner, it wouldn't work well for long.

And what do you want to do in FIRE? Travel without her or the kids? Have great experiences? Or sleep in a hammock in your backyard?

JLee

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2019, 06:55:59 PM »
If I made 10x what my SO did I would have a really hard time quitting while they kept working forever. It seems far more efficient to work one year for every ten they'd have to and then FIRE together.

gerardc

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2019, 07:28:16 PM »
I only see resentment if you FIRE and your SO continues working unless you're doing all the cleaning, cooking, and kid work. Do you plan to handle all of the household chores or will you be sleeping in, hiking, and binge watching netflix?

I like living in smallish apartments for frugality and efficiency reasons, which makes maintenance minimal. I've been living with roommates and cleaning literally takes 10 minutes once every few days, so I can't imagine this being a source of resentment. In any case, I was planning on doing my share (half) of the house chores, approximately. I would also cover half the expenses. The way I see it, how I accomplish this is really my own decision. I would work on passion projects, or maybe remunerated part-time so I would keep myself busy.

How much do you like to work? Is adding a year or two of work a deal breaker for you? If she had 1/8 of your housing/fixed expenses, would she be saving the same percentage of her salary as you are (ie. is she just as frugal as you are)?

I don't think it's fair to expect her to work for long enough to cover her FIRE, and I think you should both aim to be FIRE by the time you have kids. As bacchi says, unless you plan to be a SAHP, and housecleaner, it wouldn't work well for long.

And what do you want to do in FIRE? Travel without her or the kids? Have great experiences? Or sleep in a hammock in your backyard?

I could easily work a year or two more, in fact I probably will, interceded with a short leave. I guess the issue is I'm trying to maintain separate finances and obligations, so that she doesn't get a free ticket, and keeps working for her own goals (we haven't been together for that long, she's younger than me, and I don't know how she will react).

Currently she is about as frugal as I am, maybe slightly less but I am pretty extreme. I don't know if she would stay frugal with my income, or if her lifestyle would inflate, since there is no precedent, but I have no reason to doubt her on that.

Why don't you think her working to cover her shares of expenses would be fair? I'm a few years older than her, and I have spent those years mostly working -- wouldn't it be fair that she does the same, while I enjoy a well-deserved break?

About what I want to do in FIRE, that's another problem. Ideally I would travel a fair bit, at least at first while I want to. In fact I scheduled some time to do so by myself before we move in together. But if I FIRE while she has a stable job, I'll feel "stuck" at home (or in the same city) waiting for her and I'd probably resent that. I'd most likely end up working in some capacity in that case.

If I made 10x what my SO did I would have a really hard time quitting while they kept working forever. It seems far more efficient to work one year for every ten they'd have to and then FIRE together.

In all likelihood I'll help her financially and end up working more than strictly necessary. The latter is true regardless of whether I'm with her or not. But I'd feel bad making her feel the FIRE, screwing up her career, knowing that this is not really her money and that if we don't last, she'll end up with nothing. I'm wondering if there can be a middle ground, where I do help more than my 50% share, but she keeps working and I also have the freedom to relax a bit with work and go on trips by myself. I'm not that thrilled with the idea of being fused together forever in every way for now.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 07:30:36 PM by gerardc »

Fire2025

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2019, 07:29:02 PM »
We are not married, we do not plan on having kids, and we've been together for 20 years.  Different from your situation, but this is my experience.

My SO fired without me and I'm still working to get to my own FIRE. 

I don't expect all the household work done.  He gets to stay home because he started earlier than me and finished his race first.  I'm inspired by his accomplishment, not resentful, envious like crazy, but not resentful.  It really helps me stay the course, when I see how happy he is.

Have this conversation with your SO, don't assume she's some stereotype, ask her who she is, and see what she has to say for herself.

Just my 2cents.

use2betrix

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2019, 07:55:17 PM »
I donít really understand how couples arenít ďteams.Ē

Iím 30 and my wife is 25. Weíve been together about 7 years. If she worked now, I would still make about 10x what she would be capable of. Because of this, I donít really see value in her working.

In turn, she is a machine while Iím at work. All the cooking, grocery shopping, errands, etc. in turn, 100% of my time not working is doing things we enjoy together. Gym, hiking, movies etc. She gets everything done while Iím at work. We both love our situation.

You are asking some questions which I could even really fathom considering. If she is doing things that make you feel wary of being taken advantage of, thatís pretty alarming. You should absolutely not feel that way.

It sounds like you guys arenít ready to take the relationship to the next step or move in together.

In my opinion, if you were in a perfectly happy position and convinced you wanted to spend you life together, here is how I would work it. I would move in together and offer for her to stop working. Compared to your income, here is barely worthwhile unless she feels she ďneedsĒ to work. Ideally, I would have her take care of all the things around the house while you continue to work. Itíd make your working life a million times easier. You working 3 more years would be comparable to her working 24 years. Thatís just my opinion for sure.

I just couldnít imagine FIRE without my spouse. Sheís my best friend and everything I want to do in FIRE is with her, and I couldnít imagine doing all those things alone while she continued to work, just because I made more. Itíd be like us both working and I retire at 35 and she retires at 55. Thatís ridiculous lol.

