Ether to FI: Mrs. E.T.F., Are We on the Same Page?
Today, we have the fifth installment from our anonymous friend E.T.F., an anesthesiologist out there in the ether working his way to FI. His goal is $3.3 Million in ten years, and he’s been documenting his journey roughly every other month here on this site.
Today, he invited Mrs. E.T.F. to answer some money questions to gauge how compatible their financial intentions are. How is it that I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and haven’t had my wife chime in yet? I may need to follow his lead and change that!
The floor is yours, Ether to FI.
Ether to FI: Mrs. E.T.F, Are We on the Same Page?
Money fights and money problems are a leading cause of divorce. Many couples are busy reading a different page of a separate chapter in a different book and are confused by their financial struggles. In light of this, we needed to make sure the ETF household was on the same page.
You have listened to me talk about my goals and vision for the future, does Mrs. ETF feel the same way? I asked my much better half to join this post and provide her wisdom. Below we will each answer ten questions independently, then comment on the similarities or difference in our answer choices.
Will there be any surprises?
Drum roll, please…
1. How did you form your concept of money?
Mrs. E.T.F.: I formed my concept of money from observing my parents. I learned the basic concepts of earning, saving, appropriate use of credit cards, giving, and responsible spending throughout my childhood and adolescent years.
ET.F.: My concept of money developed through watching my parents. I was probably the only ten-year-old who was looking at the many ways to optimize their parent’s financial life. I promised myself when I made money; I would correct the many issues I saw in their approach to finances. My reaction to my family of origin formed my concept of money.
Comments: Parents are critical, for better or worse.
2. What is your worst financial mistake?
Mrs. E.T.F.: Reflecting on my adult working years, I would consider my worst financial mistake was not learning to invest my savings at an earlier age. Before marrying ETF, my investment knowledge was insufficient with regards to the importance of compound growth.
E.T.F.: Wasting my paycheck as a teenager. The compounding on that money over the last 20 years would have created a mini-war chest now. They say the best time to start saving was 20 years ago; the second-best time is right now.
Comments: Start investing early even if it’s small amounts. It will maximize your growth and shorten your path to financial independence.
3. Do you have enough “blow” money?
Mrs. E.T.F.: Yes. I consider myself relatively frugal and prefer to spend my “blow” money on simple pleasures such as a good cup of coffee or chocolate after lunch.
E.T.F.: Yes, I would love some more spending money, but getting to financial independence, and traveling is more important to me. I see denying myself more blow money, as a keystone habit to help conquer larger goals.
[PoF comment: I think “play” money may be a better term to use. “Blow” conjures up other images in my mind.]
4. What is the most one of us can spend without consulting the other?
Mrs. E.T.F.: I have never considered this a question (or a problem) in our relationship since we review the budget monthly. Neither of us is a big spender and generally discuss purchases outside of the budget.
E.T.F.: Everything is in the budget, there should be very few surprises. $100 for anything not in the budget.
Comments: Budget, budget, budget, it might be a curse word to some, but it does wonders on keeping both members of the team on the same page. It is comforting to know exactly where the money is going.
5. What should we do with extra-money or savings beyond long-term goals?
Mrs. E.T.F.: Travel and invest in new experiences for our children.
E.T.F.: Travel this beautiful world. There are so many places to go, and people to meet. If we have a windfall, after saving a hefty amount, I would love to slow travel in style.
Comments: We have similar interests, and travel is high on the agenda. When we are financially independent, our passports will be full of stamps. We have already started on that journey.
6. What is our most important financial goal right now?
Mrs. E.T.F.: Saving for a 20% down payment on a home in our desired neighborhood.
E.T.F.: $50,000 emergency fund.
Comments: We have shared goals, so it makes the process easier. Although it appears we have different goals, Mrs. E.T.F. goal is the very next goal on E.T.F.’s agenda after reaching the $50k emergency fund in a couple of months.
7. What age do you want to retire?
Mrs. E.T.F.: Preferably before the age of 50.
