Sane Fientist – My Wife’s Thoughts on Financial Independence

Sane Fientist - My Wife's Thoughts on Financial Independence

On today’s episode of the Financial Independence Podcast, I interview my wife, Jill!

It took a lot of persuading to get her on the show but I’m glad she agreed because her perspective is very different from mine so it was interesting to hear her thoughts on financial independence, early retirement, and this unconventional life we lead!

Listen Now!

  • Listen on iTunes
  • Stream audio file here
  • Download MP3 by right-clicking here

Highlights

  • When my wife found out I was a weirdo with money
  • My lowest point as a cheapskate
  • Why Jill and I kept our finances separate
  • The importance of figuring out your perfect life
  • How to get your spouse on board with FI
  • Why you should start small when trying new things
  • What I do that annoys my wife most

Show Links

Full Transcript

Mad Fientist: Hey, what’s up, everybody. Welcome to the Financial Independence Podcast, the podcast all about financial independence and early retirement.

My wife Jill and I just got back from your 3-month trip around the world. We’re back in Scotland. And I’ve been reunited with my podcasting microphone, so hopefully, I’m sounding better than I have over the last few episodes. I’ve actually just been using my iPhone headphones and doing a lot of post-processing to make it sound good. So hopefully, you couldn’t tell too much, but I’m back to normal now.

Today, I’m excited to introduce my guest, which is my wife, Jill. I’ve been wanting to get her on the show for quite a while now. It’s taken a lot of persuasion to get her on. But she finally agreed. And I’m excited to dive in and see what life has been like on this crazy journey and find out how she actually feels about all the things that we’ve been doing and the direction our lives have gone.

So, without further delay… hey, Jill! Thanks for being here.

Jill: Thank you.

Mad Fientist: So, for the people that don’t know you, maybe just tell a little bit about yourself before we dive in.

Jill: Well, I’m Jill. I’m from Glasgow, Scottland. I’m an optometrist. I’m obviously married to the Mad Fientist…

Mad Fientist: …which she feel very good about, right?

Jill: It’s very exciting.

Mad Fientist: So, Jill wasn’t too excited to actually do this. It has probably been a few months of me pestering her to ask if she could do this. And today, she finally agreed. So I’m excited to finally ask her everything I’ve always wanted to know that she won’t tell me in real life.

So, maybe just go back and talk a little bit how we met maybe.

Jill: Yes. So it was almost exactly 14 years ago…

Mad Fientist: Yup!

Jill: We were both studying in Glasgow. We had a mutual friend who introduced us at an ceilidh which is a traditional Scottish dance. And yeah, I guess, we hit it off right away and we’ve been seeing each other ever since.

Mad Fientist: So, when did you realize that maybe I wasn’t normal when it came to money?

Jill: I think that was quite early on.

Mad Fientist: See, I thought I played it cool because our first day, I remember you insisted that we split it, which I was really pumped about. But did I insist and I ended up paying or…?

Jill: Yeah. I think at the beginning, you were trying to be a gentleman and pay for everything, but I didn’t really care. That did not last too long. I convinced you we can split everything.

Mad Fientist: And we’ve been splitting everything ever since […] I was used to the American style where the guy pays for everything all the time. So that was a nice treat.

So, you think pretty early on, you realized that I wasn’t like everyone else at least when it came to finances?

Jill: Yeah, I think probably when we first started traveling together, which is fairly early on, not that you were being stingy or anything bad, but just that, yeah, you were maybe a bit more frugal than I was used to.

Mad Fientist: And I was even more frugal than you.

This is probably a low point in my life as far as financial frugality is concerned. After my “study abroad” period ended, I had to move back to America for my senior year college. We were apart for that whole year, but we stayed together. You came to visit me once. I came to visit you in Scotland once. And then, we met in Switzerland once.

That seemed like a good idea because I was able to find cheap flights to Switzerland for some reason. But we didn’t realize how expensive Switzerland actually was until we got there. I was a broke student, you were a broke student. And we went out—I think it was probably the first day that I got to Switzerland, right?

Jill: Probably.

Mad Fientist: I think it was like the first dinner. We decided to go get some fondue. We had planned to split a fondue because who needs a big pot of cheese each. But this fancy restaurant we were in didn’t let us. And then, we tried to get tap water and they didn’t let us.

I was freaking out, and I was trying to play it cool like I wasn’t. But I was super thirsty. And I kept disappearing a lot during the meal. I went down to the men’s room and just stuck my head under the spigot and drank a lot of water, which I didn’t end up telling you about until probably…

Jill: Years, years later I think.

Mad Fientist: So, that was a definitely low point and me being cheap. But besides that, hopefully, it hasn’t impacted your life too much at least in those early years.

Jill: No, it hasn’t impacted my life hardly at all because we just kept all our money separate.

Mad Fientist: And talk about how that came about. For us, it was natural. But a lot of people I think maybe struggle with either proposing that or getting to that point. So, can you talk a little bit about how that came about for us?

Jill: Yeah, it just seemed very natural for us. I don’t think it was ever a big discussion when you moved over to Scotland and we bought our first house. We just decided to have one joint account that paid for all the bills and the mortgage and everything and keep our separate accounts. It was just our own personal money that we could do what we want with.

