psst! it’s not too late to add your voice to the our next life series! we’re keeping it purely opt-in, given all the obligatory sunshine blogger posts that went around this summer, but we’d love to add more voices and dreams to the list. so far, since steve and courtney at think save retire kicked off the series, we’ve had great contributions from maggie at northern expenditure, kara at from frugal to free, and my countdown to freedom. who’s next? (and let us know if we missed anyone!)
today’s post comes with some questions for you guys, so if you don’t feel like reading the middle part, skip down to the q’s at the end, and let us know what you think in the comments.
one of our earliest posts on this blog was about how we don’t share our numbers. it’s not because we don’t like and trust you guys. it’s mostly because, one day not too far off in the distance, we will drop this whole anonymous charade, and we don’t want all the details of our finances attached to our names and faces.
“there go apu and manjula.* they are the stingiest rich people i’ve ever seen!”
*not our real names, as any simpsons fan knows
in our culture, money comes with meaning and prejudgments. having x amount means you’re supposed to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, spend a certain way. we don’t want those expectations to precede us. we’re great tippers, but if you expect us to order the lobster and dom perignon every time we dine out (or ever), then you’ll think we’re the most miserly of the misers when we share an entree and stick with water. or, as has happened to bloggers who’ve shared personal details on their blogs, we don’t want anyone to come rob our house, thinking we must have faberge eggs and mink stoles stashed somewhere. that’s not how we roll, as y’all already know. you don’t save up the big bucks required to retire early and permanently by spending extravagantly. but we’re realistic that it will be easy for anyone to find our address once we unveil ourselves, given that we live in a small town, and i have a name with an uncommon spelling. we’re not fearful people, we’re just trying to be smart about it.
so, overall, we’re still confident that not sharing our numbers is the right call for us.
it keeps getting harder not to share certain things, just because it would make talking about certain concepts a lot easier. sure, we can dance around the numbers themselves, and talk percentages, like we did in the asset allocation post. but sometimes i just want to lament on twitter how many dollars we’re currently down in the recent market rollercoaster ride (mostly downhills, not many ups), even though it’s not “real” down since we’re not selling a thing. or we want to be able to blog about certain topics that just make no sense without talking real — or at least plausibly real — dollars, like the calculations we’re making around health care and subsidies in our retirement planning. the closest we’ve come is sharing what we spend on groceries. (btw — we’ve spent under $600 all three months since we wrote this, which is a great improvement!)
we’ve tried hard to talk no numbers ever, but are realizing that that’s just not practical, if our goal is to shine a light on our thinking and planning for early retirement. the problem is that it is very easy to extrapolate one thing from another. as soon as you know our retirement budget, the fact that we plan to follow the 4 percent rule roughly (or closer to 3 percent), and our asset allocation percentages, you now have a pretty thorough breakdown of our full financial picture. so we want to be careful about which numbers we share.
and it’s not all for selfish reasons. we truly believe that what we’re doing can be done by just about anyone who has had the benefit of a college education (just because it’s so much harder to get ahead financially without one) and who is willing to be focused and disciplined over the course of many years. we’re all nodding our heads at the concept, right? but if we attach numbers to it, some readers could see what we earn as unattainable, even though we’re sure there are plenty of finance bloggers who earn more, and that could alienate them. the worst thing of all would be for someone to say, “well of course they could retire early, they make $XX! but what does that have to do with me?” we always want to be able to focus on the concepts, not our specifics. and the concepts truly are universal: pay off debt quickly, spend much less than you earn, invest the difference wisely, retire early. the biggest differences are just timeline to retirement, and how much you’ll be able to spend when you get there.
so. this is where the questions come in. we’d love to hear from you, our generous and thoughtful readers, some of whom write your own blogs and tackle this same question, and some of whom read plenty of blogs besides ours. either way, you think about finances, and make the decision in real life whether to talk about money with friends, family and coworkers, whether to talk about it in concept only, or whether to sidestep the subject altogether. we’re eager to hear your thoughts on any or all of these questions:
- for those who don’t share all of your numbers, what are elements of your finances that you are comfortable sharing, either online or in real life?
- do you share more in real life than online, or view them as one and the same?
- if you’re a person who is an open book on finances, what got you to that way of thinking?
- do you care one way or another whether we share our numbers? (we suspect not, since this has never been a “here’s how you maximize this financial thing” sort of blog, but we’re curious. one of the biggest early retirement blogs of all doesn’t share income or savings numbers, and it’s clearly not hurting them!)
thanks for your input! sending out a big virtual hug to all of you for reading! you’re what keeps us writing. :-)