E.T.F.: I want to be able to stop working at 42. I never want to retire. I would be bored stiff. Dream “retirement” job, would be to travel with the show Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.
Comments: Mrs. E.T.F. has no qualms about retiring early; she has no issues with boredom. E.T.F. will probably take long pauses in employment to enjoy travel with Mrs. E.T.F. when she retires. Who wants to be working while their spouse is enjoying Japan or Argentina?
[PoF Comment: E.T.F. has no qualms about referring to E.T.F. in the third person. That’s OK. He’s famous!]
8. If we retired early, where would you want to live?
Mrs. E.T.F.: There are times where I would prefer to live closer to my family. However, I would gladly stay in a cheaper state and frequently travel to different countries for extended periods of time.
E.T.F.: I would love to live somewhere warm and stay 3-6 months in each location. For example, Colombia for three months, Portugal for three months, Thailand for three months. Rinse and repeat, with either the same countries in each region or another country.
Comments: The theme of travel is very consistent. There is so much of this world to see. We cannot imagine staying in one place forever.
9. What is your optimal retirement income?
Mrs. E.T.F.: $200,000, this would be more than we made on a pre-attending physician income, but less than our current gross salary.
E.T.F.: Optimal retirement income for our traveling adventures would be $150,000, this would guarantee I did not have to focus on the costs of the trips, and I would not have any limitations in accommodations or experiences. Many of the countries I want to visit, need far less money to live very well, but the question stated “optimal.”
Comments: E.T.F. initially put $200,000, then changed his answer to $150,000. If we spent a lot of time in more expensive parts of the world, then $200,000 is possible. Once again, the question said optimal. Many people do extensive traveling on ¼ of this number. Miles anyone?
10. What is the most important financial lesson you want to teach your kids?
Mrs. E.T.F.: The most important financial lessons I want to teach our children are the importance of responsible spending and the power of early investment.
E.T.F.: Finances like most things in life, you have a choice of success or failure. If you want to be free of financial worries, you can create simple habits that will guarantee your success. Live on less than you make, save/invest 50% of your gross income, and create a perpetual money-making machine (ex. Large mutual fund portfolio, real estate, small business or create a product). The faster you can divorce your annual income from an hourly wage, the sooner you can leave the rat race.
Comments: The recurring theme is simplicity. Do the necessary things well, and you will be ahead of 99% of people.
Net Worth Update:
The number keeps growing. We are on pace to triple our starting number at the one-year mark. It is interesting when you place saving on autopilot, how quickly it grows. Most of the growth currently is from our contributions, when the market starts driving the returns, the real fun will begin.
[PoF: An increase of over $30,000 in two months. By the end of the year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the E.T.F. family 10% of the way to their $3.3 Million goal.
Looks like you two are pretty much on the same page. It’s tough to reach your goals as a family if they’re not the same goals! And I think it’s easy to assume you’re on the same page, but until you ask and answer the questions, do you really know?]
Follow Ether to FI’s progress to FI in his previous posts:
- Post 1: Introducing Ether to FI: A New Attending Striving for Financial Independence. Net worth $80,283
- Post 2: Ether to FI: Obeying WCI’s Ten Commandments & Net Worth Update. Net worth $145,194
- Post 3: Ether to FI: Home Days & Net Worth Update Net worth $176,674
- Post 4: Rest in Peace, E.T.F. A Love Letter from a Dead Man and a Net Worth Update. Net Worth $197,061
- Post 5: Ether to FI: Mrs. E.T.F., Are We on the Same Page? Net Worth $228,109
- Post 6: Ether to FI: Shifting Focus from the “FI” to the “RE” and a Net Worth Update Net Worth 335,248
- Post 7: Ether to FI: Don’t Call it Retirement (and a Net Worth Update) Net worth 364,089
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E.T.F.: Thanks for reading, and we await your comments. Thanks, Mrs. E.T.F., for joining me on this post. Come back sooner rather than later.
Find FIRE with me.
Get an amazing spreadsheet, new post notices, & a quarterly newsletter.