We weren’t earning exactly the same money at that point.

Mad Fientist: And you were kind enough to offer—I mean, you were actually earning quite a bit more than me at that point and you’re kind enough to offer to put a proportional amount into the joint account. But then I insisted that we just do it 50/50 because I figured, eventually, we’d earn the similar amount of money.

But yeah, thanks for that offer.

Jill: So, yeah, it just made sense because we knew at that early stage that I definitely like to spend a lot more money than you did. It just seemed like an easy way to prevent arguments with keeping our money separate. I could do what I want with my money; you could do what you want. Everyone was happy.

I don’t remember it being a big discussion or a big discussion. It just became a natural thing for us as a couple to do.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, and also since a lot of our relationship was spent—well, not a lot, but a fair amount of our relationship was spent on separate continent sometimes, sometimes you have to stay in the States and apply for a VISA or go back to college for my senior year and things like that, I think being separate part of the time and having two separate accounts make even more sense, don’t you agree?

Jill: Yeah, yeah, I think so. It just kept everything easier.

Mad Fientist: So, do you think it was a good way to go about it?

I talked to a lot of people and some people have actually even said to me, “Oh, if you don’t merge your finances, then your marriage is doomed” and all these sorts of things. Do you think it’s worked out well?

Jill: Yeah, I think our marriage would’ve been doomed if we had everything in a joint account. I think that would’ve caused a lot of arguments.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, that is definitely confirmed I think. That would’ve been a disaster. So you would recommend it to other couples potentially?

Jill: Yeah! I think everybody just has to work out what works for them. Some people feel a lot more comfortable keeping everything joined and feeling like they’re doing everything as a couple. I think that’s fine.

But if you’re really not on the same page when it comes to spending money, then I don’t think there’s any reason not to just keep your finances separate. It just avoids that whole issue.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, definitely.

So, were you always a spender? Definitely, when I met you, you were quite a big spender. Was that always the case?

Jill: Yes, ever since I had my own money. I couldn’t wait to spend on anything. I’ve always been very easily influenced by advertising. So as a kid, I wanted all the latest and greatest things. If I had pocket money, I would be just spending immediately.

And I don’t think that has anything to do with my upbringing. My older sister was a saver. She was very into saving her money. But I just couldn’t wait to spend. I was always like that.

As a teenager, I remember, just every weekend, I was going to Glasgow with friends and just finding things to spend money on. I never saved any of my money.

Mad Fientist: And your parents are also good savers too, so definitely, it doesn’t seem like it is from your upbringing.

And you’re talking about advertising, it’s still something that we sometimes struggle with to this day. You insist on the brand name thing even though it’s probably made in the same, exact factories as the generic one. Why do you think it is?

Jill: I have no idea. I don’t know. I’ve just always been very susceptible to any kind of—yeah, just advertising affects me.

Mad Fientist: But you’re completely different now. It’s been like a complete 180 over the last five or so years ever since actually I started the Mad Fientist I would say.

So, what do you think has changed over these years?

Jill: It was all basically the conversations that we had that sort of shifted my whole mindset.

It was I think on our honeymoon, we had a conversation where you said to me, “What would be your perfect life? Describe. If you could design your life any way you want, then what would it be like?” So, we had this big conversation.

I found that actually as a hard question. It’s not like the “What would you do if you won the lottery?” It’s more of a realistic version of that where you don’t have just unlimited money to do whatever you want.

So, we talked about that a lot. And we both were in agreement about where our priorities were and what we would like to spend more time doing—spending times with friends and family and traveling, volunteering and all those kinds of things.

So, when we talked about that, and then we talked about would it be possible to do more of that stuff if it we weren’t having to work full-time, it just really kind of opened my eyes to the benefits of financial independence.

I think when you started me on this journey, I didn’t have the same motivation that you did for achieving financial independence. It didn’t really appeal to me. But when we talked about what our life could look like if we weren’t having to work full-time, then that was really appealing to me.

So, as soon as I had that big goal, a side effect of that was that I didn’t want to really buy things anymore. I suddenly realized how silly it is just to be buying stuff for the sake of wasting money on things when you could be putting your money to a lot more use.

And so, it was just a really easy and a kind of “overnight” transition I guess.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, it was crazy. Your one and only post on my site called An Unexpected Guest Post which I’ll link to in the shownotes, that was just a letter that you had written to me on your computer one night. I don’t even know when you wrote it. You went up to bed one night, and as you were going up to bed, you said, “Hey, look on your computer. There’s something I want you to read.” And it was incredible.

Luckily, after months of persuasion, I got you to let me post it on the Mad Fientist. It’s a great insight into someone who flips the switch. And it was! It was a complete 180 overnight pretty much. You’ve changed ever since.

And I think I made the mistake when I stumbled upon this early retirement thing. I immediately put you to early retirement extreme because that was the first that I realized this was all possible.

Jacob, I think, at the time, was living on $7000 and living on a mobile home and doing all these things that had no appeal to you whatsoever. But I was just so pumped that, hey, I didn’t have to work for a boss for the rest of my life, I could do my own thing, whereas you loved your job.