TL8

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2019, 08:14:28 PM »
With the caveat that every individual is different and there are exceptions, if you get married, and especially if you later have kids, you will be committing to share the burdens and rewards of life with each other until death. What that means for the two of you is something for you to understand and agree between yourselves, but in most cases it won't include you retiring early to live your best life while your wife continues to work full time out of financial necessity. If you're not engaged or married, I don't think there's anything unusual about you each managing your own finances and managing your own lives accordingly. But that changes when you formally join your lives in marriage. (I'm not saying everyone HAS to think of marriage this way, just that this is typically what people expect as part of marriage.)

Without knowing anything else about your personal circumstances, I would strongly believe that post-marriage financial expectations are something you should resolve before getting engaged. And if you and your girlfriend can't agree on and commit to something that you both think is basically fair, it's probably better not to get married in the first place. In general, these sorts of disagreements become harder, not easier, to resolve after marriage and can put a lot of stress on the relationship.

gerardc

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2019, 08:27:50 PM »
My SO fired without me and I'm still working to get to my own FIRE. 

I don't expect all the household work done.  He gets to stay home because he started earlier than me and finished his race first.  I'm inspired by his accomplishment, not resentful, envious like crazy, but not resentful.  It really helps me stay the course, when I see how happy he is.

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad to see it can be done.

You are asking some questions which I could even really fathom considering. If she is doing things that make you feel wary of being taken advantage of, thatís pretty alarming. You should absolutely not feel that way.

It sounds like you guys arenít ready to take the relationship to the next step or move in together.

She's not doing things that make me feel wary of being taken advantage of. Actually she doesn't care about getting married, she's fine splitting expenses and she's frugal like me -- if she was a gold digger she'd pick someone else. I'm only wary of being taken advantage of because of the horror stories I've read online of people divorcing and getting screwed financially.

Another reason I'm careful about joining finances and life, is that I'd rather help her achieve her own FI, than her being dependent on mine. I'd be incredibly indebted to her if I provided for her for a few years, she put her career on hold, then we realize we're not made for each other. What does she do then?


In my opinion, if you were in a perfectly happy position and convinced you wanted to spend you life together, here is how I would work it. I would move in together and offer for her to stop working. Compared to your income, here is barely worthwhile unless she feels she ďneedsĒ to work. Ideally, I would have her take care of all the things around the house while you continue to work. Itíd make your working life a million times easier. You working 3 more years would be comparable to her working 24 years. Thatís just my opinion for sure. 

Your rationale definitely makes sense. But the thing is, she likes working and didn't even think of FIRE before, although I suspect that she was just like anyone else who couldn't fathom FIREing ever, and consequently made peace with working until 65, but that if presented with the opportunity would realize that FIRE is a hell of a lot more fun than 9-5.

Still, to me it feels a bit like rich parents spoiling their kids instead of having them work for their own success -- that's not necessarily for the best. She has a master's degree, maybe she wants more than cleaning my house and cooking my meals? Fulfill her own career goals? But then again, I also have a graduate degree and I'm fine screwing around on the beach, so...

ElleFiji

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2019, 08:29:19 PM »
There are a few different ways that couples combine finances - it sounds like you guys are almost ready to move in together but haven't had all the conversations
Some money strategies
100% combined (I've done this - it was right then, but I wouldn't now)
Yours, mine and ours - so many ways to hash this out
Fully separate

I think with the age, income and net worth issues, and it still being early, you may want to figure out a yours mine and ours system. One that seems succesful with income disparities is to use percentages to contribute to a shared account, and then each use the rest of your money for private saving and spending. If you did this and were planning to FIRE, you could discuss with her that with your income dropping in FIRE, you'll be contributing 8x her amount pre FIRE (giving her an opportunity to do some serious spending) and then whatever it works out to... Maybe 2-3x hers post FIRE. And if you get married or have kids, renegotiate.... I'd hope that after a longer time together you'd both want to support each other, but that's me projecting my values on to you.

But the important things are to communicate and research.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2019, 08:33:14 PM »
Youíre in a community property state, make sure youíre 100% sure about everything. Otherwise get a pre-nup with you both having legal representation. I believe in each person carrying their own load. Maybe you can help her get a higher paying job?

As for FIRE, you need to do your own plan regardless of others. If you want to FIRE, then FIRE. Just be comfortable with her still working and the expectation that youíll keep things going at home. As for kids, you need to factor them into your FIRE budget. Once you do that, youíll know how much more you need saved, then work towards that. Keep in mind if the marriage breaks up, she might get custody and child support, separate from marital assets.

LumberJesse

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2019, 08:52:31 PM »
Still, to me it feels a bit like rich parents spoiling their kids instead of having them work for their own success -- that's not necessarily for the best. She has a master's degree, maybe she wants more than cleaning my house and cooking my meals? Fulfill her own career goals? But then again, I also have a graduate degree and I'm fine screwing around on the beach, so...
[/quote]

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like you’ve got a weird complex going on with someone you’re wanting to marry as an equal. It’s not like a rich kid spoiling their kids, because, you know, she’s not your kid. She’d be your partner- an equal. If she wants to fulfill career goals, she can choose to fulfill them. From my perspective, if someone had career goals and then was offered FIRE, you’d really be testing the metal of whether those goals were genuine. If she really cares about that path, she’ll keep down that path regardless of financial incentive, and probably with more fervor because she’d lack the burden of expense. If her career goals were really just functions of reaching retirement, then why would you expect her to enjoy continuing to pursue them while building a life with someone that could easily offer her that?

