It’s Better Together

It’s Better Together

There’s something about doing life together with other people that just makes things better. I think the same principle applies when we’re talking about money and our financial independence journey. In this post, we’re talking about the benefits of letting someone else into your financial life.

Learning from adventure

Every year, I look forward with great anticipation to my annual ‘Motomancation’ – a week long adventure of camping, riding trails in beautiful terrain, and spending time with some good friends. On each trip, we inevitably come across a trail that takes me outside my comfort zone – a trail I would ordinarily never attempt on my own. On our 2017 trip, my brother and I rode such a trail near Moab, Utah called Porcupine Rim – its a trail that has a well-earned reputation for its difficulty.

It seemed like the further we went, the more treacherous the trail became – and it even starting raining on us, which made an already difficult trail even harder. There were points where each of us asked if we should turn our 300 pound bikes around and head back, agreed it would probably be the ‘smart’ thing to do, and then the other person revved the throttle and proceeded along, leaving no choice for the other but to follow! Please note that I’m not advocating recklessness, which is different than pushing outside your comfort zone – definitely know your limits (particularly important with money and investing!).

One of my favorite aspects of adventure riding is situations just like this, where you have to push yourself outside what feels ‘safe’ and take a little risk to get the reward of an experience you’ll never forget. And our experience on Porcupine Rim didn’t let us down. Once we made it to the top, we were met with one of the most amazing views I’ve ever experienced. The photo below doesn’t do it justice! Perhaps more importantly, it was fun and memorable precisely because it was not easy.

Incredible view on Porcupine Rim!

What’s this have to do with financial independence?

The financial independence journey can be a lot like my adventure on Porcupine Rim – full of choices to continue into the unknown or turn back and never know what you missed. As in that adventure, reaching the destination (and even the journey itself) is worth the effort! But just like my time on the trail that day, sometimes we need another person to encourage us along and keep us from turning back. Here are some topics in personal finance which really highlight the need to not ‘go it alone’.

  • Being afraid to invest. Of course, our odds of financial success decrease dramatically without investing. Yet I frequently see stories and studies coming out about how millennials are afraid to invest – understandable, but almost certainly ill-advised.
  • Making poor investment decisions based on emotions like fear, greed, or FOMO (fear of missing out). I witnessed this in spectacular fashion during the Great Recession where people were doing the one thing that would hurt their finances worst – selling at the bottom of the market. And I’d call the current cryptocurrency craze, in many instances, a good example of FOMO and greed.
  • Simply being afraid to talk, or even think about money in a meaningful way. I don’t know if its always been this way but, as I get older, I’ve increasingly noticed how some of the most important topics (marriage, money, sex, raising kids, spirituality, etc.) are also the most culturally taboo. We shouldn’t let our fear of judgement stop us from getting advice in some of the most important aspects of our lives!
  • Treating financial strategies like dieting fads or new years resolutions to workout more, which we usually ditch after a month or two. This is a much larger discussion, but points back to what I mentioned in this post that its critical to spend time in self-reflection. This enables us to understand what we really value, how we feel about money, and why. Out of this self-awareness comes the ability to enjoy the journey and the grit needed to achieve our financial independence goals.
  • The financial independence journey is not easy. It is a LONG path of making consistently wise financial choices and fighting our basic tendencies to always want more than we have (aka ‘lifestyle creep’). Its much easier to prevent lifestyle creep when you have invited someone to call you out for it.

All of these go better when we partner with other people who share similar ambitions. If you’re married, this is one reason why having your spouse on board is essential – my wife is my #1 adviser and she has kept me on the right track more than once! I’m planning to write more posts on marriage and money in the future, as its one of the areas of personal finance I’m most passionate about. I loved seeing Financial Samurai (popular personal finance blogger) recently write about how his best financial move was picking the right life partner. And if you’re single, you really do need a good friend (or friends) and/or mentor on the same path (or ahead of you!) who you can be open with and share in the FI adventure together.

Closing with some ancient wisdom

There’s a Proverb which says “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” I’ve found this to be true and its why, before I make any major life or financial decision, I consult with people who are close to me and whose opinions I respect. That last part is important – just as you probably shouldn’t take career advice from someone who can’t hold down a job, you definitely shouldn’t take financial advice from someone who can’t manage their own financial affairs.

So, there you have it. Financial independence is a journey best not made alone.

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