You’re an optometrist. You love it, and you still love it. You don’t expect to not be doing it, right?

Jill: Yeah, I really enjoy my job. I feel like I’m always learning new things. So, as long as it continues to be challenging and fulfilling, I definitely want to keep doing it.

So, when you talked about, “Oh, you know, if we saved up this much money, and we don’t really spend that money, then we don’t have to work,” I was like, “Well, that just doesn’t make any sense to me because I want to work.” So, I figured if I’m working anyway, I have the money, then I might as well spend it.

So, your motivation definitely did not motivate me to follow down the same path in the beginning.

Mad Fientist: So, a lot of people email me and ask, “Okay, my wife/husband is not onboard. They don’t care. They don’t want to do this. They’re completely different. How do I bring them around?” What advice would you give because I think had I tried to persuade you or bring you around to my way of thinking, you would have rejected it and went the opposite way probably just to spite me maybe? So what do you think?

Jill: Yeah, I think if you really just pushed your vision of a FI on me, then it would’ve made me go the other way probably. So yeah, I think it’s just about figuring out for each person what is the thing that motivates them.

Everybody is going to have a different thing. And that’s been one of the really cool things about meeting so many people through the blog and chatting to different people because everybody’s journey is different and everybody’s motivation is different. So that’s been really interesting.

So, I think just sitting down and having the conversation about “if you could have any life you wanted, then what would it be?” and then you can work backwards from that to see, “Well, how do we get there? Is work a part of that or does that get in the way of what you want to do?” and just figure it out that way.

Like I said, I think if one person has a really strong vision of what the reason they’re pursuing FI, that’s not necessarily going to mean anything to their spouse and just trying to drill that into them or giving them lots of numbers and calculations, explaining exactly why it will work or why it’s a good idea. For some people, that’s just not going to be appealing either.

So, yeah, I think just sitting down with that person and figuring out what their motivation would be. And for me, as soon as I had that motivation, then like I said, everything else just kind of fade away. I didn’t want to buy things anymore. I didn’t want to spend money anymore.

I think you’re going to have to do it that way. If Brandon had persuaded me to cut back my spending by a lot when I still wanted to buy things, then it just would’ve felt like deprivation and I wouldn’t have been happy and it would’ve been really hard to motivate myself to do that.

Whereas once I was able to just get rid of that urge to spend money and I didn’t want to anymore, then I’ve just become a lot happier. Not wanting things, not wanting stuff all the time, it creates this nice, simple life which is a lot happier and easier. And then, the side effect is you’re saving money which is nice.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, definitely. And the thing that I found is you want less, that becomes natural, and then it feels like you can have everything you want. You want less and you have the funds to buy those few things that you do really want, so then it just feels like the world is yours. You could buy and do whatever you want, and it’s actually not that much money. Have you found that as well?

Jill: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think that we got to a point where we’re in a position where we could buy things or spend more money than we’re spending, but neither of us wants to. And it feels really nice. We’re both a lot happier, I would say.

Mad Fientist: I know. It’s three days before Christmas. We just talked yesterday because we just finished a big 3-month trip around the world and neither of us had done any Christmas shopping or anything. We just agreed that we’re not going to buy any presents for each other because there’s literally nothing either of us can think of that we want. Is that true?

Jill: Yeah! And it’s the first year we’ve actually done this. Usually, we’ll buy each other small gifts. We don’t spend a lot of money on each other, but we’ll buy each other small gifts. But it just gets to the point where it’s just a stressful thing leading up to Christmas trying to think of something—especially for Brandon, he literally doesn’t want anything. So trying to think of something that he’ll like is hard. We’re just spending money for the sake of it basically.

So, this year, we finally said, “Alright, let’s just skip the Christmas presents.”

If there was something I think that either of us really wanted, then we would probably get it for each other. But on the years like this year where neither of us want anything, then yeah, we’ll just skip it.

Mad Fientist: So, you mentioned the “perfect life,” and there’s an article on my site called the Perfect Life where I sort of described that whole thing that we went through back in the day (and I’ll link to it in the shownotes), maybe for the listeners out there who are running in the car and won’t be able to check out that post, can you just describe a little bit about how that process went and what conclusions we came to?

Jill: Yeah. When we sat down to discuss it, like I said, I think our priorities were pretty much the same which was nice. It made it an easy conversation. So, we just sort of listed things in order of priority.

I can’t remember exactly. It was like time with friends and family I think was at the top of the list. And then, maybe traveling, volunteering. For you, sort of starting your own business ideas and things like that. We had this list of things.

And then, we sat down and tried to figure out how we could work that into a realistic plan that would work.

So, what we came up with at the beginning—it was awkward for us because my family is all in Scotland and Brandon’s family is all in the States. So it’s hard to split your time evenly between that. We had decided that we were going to spend—I think it was originally six months in Scotland for me working and seeing my friends and family. And then, we would do three months in the States where I wouldn’t be working. We could just spend that time traveling around and seeing people, and then three months traveling anywhere else in the world.