Anyways, If she doesn’t continue to pursue a career, you can pursue something else together. If she’s as frugal, or nearly as frugal as you, and is committed to not using wealth to live extravagantly, I don’t see why offering her FIRE would be negative in any way. I can’t imagine reaching FIRE, meeting someone, and not being thrilled about the thought of sharing it with them- your hard work not only will have provided you a lifestyle most dream of, but you’ll get to share that abundance with someone you love?? What better gift could you give than that freedom-  That’d be awesome!

Lastly- to debunk one thing: if she’s intelligent and has a masters like you say, she won’t be up shit creek if things don’t work out between the two of you. She’s made it this far, I’m sure she wouldn’t be ruined.




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gerardc

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2019, 09:23:22 PM »
I'm not in California anymore, so no community property, thank god. Where I'm from and where she's from (different places), marriage is not as big of a deal as it is in the US, so we might skip it. In either case, there are ways to keep property acquired before marriage as separate, as in my case.

About levels of combining finances: I would keep ours fully separate. The only thing I'd do is being generous for extras that she can't afford, for example if she can afford $1000/month for an apartment with a longer commute, but there is one at $3000/month in a better location, I might put in the difference at my discretion. Similarly for impromptu trips or other expenses.

We have talked about this (only in passing, not in full detail), multiple times, and she seems fully on board with it. The only contentious point, really, is the degree at which I'll be generous, but this is really for me to decide, so there's not much to talk about. I could tell her that we can stop working temporarily and tour the world for a year, but she wouldn't really "invite herself" and initiate the conversation with, "hey, about this big pile of cash you have sitting around, I thought we could"...

I think the finance aspect is pretty well sorted, so far. If we end up having kids, we might need to revise the rules a bit, but since I'm planning to share kids duties I'm hoping we can follow the same guidelines.

For now I'm mostly worried about the logistics of being FIREd while the other works. A stable job requires a fixed location and I have to admit this burden annoys me a bit.

From my perspective, if someone had career goals and then was offered FIRE, youíd really be testing the metal of whether those goals were genuine. If she really cares about that path, sheíll keep down that path regardless of financial incentive, and probably with more fervor because sheíd lack the burden of expense.

I believe there are obstacles/challenges in life that are worth having; that if asked you wouldn't want to tackle but if pressed you'll eventually conquer them and get a sense of accomplishment.

use2betrix

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2019, 09:29:26 PM »
My SO fired without me and I'm still working to get to my own FIRE. 

I don't expect all the household work done.  He gets to stay home because he started earlier than me and finished his race first.  I'm inspired by his accomplishment, not resentful, envious like crazy, but not resentful.  It really helps me stay the course, when I see how happy he is.

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad to see it can be done.

You are asking some questions which I could even really fathom considering. If she is doing things that make you feel wary of being taken advantage of, thatís pretty alarming. You should absolutely not feel that way.

It sounds like you guys arenít ready to take the relationship to the next step or move in together.

She's not doing things that make me feel wary of being taken advantage of. Actually she doesn't care about getting married, she's fine splitting expenses and she's frugal like me -- if she was a gold digger she'd pick someone else. I'm only wary of being taken advantage of because of the horror stories I've read online of people divorcing and getting screwed financially.

Another reason I'm careful about joining finances and life, is that I'd rather help her achieve her own FI, than her being dependent on mine. I'd be incredibly indebted to her if I provided for her for a few years, she put her career on hold, then we realize we're not made for each other. What does she do then?


In my opinion, if you were in a perfectly happy position and convinced you wanted to spend you life together, here is how I would work it. I would move in together and offer for her to stop working. Compared to your income, here is barely worthwhile unless she feels she ďneedsĒ to work. Ideally, I would have her take care of all the things around the house while you continue to work. Itíd make your working life a million times easier. You working 3 more years would be comparable to her working 24 years. Thatís just my opinion for sure. 

Your rationale definitely makes sense. But the thing is, she likes working and didn't even think of FIRE before, although I suspect that she was just like anyone else who couldn't fathom FIREing ever, and consequently made peace with working until 65, but that if presented with the opportunity would realize that FIRE is a hell of a lot more fun than 9-5.

Still, to me it feels a bit like rich parents spoiling their kids instead of having them work for their own success -- that's not necessarily for the best. She has a master's degree, maybe she wants more than cleaning my house and cooking my meals? Fulfill her own career goals? But then again, I also have a graduate degree and I'm fine screwing around on the beach, so...

If thatís the case then she wonít care that you FIRE and she continues working for quite a while, which would alleviate any concern of this thread.

Also - prenupís are always a consideration as well.

SavinMaven

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 05:37:10 AM »
She's working full-time and frugal as well, but her low income prevented her so far from saving more than few thousand $.

This part gave me pause, and maybe it gives you pause as well.

A big tenet of mustachianism is that regardless of the circumstances, you are in control of your destiny. Life is life and sh*t does happen though. Do you literally mean she has saved only "a few thousand dollars?" As in, $4k or so lifetime savings? After FT work and being frugal? There's much we don't know - such as, how old is she? Exactly how low is her income?

Ultimately what makes me uncomfortable about the above statement is it's shifting the responsibility for (not) saving off her, and onto her circumstances. I think I'd feel differently if the situation were "she made some bad investment choices, but has continued trying" or somesuch. But what matters here isn't my comfort, but yours - and you don't sound that comfortable either.

