Couple Money

How One Couple Saved Over $80k in a Year!

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Want to retire early, but your spouse isn't ready? Learn how Jamila and her husband got on the same page with financial independence and saved over $80,000 in a year! 

Getting on the Same Page with Financial Independence

Wouldn't it be fantastic if the two of you were instantly on the same page with your finances?

Even though we’re at a place where we’re on the same page with major goals, there’s still times where we have to sit down and figure out the details about how to go about. We try to find solutions that we’re both happy with. 

It could be one of persuading the other or it could be putting together a third option. In other words, don’t be surprised when two of you aren’t instantly on the same wavelength. 

I believe that’s a strength with marriage – you two are seeing and testing ideas out from different perspectives. 

That’s why I really connected with what Jamila said at the top of the show. You can sometimes be enthusiastic about tackling your debt, saving more, or investing towards retirement and your spouse….ehh..not much. 

Since you’re in this together, how do you get your spouse on board, especially when it's a huge shift with your finances? 

That’s why I’m excited to share from the archives an interview I had with Journey to Launch creator Jamilia Souffrant since she’s been down this path. She has gotten her husband on board with drastically increasing their savings so they could pursue financial freedom and independence.

In this episode, we get into:

Hope you enjoy!

Want to hear about another couple who worked out their differences? Check out my interview with Tai and Talaat from His and Her Money.

We discuss how they dumped their debt even though they are financial opposites!

Handy Resources for FI Couples

If you’re looking to get ahead with your finances as a family, here are more resources to check out!

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Different Perspectives on Money and Financial Independence

Jamila Souffrant: I definitely wasn't necessarily frugal frugal but I always saved money. So as an intern in college I had a well-paying internship I saved like 90 percent of my check and I've always just had that mentality.

Coming here, being raised by a single mom immigrant, I understood the value of money at a very early age that maybe I didn't understand the investing part of it. I understood the savings part of it so I would say I was good with that.

Elle Martinez: And her husband was less inclined to naturally follow a budget.

Jamila Souffrant: He's not as money-conscious as me.

If we didn't have a budget he probably would spend a little bit more. And he does sometimes spend a little bit more than like if he goes to the store he's like the husband that comes back with like too many things.

I'm just like wait. Like what did you do?

But he like he won't necessarily go out and just spend obliviously on like overspend too much. So I'd say that he also was raised by immigrant parents. So I don't know if that helped. So he's Haitian and I'm Jamaican so I both our families are from the Caribbean and both didn't have much when they came. And I know like myself, my mom, and my grandmom work for everything they had.

I know his parents worked really hard to buy their own house in Brooklyn. And so maybe because of that he's just always been just you know simple and also very conscious of spending but he definitely did not grow up like privileged or like really understanding like money in that way.

I think partnering like with me helps because I like we talk. We have these conversations and anything I'm learning I try to pass on to him but he's not into the numbers the way I am.

Minimizing Debt

Elle Martinez: One thing they agreed on fairly early was keeping debt to a minimum.

Jamila Souffrant: When I started joining the launch we didn't have any debt and sometimes I forget about how much debt we actually had. And we did.

We had some debt so I had credit card debt and luckily for him, he went to school on a scholarship so he graduated with minimum debt.

It wasn't that much and then because he was a teacher he thinks some of his loans got forgiven but when we came when we like when we came together and we dated for like a long time throughout college we started. So it's not like I met him in his late 20s and he had lived his life and accumulated all these things.

We met pretty young and kind of grew together so probably having a more like finance aware girlfriend at the time helped him not spend too much but yeah he didn't.

He wasn't crazy into debt and but we still over the years had accumulated some debt but we managed to pay it off their only debt right now as their mortgage.

Elle Martinez: So these two are doing pretty well but Jamila saw an opportunity for more.

Jamila Souffrant: And it wasn't until I was like in my early thirties and by then now like I started I got and I've gotten married by then I think I was pregnant I was pregnant my first son and I had a long commute. I mean I still have a long commute. And I remember one day it took me like four hours to get home. So typically it's like Yeah it's crazy and I was pregnant and usually it takes like an hour and a half. So it's not ever short so but the fact it took me that long and I was pregnant I just I had a breakdown down and I just said I can't do this. Obviously like I can like live closer to my job or get a job that's not as far and maybe that would help but it wasn't just about the commute it was just about I just felt like I was like living a life that was not me as per her style.

Getting Her Husband on Board with Financial Independence

Elle Martinez: She began researching and running the numbers.

Jamila Souffrant: So once I realized that I had to figure something out I started to just listen to podcasts and read blogs and I discovered this financial independence movement and people retiring early and I said to myself wait a second. Like if they can figure out a way to do this I have to be able to figure this out too.