That was the plan that got me really excited because, at that point, we were living in the States, so it just seemed like an improvement in all aspects of our lives. I get a lot more time with my family and friends. And we’d actually spend a lot more time with Brandon’s family and friends as well. They were so spread out that it was difficult to see them for a lot when we were both working there. And then, we would be traveling a lot more. So it was a really exciting plan for the both of us.

But I guess, we’ve been trying out a little bit. We’ve been doing sort of a test or run and probably changed our minds about what that plan looks like.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, definitely. It’s amazing how hard it is to figure out what you actually want in life. And I think there is a lot of trial-and-error to figure that out.

So, last year, we went on a 3-month trip around Southeast Asia. And I think both of us found three months to be a bit too much. Do you agree?

Jill: Yeah, I think three months is probably our limit. I know other people can travel full-time or travel a lot more than that. But I think for us, we definitely realized that that’s about the maximum that it continues to be fun for us, and then it starts feeling too much like normal life and you start focusing more on the stressful parts of it and things.

Mad Fientist: Yeah. Like I love getting things done and there’s so many things I want to do for Mad Fientist and for other projects I’m working on. And I just find that I can’t get stuff done on the road. If you emailed me in the last three months, you know I’ve probably not replied. I’m hoping to get through that backlog. There’s just not a lot of time when you’re traveling because you’re either looking into hotels and places to eat all the time or trying to figure out what you’re going to do and go next.

So yeah, I find that I can’t get a lot done. I think three months is max.

And we also spent a lot of time in the States—or at least I did last year because I was dealing with visa things in 2015. I spent a lot of time seeing friends and family. We realized that three months of doing that is too much too because it’s great seeing people but you don’t want to feel like you’re imposing when you’re coming in and just being like, “Hey, I’m going to stay for a month.” Well, no, they’ve got their own lives that they’re doing and you don’t want to impose on that.

So, I think we agreed that even three months in the States is even too long, right?

Jill: Yeah, yeah. When we thought about that at the time, we were like, “Yehey! We can just go stay with all these different people. It will be fun!” And then, you go and stay with people for like a week or two, and then you realize, “Oh, well that’s definitely long enough to impose on somebody’s life. You can’t just move in for extended periods.”

Mad Fientist: So, have there been any other ways that we’ve sort of morphed the plan? Where do you think we’re at now? I think we both probably should sit down and try to figure out a Perfect Life v2.0. What do you think? Where has it gone? And what conclusions have you reached in that time since we did version one?

Jill: Yeah, we probably want to limit our travel to periods of time where we’re both still excited about it and it’s fun and not be on the road for too long.

We also realized that when we’re doing the traveling, it’s more fun to kind of base that around people rather than places. So, in the future, when we’re doing that, we can plan to go places where we either have friends or family there or we can meet up with people or travel with people because that kind of makes it more rewarding than just picking a place to go and see for the sake of it. I think we’ll do more of that in the future.

I don’t think we’re ever going to settle on a “perfect plan.” I think we’re just going to keep tweaking it and keep experimenting. It will just change as we get older. It’s really hard to know what you’re going to want in five or ten years time and plan all that out. I think we just sort of plan out the next couple of years, which, at the moment, it’s looking like being a lot more based in Scotland, do that and try out different things.

Yeah, just keep tweaking the plan I think. I don’t think you ever get to a point where that’s “perfect.”

Mad Fientist: Yeah. No, I completely agree. I think that’s a great reason why you shouldn’t lock yourself into something like—before you go out and buy a 40 ft. RV and sell your house and sell all your stuff, maybe rent an RV and do a one-month trip and test it out and things like that. Things are a lot different in actuality than they are in the planning stages.

Like you said, something you like right now may not be the same thing you’ll like in a year or two years’ time. So, just keep experimenting and tweaking. Yeah, I think that’s definitely what we’re going to be doing.

So, as you’ve said, you love your job and you don’t plan on quitting, but you’ve actually used the power that all these savings provides just recently. Maybe talk a little bit about how you negotiated to take three months off over the last three months, so that we could take a trip all the way around the world.

Jill: When we were planning the trip, I just kind of assumed I’d have to quit my job. I didn’t think getting on paid leave was even going to be an option.
So, I went back and forth, I wasn’t even going to do the trip because I was worrying about losing the job that I like, and I thought, “Well, that’s silly. This is a big adventure that I don’t want to miss out on. I can always find another job that I liked.” So, I kind of got myself into the mindset that I was going to walk away from the job anyway.

And then, I decided—whilst I was prepared to quit then, you might as well just ask for what you want anyway and see if it happens. So, I kind of went to my boss and—

Well, in the past, I think what I would’ve done is sort of go in groveling and saying, “This is what I’m asking for. Please, can you make this happen? Is there anything I can do to persuade you?” and all these kind of thing.

And Brandon had said to me, “No, you just need to go in and don’t ask. Just tell them that we’re going on a trip, and this is what’s happening.” So, that’s not really in my personality to be like that. So I was really nervous about having the conversation with my boss. But I was able to approach her in a sort of non-confrontational way, but say to her, “We’re planning to do this trip. And the options are either I can come back afterwards and take the unpaid leave or I can just hand them my notice.”

