Dating in the FI World

My future has more question marks than the Riddler's suit.

Today's post is a topic near and dear to my heart: dating. More specifically, dating while trying for Financial Independence.

As a single 25-year-old female, the first question people ask after learning about my FI plans is usually something along the lines of "What happens when you get married and have kids?"

My response is to simply shrug my shoulders and say "I'll worry about that when I get there."

It kills me to not be able to predict this part of my future, especially when it's one of the most important aspects. I make tentative long-term plans for things over a year out, make firmer plans for things within the next year, and make concrete plans a few months out. For example, I made tentative plans with new friends I met while in Ecuador to hang out in Chicago and go see a baseball game. That was last October, and our plans are coming to fruition this August. I have most of my time planned out through Thanksgiving, and I'm making tentative plans for next year. Hello beach trip to NC! Seriously, the fact I can't plan out my future to include a potential Mr. Gwen is a problem.

However, it's not such a huge problem that I'm rushing off to the nearest military post to find a solider to marry tomorrow. For something so important, I'm willing to wait and take my time to make sure I'm making a good choice. I received some excellent advice with regards to this very topic at Camp Mustache from none other than Keith the Tax Guy. He's good at more than just taxes, folks! One morning, myself and the other young single lady in attendance were sharing breakfast with Keith and his lovely wife. I try to ask every couple I meet how they got started and they were no exception.

The best people to get advice from are those who are where you want to be.

Not to get overly mushy, but they have the kind of relationship I want. Fun, with some sass, but a lot of love. Keith told us the biggest impact on our finances will be the person we end up in life with. After hearing many stories of ruinous divorce, I wholeheartedly agree. I can see how other FI couples who are married help each other out, not just with dual incomes but with that team mentality and not being alone.

So what do you do when you're a single 25 year old? Normally, my peers fire up Tinder or some other online dating app and swipe or tap to find a partner. It's a bit more difficult when you have such a clear vision of where you want your life to go. Most people my age are more concerned about getting a new Luxury SUV or affording season tickets to the local sports team than saving for retirement. And that's ok for them. YOLO and all that.

But that's not for me. Sadly, no FI or Mustachian dating app exists (yet). Even if one were to get created, no one would pay for it because we're all funneling our money into our 401(k)s or IRA's. There is the Mustachian and Single section of the Mr. Money Mustache forum, but after seeing what else is on there, I refuse to put anything on there out of principle.

Coincidentally, with my life in such upheaval: possibly staying put, possibly moving 3 hours away, possibly moving across the country, or possibly moving to another country in November; focusing on getting my side hustle up and running; Pokemon Go; all my upcoming travel plans........ I've simply stopped dating for awhile until my life settles down a bit.

I'd like to find someone who enjoys walks on the beach... preferably at sunset
I'd like to find someone who enjoys walks on the beach... preferably at sunset

But what if I do meet a guy? How do you bring up FI? I haven't had such great luck with it in the past. Talking about money in relationships can get tricky fast. If I'm too focused on his financials, I get labled a gold digger. If I make more than him, I run the risk of being a sugga momma. Or, I can run into straight up jealousy like occured in a previous relationship when I dated a high school teacher. They don't exactly rake in the dough hand over fist, and after awhile he couldn't handle the fact I made more than him and dumped me via Snapchat. True story.

Then there's the problem of actually going on dates. If you're the guy, you're expected to pay. I always, always, always offer to either pay or go Dutch, but the guy rarely takes me up on it. The "where do you want to go" question is actually a pretty great litmus test. If I suggest playing frisbee in the park with our choice of adult beverage, and the guy turns up his nose, we're probably not a great match. Dating is literally sometimes NOT a walk in the park, much to my chagrin. I once went on a date with a lawyer. He picked an expensive martini lounge in the heart of downtown. We had a nice enough date that we had a second one later which consisted of walking around the nearby lake with his dog. There were clear enough signs of mismatched values that we parted ways on friendly terms.

I suppose I could always meet someone at a FI meetup. The lure of meeting a cute guy already on the path to FI is a pretty powerful reason to keep going to all sorts of FI related activities, whether they be a geniune Mustachian meetup, a FI related event or even something barely related like FinCon. One caveat though- to those of you who were at Camp Mustache, it was NOT me who's stated goal was to meet other single Mustachians. I can't say the thought didn't cross my mind though 😉

Then the only challenge would be to make sure our FI goals match. Maybe he wants to ride a motorcycle all the way up the Pacific coast from the furthest southern tip of South America to Nome, Alaska. Maybe he'd like to travel the world for extended periods. Or maybe he'd like the freedom to take a lower paying but more fulfilling career with a sizeable nest egg of supplement income. Maybe he'd like to get down and dirty with houses that are falling apart and turn them into a porfolio of rental houses. The options of what to do after achieving FI are nearly endless, so it's important that whoever I end up with and I have compatible visions of the future.

Dating is super complicated. Married people, grab your spouse, give them a big kiss and hold them tight, because you do not want to have to deal with this!

Are you single? How is dating working out for you? 


