Author Topic: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?  (Read 9384 times)

purplish

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Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« on: January 27, 2015, 02:28:50 PM »
SO and I plan on getting married in the future, so I know this is still technically a hypothetical question, but figured I'd ask anyway.  If I save well I can be FI in 5 years :)  I still plan on working once I reach this, but part time, as I enjoy the field I work in.  SO just told me he doesn't want to retire, as he also enjoys his job.  He definitely does not have enough to be FI, he has only just started getting his finances in order/paying off debts/saving up.  My question is- since he does not have as much as me, is it fair for me to then only work part time?  Instead of me continuing to work full time, and we each pool our savings?  Especially in case he still has student loans at that point in time (not sure if he will or not).  I asked him would he mind if I was able to work part time or not at all and he said he's fine with that.  But I also, if we're married, don't want to make it overly separate like my investments are all mine, and he has to work his whole life saving. 

CommonCents

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 02:36:29 PM »
That's really something you have to work out out together.  Some people feel yes, some people feel no, but what really matters is what you and your SO think.  There's a lot of questions about how to deal with this on these boards - I encourage you to poke around.

Yankuba

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 02:37:53 PM »
Great question. There's a guy out there who has a blog about retiring at 40 or something like that. He lists his income and expenses and the kicker is that he is only technically financially independent because his wife works full time! If she didn't work full time they would be in the red each year. I don't think it is fair for this dude to say he is retired - he is a stay at home dad in my book. Regardless, I digress.

If you can cover 50% of all current and FUTURE living expenses then go for it. But talk it through. What happens if you have kids and your spouse wants to send them to summer camp or to preschool? What about college?

minimustache1985

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 02:57:18 PM »
No, but it doesn't matter.  What does is the dynamic between you and your future spouse and finding the middle you two are willing to meet in.

I'm the saver, H is the spender.  Is it "fair" that I'll work longer because of that?  Is it "fair" that I sometimes nix big purchases he'd like to make?  The answer is irrelevant as long as we continue to compromise and believe that building a life with one another is more important than ER or a bigger TV.

DrF

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 03:00:28 PM »
I would look to ERE and madfientist for advice. I think they were well on their way to FI when they met their SO.

My wife and I have grown our wealth together. We are still growing the wealth, and probably won't be be FI for ~8 years. Sit down and have a frank talk about money, especially if you are keeping things separate. We have our own retirement accounts, but we count everything as combined. To me it is easier that way.

The plan is for my wife to quit working as soon as I can support our current spending. Then when we become FI, I can decide what I want to do with my career.

Hope this helps.

purplish

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 03:01:59 PM »
We definitely don't want kids, so that's a non-issue thankfully!

I know talking to him he'll just be super nice about it and say I can do whatever I want and he doesn't want my money.  However it is right to be FI, and let him pay debts on his own?  I would offer to help but then, how far does it go?  Do I just keep working full time to get us on a more equal footing?  Or just listen to him saying it's fine and work part time.... Hmmmm.  I know it's a personal decision, I just wanted to see what others thought.

neil

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 03:03:07 PM »
I am not long into a relationship but it is going very well and the situation might be similar.

Once married, you are a team.  So it would be hard to call yourself FI if you need your SO to contribute income.  But if, as a team, you are ok with the economic arrangement of you working part time (or no time) because you brought assets into the marriage and he wants to work anyway, I don't see how it is a problem.  That is up to you as a couple, and hopefully you can have honest discussion about it.

Off the top of my head, these are potential problem areas:
- You fully retire.  Now he wants to as well (resentment/jealousy) but as a couple you are not financially ready.
- You have free time and want your SO to spend it with.  He is tied to a job and can not freely travel, etc.
- SO gets a job opportunity in a different location.  Are you supportive of his career or do you want to settle?  This usually rocks the finance boat as well.
- SO becomes unemployed for an extended period of time, or injured/disabled.  Can you support?

But you should be able to have an open conversation about the situation and think about various scenarios.  If both parties are fully on board, I don't know why it wouldn't work.

DrF

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 03:08:38 PM »
We definitely don't want kids, so that's a non-issue thankfully!

I know talking to him he'll just be super nice about it and say I can do whatever I want and he doesn't want my money.  However it is right to be FI, and let him pay debts on his own?  I would offer to help but then, how far does it go?  Do I just keep working full time to get us on a more equal footing?  Or just listen to him saying it's fine and work part time.... Hmmmm.  I know it's a personal decision, I just wanted to see what others thought.

Ok, so I'm confused a bit here. FI means being able to cover all your expenses....forever. So, if you as a couple decide that you will contribute 50%, then you aren't FI until you have enough passive income to always cover 50%. Are you seeing it this way too?