My best advice at this point is to post this as a case study. Put the info out there, and get deeper advice, because missing out on true love is a devastating mistake, but hitching your horse to someone with different financial priorities could be a close second.

herbgeek

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2019, 05:52:32 AM »
I would be incredibly resentful if someone who made 10x what I did, asked me to move in and share half the expenses, rather than an amount proportional to my income.  I'd further be resentful if he sat around all day, while I schlepped off to work, and still expected me to come home and do half the household chores.  Or took off for extended trips alone without me.

If anyone is being taken advantage of under this proposed scenario, its NOT the OP.

Irregular Joe

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2019, 06:37:53 AM »
When my wife and I got married, I paid off her law school debt.   We became a household, and all the money we make is ours together. I make significantly more than she does, but she is a frugal person and we share the same values. 

This attitude has helped our marriage and relationship thrive -- we are in this together and are working together towards the same financial goals. 

I don't suggest doing this before you get married and/or have kids. You need that stronger commitment in order to protect yourselves.  A system of totally separate finances could work, but both sides need to feel like it's the right structure for them, and I think it's fraught with risk and increases the likelihood of relationship strife when someone gets resentful.

4lo

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2019, 06:40:13 AM »
I would be incredibly resentful if someone who made 10x what I did, asked me to move in and share half the expenses, rather than an amount proportional to my income.  I'd further be resentful if he sat around all day, while I schlepped off to work, and still expected me to come home and do half the household chores.  Or took off for extended trips alone without me.

If anyone is being taken advantage of under this proposed scenario, its NOT the OP.

I agree, it does not come across as a partnership with the same vision of success to me.  OP it comes across as this person is infringing on your life and a potential inconvenience to your plans if they don't adhere to your financial framework and planned lifestyle.  Let alone the potential resentment for each other based on the comments in this thread as herbgeek noted.

I'd suggest an open dialogue with your SO to ensure alignment on long term goals, objectives and timing.  If it goes well it clears the air and helps layout a plan for the future, if things don't align then at least you know now and come move in a different direction.  Remember you are a team in the end and your SO is your equal.


mbl

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2019, 06:46:56 AM »
It sounds like you'd be most comfortable with fully separated finances.
Probably would be best to remain unmarried and have more of a sexual roommate arrangement.

Also, maybe having children is something you should reconsider.
Decide what is really important to you and prioritize:

-FIRE
-having a live in friend with benefits sharing all common costs down the middle
-having a live in friend with benefits and sharing costs based on income
-having a wife and sharing all that you have for the rest of your life
-having a financially equally partner and sharing all costs equally

You have to know yourself and what arrangement you can live with.
If you're not comfortable being in a relationship where there might be many times where you're taking on
the majority of the fiscal responsibility, and this is very apt to happen if you are to have children together, then you might take pause and give
it a good long think.  JMHO

Noodle

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2019, 06:49:30 AM »
Interesting question.

I think a bit of the cognitive disconnect in the advice you are getting is that there is a difference between a "relationship" (which might involve sharing a home or some finances) and a "partnership" in which the people choose to create one unit with (hopefully) a set of goals for that unit--which of course in a healthy partnership would usually include support for members' individual goals. I think both those kinds of connections are great and can add lots of happiness to your life, as long as everyone agrees on what they're doing! I have a work friend who was in a long-term, monogamous relationship with her SO. They owned different units in the same duplex, shared pets and holidays but had separate finances. They were very happy together for several decades. 

Before you make any decisions about finances, I think you and GF need to be really clear about which you are in, because the financial strategies are different. In a relationship, each person has their own finances and goals and your ideas about separate FIRE work perfectly well. Of course, you would need to be prepared that your GF's financial goals might supersede your interests (ie, what if she gets a job offer that would be great for her financial future in a city you hate?) In a partnership, it would usually be weird to have one person FIRE'd and the other not (barring reasons like one person really liking their job, or wanting a more expensive lifestyle and working to pay for it) because you are supposed to be working together toward a set of goals, and there's not really "my money and your money"--there's just "the family's money."

The one caveat is that I don't think it's fair to bring kids into anything other than a partnership. Clearly many families have parents who aren't partners and handle it gracefully, but if you have two sets of goals, where do the kids' interests fall? Just another degree of difficulty that something as complicated as raising children doesn't need.




mathlete

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2019, 07:04:07 AM »
For me, being "serious" with someone would almost invariably involve me using my resources (money, earning power, or copious free time from not working) to help them along if I could.

If you want to keep things casual, by all means. But if it's going to be serious, and especially if she's gonna be the mother of your kids, I'd be prepared to offer up more. As others have pointed out, you could work for 3 years post FI and that would save up enough to cover he annual earnings forever.

aceyou

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2019, 07:18:57 AM »
I could tell her that we can stop working temporarily and tour the world for a year, but she wouldn't really "invite herself" and initiate the conversation with, "hey, about this big pile of cash you have sitting around, I thought we could"...


I don't see this ending well.  When one person having more money translates into "I have more power than you", that often causes problems in a relationship.  Do you really want to start a relationship where one person is more in control of setting the agenda?  Seems like trouble. 

Quote
Why don't you think her working to cover her shares of expenses would be fair? I'm a few years older than her, and I have spent those years mostly working -- wouldn't it be fair that she does the same, while I enjoy a well-deserved break?

Ok, if your goal is to maximize for "fair".  But that might not make you both as happy as you can be, which might be a better thing to optimize for.  Problem I see is that you are going to be in a situation where what's "correct" for you will be "wrong" for her, simply because of your stage of financial life. 

