READER CASE STUDIES: How Can I Get My Wife Onboard For Financial Independence?
Welcome to the 6th Reader Case Studies on The Humble Penny.
The goal of these case studies is to solve real problems.
If you’re new this, the case studies are a way for me to better interact with the subscribers of this blog.
I refer to the subscribers as The Fearless Generation because they’ve got to a stage in life where they’re seeking another path.
This generation wants to be debt free, create multiple incomes ethically, become financially independent, live fulfilling lives and ultimately Create Financial Joy.
These case studies are a way in which I can help to solve their problems via free coaching.
Solving such problems is what The Humble Penny was created for and exists to achieve.
In addition, they get crowdsourced responses from other readers in the comments below.
Together, we can help ourselves and each other.
As these case studies are real-life situations, I commit a fair amount of my time to consider them and respond.
Note that I am not offering Financial Advice! Just guidance based on my experience.
Case Studies will be published monthly. If you want your problems solved, simply write to me and tell me how I can help.
The key requirement is that you must be a subscriber of The Humble Penny.
Your problem has to be within one of the categories of this blog.
I.e. Money Making, Money Saving, Investing, Side Hustles, Debt Free, Financial Independence, Blogging, Relationships, Life etc.
You can also choose an alias for privacy reasons if you prefer.
If your case is chosen, I’ll write to you immediately and let you know.
Simply write in and I’ll attend to you personally.
Now let’s dive into this month’s case study:
LETTER FROM GREGORY
I’m Gregory 35 and my wife Bukola is 33.
We’ve been married four years and have no kids yet.
My wife works with a leading global market research firm (7years +).
I, on the other hand, have been a bit of a nomad.
Fresh out of university, I got a job with one of the top 3 tech companies in the world.
I stayed there for 4 years and then left to build a budding fashion e-commerce business I had started on the side.
My reason for choosing to do this was because I had received sizeable seed investment and thus decided to take the leap while I had still had the relative luxury of youth (I was 29 at the time and unmarried).
Fast forward a couple of years and the business had gone belly up as we had outrun our runway and despite all effort to stay afloat, I had to pull the shutters on the enterprise.
I was newly married at this time so I decided to go back to the 9-5 life and I got a job with an IT firm.
My plan was to put enough money aside with my day job so I could get back in the entrepreneurial ring for another go, but for some strange reason, I was never able to as I realised I was living paycheck to paycheck.
After 3 years of doing this, I decided to quit so I could “open” myself up to more entrepreneurial opportunities.
Sounds asinine now but it made sense to me at the time.
This was the beginning of a rollercoaster ride of different entrepreneurial pursuits.
From managing visual artists to trying fashion e-commerce again and even opening up a physical fashion retail store (shut down after 4 months).
After a lot of introspection and also following “The Humble Penny” for some time, I decided to step away from fashion retail as I knew it and try my hands at a different part of the value chain: Printing.
This is kind of like selling shovel during the gold rush to gold diggers and it has paid off as it’s provided me with a relatively stable source of income.
My next steps are to attack more parts of the fashion value chain and I’m pretty optimistic about my chances.
However, I would like to further diversify my sources of income as I have come to understand the power of compounding interest while following your blog.
I’ve also learnt that it’s better when a married couple goes on this journey together.
Sadly, my wife has seen my ventures crash and burn too many times so she’s sceptical to go on this financial independence journey with me and I’m not quite sure what steps to take to fix that.
Do I go it alone even though I’m married or do I do all within my power to get her on board?
I think I should also add that she’s not very frugal with money (she had a very privileged upbringing) and believes “money is meant to be spent”.
We’ve never had a joint account and we always have arguments about spending habits as I’m much more “careful” about how money is spent.
She currently makes more money than I do and has more disposable income.
We have always held on to the ideology that her money is hers and mine is mine.
More info on Gregory:
Where are you from?
We currently live in Lagos, Nigeria although we are relocating to Dubai in a couple of months.
What are your dreams for the near future?
My dream for the near is to set up a print shop and also open a blank t-shirt trading business.
What are your hobbies?
I love creating/building things, travel and learning new things.
My dream holiday destination is Japan.
I love to travel because I’ve found that it gives me a fresh perspective on things.
I’d like to be in a place financially, where I can travel without being worried about Financial implications.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a printer. Saying it out loud now sounds basic, but that is what puts money in my pockets.
What is your biggest money-related concern?
My biggest money fear is that I could end up like my father.
He made a lot of money as a young man but bumped into hard times and never quite recovered.
I have a morbid fear of that cycle repeating itself with me.
Could you please share an image of yourself or of something important?
Below is an action figure. I bought it at a very low point in my life and literally spent all I had on it at the time.
I promised myself I’d never be broke again and this serves as a reminder.
KEN'S RESPONSE TO GREGORY
Thanks for writing in. I appreciate you taking the time out to do it.
Your case study is the last one of 2018, and I’m pleased to be helping to your problem.
The issues you’ve raised are challenging and struck a chord with me on a personal level.
I identify with your struggles past and present.
You’ve really done well to keep going with your entrepreneurial endeavours.
That spirit of never giving up is exactly the right one to have although most of the time, giving up is exactly what you might want to do.
I know what it feels like to start things and never see success.
The fact that you’ve seen some success with the printing business will be a massive boost for quite some time.
Celebrate these wins and as you’ve got reminders of the difficult times, do the same for the good times too.
Having read your letter, there are 3 main issues:
Issue 1 – You’d like to diversify your income sources
You’re definitely taking a step in the right direction here.
Growing up, my mum would always say “you cannot rely on just salary”.
As hard as it was for us to gradually adopt this mindset, it’s so necessary!
I share some of these thoughts here on how to start building passive income.