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30 thoughts on “Dating in the FI World

  1. First off, love that you called him Mr. Gwen. lol. Chasing FI definitely made dating a little more interesting. I got a lot of….”you are professional engineer, why don’t you live in a bigger house and dive a new car.” I would explain, but many of the ladies didn’t get it at all. They wanted, subconsciously or otherwise, their parent’s lives. McMansion, two new BMWs, staying at home with kids. Those aren’t the things I valued, and that wasn’t always well received. A few of the ladies however, did understand my vision….for an intended life, and I’m glad Mrs. IS shares this vision with me.

    Keep at it, and you’ll find a “Mr Gwen” that does. Most of the women I dated didn’t even know there was another way. It was really facinating to me! Wishing you the best. He’s out there

    • I’ve spread the FI gospel to more than a few dates. Some are open and some are more concerned about their car mods haha.

  2. Yeah, that’s a tough one. How do you find someone super financially responsible. They must be out there, but do you search on those dating sites for words like “frugal”? I’ve never been a part of the dating world, but I doubt anyone does that. I met my wife the first year of college, and though her ideas about money probably weren’t too different from mine to begin with, I think largely we came up with and developed our philosophy together as we grew up. Lucky us.

  3. I met my fiancé over four years ago in an internship program and knew right away that he was someone worth pursuing. I did things like pretending I wanted to learn guitar so that I could get 1×1 time with him or trying to figure out where he was going to be for the night so that I could run into him. Sounds crazy but we’re engaged now! When you find someone that has the qualities you’re looking for – don’t let them go!

    • Sadly, a lot of the ones I get along great with are already married! Or I find the great ones and then they marry the girl they date after me. It’s happened about 4 times now lol :/

  4. Hey, Keith the Tax Guy here, Gwen. Loved your post and proud I provided advice you can use to improve your life. At the risk of being rude, I will add one more nugget. Don’t worry about FI affecting your relationships. I would be more concerned about a gold-digger than losing Mr. Right to the FI lifestyle. I would be upfront. If my date did not embrace the FI lifestyle the relationship will not work.

    You are an awesome young lady, Gwen. Never cut yourself short. Enjoy every minute of every day. The right guy will show up. Remember the old adage: The teacher will appear when the student is ready.

    Keep up the excellent writing. Look forward to seeing you at Camp Mustache IV.

  5. Fellow single FI-er here also taking an “it will happen when it happens” approach to dating. Due to the nature of my job, I moved halfway across the country to a rural area in the Midwest over 50 miles from the nearest large city. As a result, my acceptable dating pool has essentially shrunk to zero and I don’t expect it to reappear unless/until I move closer to more people my age. I don’t mind too much though, since I’m pretty introverted by nature and can live perfectly fine with little to no social interaction beyond what I get at work. Plus it gives me the opportunity to focus on work, my journey to FI, and other hobbies / opportunities for self-improvement. I figure that I will have plenty of time for dating once I am FI and am no longer obligated to live where I do now. I hope that I’m not wrong!

    • One reason I was so excited to move last year was a new and bigger dating market! I moved to a city about 3x as big as my last one, and the demographics completely flipped- from mostly blue collar to mostly white collar careers. It’s been interesting to see such a big change only a few hours away!

  6. I discovered my current girlfriend a little over two years ago, just about the time I discovered FIRE. So our relationship grew as my knowledge and passion for FIRE did. As I was learning I would forward articles and she took a liking to it as well. She’s not as passionate about it as I am, but it was her idea to start maxing out her 401k this year <3

    I think as long as you're open and honest about your FIRE goals from the start (maybe date 2 or 3) then that way you can weed out the people that don't have the same goals. I think FIRE meet-ups are a GREAT idea for finding someone. I did one in NYC before I moved out and there were a few women there who were about my age and some single (and lots of dudes).

    • Lots of dudes! Great! Just what I need haha. It’d be a great way to meet someone in a saturated dating market like NYC. Oddly enough, young single educated women outnumber their male counterparts in NYC!

  7. I wish you the best and don’t envy you one bit! I’ve been married for 14 years and could never date again; especially not at this age and with all the technology games people play before they even meet (like stalking your FB or Twitter). However, if I had to again, I’d feel pretty lucky to get someone with a frugal / FI mindset. It sure seems like there’s a lot of the opposite out there!

  8. I’m been wondering the exact same thing myself lately, as a 36 year old who’s recently hit FI. It’s always a conversation on dates, what I do for work and how I manage that, and so far it hasn’t been a big hit. I think it’s an unconventional life, which throws a lot of people.

    Anyway, it’s funny that this is the first post I saw on your site the first time I ever visited. 🙂

    • Welcome to my blog, JT! Work is usually seen as a safe topic on first dates…… unless you don’t work and are FI lol. I think my cover story will be artist/whatever part time job I chose to pick up if it gets to that point.

      • Yeah, and I actually am an artist, but I think honesty is important. And FI is something I’m currently more passionate about than my music. I think a lot of it is also our age differences, because I’ve noticed women take a definite serious turn as they reach their 30s. Personally, I just like to think everything will happen when it’s supposed to happen, and you can’t force a relationship.

