Marriage & Money: How to Set Your Spouse on FIRE

married saving budget

Once again, I’m not talking about pyromania here, but rather the concept of F.I.R.E. (financial independence to retire early). These are my ideas on how to influence your spouse to buy into the idea of taking control of your life and finances.

So maybe you’ve just read Mr. Money Mustache front to back, consumed every personal finance book and blog known to man and you’re now researching tiny houses and how to farm your own chickens. You’ve been officially indoctrinated into the FIRE movement and you’re totally sold on the idea of controlling your spending with the intention of building wealth that will sustain you for the rest of your life.

Don’t have any idea what I”m talking about? Go back and learn how to set yourself on FIRE first.

I know what that initial passion is like. When the idea sinks in, it can feel like your whole worldview has changed. No longer are you willing to spend money unconsciously because you now realize that with every dollar you waste, you take a few steps away from your goal of absolute peace and freedom.

It can be a real mindblower (and I speak from experience).

But what happens when your spouse isn’t buying it?

FIRE financial independence retire early

It happens! Let’s face it, the idea of frugality, minimalism or deprivation of any kind can feel like a threat to most people.

Hey honey, let’s commit to saving 70% of our income so we can live on less than $50K per year and then retire early and keep doing the same!

Not a good sell.

A better approach would be to ask your spouse if they could see a path to early retirement, would they be willing to make some lifestyle changes to achieve it? They’re probably going to say “heck ya!”, and then you can have a real conversation about just how much either of you is willing to sacrifice to make it happen.

Here’s the thing. You can’t sell people on the idea of deprivation. It needs to come from a place of being more intentional with spending and having a clear vision of the future, which might look different for each of you. Appreciate that no one wants to be told what they can and cannot do with their hard earned money. Ultimately, we all want control and choice, so approaching this with a fully baked plan might make your spouse feel like they’re not part of the decision.

Before you Pitch the Idea of FIRE, Build Some Awareness

Most people don’t have a clue about early retirement because we never hear about it. It’s not something the Jone’s are doing, so why would we even know it’s possible? I recommend that you start to warm your spouse up to the idea by sharing inspirational stories of other people who (with a similar life circumstance to your own) have done it.  The more your spouse can see themselves in the stories of other people who have done it, the likelier they are to believe it’s possible.

FIRE spouse planning

When You’re Ready to Pitch the Idea, Give them the Simple Math

I have found this basic principle to be the best way to conceptualize an early retirement: save 25x your annual spending and/or have enough saved that you can live off 4% of the returns of your investments. So if you have a million dollars saved, that’s a $40K annual salary for the rest of your life.

Help them see that FIRE is possible

Depending on where your finances are when you’re having this conversation, it may seem completely out of reach to have a million or more dollars saved for retirement. But no matter where you are, you can start right now to save more of what you earn, and earn more that you can save. It’s absolutely a mindset shift and the interesting thing is that once you start building momentum toward your goal, the journey can start getting pretty freaking exciting.

Some Cautionary Advice

I think the thing that will hang up most people is that idea of deprivation. As a couple, you have to find a happy medium where your cost of living is low enough that you’re saving without feeling overburdened or uncomfortable with the choices you’re making. Your cost-of-living has to be sustainable for the long term, not just until you’ve reached your FIRE figure (the number at which you feel comfortable calling yourself financially independent).

What to do if they don’t buy it?

If your spouse says a big hell no to your hopes and dreams, fear not. There are always compromises you can make. You can try planning for a mini-retirement, separate your finances so that you can work toward FIRE on your own (this route feels sad to me), or you can aspire to be Retired(ish) instead. This is the path my husband and I have chosen for ourselves and we’re both 100% onboard with it because it affords us a better lifestyle while still allowing us to do the work we’re passionate about.

But most important in all of this is that regardless of how your spouse reacts initially, over time they may come around. The key is to walk the talk in your own life. If you want to show others that they can be happy living with less, then start role modeling that behavior. Commit to starting down the FIRE path by shopping less, owning less, clearing clutter, saving more and pushing back on obligations that don’t serve you. As you simplify your own life, you’re going to be happier and your spouse will eventually see the attraction to it.