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen small and medium-sized business owners make is to generate profits, pay themselves a load of dividends and up their lifestyles.
They don’t see their businesses as the vehicle for creating other assets that could eventually work for them.
So now your business is creating an income, the same thinking applies.
Deciding on what type of additional income you want matters also.
The ideal direction would be to explore passive income ideas, however, they come in different shapes.
I’d highly recommend checking them out for what might work for you given your commitments.
Either way, there is work to be done upfront.
However, provided your mindset is focused on creating assets, you’ll achieve your goal of diversifying your income sources over time.
I also understand that this is a challenge as you aren’t currently on the same page with your wife.
Being 50% there on the mindset from is a big plus though!
Related post: READER CASE STUDIES: How Can I Double My Income?
Issue 2 – Your wife believes “money is meant to be spent”
“We have always held on to the ideology that her money is hers and mine is mine.”
When I read the above line, I immediately had uncomfortable memories of my childhood.
Growing up, my parents had this same mentality.
Whilst it isn’t necessarily wrong or right, it presents difficult challenges.
With my parents, I saw the same differences in pay you have with your wife.
On terrible days, this caused a lot of resentment and jealousy.
In fact, I’ve seen it cause more division than anything else. The worst of it is what happens as time passes.
My parents started acquiring assets on their own names and it became a bit of a competition.
So rather than point to a house and say “that’s my parents’ house”… It would be either mum’s house or dad’s house.
This is a very uncomfortable and difficult path in my personal experience. Especially if a marriage is to thrive.
In such a world, goals are not set together or achieved together.
It’s for this reason that I have personally gone the other way completely and do absolutely everything with Mary.
This way, we win or lose together and enjoy the journey.
My personal recommendation to you is to try to understand the underlying reason why your wife has a bias for spending.
Some of the reasons why people overspend are down to:
- Deprived childhood
- Priviledged childhood
- The thrill
The one thing all these reasons have in common is a search for security.
Interestingly, you’ve identified the priviledged childhood as the reason why she isn’t frugal. However, it would appear that you haven’t connected this with the possible search for security.
In the mind of the person who overspends, they might think –
“If I spend, I’ll be accepted”. Or “If I have these things, I’ll be trendy” or “I’ll be safe” etc.
Sadly, spending on this does not offer real security. It’s like digging a deeper and never-ending hole.
The culture of consumerism that we have today means that this same problem is faced by many people out there and getting worse.
The gratification is short-term and fleeting.
Here is a suggestion I’d like to offer:
You should both ask yourselves the following before making a purchase: “what are we trying to do?”
Although this is really aimed at helping your wife, it is something you should both do so that you’re on the same page.
If answers to the above question result in answers such as “decreasing stress” or “finding fulfilment”, then the chances are, spending isn’t the solution.
It’s for this reason that the richest in society mostly do not find fulfilment in their wealth.
They usually have to search for something more eternal.
I’d also highly recommend some marriage counselling with a focus on how to manage money in a relationship.
We did this before we got married and found it extremely useful as we had to face up to and answer the hard questions.
Issue 3 – How can you get your wife on board for Financial Independence
The journey to financial independence will be difficult without your wife onboard.
It is no easy walk and you’ll end up clashing because your goals will likely conflict with each other.
This journey gets even harder as soon as children come into the picture.
The last thing you want is a partnership that really isn’t a partnership financially.
I think you need to reframe the idea of financial independence and sell her why you believe this is worthy of pursuing for you both.
Like selling a vision, you have to keep selling it repeatedly until it is hopefully believed.
This might take weeks or even months, however, if done without being forced, it could be effective.
Around this time of year when we are all considering goals for the new year is a good time to approach the conversation differently.
Your environment and culture also play an important role in either encouraging division or togetherness in your finances.
In the UK or US, you’re more likely to see couples pooling funds and sharing goals than you’re to see it in most of Africa or Asia or the Middle East.
Possibly explained by the high power distance indexes of those countries.
So things will not naturally change in an environment like Dubai unless you both agree to go against the trend.
Whilst you work towards getting your wife on board, I’d suggest you keep learning and take steps to action Financial Independence in your lives.
The idea of Financial Independence might seem far too remote to her.
Understanding and communicating what it means practically will go some way towards helping.
Some people often need a dream sold and made real to them. Others need to see it to believe it.
So, another way to get her on side will be to seek out others that have been on this journey and learn how they did it.
I’ve found on our personal journey that this helped to make this a worthy goal to pursue and moved us on from the idea of it just being a fantasy.
Being realistic about how long it might take to get there will also help.
That length of time will be affected by whether you’re both on the journey together or not.
I've shared more practical thoughts on the first link below.
- How To Get Your Partner Onboard For Financial Independence
- Self-awareness: The Must-have Ingredient For Financial Independence
To wrap up,
Money can make or break relationships. Top priority above money is the love you share. I would start there in all communications with your wife.
Tied to that love are the dreams and desires you might have for your future. You both need to focus on having the unspoken conversations, but have them from a place of love.
If Financial Independence features as something that is sufficiently important to both of you, then pursue it for the right reasons only.
The reasons have to be strong enough and not overwhelmingly from one person.
Remember also that Financial Independence is a pitstop on the money journey.
Not achieving it today doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
Key is to be heading in the right direction in your money journey together as a couple.
So if it takes 100 steps rather than 10, then so be it.
I wish you both well on this journey of self-discovery about your financial lives.
Stay focused on prioritising the love you share and the rest will follow in time with good communication.
- READER CASE STUDIES: When Can I Retire?
- READER CASE STUDIES: What Should I Do With My Savings?
- READER CASE STUDIES: Pay Off Debts Fast Or Invest?
How have you managed to get your spouse or partner onboard with your financial goals? or for Financial Independence?
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.