And I gave them a lot of notice as well. I think I spoke to her three months before it was going to happen. I said, “The other option is if that’s not okay with you, then I’ll just hand in my notice.”

And actually, she was really great about it and said, “Well, we’d like you to come back. You can have the unpaid leave. We’ll figure it all out so that you can come back again at the end of it.”

So, that was a really nice surprise to me, to see how easy those negotiations can be 1) when you’re prepared to that, “Okay, worst case scenario, they don’t give me what I want and I just walk away and accept that” and 2) that people, I think, if you’re good at your job and you’re valuable, then people will do more than you expect to keep you there.

And so that was a nice surprise and a good lesson for me, that once you have that power that you don’t need that job, you’re not terrified to lose a job, then it does give you a lot of power and you can just ask for what you want and see what happens.

So, I think I’ll definitely be doing that more in the future as well.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, that’s great. Also, I read an article about this a few years ago called The Power of Quitting—and I’ll put that in the shownotes too because that’s one of my favorite articles. I think people don’t utilize the power that they’re getting from all the money they have until they’re ready to quit. But if you use that power even before you’re ready to quit, then you can work yourself into an even better work situation and negotiate all sorts of things.

I think that’s a great lesson to learn. I wish I had learned it before I was walking away from my job because that could’ve made my career a lot more enjoyable probably.

So, speaking of that big adventure we just got back from, I always feel like I’m dragging you on these things around the world. I come up with these big, crazy plans, and then I book them and we sort of freak out that we have all these stuff to do and all these places to go. So, how was the big adventure?

Jill: It was amazing! I enjoyed it even more than the first time we did it. The first time, you probably were dragging me along a little bit which sounds peasy because who would complain about going traveling in Southeast Asia for a couple of months. But at that time, I don’t know, it seemed like too long to be traveling. And I didn’t really enjoy it the first time.

So, this time around, I kind of knew what I was getting myself into and knew what to expect. It just exceeded all expectations this time. It’s been amazing. It’s been kind of the trip of a lifetime. So yeah, we really enjoyed it.

Mad Fientist: So do you have any advice for other people out there with crazy spouses that do these sorts of big, scary things?

Jill: Probably try in a kind of smaller version first maybe? Maybe if we’ve done like a month or something, traveling, just to try it out and see what that was like, then I would’ve been more up for that the first time. Just break it down into a smaller version of your big adventure. Try it out and see how it goes.

Mad Fientist: And you’re a perfect partner to be doing this stuff with because I think, last year, when we did our 2015 big trip, I wanted to do at least six months or something. You were like, “I want to do a max of a month.” And then, we settled on three. And three was even too long for me. So you definitely reigned me in to a point where I still enjoy this also.

Jill: Good!

Mad Fientist: So, since I’ve been the Mad Fientist since 2012, your life has been a little bit ridiculous, going to events and meeting people and reading a bunch of text-heavy documents and proofreading a bunch of boring numbers and things.

So what’s it been like? You just came back, we just went to Chautauqua, Ecuador and that was your first big event, big financial independence event? You’ve joined me at FinCon’s which is like a blogger conference. You’ve been to a couple of those. So what’s that been like? And have you noticed anything when meeting other people on this path?

Jill: Yeah, it’s been a really weird journey since you said you were going to start doing a blog. I remember when you told me, I laughed at you. I think Mrs. 1500 has talked about this as well. We both kind of said, “I don’t know what you’re going to talk about. You’re going to run out of stuff to talk about. This seems like a bad idea.” We tried to talk you out of it. And I never imagined that it would’ve brought all these amazing stuff into our lives and all the amazing people that we’ve met.

So, yeah, going to the big events is really cool. That’s been my favorite part of this whole thing. It’s just all the people that we’ve been able to meet through the blog. Everybody is so interesting and smart. Everybody has a very different story, so it motivates you when you hear all these different things that people are doing or planning to do. It just reassures you that you’re not crazy.

And yeah, Chautauqua, again, not just exceeded expectations. That was really fun. The same, just meeting amazing people and having interesting conversations and just come away from it really motivated to change your life for the better, it’s been great.

Mad Fientist: And then, let’s talk a little bit about just regular life. So, we’re in our mid-thirties. We’ve just been living out of our backpack for three months. We have one, tiny, little European car. We’re currently homeless. We’re going to rent an AirBnB for a month in Edinburgh next month. We don’t do anything that most of our friends do. We have this really weird lifestyle that you probably didn’t expect when you were graduating from university.

So, what are your thoughts on it? And would you change anything?

Jill: No, I would not change anything. It’s definitely not what I imagined I would be doing when I was in my mid-thirties, that’s for sure. But when I think about the life that I thought I would be living right now, then I’m so happy we’re doing what we’re doing because it’s exciting and it’s adventurous. We never know where we’re going to be living in a year’s time. And I really like that.

I used to think that I wanted to just be settled down, buy a house and know what life was going to be like. But then you realize that even if you plan it, your whole life, and you think you’re in control of what’s going on, you’re really not because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

So now, I really thrive on the fact that we really don’t plan very far head. We never know what we’re going to be doing. And that’s exciting. I really like that. I like not knowing that, “Okay, this is the house I’m going to live in for the next 20 years. This is the job I’m going to be doing for the next 20 years.” It’s just, okay, now we take it as it comes. And I love it!