Good luck and remember this …. People are watching what you do, even when you don’t think they are. Use your life to inspire others by making intentional choices that improve your life circumstance. I guarantee you will eventually bring others along for the ride with you and what an awesome message to impart on the people you love.

Light Yourself On F.I.R.E. This Year (Financial Independence + Retire Early)

FIRE financial independence retire early

Nope, not talking about pyromania. I’m referring to F.I.R.E., which is an acronym for, you guessed it… financial independence + retire early.

Now clearly these are two different things, but they tend to get lumped together.  Since I see them as very separate and unique goals, I’ll define them that way.

financial independence early retirement FIRE

Financial Independence (otherwise known as “FI”) is simply having enough money that you no longer have to work to earn a living. Your money does that for you, whether it’s dividends from investments, income from real estate, or having a really sweet Sugar Daddy/Mama paying all your bills (not sure this one qualifies as “independence”, but you get the idea).

Retire Early needs no explanation, only what you might not realize is that there are many people with average incomes retiring in their 30’s instead of waiting until their 60’s.

While these are simple definitions and there’s nothing new about either idea, I think most people in the Western world don’t consider this an option because they assume it’s meant for those lucky few in the 1%.

I thought that too.

But somewhere in the middle of 2017, I stumbled upon this amazing subculture of regular, normal people like you and I who are focused on building wealth so that they can retire from their day jobs and just live off the proceeds of their investments.

Now, you might be thinking, “okay, that’s great but I don’t want to live on kibble and buy my underwear at the local Goodwill”.

Neither do I.
But if you’re willing to minimize unnecessary spending as much as possible and optimize your savings so that you never have to work another day in your life (if you don’t want to) those second-hand undies may start to sound more appealing. (Okay, kidding here, second-hand undies are gross.)

The point is that the road to financial independence is paved with many personal trade-offs, but the commute is not as long as you think. It’s totally possible and the more creative and flexible you are, the faster you’re going to get there.

The road to financial independence is paved with many personal trade-offs, but the commute is not as long as you think. Click To Tweet

But what if you don’t want to retire early?

Some people can’t imagine not working because it gives their lives structure and purpose. Some people LOVE their jobs and can’t imagine giving them up. If that’s you, I say – rock on, unicorn! But the reality is that most of us don’t feel that way about our primary jobs. More to the point, financial independence can make any job way less suck-worthy because you have the choice to walk away at any point. Financial independence provides the freedom of having absolute control over your time, energy and choices and that’s a very VERY happy-inducing place to be.

Financial independence makes any job way less suck-worthy because you have the choice to walk away at any point. Click To Tweet

The best part about FIRE (or even just FI) is the quality of life it affords and the ability to say “no” to doing things you don’t want to do. Consider how that would change your life! Perhaps it would alleviate unnecessary stress, open doors to more appealing opportunities or just allow you and your family to enjoy your lives in a much more meaningful way.

The idea feels pretty amazing, right?

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write this post because it’s the #1 reason I started Funding Happy. The entire message behind this website is to fund what makes you happy – your time, your freedom and your creative energy.

Retiring Early(ish)?

This is a phrase I’ve coined for my own situation based on my age and level of financial independence. I’ll write more about this in a future post, but the point is that retiring early is relative based on how old you are when you first set that goal. I know several 20 and 30-somethings that view early retirement as something you do in your 40’s. As someone who is well into their 40’s already, I may have skipped the boat on the millennial version of early retirement, but that’s not really my goal, anyway.

Financially, I am at a place in life where I don’t have to do work I hate. I’m not entirely financially independent (I still need some income), so I call myself semi-retired in the sense that I can be picky about the work I do. I call this the “pants-optional” phase of my career because I hate commuting so I will only accept work I can do from home.

Okay, I just realized I should be careful about using the term “pants-optional” when talking about my career.

So while I’m not fully retired, I consider myself retired(ish) as I want to write for a living until the day my fingers can no longer translate my thoughts.

