My girlfriend and I hit our first major milestone a little less than a month ago: Our combined assets finally reached $100,000. We celebrated together with a toast of champaign. It wasn’t the most frugal of celebrations, but we decided it was a worthy cause to celebrate.

As the famous investor Charlie Munger put it so eloquently, “The first 100k is a bitch.” 

I’m banking on this being true since it only took us a combined 57 years to reach this stage.

We credit much of our success to the fact that we’re working together, as a team. As such, I wanted to share my girlfriend’s perspective on what it takes to become financially independent.

If you show enough love for her writing style and her content, then I’ll be more than happy to keep bugging her to respond to comments! 🙂

Hello again, Fellow Distillers

I wanted to take this opportunity to confirm that I do, in fact, exist in adjunction to this journey towards FI with Matt. It’s not just a front we’re putting up for our readers.

You see, for couples, when it comes to reaching financial independence — or any financial goal for that matter — if we’re not in it together we’re set to fail before we ever get started.

Everyone knows that being on the “same page” is crucial to the health and the longevity of a relationship. We don’t need our parents “semi-functional” relationship model or a self-help book on “How to Make it Work” to tell us that. In reality there is more to it than that; there are different volumes of our story to consider.

Relationships are complicated and constantly evolving from one edition to another. We can only fit so much into Volume One.

By the time we get to Volume Two, we might be renting an apartment together. When we start Volume Three, we might be talking about getting married and buying our first home together. Maybe by the time Volume Six rolls around and we find ourselves reading What to Expect When Expecting as part of our book research because starting a family has come into the picture.

So, it’s not just about being on the same page, it’s also about being on the same page of the same book. Page 15 exists in each one of our books, but those books represent different phases of our life.

It’s probably impossible to stress this enough when couples begin to seriously think about their future together. What volume of your story are the two of you embarking on writing?

When Matt and I first started seeing each other about two and half years ago, we did not have this same page/same book thing synchronized. At the time, my personal finances were in a state of complete and utter fucking chaos meanwhile he had a positive net worth and growing assets.

I was skipping meals because I could not afford to eat 3 meals worth of food a day. I walked everywhere because I could not afford bus fare. I went out with friend to venues with no cover charge and asked for sparkling water with a lime in a fancy glass because it was free. When someone did buy me a drink or offered me a bite of their nachos, I would mention something like “I’ll send you a QuickPay later, just remind me.”

I had graduated with $100k in student loan debt and I couldn’t find a job for 6 months after college. I was borrowing $1500.00/month from my parents of which $1000.00 went to rent, $150.00 to utility bills, and the remaining $350.00 to eating and buying silly things like tampons.

I lived on $75.00/week and was so horrified of my financial situation, I couldn’t bring myself to look at my bank account (which danced a fine line between having $4.80 and being overdrawn at the end of every month).

Rock bottom was my being foolish enough to responded to a Craigslist ad for a personal assistant. I was so desperate and emotionally distraught over my situation I didn’t see the red flags. When I set up the paperwork for direct deposit, my account was cleaned out and I spent the next year and half of my life owing the bank $2k.

I ended up in that situation because I never made a plan. I carelessly never took responsibility for my personal finance.

Never in a million years did I consider to prepare for the possibility of not being able to find a job after graduation. I had a management degree after all; I had worked my way through college and finished my degree with honors. There was no reality in which I was hopeless enough that I would fall for a Craigslist phishing scam.

Financial wreckage takes years to recover from, but in the process of rebuilding our life we learn the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with our personal finance and the value of financial independence.

Even after finding a decent paying job, I could not pay off my credit card and missed a student loan payment (something that will haunt my credit history for about 5 more years).

I did not advertise my situation, but I also did not hide it from Matt. Slowly, bit by bit, he got me to start looking at the big bad boogie man that was my personal finance.

The first and most difficult thing that I had to do was to look up the status of every one of my accounts and make a balance sheet.

I think that most people who are or were in a similar situation could relate to the fact that there is a certain comfort in not knowing how bad things really are. Ignorance is bliss until creditors start calling us.

With Matt’s help, I was able to put my financial situation into perspective and together, we made a plan of where to go from there.

That was the first time we were on the same page of the same volume of our story.

It took so much trust and courage to combine these pieces of our lives but we knew two things:

  1. Volume One was amazing and we wanted more than anything to write Volume Two
  2. The only way to write Volume Two was by starting at page 1 together

If you and your loved one are together then be together in all things. It’s either you two against the world, or the world against you two. Believe me when I tell that if your approach to personal finance is the latter, the world will win.

– M
Future Mrs. Master Distiller

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