Suppose you want to take a 4 month-long slow travel trip.  That might be a perfectly correct financial decision for you, but for her it's a non-starter.  Even if you pay for it, simply going on the trip could be financial disaster for her because of career advancement issues.  It might be completely fair for you to go on the trip and leave her at home working, but again, that might not make either of you as happy as possible. 

Every situation is different, so honestly this might work out perfectly well for both of you.  It wouldn't be good for me though.  I believe my wife and I would grow apart if there were vastly different power dynamics or differences in how each of us can spend our time while together. 

Good luck and congrats on becoming FI and finding a frugal partner, you are in a great spot!!!!!!!

yodella

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2019, 07:55:00 AM »
I'm not in California anymore, so no community property, thank god. Where I'm from and where she's from (different places), marriage is not as big of a deal as it is in the US, so we might skip it. In either case, there are ways to keep property acquired before marriage as separate, as in my case.

About levels of combining finances: I would keep ours fully separate. The only thing I'd do is being generous for extras that she can't afford, for example if she can afford $1000/month for an apartment with a longer commute, but there is one at $3000/month in a better location, I might put in the difference at my discretion. Similarly for impromptu trips or other expenses.

We have talked about this (only in passing, not in full detail), multiple times, and she seems fully on board with it. The only contentious point, really, is the degree at which I'll be generous, but this is really for me to decide, so there's not much to talk about. I could tell her that we can stop working temporarily and tour the world for a year, but she wouldn't really "invite herself" and initiate the conversation with, "hey, about this big pile of cash you have sitting around, I thought we could"...

I think the finance aspect is pretty well sorted, so far. If we end up having kids, we might need to revise the rules a bit, but since I'm planning to share kids duties I'm hoping we can follow the same guidelines.

For now I'm mostly worried about the logistics of being FIREd while the other works. A stable job requires a fixed location and I have to admit this burden annoys me a bit.


The sticky part about this type of arrangement in a relationship is the gross imbalance of power. You are the ONLY one who could say yes to a better located apartment, nice vacations, maybe music or sports lessons for the kids, dining out, and pretty much every luxury the two of you might share during your time together. She wouldn't get to make any of those decisions.

Maybe that can be ok for the first months or years, but as time goes on and your partnership solidifies, and you have been living together for years and created a family, it will likely start to wear on her (and thus your relationship).

Imagine how you would feel if the situation were reversed, and there were excellent reasons to spend on something, and plenty of money, but you had absolutely no say about it. It's a tough position to be in.

I'm not saying there isn't merit to the ideas of separate finances, pre-nups, or skipping on-paper marriage altogether. But this bit about one person having nearly ALL the power is crucial, and often gets lost in the discussions about legality/community property/how to set up separate accounts, etc.

scantee

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2019, 08:34:58 AM »
Something Iíve come to realize with age is that love isnít enough when it comes to lifelong romantic partnerships. Loving someone, truly enjoying and respecting them, isnít enough of a basis for a lifelong commitment, especially one with kids, if the there is a fundamental conflict between the values and goals of the people in the relationship.

Everything youíve written here suggests that a woman with a more established career, someone with assets of her own (or the ability to accumulate hem fairly quickly) may be a better match for you. I donít see how you balance your desire for separate finances, independence and travel with the fact that you are with someone who is simply not at the place in her life where that is possible.

As yodella says, the situation you are envisioning, where you grant niceties or rescind them on a  whim, is a recipe for heartache and disaster. I suggest that you take a step back and think about what you really want out of a partner. What are your priorities? What do you want a relationship to look like in 5, 10, 15 years? And do you think your current girlfriend is a person that you can see as a full partner in that journey? If not, maybe take a step back from making any big decisions right now and just enjoy your time with this person without additional expectations.

ElleFiji

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2019, 08:40:11 AM »
Oh... Reading your updates I'm not sure that moving in will be great for your relationship. And that's okay. It's okay to float the idea of being committed life partners who live apart. But moving in as roommates with incompatible lifestyles sounds like she could end up in a worse financial situation than before.

rantk81

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2019, 08:52:05 AM »
@OP: Yup. Your situation sounds like a disaster to me.

My reference point:

I earn a fabulously high income. If I were single, I would have already FIRE'd for sure.  I have a spouse who isn't able to work for the foreseeable future -- and even when able to work eventually, my spouse won't have anywhere near the earning power that I have.  For the time being, I continue to work.  My spouse absolutely insists on doing all the chores/cooking/errands, and still feels guilty for not working.  The thought of me FIRE'ing before we are both massively financially independent TOGETHER would never even cross my mind.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2019, 08:55:56 AM »
No easy answer. If you keep control of your money, you're a dictator. A relationship can't last when one person calls all the shots.

On the other hand, if you cede (joint) control of your money to her, you're giving her an easy life that she didn't work for, and possibly stunting her growth as a person, much like a trust fund baby. You're also extending your work-life purely for her benefit. Talk about resentment; I see it growing there very quickly.

BTDretire

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2019, 08:58:55 AM »
It is lawyer time.

I have a friend that married for a second time, taking a good amount into the second marriage.
She had a decent savings also.
The lawyer said do not commingle money. I seem to recall he said I'll take car of the housing,
you take care of the food. Other than that they buy there own needs.

  You do not want to give away half your assets if things go sour.

Edit to second what Nick said, my friends had closer to equal nesteggs so that made it much easier,
vs. you having control of most of the money. Tough situation for an MMMer.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 09:01:53 AM by BTDretire »

BPA

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2019, 09:40:22 AM »
I FIREd without my SO. We've been together 11 years and I am 13 years older than he is. He is fairly frugal (although not as much as me) and plans to potentially FIRE at 50 (in 12.5 years). We keep separate assets, but share expenses. We only recently started living together.

