the blogosphere is full of people touting the virtues of frugality, telling us all how to do it better, and providing great examples of how to save money on literally everything. here’s the problem: it often feels like the folks touting the lifestyle are themselves naturally frugal (or even cheap — an important distinction).
but what if you’re not naturally frugal? is there hope for you?
we ask this question because frugality has never come naturally to us. not that we’re wasteful spenders or big purchasers of stuff by nature, either, but our natural inclinations are to be more generous. to pick up the tab for a group when dining out. to throw big parties and banquets. to buy nice gifts for people we love. we’ve often even bought plane tickets for people to visit us. that generous spending always felt worthwhile to us because it was about having more time with friends and family, and creating opportunities to make memories together. we also loved to support a lot of charities, and sometimes go to swanky charity events. and sure, we’d splurge on travel and meals, too — never four star hotels or anything, but we’d travel a lot and find the most talked about restaurants to eat at because we love trying different cuisines. (thankfully this is balanced by not needing to have the most expensive house we can afford, and being perfectly happy driving cars into the ground.)
of course, now that we’re on the early retirement wagon, we’ve had to reform our ways. but, in our darker moments, we wonder: if we’re not naturally frugal, can we stick to our retirement budget long-term, or are we doomed to blow through our savings too fast? this question scares us.
leaving the job market, even for a few years, will put us at a major disadvantage if we ever want to get back in, especially because we aren’t getting any younger. so we’re taking a significant risk when we pull the trigger and retire early. and what if we ultimately can’t stick to our budget, and we need to find jobs again? this kind of thinking sometimes keeps us up at night.
but here’s why we are confident enough in our ability to stick to the plan long-term to be willing to move forward:
- we are now several years into hard-core saving, and feel like we’ve changed our ways
- we value time more than anything, and absolutely see the connection between conserving our financial resources and having more free time, which should help keep us motivated and on-track
- we are obsessive asset trackers, and hate seeing our numbers get smaller
- we love camping and traveling cheaply, and the parts of the world we’re most excited about spending time in are the cheapest ones to visit
- we have endless free recreation opportunities all around us
- we have lived super cheaply before, when we were paying off debt, and we know we can do it again if we must
- we’ve built a good safety net for ourselves (our house is big enough that we can downsize or rent it out, we have a rental property that we could sell, we have sizeable 401(k) accounts that could be tapped absolute worst case, we will plan to keep in contact with past clients so that we can consult part-time if need be, etc.)
- we don’t know how many years of good quality of life we still have, which makes it all worthwhile
we know there are no guarantees in life, so we’ll always worry a little bit about falling off the frugality wagon. but — and this is a news flash to no one — every decision in life is a risk. by working until our 60s, we’d risk spending all of our good years at the office. by only working until 40ish, we’re risking that we might run out money. we have to choose one risk or another, but because early retirement is not the social norm, it feels more risky than other choices. we hope, though, to help change that, by setting a good example once we’ve reached our goals. and we hope you’ll join us!
what worries about early retirement keep you up at night? are you naturally frugal, or have you had to learn to adapt to the lifestyle? what tips have you discovered that help you stay frugal?