You have to agree on how much you both with spend throughout your lives, because people tend to want a bigger house, fancier car the older they get. If you retire in 5 years and can contribute 50% based on your current lifestyle will that be OK with him if he wants more, bigger, fancier stuff????

mak1277

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 03:14:42 PM »
If both parties are fully on board, I don't know why it wouldn't work.

This is the key statement really...it's a very personal decision within your relationship.

From my perspective personally, once a couple is married they are either FI as a couple or they aren't.  I would never consider myself FI unless both my wife and I could retire.  But the flipside of that is once I was married my wife and I considered each other responsible for the other's debts.  So she helped pay off my student loans after we first were married.  We combined all bank accounts within a year of our marriage and neither of us would consider the alternative of splitting finances.  We're a unit and neither of us would say they were "retired" or "FI" unless we were in that situation as a unit.

purplish

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 05:59:43 PM »
We definitely don't want kids, so that's a non-issue thankfully!

I know talking to him he'll just be super nice about it and say I can do whatever I want and he doesn't want my money.  However it is right to be FI, and let him pay debts on his own?  I would offer to help but then, how far does it go?  Do I just keep working full time to get us on a more equal footing?  Or just listen to him saying it's fine and work part time.... Hmmmm.  I know it's a personal decision, I just wanted to see what others thought.

Ok, so I'm confused a bit here. FI means being able to cover all your expenses....forever. So, if you as a couple decide that you will contribute 50%, then you aren't FI until you have enough passive income to always cover 50%. Are you seeing it this way too?

You have to agree on how much you both with spend throughout your lives, because people tend to want a bigger house, fancier car the older they get. If you retire in 5 years and can contribute 50% based on your current lifestyle will that be OK with him if he wants more, bigger, fancier stuff????
What I mean is in 5 years I will be able to use passive income to pay for all necessary bills for myself, including living (I own a condo).  So yes, I'd have my 50% payed for already by passive income, and me working part time would be ontop of that. 

As far as FI as a couple or nothing- That's interesting too, because that means I am FI if I'm single and not FI being with him.  So the question is, would I continue working full time until we are both FI, even though he doesn't want to be retired, and wants to work full time?  And then after that point, be RE while he still works?  If he doesn't want to FIRE though, is there a point to that?

citrine

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 06:54:38 PM »
I met DH later in life and I am his second wife, he is my first husband.  I work part time to make more than enough for my half of the expenses as well as have more than enough in retirement accounts that will yield us a comfortable retirement later in life.  He works full time, has just started to build his retirement accounts, and has two kids in college.  We have joined all of our finances and have a three part plan for our retirement.  I planned ahead and worked very hard to semi-retire at 35...and I am not going back to working for anyone and working full time!!  My husband knew that before we started getting serious.  BTW...I don't mind doing side hustles to make some quick money for projects/vacation/emergencies and we both work very well as a team doing so.  I don't feel guilty at all for working part time and I also make sure that I take care of the house so he does  not have to do that much around the house.  I do wish that he could work part time now since we have so much fun hanging out :)

Breaker

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 07:24:57 PM »
Not wishing to pour cold water on this but I do think you should look at the reality of % of marriages that make it for the long haul. 

That being said, I would NOT give him any money that I need for FI for myself.  If however you don't need any money that you make working part-time, I would use that money to help him pay down his outstanding debts.  You could also take care of any emergency that arises. 

Also, if you are home more, you can find many ways to save money that aren't really a viable option when both of you are working full time.  If you manage to keep the spending to a minimum that should also help him to either pay off debt or save more for retirement. 

I don't see this as an either or situation.  I think that accommodations can be discussed and made or if you feel that he will say OK to almost anything, you will have to do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.

bugbaby

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 08:27:14 PM »
Agree its really up to you. I don't see why it would even be an issue for you to work part-time if you contribute enough...

I'm also engaged, already FI and about to RE & move to be with my fiancÚ. I'm divorced, he's never married and always earned very low income in a field he's passionate about and I support ie missions... I consider us jointly FI (have enough for us both for a modest lifestyle) and we'll both work part time and spend time together.

innerscorecard

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2015, 03:03:36 AM »
Money is far more important to marriages than almost anything else. And a good marriage is crucial for your money, too. Marriage is the original economic corporation.

You need to be on the same page, or the odds of it working out drop a lot. That doesn't mean that you both have to work, or not work. One person could work and one person could stay at home. That's fine. But it's really contradictory for one person to be financially independent, and the other not, if you are married.