Mad Fientist: Good! So, since I’ve got you in the hot seat, I’m going to ask you a couple of personal questions. What about me annoys you the most?

Jill: Oh! I think your procrastination and not being able to just—yeah, sometimes it just stresses me out when you’re trying to plan something or especially pay for something that it takes such a long time.

And then, the fact that you can’t just let things go. If you’ve already spent months to find the perfect flight, and then you book that flight, and then the next day, you’ll be checking to see if there’s a better flight even though… so yeah…

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I need to stop doing that. I waste too much time on things like that. Okay, I can’t think of any more rapid fire questions.

I usually end all my interviews with, “What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone pursuing FI?”

Jill: Well, I suppose my advice would be specifically for the couples where somebody’s all excited about FI and the other person is not onboard. Just what we talked about earlier, just try and have the conversation, find out what their motivation, what they want out of life, and then try and work backwards from there to plan it all out and get them onboard.

Yeah, I guess that’s the main thing.

Mad Fientist: Well, great. I really appreciate you doing this. I know that you didn’t want to and you’re freaking out a little bit about it. But usually, I also ask how people can get in touch, but I think the best way to get in touch with you is just to come hang out at in-person events and you can chat to Jill. She doesn’t have her Mad Fientist email. And I don’t think she wants to share her personal email or anything because you’re not interested in writing lots of emails, right?

Jill: No.

Mad Fientist: So, maybe just…

Jill: Come to Scotland. Come to Scotland, and we’ll be happy to host you and show you around.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, that’s the best idea. Come down to Edinburgh, we’ll show you around and we’ll have a few beers. Otherwise, come to one of the events that we attend like the Chautauqua and Camp Mustache and things like that.

So, yeah, thank you for being here. How was it?

Jill: Weird! I’m not really in the habit of being interviewed, so being interviewed by my husband is strange, but it wasn’t so bad.

Mad Fientist: Well, I appreciate it. So, since this is probably the only chance I’m going to get to do this, I’m going to end this interview with a kiss.

Alright, thanks for being here. Alright, bye. Fience.

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32 comments for “Sane Fientist – My Wife’s Thoughts on Financial Independence

  1. December 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I haven’t even listened to this yet, but I already sent the link to my wife. The highlights convinced me to….

    • December 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Same exact gut reaction, Alex! I’ve already got the draft ready for my girlfriend. Please give a “Jill” a big Thank you!

  2. ashley
    December 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I don’t have a reason for this yet, but feel like this will be helpful at some point will catalog this.

  3. Catherine
    December 22, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Bravo Jill! Thank you for sharing your side of the story. Many many of the personal finance bloggers are men and I’m always wondering what the spouses of these bloggers are like. I REALLY appreciate you talking about individual motivation and how you weren’t interested in FI until you had a personal stake in it that spoke to your soul. This will be particularly useful in a couple years for me when my man retires and we’re FI together. We keep separate households even, and therefore separate finances. So it will be a time for us to consider the separate or not separate finances question. Thanks for your thoughts on that.

  4. December 22, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    Nice work guys. In my relationship I’m the FIRE one and my other half hasn’t come on board yet. A lot of what you guys talked about rings true for us also. We keep our finances separate, she’s more of a spender whereas I’m the frugal one. She loves her job and isn’t ready to give it up, and I’m retired from having a full time job. And in fact, we are heading off on a one month trip to Bali in February which is the longest time off work she’s ever had, so many similarities there.

    I’m going to send her the link to your interview so that she can see that our situation isn’t unique, just different, especially when compared to friends and family.

    Shes going to get a laugh out of the story about the Swiss restaurant. I am exactly the same when I find myself paying over the top for dining out. Thanks for sharing with us Jill. HAve a great Christmas guys.

  5. December 22, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I would love to do this. However, I am getting started later in the game. Therefore, I had to search out a realistic outcome (1) work my but off to retire early (2) take ‘mini-retirement’ stints of 3 to 6 months every 5 years (3) move where I’d like to retire. We played around with #2 (took a few 1 month vacations in the last 5 years). Then we realized we just would do #3 and we are so happy we did. Yes, we are adjusting our spending and our focus to save and push towards even being able to retire, but finding a way to live the life you want is the best gift we can give ourselves. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  6. Stephen
    December 22, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    I love the interview! You’re such an adorable couple. Jill is so sweet and has such a cute little giggle. I think my wife and I are in a similar place that you were before Jill’s overnight transformation. I have learned so much from Brandon and MMM and gocurrycracker and rootofgood and other bloggers in just a few months and I’m so excited. I’m 100% on board with FI but she is really sick of hearing about it. The good thing is that I think we both want very similar things in life and I just need to stop bludgeoning her with this whole new concept. I’m 48 and she’s 46 and we are talking about retiring one year from now. We both love traveling and she is really sick of her highly stressful job which gives her more motivation to strive for early retirement. I can’t wait to listen to this podcast again with her by my side. Hopefully I’ll get a kiss of my own.

