recently, we decided that we’re going to can plans for a splurgy trip this summer, and instead do a camping road trip somewhere in the western u.s. we decided this in part because tickets to our desired destination were stupidly expensive, despite the strong dollar, and in part because we’re feeling a bit daunted by the financial targets we’ve set for ourselves this year. (we recently decided to quit our jobs at the end of 2017 pretty much regardless of where we are financially, but of course we want to be ready to retire completely at that point. so the clock is ticking, and the pressure is on.)
at this point in time, we’re close enough to our financial independence day to be able to defer trips like the one we originally planned for a few years, but what if we were still five or 10 years away from retiring? should we stick to only frugal travel completely?
we know plenty of bloggers who would say yes. who would say that it’s worth sacrificing now in order to get to retirement sooner. or who would say that they are frugal by nature, and therefore would never take a splurgy trip regardless of their future plans. well that, friends, is not us. we are not frugal by nature, in the least, and we’ll share some stuff right now that might make us look like downright assholes. fact 1: we had several $400 dinners back when we were dating, not to mention that we dated cross-country for a year, and saw each other on average every two to three weeks (though we banked a lot of miles for all those dollars spent on air travel!). fact 2: our last european trip cost us nearly $10,000 for about a week. don’t worry, we cringe too when we read that stuff. and as you’ve gathered by now, we’re completely reformed now, because we see freedom as being worth the sacrifice. and, in truth, we’ve changed our perspective so we no longer see most of what we’re doing as sacrificing anything. it’s just a different way of living.
but, on the question of whether to do everything frugally in service of ER goals, we would take the contrary view, and say that it’s fine to splurge sometimes. we like to remind ourselves that early retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, and the worst thing we could do is burn ourselves out early in the process by being too strict or restrictive. the key is knowing yourself, and what you need to be successful and stick with something.
it’s just like dieting. if you’re good at eating 100 percent healthy all the time and you never need to cheat, then great. (also, we’re deeply jealous of you.) most people need little moments to indulge, though, to make the diet bearable. and that’s how saving for early retirement has been for us. we’re proud of how we’ve reformed our ways and made huge progress toward our goals, but we’re not sure we could have done it if we were in full on frugal mode from day one and every day thereafter. especially for travel. we don’t regret any money we’ve spent on travel or experiences, because those expenditures really do bring lasting happiness, unlike buying stuff. travel is a big priority for us (we’ve previously written about the trade off of traveling now or saving to travel later), and to us, not leaving the u.s. for the entire decade that we’ve been saving would be in some sense like not living. that’s not worth it, and it’s not sustainable — at least not for us. but maybe it would work for you. that’s for you to decide.
what do you think? are you okay with splurges along the way to get to early retirement? or prefer to save every possible dollar and get to fi day as soon as possible? what splurges are worthwhile to you, if you’re into that sort of thing?