MetalCap

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2015, 06:18:30 AM »
One issue that I often worry about when discussing a couple with separate finances are the shared risks.  Lending companies can still come after you if your husband defaults, same with collectors, IRS, etc.  Make sure you have looked into this before making this decision to jump, otherwise you may find that while separate, there is still a chain holding you to your SO's debts.

I would personnally feel more comfortable to split things AFTER debts are settled.

Baron235

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2015, 06:51:09 AM »
Money is far more important to marriages than almost anything else. And a good marriage is crucial for your money, too. Marriage is the original economic corporation.

You need to be on the same page, or the odds of it working out drop a lot. That doesn't mean that you both have to work, or not work. One person could work and one person could stay at home. That's fine. But it's really contradictory for one person to be financially independent, and the other not, if you are married.

[/quote]



From my perspective personally, once a couple is married they are either FI as a couple or they aren't.  I would never consider myself FI unless both my wife and I could retire.  But the flipside of that is once I was married my wife and I considered each other responsible for the other's debts.  So she helped pay off my student loans after we first were married.  We combined all bank accounts within a year of our marriage and neither of us would consider the alternative of splitting finances.  We're a unit and neither of us would say they were "retired" or "FI" unless we were in that situation as a unit.
[/quote]

I agree with this.  It makes no sense to me how you would separate it out.  Your spouse's liabilities and assets are basically yours,  so unless you can cover both  sets of liabilities no FI. 

Semantics aside, if your spouse is okay with you becoming a stay at home spouse, considering possible changes in costs as you age, then don't feel bad about it.  It is a joint decision.

Adventine

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2015, 07:01:31 AM »
The guy behind the Early Retirement Extreme blog/book, Jacob Lund Fisker, was FI while his wife wasn't. I don't recall what his exact reasoning was, but I believe they kept all their accounts separate. The arrangement seems to have worked for them.

jodelino

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2015, 07:37:43 AM »
I think it is too early for you to consider pooling your savings. If you approach marriage, I would recommend that you see a lawyer, and take steps to preserve your nest egg with a pre-nup, and learn what the laws are in your state regarding marital property. A pre-nup need not be binding for life; you can dissolve it at a later point, when your marriage has proved to be enduring.

When I married my husband, he had much more wealth than I did, plus kids he needed to send to college, and I still had student loans. I was the one who suggested a pre-nup, to protect him and his kids, because I wanted to spare him any anxiety about their future. As things unfolded, I paid off my student loans myself, held up my end of things throughout their college years, and eventually we dissolved the pre-nup. It had served its purpose and we felt that our marriage and financial partnership were secure. Years later I received an inheritance that I have kept in my name, not because I don't trust my husband, but because we have very different investing philosophies and I want to manage this money myself (the account would transfer to him if I died).

Marriages evolve, things change, many decisions can be revisited, but once you add another person's name to your assets, they are joint assets and you are stuck with that.

One thing you might consider is using your money to cover more of the household expenses, vacations, and luxuries, while your husband uses his resulting surplus to pay off his debts himself.

FLBiker

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2015, 08:42:56 AM »
From my perspective personally, once a couple is married they are either FI as a couple or they aren't.  I would never consider myself FI unless both my wife and I could retire.  But the flipside of that is once I was married my wife and I considered each other responsible for the other's debts.  So she helped pay off my student loans after we first were married.  We combined all bank accounts within a year of our marriage and neither of us would consider the alternative of splitting finances.  We're a unit and neither of us would say they were "retired" or "FI" unless we were in that situation as a unit.

This has been our approach, too.  I came into the relationship with some savings, my wife came in with some debt.  We paid off her high interest student loans right away, and have been saving together ever since.  Much more important that the money we did / did not come into the relationship with was our attitude towards spending / saving.  We were on the same page financially even though we weren't in the same place. 

It was suggested to me by a friend before we got married that I couldn't think about "my" money and "her" money anymore.  I remain very grateful for this advice, because otherwise I think I'd always be keeping score.  Now, the only score I track is our team progress to FI.  Of course, separate finances work for some people, but I don't think it would have worked for me.

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2015, 09:24:43 AM »
FWIW, my SO and I have worked out a path that goes like this: I have worked for 22 years at a well paid job that makes me miserable, during eight years of which she was in education (6 years) then full-time motherhood (2 years). she is now at the beginning of a great career and we are of a mind that I will become a stay-at-home Dad in the next year-18 months while she continues to build her career over the next decade. She gets the benefit of my work in the shape of a home and savings (I would be FI if I were single, but of course see all previous posts, all correct, about marriage being a team game) and she gives me the benefit of early freedom from a job that I never felt I belonged in and didn't fit the way I see the world. It's not been an easy compromise to negotiate, especially when she was studying and I was working, but we are getting there and have grown stronger together.

