Anybody else feel the same way that sometimes it feels really weird talking about either financial independence or early retirement (or both) out there in the real world?
One of the reasons I started writing this blog was because I wanted to make sense of my thoughts about all things FIRE related and have some constructive discussion. I like to have my thinking either validated or challenged so I can course correct if need be.
And those discussions are few and far between in real life.
Thank you to everyone who engages in the comments – please continue! Your insights and examples of your own situations are invaluable as we navigate this somewhat unusual path. Safety in numbers as they say – we can’t all be wrong!
I suppose spilling my thoughts onto the page is filling a gap where talking to friends and family, to colleagues or to a supportive partner may be for other people. In my particular circles, I’ve found it difficult to convey to people in a way that they can relate and typically the conversation goes nowhere.
Sometimes I feel as if I am living a double life. I take care of my boys, manage my career, meet with friends and family and yet all the while, it feels like I’m working on this life-changing thing that none of them know much about. Something that has the potential to change my life so radically for the better. I want to share it with them all so they can do it too. So why does it seem so difficult?
How I Talk with my Children about Money & FIRE
I am really open with my teenage children about money and always have been. They know what I earn and I have tried to give them context as to how that compares to other jobs / other industries / other career stages. They know all about the FIRE basic principles of spending less than you earn and investing the difference. I’m hoping they grow up thinking that saving and investing is the norm and so even if they choose a different path for their own lives, it will be an educated choice.
Talking FIRE with Parents, Siblings & Friends
Conversations with wider family and friends seem much trickier. I’ve mentioned early retirement to them a few times and they assume I mean a few years early not around fifteen! If I try to elaborate, I’m given the standard responses:
“But what would you do all day?”
“I’m never going to retire – I love my job.”
“I’d never be able to do that – I don’t earn what you do.”
And my personal favourite:
“I don’t want to be all woo-woo and dress in hemp”. 🙂
It doesn’t really matter how I answer – I typically see two responses. Either their minds are closed and they don’t want to hear any more or they start acting differently once they find out I have some assets to my name. They don’t want to talk about the years of reading and learning, the effort put into advancing my career and making side-hustle income on top, the willingness to consistently manage my spending or to take calculated risks.
They see that I have a few rental houses and they think I got lucky. They think I am rich. (It’s a good job stock market investments aren’t visible – can’t imagine the reaction if they knew what I had stashed away there 😊).
Occasionally a friend may ask how long I have left to go in a good-natured way, much as they may ask “How’s work?” They care about the answer (for me) without really caring about the answer. I almost feel like they are humouring me a bit – not really considering that it could be realistic.
Challenging the Norm
One way or the other, seeing me challenge the norm of working until the state says you can stop seems to be uncomfortable for the people around me. Perhaps it reminds them of financial worries they may have, or perhaps it makes them doubt their own choices – but whatever it is usually makes for awkward pauses and a rush to change the subject.
It’s frustrating because I still find the whole concept exciting and I would love to talk about it with my nearest and dearest. I am happy when I reach a savings milestone. I want to celebrate increasing my savings rate. But it’s like I am a completely different species to those around me who roll their eyes, scoff and shake their heads.
Most of my family and friends are working and part of dual-income households. With a bit of education and planning, financial independence would be achievable if they wanted it. I would love to open their eyes to this alternative future. I would love to share details and compare strategies and celebrate each other’s milestones.
But for whatever reason, they don’t want to hear it from me and so I don’t really talk about it any more. They don’t know about this blog or how close I am to being able to early retire. Instead, I forward them the odd article or guide I think might do the trick or suggest a book they could read. They never do.
Maybe when I pull the plug it will become real and they’ll want to know more – I hope so. It would be great to be able to share this experience with my nearest and dearest. Not to mention how much better life would be if we could all be at similar stages, with time on our hands to do things together. As it stands they will be working for the next 20 years while I enjoy my freedom. If they are resentful now, what will they be like then?
It’s disappointing but I’ve accepted that it’s different strokes for different folks, as the expression goes. I’ve told them enough that if they are at all interested they know who to talk to.
And in the meantime, I’m relying on you lovely people to keep me company 🙂
Do you talk openly with friends and family about your plans? What sort of reactions do you get?