        • Part of my hazy nebulous after FI plans include working with some physical medium of some kind (fabric, glass, wood, etc) so I wouldn’t be lying either. Plus everyone knows artists are super poor. What better way to deter gold diggers! Haha

  9. I don’t know that your date immediately needs to be on board with FI. There’s more to life and all that, ya know? If he’s decent with money, doesn’t want to live a crazy lavish lifestyle, but wants to travel, has other hobbies in common, and, most importantly, is totally heads over heels for you, he may come around. FI isn’t a familiar concept to many people, yet.

    My husband was way more financially sensible than I was when we married, so I’m glad he took a chance on me 😉

    • I’m not saying immediately after starting dating me he needs to max out his 401k and start work on a backdoor Roth. I’m looking for at least a modicum of PF skills which a lot of guys I’ve dated have lacked. It’s more lifestyle compatibility at this point- like the guy I saw for awhile that had a Porsche and a white pleather couch. We weren’t very compatible haha

  10. What part of NC are you vacationing to? My wife and I go to Emerald Isle every couple of years. You can go to the beach without the crowded/commercialized aspect of it.

  11. To sum it up, dating sucks. My most recent match dropped a bomb on me that I should be paying for our dates because I’m the man and I should be courting her. We had several overnights and she had offered to treat me (and I let her) several times by then, which I appreciated and assumed she was okay with since she is a pretty progressive woman. I’d like to think that we both spent about the same on each other…she said she felt like a sugar mama when I let her pay a $30 tab of which one churro ($1.50) belonged to me, and the rest was her’s. I had already eaten dinner that night and I thought I was volunteering to keep her company, not subsidize her food and drink. She disappeared without a trace while I was in the shower yesterday and I’m not sure that i care. Has dating made me numb? How Sad.

    Totally agree with you about needing a similar version of fire. I always thought that if I met someone who liked traveling, that would be a no brainer because so many people can’t be bothered, but there’s such a huge range of travel, that a love of travel may not be enough.

    I think I’m too frugal to go to a FI event. Isn’t that sad? 😉 I also feel like I’m not mustachian enough to go to mustachian events. We’ll see.

    • I totally agree. Dating sucks a ton. I’ve recently learned that I’d rather spend a bit of money going to an event than sit at home by myself and save that money. A lot of FI or Mustachian meetups are held at parks or some place where you can bring a drink or two with you and play frisbee in the park. Cheapo activities are best! As for the level of Mustachian, I like to think everyone there is very welcoming no matter their “level”. Remember, just even knowing about FI/Mustachianism means you’re lightyears ahead of everyone else!

  12. Gwen as a 26 year old male in London, UK also focusing on FIRE and on the dating scene I can relate a lot to this. I’m a web developer so I’ve considered setting up something like a FIRE dating website but when the subject comes up everyone mentions how they wouldn’t pay for it ha. I’m not sure if it’s just inaccurate portrayals of people’s personalities on profiles but they all seem to be living the YOLO lifestyle which is really off putting for me as it tells a lot about that person. I would love to find someone with the same goals in mind but I can’t help but think it’s going to have to start by teaching them the concept of FIRE yourself and hoping that they get on board with the idea. However like you mentioned there can be a time in a relationship when this is too early and may even be seen as prying. Personal finances and how much one earns can be a taboo at times.

    • I pay for things that add value to my life so I would totally pay for it….. if I got desperate enough lol. I’m still holding out hope that I can find the future Mr. Gwen organically – even if organically means through this website or the greater FI community 🙂

      I totally feel the same way re:YOLO lifestyle. It’s hard to get people to care about retirement when they’re more concerned with trying to afford both car parts and season tickets to the basketball games.

  13. I was always frugal – my girlfriend was not and neither were her parents, but her mom read Mr. Money Mustache and introduced her…and then she introduced me. Of course I was on board. We don’t have so much baggage with who makes more or a weird fight over who pays since we are both women.

    Here is my hot take on dating: Date women. Women are more frugal than men and you don’t have to deal with annoying gender roles.

    • That would be fantastic advice! …..if I were at all attracted to the fairer sex. Unfortunately for me, I’m almost entirely on the straight side of the Kinsey scale. There’s just something about guys that both frustrate me and attract me!

  14. I wish there were more FI minded female millennials like you. As a 29 yr old milleniall guy it is equally as difficult to find someone that is like minded in this space.

  15. Fellow single millennial here. I definitely agree and can commiserate with you on the dating struggle.

    I tend to make very generous assumptions when I plan out future finances with a future imaginary SO – something I imagine I’ll refine as I find a SO and get a better sense for what our financial life would look like together.

    Totally get how easy it is to write someone off when you get an idea of what kind of date they want to have or learn of their expensive hobby, but I’m also guilty of wrongly assuming that if a girl spends a lot in one area, that is she is generally not on the same financial page as me. And to be fair I, to use your example, do actually get season tickets to my alma mater’s football games and can totally see someone thinking I’m spendy after learning that one fact about me, but it doesn’t tell the whole picture.

    Don’t give up hope – us frugal (or, at least, reasonable) guys exist out there.

    • I was more talking along the lines of pro teams, but I can see how some college level team tickets could get pricey as well.

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