When talking about financial independence, there is one important component that is often overlooked: relationships.
Whether you like it or not, the relationships in your life will have an enormous impact on your journey to financial independence and retire early (FIRE). When you choose the people you surround yourself with, you could be making or breaking your future financial success, so it’s important to know who is worth keeping around.
These are the six types of relationships that will help you on your FIRE journey and are bound to improve your life in general.
1. The Critical Thinker
This is the person who is going to help you solve problems and come up with new and helpful ideas. The critical thinker is such an important fixture in your life because when a person is facing significant life obstacles they can usually only look at things through the narrow lens of their own perspective.
Having a critical thinker in your life means you have someone who can look at your problem through the lens of a more critical outsider, and they can help you see things from a different perspective as well as help you talk through those issues and find new resolutions.
In most cases, a relationship with a critical thinker will usually involve divulging many of your secrets and insecurities. So when building these relationships, make sure the critical thinker is someone you trust to know your secrets without making judgments about you.
Having a fresh pair of eyes will help you to reconsider your decisions, and eventually make better choices and fewer mistakes on your journey. The critical thinker will be an exceptional and invaluable relationship in your life, and will hopefully help you to build a better future for yourself.
2. The “Level-Up” Friend
You might be wondering what a “level-up” friend is. Well, this is a person who does better than you do. This friend is someone who has the same resources, same capabilities, and same amount of time as you do, but they just do more.
Though this may sound demotivating, it should be the complete opposite. The level-up friend is someone who inspires you to be better, work smarter, and use your time and resources wisely.
Instead of feeling jealousy, you should be constantly motivated to do as well as they are doing, always telling yourself: if they can do it, so can I! These friends are such an important source of inspiration and will keep that fire burning under you while you’re working toward financial independence.
3. The Accountability Partner
Your accountability partner is someone who knows and understands all of your goals, and how you hope to achieve them. They are the one who is going to hold you accountable to these goals, ensuring that you keep your commitments to the FIRE journey.
For example, if you tell them that your promise to save 50% of your income, it is your accountability partner who will be checking in with you to make sure you’re doing just that. And if you’re derailing your own financial goals, they are going to call you out on it.
For these reasons, an accountability partner is one of the most vital of all relationships pertaining to your FIRE success. They will keep you on track, making sure your eyes are on the prize at all times.
Keep in mind that an accountability partner is most effective when they are working toward the same or similar goals to yours. That way you will both be more invested in one another's progress, and you can both hold each other accountable - similar to the mutual motivation you might share with a gym buddy.
4. The Motivator
Next, we have the motivator, someone who motivates you above everyone else to reach your goals. They are the person you are doing it all for, other than yourself of course. Your motivator could be your spouse, your child/children, or your parents. And they don’t necessarily have to know that they are your motivator.
On the other hand, your motivator can also be a more negative presence in your life. They might be someone who looks down on you and doesn’t believe you can reach your goals. Motivation to prove them wrong can be a way to turn that negative energy into positive energy, which can propel you to achieve more.
5. The Mentor
The most formal of all six relationships, this is someone with who you directly identify as a mentor figure. Like your accountability partner, they know of your goals and what you want to learn, and they help to guide you through your journey, sharing their own experiences with you. Mentorship can pertain to anything - finances, relationships, career, etc, and you can have more than one mentor for different areas of your life.
The important thing to remember is that this relationship should be a formal one, defined by a teacher-student dynamic where each of you knows your roles and stick to them.
6. The Mentee
That’s right, just as it is important to have a mentor on your journey to financial independence, you should also consider taking on a mentee.
Studies show that when students are teaching others the same material, they are better able to understand and retain it. Serving as a mentor yourself will help you to better grasp the information you are learning on your FIRE journey.
Sharing your new knowledge about making, saving, and investing money are going to improve your own knowledge vastly. Plus, being a mentor is just a good excuse to pay it forward by passing that information on to someone else.
As you continue on that path to financial independence, it’s important to consider who you let into your life, and how they are supporting your future goals. As the saying goes, “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Make it six, and you’re on the right track to achieving FIRE.