Gin1984

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2015, 09:31:00 AM »
The point of FI to me, is not to retire early but to be able to not worry about losing my job and where the income is going to come from to pay the bills.  I lost my job at the beginning of the month and my husband's job plus our rental is paying the bills but that does not reduce the stress of what happens if we lose the tenants or his job.  So, if I was FI but my husband was not, it would not give me the benefits of FI that I am looking for.  So, this was a long winded way of saying, what works for you?  That is what matters.

mak1277

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2015, 10:03:34 AM »
We definitely don't want kids, so that's a non-issue thankfully!

I know talking to him he'll just be super nice about it and say I can do whatever I want and he doesn't want my money.  However it is right to be FI, and let him pay debts on his own?  I would offer to help but then, how far does it go?  Do I just keep working full time to get us on a more equal footing?  Or just listen to him saying it's fine and work part time.... Hmmmm.  I know it's a personal decision, I just wanted to see what others thought.

Ok, so I'm confused a bit here. FI means being able to cover all your expenses....forever. So, if you as a couple decide that you will contribute 50%, then you aren't FI until you have enough passive income to always cover 50%. Are you seeing it this way too?

You have to agree on how much you both with spend throughout your lives, because people tend to want a bigger house, fancier car the older they get. If you retire in 5 years and can contribute 50% based on your current lifestyle will that be OK with him if he wants more, bigger, fancier stuff????
What I mean is in 5 years I will be able to use passive income to pay for all necessary bills for myself, including living (I own a condo). So yes, I'd have my 50% payed for already by passive income, and me working part time would be ontop of that. 

As far as FI as a couple or nothing- That's interesting too, because that means I am FI if I'm single and not FI being with him.  So the question is, would I continue working full time until we are both FI, even though he doesn't want to be retired, and wants to work full time?  And then after that point, be RE while he still works?  If he doesn't want to FIRE though, is there a point to that?

I guess the bolded part is the philosophical bit that I don't subscribe to in my marriage.  There is no "my 50%" of expenses.  We, as a couple, are responsible for 100% of our expenses.  We have only joint bank accounts...only joint credit cards.  Our personal property (houses, cars) is titled in both of our names.  So that line of thinking leads to the idea that you're either FI together or not at all.

If you and your husband are more comfortable keeping things separate, then it absolutely could work as you're hoping it will...but it's an intensely personal decision.  My situation is data, but it's really irrelevant if your starting philosophy is different than mine.

DoubleDown

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2015, 11:40:00 AM »
Don't know if it's fair or not, but I RE'ed on my own savings/investments while my (second) wife continues to work (her choice). When we married I was already FI but still working.

I have enough on my own to support us both forever and have offered that to her, but I don't have enough to support me forever and her forever in the event of a future divorce. My stash is not available to her if we ever divorced. So, she continues to work to build up her own retirement savings. No, I'm not planning a divorce, but since I've been-there-done-that once already, I realize it's possible despite my best intentions.

There's no easy answer. My wife is understandably annoyed that I don't pool all my resources with her. I'm understandably cautious and got a prenup because I gave up half my net worth ($600,000) + $75,000 in alimony + future pension payments forever + 15 years of child support to my ex-wife, setting me back on my FI journey by about 5-6 years.

My advice, as others have suggested, would be to work out an agreement with your future husband so that you are both in agreement, and for you to keep your own assets separate (with a prenup) in case it doesn't work out in the future for whatever reason.

purplish

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2015, 05:49:17 PM »
About a prenump: He has already told me, without me even saying anything, that he will sign a prenump and he is completely fine with that. 

To add some additional clarity- my "stache" is mainly tied up in rental properties.  So the income I receive from those are what I would be able to live on (But again, I would still work too).

On the "FI together or not at all" scenario- One thing to remember is he does not want to retire.  So for him being FI is not a concern/goal specifically... he is definitely paying off his debts and wants to save up a comfortable amount, but the idea of being FIRE is not a goal of his.  Which I don't consider not being on the same page exactly, since we both want to save, and I also don't want to FIRE.... I DO want to cut down on hours though, where he does not.  That's totally fine with me.  So my thoughts are... both work full time for many years to "be FI together" even though he won't take advantage of it/it won't affect him, or enjoy "my" FI now and he continues his preferred full time.  I guess we can just see where our salaries will be in 5 years and maybe I can cut down to 30-35 hours, that way it's less but not very little.

oldfierm

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2015, 11:58:20 AM »
When it comes to being a married couple, I have a very hard time separating the idea of personal FI from "stay at home spouse."  I just can't quite wrap my head around it.  I, like many others who commented, think that once married, each of your separate assets and debts become your joint assets and debts.  I understand this isn't always the case legally, but I just think that's what a marriage is - a team.   

