Lifestyle

Talking openly about my Financial Independence Plan

For the first time, I talked openly with close friends about our plans to retire in our mid-thirties. I did highlight caveats and defined it as the fact that we are saving enough to technically create our own “retirement fund“ allowing us to be free to do whatever we want to do

I explained that I would love to take on some entrepreneurship endeavors, such as budget coaching by the time I officially leave my job but that essentially, if I did nothing at all, we should still be able to fund our cost of living through our investments. Pursuing various types of side-hustles on that new-found free time would be fun and would add additional financial security of perhaps not depending entirely on our fund once I quit my job. 

My friends listened to me attentively as I quickly told them the big lines of our financial independence plan and I honestly didn’t know what to expect as a reaction from them. 

Coffee shop scene where friends are discussing financial independence

Secret Plans

I’d always been tip-toeing around this subject when talking to friends. You see while my close group of friends has been hanging out since before college (12+ years), money conversations, as with most groups of people, remain somewhat light. 

All of us have different ranges of household income and life situations. We’ve made many different decisions along our lives and all try to be non-judgmental through those decisions to support our friends. Somehow talking about money seems to feel like we are moving away from a non-judgmental and supportive place. 

I’ve realized lately though that avoiding those money conversations does not help make them more comfortable. Furthermore, not sharing my FI plans with my friends also feels like I am not being open with them and somehow keeping an important part of my life secret. 

Why does talking about personal finances feel uncomfortable?

Which begs the question of why talking about money feel like heading into a place of judgement. Perhaps this falls into the trap of comparing one completely different personal situation to another. Will I seem like I am boasting? Will I be asked to foot the bill when we go out now? Will I seem like I am judging others struggles at not being able to make ends meet or save more money? Or the other way around, will I seem incompetent? Will my friends identify my choices as mistakes?

Perhaps it falls into the idea that money reveals too much of our lives or is a type of “oversharing”. Or is-it that we feel that it is a subject that will turn the conversation to a bit of a gloom and serious non-fun trajectory? Could it be that we feel we have little influence over improving our friends financial lives? Is this simply mimicking the conversations that when we were children we’ve seen adults have in our lives, where money was perhaps not an open subject of discussion or was a subject of conflict? 

I don’t particularly have answers about the reasons that money feels so taboo. I’ve felt some of the feelings above at different times.  However, interacting increasingly with the personal finance community made me realize some important things. 

I want to: 

  • make money a more common subject in everyday conversations, 
  • be more open about our trajectory,
  • share the knowledge and ability I have with regards to managing money. 

Sharing my plans

To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about any of that when I blurted out the fact that my plan was to be free from the need of working at around 36 years of age while hanging out with three of my friends. I just responded honestly when a friend asked “so with this working from home thing, are you ever planning on moving up the ladder at work one day and how will it impact it?”.

The first reaction was surprised excitement, quickly followed by : “How? How much are you saving?”. I explained that we are saving over 50% of our incomes while adding the caveat that both Mr. Mod and I are close to each making 6 figures. 

Thinking about it after the fact, that’s an interesting caveat to add since we were saving 50% of our incomes even when our entire household income was under 6 figures. Somehow adding this detail made me feel that perhaps I showed some understanding that our situation may not be replicable in all circumstances. 

I don’t know if that bit actually helped my friends feel comfortable but the next thing that was said, simultaneously by 2 of those friends was: “I love that and would love to have someone help me with my own budget”!

Allowing others to open up

One of those friends went on to explain that she had been struggling to avoid taking on increasing amount of debt after 2 maternity leaves. During parts of those periods where her maternity leave payments fell at 50% of her salary she had found herself in situations where the only option was to take on credit card debt. 

Despite being back at work for a few months now, she’s barely managing to pay the interest and is terrified in finding herself in a situation where an appliance would break or an even more expensive emergency, as she has no idea where she would find the money. 

Long story short, I’ll be meeting with this friend in the next few days to go over her finances and help her establish goals and ways to keep track of her progress. Opening up about my own financial goals, even if very different from my friends, allowed them to open up about their own financial situations. 