So, I own the house, but he contributes his share of the utilities, property tax, and insurance, and his "rent" beyond that is the work he does around the house. My investment account is mine alone. His investment account and pension are his. He owns a car and I do not. We are in the process of coming up with a cohabitation agreement.

I do most of the housework because I have a higher standard of how it should be done and I have more time. I doubt he would resent me if I did less. We cook about equal amounts of the time.

We do not and will not have children in common.

I love him. I am glad that my being FI helps him out. Our lives are pretty near perfect. He is able to take sabbaticals or save extra money because of our low expenses and lack of a mortgage payment.

You can work things out so that you protect yourself but be careful about making your SO feel like a liability or a mooch in any way.

Righty

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2019, 10:03:33 AM »
So when you have kids together - your proposal is you buy half the diapers?

totoro

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2019, 10:43:03 AM »
It sounds like you need to have a conversation about what ER for you would mean for the relationship, work/life balance and financial matters, with or without children. 

I think you have some valid points and your feelings should not be minimized, but your approach might not be the type of partnership that most would hope for.  Not because someone wants to take advantage, but because of the enforced economic inequality which, as mentioned, can create a significant power and lifestyle imbalance.

I retired before my spouse who is still working.  I support his choice to continue working and don't go off travelling by myself because our time together is a priority for me, so I just don't want to do that.  Family comes first for both of us.  I think if I felt differently it would negatively impact our quality of life together.  When you share core values things are pretty easy. 

If your core values include autonomy and security based on separate financial means, as sense of fairness that does not include sharing to a level that evens out the financial inequality, and you are feeling constrained by someone continuing to work while you are retired, there could easily be a mismatch in circumstances or values.  I would avoid that.

Maybe you would feel differently about sharing to create a similar lifestyle for your family if you had a prenup?  That way you could work longer, work as a team, and know if things go sideways you will be able to maintain some of your earned autonomy?

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2019, 10:46:42 AM »

Remember that having a child and breastfeeding is pretty much 24/7 work for up to two years. If you multiply that per two or three kids, that's a lot of years of difficult and unique work that our society doesn't really reward as it should. It can also put a dent in a woman's chances for career advancement because of discrimination and having to take time off. Childbearing also carries some risk--while it's less common now, women do still die in childbirth sometimes. It seems that if you are planning to have children someday, her time and sacrifice to that end is worth quite a bit of consideration when you think about your partnership and how to think about work and money.

SKL-HOU

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2019, 11:24:07 AM »
You have only been together 1 year. It is way too soon for her to quit and live off your life savings. She also needs to put in her time. You would not be doing her any favors by sharing your wealth now and what if it doesnmt work out? She is out of a job, put her career and savings on hold but all of a sudden she has to go back to the workforce. I would continue for a couple more years to have the option in your case.

Werthless

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2019, 11:25:02 AM »
I would be incredibly resentful if someone who made 10x what I did, asked me to move in and share half the expenses, rather than an amount proportional to my income.  I'd further be resentful if he sat around all day, while I schlepped off to work, and still expected me to come home and do half the household chores.  Or took off for extended trips alone without me.

If anyone is being taken advantage of under this proposed scenario, its NOT the OP.
Yes, a successful marriage is based on mutual respect, open communication, and compromise. I can't say from a couple message-board posts where the compromise is going to end up being, but the post suggests an underlying imbalance that needs to be addressed. It won't be one conversation, but a series of conversations about what their life will look like together.

Separately, a prenup seems like it will help address some of the OP's insecurities and concerns.

partgypsy

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2019, 11:30:30 AM »
Interesting question.

I think a bit of the cognitive disconnect in the advice you are getting is that there is a difference between a "relationship" (which might involve sharing a home or some finances) and a "partnership" in which the people choose to create one unit with (hopefully) a set of goals for that unit--which of course in a healthy partnership would usually include support for members' individual goals. I think both those kinds of connections are great and can add lots of happiness to your life, as long as everyone agrees on what they're doing! I have a work friend who was in a long-term, monogamous relationship with her SO. They owned different units in the same duplex, shared pets and holidays but had separate finances. They were very happy together for several decades. 

Before you make any decisions about finances, I think you and GF need to be really clear about which you are in, because the financial strategies are different. In a relationship, each person has their own finances and goals and your ideas about separate FIRE work perfectly well. Of course, you would need to be prepared that your GF's financial goals might supersede your interests (ie, what if she gets a job offer that would be great for her financial future in a city you hate?) In a partnership, it would usually be weird to have one person FIRE'd and the other not (barring reasons like one person really liking their job, or wanting a more expensive lifestyle and working to pay for it) because you are supposed to be working together toward a set of goals, and there's not really "my money and your money"--there's just "the family's money."

The one caveat is that I don't think it's fair to bring kids into anything other than a partnership. Clearly many families have parents who aren't partners and handle it gracefully, but if you have two sets of goals, where do the kids' interests fall? Just another degree of difficulty that something as complicated as raising children doesn't need.