  7. December 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Love the title “sane fientist” and really enjoyed the interview – thanks!

  8. Kev
    December 22, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Great podcasts!

    How do I get one of those awesome Mad Fientist tee-shirts in the picture? :D

    • The Mad Fientist
      December 24, 2016 at 2:50 am

      I actually only made enough t-shirts to give to my past podcast guests but so many other people have been interested in getting one so one of my first tasks for 2017 is to figure out how to make that happen! Stay tuned :)

  9. seongmin
    December 22, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    I really enjoyed listening to both of you and was struck how honest you were with each other.
    We are not quite where we could just get up and travel and move around as we take care of an elderly parent and have a daughter still dependent on us. But soon…

    Thanks for posting this. I particularly loved hearing Jill’s Scottish accent as we spent one year in Edinburgh 4 years ago, and the beautiful accent is one of many things I miss. I would love to live in Scotland again!

    • The Mad Fientist
      December 24, 2016 at 2:50 am

      Let us know if you ever make it back over!

  10. December 22, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Very nice podcast! Please thank your wife for doing this since I suspect there are a lot of couples that are earlier in the FI journey and this could be very helpful. My wife and I are a few years behind you two in the sense that I’m excited by the freedom and options we have (we are already FI) but it’s a bit overwhelming to her and she’s still skeptical of the financial numbers as well. However, we are starting to figure out what our combined view of a good next life would be now that we have a never-anticipated degree of freedom. But it’s going to take some time, many conversations, and some smaller experiments. It’s exactly the path that you and your wife recommend here, although customized for us in smaller steps since having young kids makes us a bit less adventurous.

  11. December 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Great interview Mr. and Mrs. Fientist. We’re in the same boat: new to FI and trying to figure out what works. We agree that traveling longer than about three months in one go is too much. Our plan for 2017 is for shorter but more frequent trips.

    Keep up the great work educating and inspiring!

  12. December 23, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Great meeting your wife! My husband and I organize our finances the same way, and it works well for us. We got married when I was in my mid-thirties, and it was hard for me to picture suddenly not having my own money.

    I agree that traveling is very eye-opening. We took a year off to travel when when my husband retired from the military last year (actually, we still haven’t figured out where to settle). We were amazed what a nice lifestyle one can have in other countries with a fraction of the money needed in the US. I knew that was the case in some countries in Central/South America and SE Asia, but it’s true in parts of Western Europe as well. We visited several beautiful cities in France and Spain where ocean-view apartments were $500-$600 per month.

    Thanks for the podcast, and keep up the great work!

  13. December 23, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Hey!
    I’ve done two interviews with you now and haven’t gotten a single kiss! ;)

    Great to hear Jill set the record straight!

    And to here your evolving thoughts on the perfect life.

    • The Mad Fientist
      December 24, 2016 at 2:52 am

      Maybe third time’s a charm? :)

  14. Cyndy
    December 23, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I’m 50 and my husband is 56. I not-so-early retired in January and we did a 5 week trip to Asia last spring. It was the longest I had traveled since my 20s. Although we are both fairly fit and in good health, we were quite ready to come home at the end. So even three months at this stage sounds exhausting.

    I’m all for separate finances too! Wish I had done so in my first marriage.

  15. December 23, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I’ve got a long drive ahead of me tomorrow as the wife and I travel up to NY to see her parents for the holidays. Can’t wait to listen to this on the ride up. Sounds like it might be perfect as my ideas on FI align very closely to yours, but my wife has very different perspectives and goals…

  16. Cristina
    December 23, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    It was great listening to Jill’s perspective on how she made the switch from normal spending habits to frugality. I started late in the game so most likely it will take me a while to reach FI. I had the opportunity to resch FI with someone I dated for almost 2 years but I realize now by listening to you that there was no room for my wants there (no longer together). I’m glad to see FIRE is possible if there is a balance and your other half is willing to back up your dreams at some point (example, you wanting to continue working, or you not wanting a nomadic life in an RV).

  17. Sarah
    December 23, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I loved this so much (from Australia)! Thanks for coming on the show Jill! Similar to Catherine, I’ve also been wondering why so many personal finance bloggers are men. I’m very lucky that my partner and I are pretty similar with our attitudes to spending (e.g. we recently bought a new couch so mutually decided that we won’t buy each other Christmas presents). Still feels like we’ve got a long road to go until FI, but that’s OK as long as you keep pumping out these motivating podcasts ;). Also as this is my first comment, I just wanted to say that the name of your blog/character is awesome!

  18. December 24, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Very interesting to hear how your “Perfect Life” plan has changed. I’d be interested to see a new post on what the perfect life 2.0 is.
    My wife and I also struggle a bit (or a lot) with me being the ultra frugal one and her enjoying spending. It can definitely cause arguments.

  19. Reepekg
    December 24, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    You two are adorable and it is obvious that you work very well together, even if doing the show probably felt a bit weird and awkward.