How to get started on your road to FIRE.

There is SO much to write about here, and while I’m not a guru at investing money (by a long shot), I am pretty savvy when it comes side hustles and saving, which are two key areas of accelerating financial independence.

My recommendation is to start where most of the FIRE community starts – Mr. Money Mustache.  His ideas are often considered radical, but his philosophy about money will change your life as it has for so many.  From there, head to Rockstar Finance to find a ton of personal finance bloggers who have already retired (or who are well on their way) and start following their journeys for inspiration.

Now I’d like to hear from you!  Does this sound like nonsense or is it something that appeals to you?  

Financial independence and retire early


Overcoming Your Emotional Attachment to Stuff.

travel happy

You know those things you have in your house that you never use, but can’t seem to part with?

Yep, those things.

I have them, too.  I think we all do.  But maybe it’s time to let them go… and release what they represent.

The reality is that we hang on to certain things because they represent hope. Hope for what we’ll one day be, do or accomplish somewhere down the road.

This is where we need the “come to Jesus” moment about our values, priorities and the realities of our lives. Because the more we can remove ourselves from the “one day I’ll get to that” mentally, the more free we become to open ourselves up to the things we really do want to explore. By physically releasing that “someday stuff” we’re able to embrace what’s important to us today.

getting rid of clutter

Ignoring stuff doesn’t help

When we’re not ready to release our “someday stuff”, we try to just ignore that it’s there. We rationalize keeping it because it doesn’t take up much space. But there’s an emotional weight that’s associated with it, too. It doesn’t just take up physical space, it takes up room in our minds and hearts. Every time you see that thing you haven’t used in years, there’s a mental heaviness that comes with it. A guilt of failing to do the things we promised ourselves we’d do, even though it’s not what we want anymore.

On the flip side, there’s a mental and emotional lightness to releasing stuff and having more open space in your home. Imagine the lightness you would feel, driving into a completely clean and uncluttered garage. What would your closet feel like if it only contained clothes you loved to wear regularly? How much nicer would your office be if it wasn’t cluttered with books, papers and other things you’ll get to someday.

Facing the pain of releasing “someday” stuff.

I’m not suggesting that letting go of “someday stuff” is going to be easy. It’s not. The idea of letting go of my road bike that I haven’t taken out in years feels like I’m giving up on a part of myself that I really loved…. my sense of adventure and competition. It represents a time in my life where I really stepped up into the unknown and crushed a huge goal (doing a half-ironman after not being on a bike since I was 10 years old). That was a big deal to me and my bike is a reminder of the long and hard challenge I endured to reach my goal. Can I really let that go?

For me, I think the answer requires some physical exploration. I need to get back on the bike again and see if my fears of being on the road are greater or lesser than my desire to recapture that adventurous side of myself. Or maybe I need to find adventure in what lights me up now, rather than projecting onto a bike I no longer care to ride.

That’s a hard one that I need to unwrap further, but there are other things that I’m ready to release, like the painting materials that I’ve collected and never use, the many books I’ll never read or the clothes I’ll never wear because I’m not the same person I was before. Those things must go because they’re weighing me down to an identity I no longer want to hold.


Writing this has been a powerful reminder to me that I still have a long way to go on my minimalist journey. Until now, my focus has been on decluttering and letting go of things I know I don’t need or have an attachment to. Now I feel like I’m ready to start releasing that next layer of belongings that are deeply attached to my identity or hopes and desires that are no longer what I want or need.

I guess this is what it means to do the hard work to become who you really are.

Do you have things you hold on to because they represent someone you at some point hoped to be?

Goals for 2018 + How I’m looking at goal setting differently this year.

goals 2018 personal and professional

I love goal setting, but truth be told, I’m not great with follow through.  I tend to ignore them after they’re written down, so this year, I’m making a point of sharing them publicly and checking in on my monthly progress.  Accountability is a huge driver for me,  and, as with everything else focused on in my life right now, I’m crafting my goals with intention so they actually mean something to me.