Outside of our control

In the end, others reaction to what we share greatly falls beyond our control. You can do your best to deliver the information while being considerate to others around you, and sometimes this simply results in a bad reaction. Of course, be open to feedback when discussing finances, basically don’t be a judgmental jerk and try to talk about your own situation not as a comparison to others’ circumstances. 

I do believe though, that what I pictured in my mind as ways that others might react to sharing our financial independence plans, was somewhat exaggerated and tended on negative possible outcomes. Even in the worst of those imagined scenarios, I would still be just fine and nothing catastrophic would occur after a bad reaction from someone in my life. 

Conclusion

While I’m not exactly ready to share openly all details of my finances, or even that I’ve been writing this blog all about this for the last 2.5 years, I do increasingly want to talk about our financial independence plan with the people in my life.

Sharing my experience can allow others to learn about this whole idea of financial freedom. Even if they have no interest in following that same path, it can allow them to open up about their own goals, struggles and experiences with their own finances which are a huge part of their lives. 

Somehow, I can only hope that talking more openly about all this helps break the taboo that revolves around the subject of money and make those conversations more comfortable.

How do you approach the subject of personal finance in your everyday life? Do your financial independence plans come up in conversations with your friends?

16 thoughts on “Talking openly about my Financial Independence Plan

  1. we’ve told friends that i write this blog and might know a little about personal finance. the ones who are horrible with money respond sort of with “oh, how nice” and bury their financial heads back in the sand. some respond with “i could use your help on educating myself” and i always offer with not much follow-up. i think some read the content and don’t comment on the posts but are learning, which makes me feel good about putting the content out there.

    as far as our own independence, if the subject comes up we indicate we’re not worried about $ and have been saving and investing diligently.

    1. I think that’s a good way to approach the subject. Not pushing it with people who aren’t interested but being open to share info at other’s convenience. It does sound nice to know they may be learning from you even though if not directly in person :).

  2. HELL YES! Congratulations on being open with your friends. So happy they were receptive and it sounds like you have a pro-bono client who can give you a great review when your side business is up and running 😉 .

    As you know, I’ve always been open with my friends and family about my goal. Most don’t care. Some ask questions. Others ask for financial advice and move closer to their goals.

    As I approach retirement next year more people are coming out of the woodwork after seeing that I wasn’t joking about doing all of this 🙂 . Living an intentional financial life and being open about it is a great way to help others without being pushy. Great job lady!

    1. Thanks lady!! That’s right on the pro-bono client, she is beyond excited to meet up and that is super motivating to try out this coaching thing with a supportive and excited friend. She’s totally up for sharing a future testimony if I ever launch anything official in that area 😊.

      You’ve definitely been an inspiration in how the impact of sharing really can’t be that bad and can actually open up fun opportunities. Absolutely, teaching by example sounds like the best way to go to be approachable if someone does want advice!

    2. Congrats to both of you!

      I’m replying here because I saw Ms. Purple Life’s 400k milestone just the other day on Twitter – I wanted to respond and share that I had just recently hit a milestone of my own as well but I didn’t want to blast it publicly for my (admittedly few) followers to see. Today I came across this post about my very dilemma and alas, here I am! Hopefully you both can see the irony! haha

      My family and friends know that I have a strong financial focus, but only my parents have a remote idea of where my net worth sits. It’s frustrating because I WANT to share and discuss but it is hard when they can’t really relate or you feel like you’re gloating. In fact, even my Dad told me “I was lucky” the last time it came up… wasn’t too thrilled about that response to say the least.

      Enter the online world of FI… To this point, most of my experience has been only as a spectator but I have slowly started to connect with folks with similar mindsets and early indications are nothing short of awesome and inspiring!

      Anyways, just wanted to get that out! haha Thanks and Congrats to both of you!

      1. I absolutely appreciate the irony hahaha! Congrats on hitting a milestone of your own :)!!!

        Personally have not shared my net worth directly with family & friends. Some close family members know at least that our mortgage is paid off but not exactly the other details. It’s also a big reason why I keep this blog anonymously.

        While I enjoy sharing my net worth on here, since I’ve always enjoyed following progression of that number in different circumstances, I realize that for someone who may not have a full understanding of how I will use mine to live when FI, it may simply be a confusing detail. It’s why when I discussed it with those friends, I spoke about having sufficient investments to cover our cost of living. I think that may have made a difference but who knows? I do know that some of the “we paid off our mortgage” conversations turned very awkward and sometimes resulted in strange follow-ups which made us decide to stop being open about that specifically. It definitely is not a straight forward subject to navigate :).