And so I went I looked at our income I looked at our expenses and I figured out a way that if we were to aggressively save and invest how long it would take us to get to the point where I would no longer have to work and we would essentially be able to live off my husband's income and then any investments if we needed to draw down on them.

Elle Martinez: She was definitely pumped up and ready to go. Her husband's take though… Woody wasn't so enthusiastic.

Jamila Souffrant: He always knew I was into numbers. So I was I've always been pretty snappy with my finances. Now I'm out. I haven't always done things perfectly but he he's known this about me.

So when I came home I mean at first when I started to read the blogs I did start sending him things. So he kind of knew where I was going. He kind of he started sending him articles and I started like mentioning things to him like wow wouldn't it be cool if we were able to retire early or you know if I didn't have this long commute and I can be around for the boys a little bit more. And so he kind of saw this I think coming to like head.

And so when I came home and I told him I think I text him first I said to him you know if we were able to say this much you know we would be able to have this much like in x money years.

I heard the story about Ed the millionaire educator and he had said he started investing in 457 plans and that he met his wife on teacher salaries were saving hundreds of like over a hundred thousand dollars.

So my husband is a teacher and I said to myself wait if he has access to a 457. Also in addition to his for B fast TDA plan like we can even like accelerate the savings even more. So like I came home I told him Mike Look you need to see like we need to find out if you have a 457 plan available to you and if we do we need to see how much we can put into that.

Addressing Your Spouse's Hesitancy with Pursuing Financial Independence

Elle Martinez: So what would you do in that situation? Let's start with what he is your husband or wife came in was like You know what. We could retire early but we have to crank up the savings big-time like half of your income.

How do you think you would react? What would it take for you to make that leap now?

On the other side, how would you get your spouse on board with this ambitious plan?

For Jamila, it was about listening and understanding where his hesitation was coming from.

Jamila Souffrant: He didn't jump in right away because I think for him he knew at the time was only contributing I would say maybe like I forgot the exact number but let's say it was only like four or five percent of his income to his for three B plan. And so when I came home with the bright idea that we should need to Mac we need to make out everything we need to max out my 401 k we need to max out your fourth baby and we need to open up a 457 and max it out too for him.

I think he was just like what is that like what does that mean. Because my shift was that like his whole check would probably like be cut in half now if we were to do that.

Even though everything kind of comes into the same pot I think for him it was part of his like identity that like ‘wow my check used to be this much and now it's not even half of that'. ‘ I think for him that was kind of a shock for me to even mention this.

Working Together Towards Financial Independence

Elle Martinez: Once he understood that it became easier to figure out a system that worked for both for them. Last year the two of them were able to save and invest eighty thousand dollars. That was incredible. But it took work and yes some compromises took it slow.

Jamila Souffrant: We didn't just jump from you know contributing his 4 percent to 50 percent we told him you know less let's think about it like we can do maybe a few percentages a month and we'd started doing that.

And then one month he just said you know what let's just do it let's just you can adjust it so that it's maximum.

Elle Martinez: Even though she takes the lead with the numbers Jamila and Woody have regular talks about their finances.

Jamila Souffrant: We have informal check-ins. So when I first came to him with this idea I had my spreadsheets. I said you know we were going to have monthly meetings and monthly budget meetings and I had like all these grand plans. And the reality was we just weren't we with life with it.

We just weren't able to keep up with it. So now what happens. So instead of having a normal you know the third Sunday of every month of sitting down and we don't like do that maybe one day we will if we can get it together but what we do right now is I typically will create the budget. We both have Y and A B. So he has on his phone I have it online like I update him I'll say you know hey check out the budget you know next time because maybe this is good running a little low or I'll say OK I just did a new budget you should look at it like Friday night because that's what parents do on Friday nights now instead of without budget. So I might be working on the budget he might be watching TV and I'm like oh come on you know you really should just like talk about this or what do we want to do next month then you might have like a little glass of wine to unwind about it.

But definitely like I would say that in the environment to have these conversations should definitely be comfortable and not and try not to make it tense. I would love for him to like you know be the co-captain with me on this but I think realistically what happens with couples because people ask me all the time.

It's like it's never perfect and it's not going to be perfect and you have to be patient with the process.

And so I'm just happy that he believes in my vision and he understands and trusts me enough to like follow my plan.

I try not to push it too hard in terms of oh well we need to sit down and do this and do that. And I try to make it more casual.

Elle Martinez: So how about you, have you to set up your next money date?

There's still plenty of time left in a year to have some big wins. So go ahead pick a day on the calendar and have some fun talking about money!

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Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Our theme song is by Gentle Regime. Additional music by Lee Rosevere and Logan from Music for Makers in this episode.

This episode was originally released in October 2017. Show notes have been updated February 2022.

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