    We are all richer that you have. As someone who is a ‘true believer’ in FI, it is fascinating and important to understand what it is like to be the other person and what that might feel like. I’ve been blessed that my wife can see through to the big picture benefits and appreciate them enough to deal with my enthusiasm, but I know a lot of people struggle with the relationship dynamic, especially if the communication isn’t there and one person is much more gung ho.

  20. Erin
    December 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I love that you met at a ceilidh! My friend and her husband held a ceilidh at their wedding, near one of the border abbeys in southern Scotland. It has been some time now since they were married, but I vividly remember the ceilidh – as long as I kept up the dancing, I could consume as many beers as I liked!

    My husband and I have been on the same page with many things since we were married, so these topics didn’t necessarily pertain to us. However, I think it relates perfectly when discussing financial independence and associated topics (values, how to balance paying for experiences/living now/later, work as one’s tool vs one’s identity, and on and on) with close family members, friends, colleagues, or anyone who is not familiar with the space. The realization that there is another way to think about such things… that is an a-ha moment that should be shared.

    Safe travels (wherever, whenever, and in whichever space) and happy new year, Mad Fientists!

  21. Zed
    December 28, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Oh, that was really good! I love the couples perspective and the evolution of your life together. Very nice knowing about other “weird” couples out there, hopefully we will join you soon enough. Great finale with the hot seat question and making the most of your opportunities. I had a nice chuckle!

  22. Virginia
    December 29, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Thanks so much for this podcast! I listen to it regularly and have learned a lot. I’m not your typical FIer – I’m older with a kid, mortgage, and a full-time job – but I’ve learned a great deal about managing my funds in a way that make my family’s life more secure and the idea of retirement a real possibility in the not too distant future.
    Jill – one thing you said on the podcast keeps coming back to me. It was when you talked about the freedom of being frugal which also allows you to have the funds to purchase things you really want. Over the past few months we’ve been really not spending and its been pretty liberating not to jump at the desire for every little thing. By doing this we had plenty of money to give Christmas gifts and help out a family member who is having financial difficulty. I know its a simple idea but for some reason, when you talked about it it really clicked in. Thanks so much! Virginia

  23. Ross White
    December 30, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Great episode. My wife and I have basically the exact same financial setup (1 joint account for bills). We’ve enjoyed this setup and will independently save for e-funds as well as any commonly shared goals. All bills get split down the middle. Our incomes have stayed fairly close together over the last 4 years. Do what works for you!

  24. EZ Does It FI
    January 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    It’s great the way y’all are able to build (and execute!) a common, unified vision!

  25. moneymatrix
    May 20, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I just want to thanks! and say this podcast inspired me to ask for and get extended time off at work. I really needed it do to family medical issues and your podcast gave me the right mindset to go ahead and ask for it. I was ready to argue my case, but they agreed right away. It worked out great for spending time with my family and really get a lot of things done that I had been neglecting and for getting over the stress from the issues we had.
    All thanks to you and this podcast!

  26. Andrea
    June 25, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Hi – great to hear a Scottish accent on the podcast and hello to you both! I’m in Scotland too (Perth) and been reading and thinking about FI for years….it has been great to find so many new resources and your website.
    I was on the right track when I was 19 but subsequently 4 kids, marriage to someone who didn’t think there were options to the corporate rat race (which he enjoyed, unlike me) and suddenly I’m 53 and it’s not so much early retirement as almost normal retirement for me now!! My husband is older so he’s certainly not achieved early retirement, and I’m not sure what he will do to replace all the hours of working – as a business owner he has enjoyed his working life so he doesn’t view this as a failure :) We’ve had to learn to appreciate our differences!
    Due to our age gap and pensions historically in the UK we invested in some rental properties over the years, as an alternative to a traditional pension for me, and now the mortgages are all paid off FI is definitely on the horizon. I’ve always chosen to work part-time (at present 3 days a week) to try and have some balance/quality of life, particularly as the kids were growing up and now that my own parents are elderly and need assistance.
    I’m putting thoughts in the heads of my kids though and have given them all copies of ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (and very excited for the new edition!) so trying to achieve a change in the next generation…..one son is living in Sao Paolo so he’s seeing a different culture to us in the UK which helps. Another son has already told me he regrets an expensive car lease he took out – so I’m having an impact on them, however small.
    There were definitely life choices we have made which I would have done differently – I work with elderly clients and have a very different view now on what is needed financially for retirement – far less than normally believed.
    Lovely to hear how you are working today as a couple on this, and are on the ‘same page’. If there is ever a Scottish meet-up of like-minded people just let me know!

  27. Bunny
    November 2, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Thank you for doing this episode and keeping it posted! I am listening to your “old” podcasts in order and just got to this one.

    My husband and I have our finances separated similarly to yours, so I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in wanting my own money.

    I think that my biggest takeaway is a better understanding of my husband. If I remember correctly, Jill said something like “I’m going to continue to work so why not spend?” I think that is my husband’s current mindset. He likes his work, he thinks he’ll work for as long as he is able, so why not spend the money? I am seeking FI and I do want to retire early, so I have a mindset of saving.

  28. Danielle
    November 14, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I just listened to this episode and loved it.

    Jill seems so lovely, the kiss at the end was adorable.

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