I ditto this. What you want to do is fine, if you have a non-live-in, or even live-in relationship. But if you going to have kids with someone, strongly suggest being in mindset of partnership. Because yes life is never completely equal. What if your gf is pregnant with your child and she has to take time off due to some medical issue? Are you going to haruange her for 1/2 the rent? Having a kids is a huge commitment and you guys need to be a team, not 2 separate individuals sharing an apartment. If you don't think you can handle that, want to keep a my things are mine, and your things are yours mentality, just, don't have kids. Pet(s) are OK.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 02:02:53 PM by partgypsy »

kenmoremmm

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2019, 11:34:58 AM »
The OP's posts suggest to me that he should remain single or marry up or completely change his point of view on the subject (impossible?). I don't see this ever ending well for the variety of reasons already listed.

source: married 10 years.

cats

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #36 on: January 04, 2019, 11:45:12 AM »
What you want to do is fine, if you have a non-live-in, or even live-in relationship. But if you going to have kids with someone, strongly suggest being in mindset of partnership. Because yes life is never completely equal. What if your gf is pregnant with your child and she has to take time off due to some medical issue? Are you going to haruange her for 1/2 the rent? Having a kids is a huge commitment and you guys need to be a team, not 2 separate individuals sharing an apartment. If you don't think you can handle that, want to keep a my things are mine, and your things are yours mentality, just, don't have kids. Pet(s) are OK.

I agree, if kids are on the table, you need to be planning to pool resources (money, time, skills) and work as a team.  There is no denying that for most women, having a kid *IS* a negative impact on their career, so if you want to have children, you are probably asking her to give up earnings and professional opportunities that could speed her along on the way to FIRE.

My husband finished school two years earlier than me and now also earns quite a bit more so "his" net worth is a fair bit higher than mine.  While I would not be opposed to him pulling the plug while I continued to work if it made sense for our family, I would be quite annoyed and resentful if he said "well, I've put in my time and earned my share, but you have to keep going for a few more years, and no, I am not going to pick up any housekeeping or childcare beyond what I usually do, I'll just be working on my passion projects, thanks!"

birdman2003

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2019, 01:19:01 PM »
I'm wondering what you would do in my situation. In short, I am soon reaching FI with roughly $1M net worth (this allows me to cover my own expenses). I am still working and earning 8-10X what my GF does. We've been together almost 1 year. She's working full-time and frugal as well, but her low income prevented her so far from saving more than few thousand $. We're at the stage where we're thinking of moving in together, and maybe eventually have kids.

The problem is I could quit work and FIRE by myself, but I would need to keep working a few years if I wanted to cover her share of expenses (and maybe better provide for kids). Is it fair and realistic to FIRE myself and cover my share of expenses while she works (probably for a long while)?

I noticed that most couples here who reach FIRE do so together, after many years of joint planning and execution. It feels that my situation, getting into a relationship after reaching FI, is a different scenario, and I'm not sure how to approach this.

I'm obviously wary of being taken advantage of, so I'd try to protect myself financially, but I'm also trying to make the relationship work somehow. Is it doomed to fail?

With you making 8x to 10x her income:
If she makes $30k that would put you at $240k - $300k
If she makes $50k that would put you at $400k - $500k

With that level of income, why wouldn't you both just keep working a few more years to get a nice 'stache and FIRE together?
Talking about covering "her share of expenses" and covering "your share of expenses" should be irrelevant.

A good relationship is not a la carte.  You can't say "I want the sex and somebody to pay half my rent and do half my chores but not be bothered if I go and sleep at the beach while they work because the money I worked hard for is just for me."  "Sorry daughter, we won't be able to take a family trip this year because your mother has not paid her share of the rent for the last three months."

I don't think this girlfriend is as frugal as you believe her to be if she has only saved a few thousand dollars while working full time.

Sorinth

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2019, 01:29:15 PM »
I'm about 3-4 years out from FIRE and single, so I have considered this situation since if I meet the right someone tomorrow it could have a big impact on my FIRE plans. But there's no easy/right answer as there are too many variables.

If you FIRE now and she keeps working it could work fine but it could cause tension. It's highly dependent on whether she wants to work or to follow you and FIRE. You also have to figure out what to do if major unexpected expenses arise, for example a parent with failing health needs $$$ and you are sitting on a giant pile of money, you want/need the money to maintain FI, she wants to help her family, if you aren't on the same page on what your stache can be used for it can cause major issues. Nobody here can give you advice on this, it's something you have to discuss with her.

If you keep your finances separate and work long enough so that you can pay for you both to FIRE she is screwed if things end. You might be protected financially but since she'll be trapped in the relationship it won't be a clean break, the relationship would sour and get worse and worse until the breaking point is reached. It's doubtful protecting the stache would be worth the emotional trouble, so this to me seems like the worst option.

At the other end of the spectrum, you completely merge finances and work long enough so that you can remain FI even in the event of a split where you lose 50% of everything. Keep in mind your FI number has to include future kid related expenses.


In the same situation as you I would probably go with this:
Make whatever arrangements to protect my FI money so that I remain FI in the event of a split
Continue to work some number of years to help us get to FI and if I lose all/most of that joint money so be it.

So in your case if your FI number is 1m, and your joint FI number is 1.5, I would keep my 1m secure and continue to work until we hit 1.5m. If we end up splitting up I'd still have my 1m, but that 0.5m I would essentially consider lost.

wageslave23

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2019, 01:33:54 PM »
How about putting your stache to the side for a while and picking up a fun part time job for yourself.  That way you are making enough to cover your half of the combined expenses and it gives you something interesting to do.  And she won't feel like she is working full time while you sit around all day doing nothing.  Then in 10 yrs or whatever, your stache will have grown enough to support you and her in FIRE.