        Anyhow, thanks for stopping by and commenting. It sure is lovely to have this online community to help us navigate how we want to approach this subject in real life. Congrats again on that milestone!!!

        1. Hi! I’d be curious to know more about the very awkward turn with the mortgage conversation and strange follow-ups….?

      2. My dad does my taxes so my family knows pretty much where I sit financially and we’re pretty open about discussing finances (at least in general terms). I have been fortunate in my life but I have worked hard for my opportunities. I try not to use the term “lucky” as could suggest that I didn’t drive my path.

        If I hear that term I tend to respond with “I made the most of the opportunities that came my way” so acknowledging that some is potentially fate – and that life is what you make of it.

        Glad to hear you’re on a good path – keep working it 🙂

  3. Oooohhh, you are brave! I’ve mentioned several times that I want to retire at 55 and mostly, people don’t believe me or warn me that is too early. So then I just clam up! Maybe, as it gets closer and it seems I can achieve the goal, I can be more open. Or just try again … you have inspired me …

    1. My perception all around being more open about our plans has definitely changed over the years so getting closer to your goal may help :). It is nice to have a community online where we can share our goals and with time, may become more confident to share in person as to perhaps inspire others. Looking forward to reading more on your future thoughts/experiences on this :).

  4. What a great outcome from revealing your FI plan, Ms. Mod! Your friend is so lucky to have your help. I hope she’ll be able to turn their finances around.

    At this point, I haven’t revealed our plans or my blog to any of our friends. However, all of our family and some of our old homestay students know.

    You were very brave to finally make the big reveal. I’ll think about following in your footsteps! Maybe I’ll be able to help a friend or two.

    1. Thank you so much Chrissy! We met up over the weekend and I am really hopeful that with some tools and support along the way she will be able to turn her finances around over the next year. I’m excited to see how happy she was to know that she does have options and can strategically make progress over the next few months.

      Still keeping the blog under wraps for now but as we open up more about our plans, in the odd chance that one of our friends or family members end up finding our blog and connecting the dots, I’d think it be safe to know they would be supportive of it all at that point hehe. We will see! It’s a difficult decision to navigate depending on the information we choose to share on our blogs. Looking forward to reading more on your future decisions on sharing your plans!

  5. Really enjoyed reading your blog – first time I came across it. I only started really thinking about my early retirement plans since I turned 50 (I’m 57 now) and it was in part through reconnecting with some old school friends. We’re (obviously) all the same age and it was great to hear all the different ways they’re living their lives, their plans and differing financial and life challenges. It set my mind in motion and we now all regularly share our plans, ask for advice and suggestions, and I feel really inspired and supported by them all. I’ve now dropped to 2 days and am planning to build a winter home in the Caribbean where we have some land my dad left. Despite being a late starter, I’ve been able to make big changes after 7 years of heavy saving, and now only have 18 months to go until our house is paid off. You’ve definitely done the right thing opening up to your friends – it’s such a big part of your life, and it might inspire them to make changes. Not to mention the fact that something one of them says might give you a new idea to tweak your plan. Good luck!

  6. I really appreciate this. I have found this a difficult topic to broach and have had mixed results when I’ve been honest about it. It’s funny because I haven’t had bad experiences in such a way that someone has asked me for money, etc., but that I am somehow greedy for wanting to have so much of my life to myself…I hope that that attitude changes. I think that it’s something that universally appeals to everyone at the most basic level, but it’s so far outside “legitimate” conversation you risk being seen as “crazy”…

  7. We’ve shared with a group of friends our intent to retire in the next decade. While the reaction to that itself was positive, our unwillingness to “splurge” on things is often noted by 1-2 of them, and I fear we are now viewed as cheap, rather than intentional with our money.

  8. My oldest friendship is about 30 years, we’re very close and discuss EVERYTHING. So money is also a topic. She has her PF blog just like me and started freelancing after I convinced her. I’m always open about money, I don’t see any reason to be secretive anyway.

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