Pursuing financial independence is a lot of fun. I really enjoy tracking my savings rate and making my monthly reports to see how my net worth is growing – and I am thrilled by the thought of not having to work for the rest of my life!
Pursuing financial independence is also a lot of hard work and compromises. Being young with no kids (and having friends that also do not have kids), I have found that one of the hardest things for me is pursuing financial independence when my friends don’t.
Being eight months into the journey, I have made a few learnings that I hope you can use too. They have made my life easier and made it less hard to pursue financial independence.
1. Respect your friends
Not everyone wants to pursue financial independence or early retirement. As you might know, most people think it sounds like a ridiculous idea.
My advice is to respect your friends and respect how they want to spend their money. There is no single recipe for living a good life, and just because you and I have found financial independence and early retirement to be the key, it does not mean that it is the same for others.
Don’t be the vegan person telling everyone who eat meat that they are stupid. Blaming your friends is a surefire way to lose your friends, and what is early retirement without good friends? 🙂
2. Be honest and open
I have found that being honest and open with your friends and family about your journey towards financial independence and early retirement is key.
Not only have I gotten really positive feedback and support from the people I have told it to, but I can feel that they are also more understanding and helpful once they are part of your journey.
You should know that some people might find you greedy or cheap, so again, you shouldn’t enforce your way of living on others. If your friends cannot respect your decision to pursue financial independence, then they most likely were not that good friends to begin with.
3. Be part of the planning
If you are part of planning a social event, you are in a better position to influence the financial decisions that are being made. Will you eat at home or in a park instead of at a fancy restaurant? Will you go and play some football in a park or for a swim at the beach instead of paying for expensive activities such as paintball or go-kart?
The options are many when designing a social event, so try to become part of the planning and influence it in a way that suits your wallet!
I follow one rule here though; if you are not part of the planning, you cannot ask people to change their plans once they present the program to you. Then you can either decide not to take part or to accept their program – except, of course, if the budget or program is totally ludicrous.
Last year, I was part of designing a trip for a group of friends. Initially, my friends were beginning to plan a crazy weekend in a European capital with Michelin restaurants, fancy nightclubs, expensive hotel etc. and I could see the budget exploding. I became part of the planning and managed to find a good social hostel, free food tours and underground, inexpensive bars. It was a massive success and it cost us the fraction of the other tour. I also learned that the success of the trip was based on us being together – not how much money we spent.
4. Find other ways
So what do you do when your friends are going to do something super cool, but it does not suit your budget? You either go and say f*** it (something you can do once I a while – pursuing financial independence should not be a prison – I just did in my summer vacation), or you find other ways to participate.
Who says that you can’t just be part of some of it?
If your friends are going to a fancy restaurant, why don’t you just eat from home and join them for a drink instead? Or just order one large course and a beer instead of five courses and expensive drinks? There’s plenty of opportunity to find other ways to be with your friends – you just have to be a bit creative.
I often try to find other ways to still be with my friends (which is what I really care about) and not spend a whole lot of money.
Recently, I was invited to a bachelor party that sounded like a lot of fun – until I saw the price we had to pay.
At a price tag $400, I knew that it would ruin my finances for the month, but I really wanted to go.
I didn’t want to miss out on one of my good friends’ once-in-a-lifetime bachelor party and everything that follows. I decided to be honest with my friends (remember that #2 rule) and told them one of the activities was too expensive for me. I opted out of one of the more expensive activities while still being present at the whole bachelor party! Problem solved!
The bachelor party still ended up costing me a bit (and I could have paid even less if I had skipped more activities), which made my savings take a hit for the month, but I also had a great day with the soon-to-be groom 🙂
5. Do something different
If you have tried everything from being honest, to being part of the planning and trying to find other ways to be with your friends, but it is still not in line with your budget or financial independence journey, then consider doing something entirely different.
You might skip out on the specific event, but how about inviting the same people over for a cup of tea or a trip to the beach a few weeks after instead? Then you still get to hang out with your friends and enjoy spending time with them. Sure, you might miss a few cool events and stories, but you will get your freedom faster.
As everything, this is a balance between living on a rock to achieve financial independence fast and still having fun with your friends (on their terms) on the way. I am not saying that it is an either/or, but you will most likely have to make compromises if you have friends that are not pursuing FIRE as you. I believe that everyone should try to find the balance that is right for them.
You could, of course, also just find other friends pursuing FIRE, and you wouldn’t have the problem at all! 😉
What is your experience with pursuing financial independence when your friends don’t? Do you have any tips to deal with it?