Kronsey

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2019, 01:47:58 PM »
The OP's posts suggest to me that he should remain single or marry up or completely change his point of view on the subject (impossible?). I don't see this ever ending well for the variety of reasons already listed.

source: married 10 years.

Agreed
Source: married 12 years.

I would also add that OP seems to think of this as a business transaction. It is more complicated than that whether you want it to be or not.

She is never going to be happy long term with what you are suggesting.

If you honestly don't want to budge on any of your points, I would suggest you stay dating for much longer. Do not move in together, and don't even think about marriage...

SKL-HOU

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2019, 02:33:22 PM »
It is one thing to be married for 10-12 years and accumulating the wealth together but in this case they have only been together for 1 year. What makes her entitled to his hard earned money?

Just Joe

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2019, 02:38:17 PM »
My vote is simply to date another year and live separately. Talk, alot. Talk about money and responsibility. Look at how she manages what she makes. Source: married 21 years.

My guess is that your situation will need to become a more cooperative effort or it will break apart at some point in the future.

Kronsey

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2019, 03:07:41 PM »
... In this case they have only been together for 1 year. What makes her entitled to his hard earned money?

Absolutely nothing makes her entitled to his money.

That doesn't mean it is good advice IF the desired outcome is spending the rest of their lives together.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 04:51:33 PM by Kronsey »

SKL-HOU

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2019, 03:35:59 PM »
... In this case they have only been together for 1 year. What makes her entitled to his hard earned money?

Abosultely nothing makes her entitled to his money.

That doesn't mean it is good advice IF the desired outcome is spending the rest of their lives together.

In the long term, sure. But it has only been 1 year.

cats

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #45 on: January 04, 2019, 04:35:00 PM »
... In this case they have only been together for 1 year. What makes her entitled to his hard earned money?

Abosultely nothing makes her entitled to his money.

That doesn't mean it is good advice IF the desired outcome is spending the rest of their lives together.

In the long term, sure. But it has only been 1 year.

But he also says they are talking about moving in together and having kids.  The question posed was not really "what do I do in the next 6-18 months?", it was "what do I do in the long term?". What's appropriate for one time frame and question is not appropriate for the other. 

Kronsey

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #46 on: January 04, 2019, 04:51:05 PM »
... In this case they have only been together for 1 year. What makes her entitled to his hard earned money?

Absolutely nothing makes her entitled to his money.

That doesn't mean it is good advice IF the desired outcome is spending the rest of their lives together.

In the long term, sure. But it has only been 1 year.

But he also says they are talking about moving in together and having kids.  The question posed was not really "what do I do in the next 6-18 months?", it was "what do I do in the long term?". What's appropriate for one time frame and question is not appropriate for the other.

Exactly right. I suggested they stay dating, don't move in together, and don't co-mingle finances as it has only been a year. OP mentioned kids, marriage, long term, not us who are providing the advice.

You can't have it both ways...

Fish Sweet

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #47 on: January 04, 2019, 05:24:31 PM »
A good relationship is not a la carte.  You can't say "I want the sex and somebody to pay half my rent and do half my chores but not be bothered if I go and sleep at the beach while they work because the money I worked hard for is just for me."  "Sorry daughter, we won't be able to take a family trip this year because your mother has not paid her share of the rent for the last three months."

Exactly this.  If this relationship takes the direction that OP is anticipating-- moving in, sharing a life, possibly marriage and having children that are going to be dependent on them for another two decades or so, then an attitude toward life as a pick-and-choose menu based on how much they can each (separately) afford is going to set him up for a failed relationship and years of resentment. 

Thinking about sharing your money with her as some kind of trust-fund-infantilization discounts all the joy (I HOPE?) that she brings into your life, and the joy that you feel in being with her.  I'm not saying that you should go whole hog in, joint assets!, fund her retirement!!, but you can't look at this from a purely numbers-oriented attitude.  This should be a slow joint exploration of what you both want out of life, and whether this relationship really does turn into a shared partnership for the both of you.  Money should be a tool to make your life happier, OP, and if you choose to share a life with this woman it should be a tool to allow you both to live your best lives, not a measuring stick by which you determine your gf's contribution to your relationship.

Bucksandreds

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2019, 05:50:08 PM »
Iíd look into waiting for marriage until after you have enough to cover both your expenses and thenseeing if you could get some type of prenup that would give her a small part of it in the event of divorce. Enough that she doesnít resent you but not enough that she wouldnít need to return to work if she left you. Also enough that you dont want to pay it so you donít take advantage of the fact that sheís dependent on you. Maybe $50,000-$100,000. Then you could go forward with a family and both are FIREd but with skin in the game.

The_Dude

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Re: Getting into a serious relationship after reaching FI by yourself
« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2019, 05:50:51 PM »
My wife and I have been together for 18 years and keep separate finances.  It helps that we pursued the same careers and have had similar earning potential.  I'm much more interested in FIRE than her and she has taken several breaks in employment.  The separate finances have really helped avoid financial based arguments.  At the times she wasn't working for extended periods I didn't resent her for it.  And she hasn't shown any concern or resentment with my plan to stop working before her.

Shared expenses are split 50/50 and will be as long as we are both healthy and able to handle our finances.  If one of us becomes disabled then we go to plan B and finances would become much more of a shared resource. 

We also have a young kid and we agreed she would stay home for the first few years.  While she is staying at home, I split my income with her 50% but still maintain separate finances.