One of the major themes in this season of my life is work.  I feel like I’ve made it to a point in my financial progress that I can say no to work that I don’t want to do, and only say yes to the work that fires me up.  That has incredible meaning and value to me, and I’m so grateful to find myself here (after many years of working at jobs that didn’t bring me joy).   But since I’m still in my wealth-building years, I still intend to bring in a six-figure income in 2018.

Career, Business, Money & Personal Goals

My 9 to 5 Career

Since leaving my corporate job in September I have been working as a freelance communications consultant, specifically in the area of change management.  This is a pretty niche field, so I was fortunate to land a client through upwork almost immediately after leaving my full-time job.  Next year, I have a goal to bring on at least 2 or 3 more clients and hit my six-figure income goal by the end of the year.

The Blog

Funding Happy is still less than a year old, but I’ve been blogging about health and fitness for over 10 years now.  However, this is the year I take my revenue goals more seriously.  With the focus of this website being geared toward readers who find themselves where I was several years ago (stuck, creatively unfulfilled and unaware of what I truly wanted and valued in life), I think there are ways to serve my readers while building a sustainable income from the blog.  My BHAG (Big Hairy-Assed Goal) is to finish 2018 with my blogs generating a combined $5K per month in income.  That might be a lofty goal, but I’m very dedicated to making it happen.

I’d also like to get my subscriber list up to 5K for this site. I think it’s at 20 right now, so there’s lots of room for improvement there 🙂

Money Goals

My husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to live off one salary, so the intention for this year is to invest 100% of the earrings from my business into our long-term retirement portfolio.

Personal Goals

Deeper Connections // Tribe

A friend sent me this article about the Harvard Men’s study.  The study followed a cohort of men of the same age but different socio-economic backgrounds throughout their entire lives to truly understand what a quality life looked like.  As it turns out, the men who thrived the most were not the wealthiest or the smartest, but those with the deepest connections to others.  Even science is proving that having a tribe is the most significant factor in a long and healthy life.

I consider myself to be blessed with great friends and family, both local and as far away as Canada and even Australia, but I feel like I could invest more time in some of my most valued relationships. I’d also love to make new connections to like-minded people, particularly where I live.  What I take from this study is that while it’s important to have a good mix of friends and acquaintances, it’s critical to have deep connections with people who understand and appreciate your values in life.  This is the year I invest in the connections I have but also broaden the circle to connect with people who share similar values and aspirations.

Marriage // Love // Travel

This year is my 10th year wedding anniversary to my awesome husband.  I’m amazed that he’s been willing to put up with me for as long as he has ?.  To celebrate the best 10 years of our lives, we plan to take a fancy trip somewhere (Greek Islands maybe?) which I aim to do as much as humanly possible on points.

Health // Fitness

I spent years writing down weight loss goals that never came to fruition.  Now that I’m at a healthy weight, I prefer to focus on performance and growth goals.  This year, I’d like to gain 2lbs of lean muscle and end the year with the ability to do 10 unassisted pull-ups in a row.  Not an easy goal for someone who currently can’t do even one, but I’m excited to track this!!!

I’d also like to completely cut out sugar and gluten this year, 100%.


I heard someone on a podcast recently say that they have a standing commitment to do something new and out of their comfort zone at least once a month.  What a cool way to ensure you’re always getting into new experiences!  I’m going to adopt that goal in 2018 and I invite you to do the same!

Here’s what I’m tracking this year.  Expect to see an update from me at the end of each month!

Funding Happy & The Fit Habit is making a combined 5K per month in revenue by Dec
Funding Happy & The Fit Habit has a combined 5K subscriber list
I hit my 6-figure income goal in my freelance business
Invest 100% of my revenue/income in 2018
Go somewhere amazing to celebrate our 10-year anniversary leveraging points as much as possible.
Complete 10 unassisted pull-ups in a row
Gain two pounds of lean muscle
Cut out gluten 100% and reduce sugar intake
Build more like-minded connections and spend more quality time with my friends and family (squishy and not very measurable, but let’s give it a go)
Do something new and out of my comfort zone once a month.