If that's the case, there's still no reason why you have to work full time.  You could stay at home, or work part time, while your husband works and continues to build up your joint 'stache.  I don't think of it like, "oh she's FI and he's not" I think of it like, "oh how nice, they've saved up enough money that they can afford for one person not to work." 

The question to me is, when he's ready to retire, will the two of you have enough so you can both be happily retired?  If the answer is no, then you should keep working full time for a few years until you get there.  If the answer is yes, that means that you can be a stay at home spouse right away.  If he hated his job and wanted to FI as quickly as possible, then I'd say you'd need to figure out what FI looks like for both of you, keep working, and get there together with both working full time.       

neo von retorch

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2015, 12:10:01 PM »
There's some biblical text about becoming "one flesh" but I'm not religious. Many of us existed for 20, 30, 40 years before "merging" with a spouse. Despite millions of years of evolution that programmed us to only generally stay coupled maybe 50% of the time, we still have our modern day cultural beliefs and norms we try to fit ourselves into. Marriage is a commitment and a partnership. I agree with that. But you do not cease to be individuals without condition or circumstance. There will be ebb and flow. There will be give and take. There will be strengths and weaknesses. There will be differences of opinion and values. And, of course, this unique union will certainly vary from all other unions before and after it.

The OP brought before us a question of "how do you feel about this?" But ultimately, it is her marriage, her values and his, not ours.

Personally, I think that we retain individuality in marriage, and how we decide to do things will vary greatly. Some individuals have paid dearly in past relationships because of joint finances, and so, we have a preference for a modicum of control and independence in our financial lives.

No marriage or partnership will ever be equal in any or all ways. Effort, talent and money will not be equally contributed nor will resources, enjoyment and satisfaction be equally reached. It is up to you to find a balance in your own unique situation. If you have lots of money but value time together more, you might be willing to contribute more money and reap the relationship benefits that come from that. It won't be a perfect, holy, measured and calculated exchange. It'll just be what humans do together to share strengths (and romance and the many other niceties of marriage!)

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2015, 12:21:14 PM »
If you as a team are FI and he wants to spend his days at a paying job and you don't, cool. If you as a team need him to work, you're not FI. That doesn't mean you have to have a formal job.

Everybody's relationship works differently, but I can't wrap my head around a significant departure from what's above.

oldfierm

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2015, 01:14:57 PM »
If you as a team are FI and he wants to spend his days at a paying job and you don't, cool. If you as a team need him to work, you're not FI. That doesn't mean you have to have a formal job.

Everybody's relationship works differently, but I can't wrap my head around a significant departure from what's above.

...that's what I was trying to say!  So much more succinct!!  :-)

Gin1984

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2015, 02:55:26 PM »
About a prenump: He has already told me, without me even saying anything, that he will sign a prenump and he is completely fine with that. 

To add some additional clarity- my "stache" is mainly tied up in rental properties.  So the income I receive from those are what I would be able to live on (But again, I would still work too).

On the "FI together or not at all" scenario- One thing to remember is he does not want to retire.  So for him being FI is not a concern/goal specifically... he is definitely paying off his debts and wants to save up a comfortable amount, but the idea of being FIRE is not a goal of his.  Which I don't consider not being on the same page exactly, since we both want to save, and I also don't want to FIRE.... I DO want to cut down on hours though, where he does not.  That's totally fine with me.  So my thoughts are... both work full time for many years to "be FI together" even though he won't take advantage of it/it won't affect him, or enjoy "my" FI now and he continues his preferred full time.  I guess we can just see where our salaries will be in 5 years and maybe I can cut down to 30-35 hours, that way it's less but not very little.
And if what works for you is that you pay half the expenses with your rental income and he pays half with his earned income, that is great for you.  I just would not consider that financially independent because how would you pay for the expenses if he lost his job?  And legally you are one unit.  But if you are ok with that, that is what matters. 

mozar

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Re: Is it fair to be FI when SO is not?
« Reply #29 on: January 31, 2015, 11:48:51 AM »
First I want to say it is not a hypothetical question, since you plan on getting married. This is a very real and important question.

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I DO want to cut down on hours though, where he does not.  That's totally fine with me.

That should be fine then, as long as you are both happy. Otherwise it's a conflict that you will both have to compromise on. Fairness is not an issue here.