the process

Would You Spend More If You Could?

Happy Monday, friends! We’re taking a deep breath after doing our taxes this past weekend and learning that we owe big time — nothing bad, no penalties, just a big federal tax bill, mitigated ever so slightly by a small state refund. It’s a great reminder for us that we like having not just an emergency fund, but also a more accessible life happens fund. That fund is going to get us through this not insignificant financial hit with minimal pain — no small thing. Big high five (or big sigh of relief?) to our younger selves for setting that up! And now on to today’s topic…

The Return of the Sliding Doors

Recently, on a work trip, I had another one of those sliding doors experiences — seeing people living the type of life that we could be leading if we’d stayed in the city and decided that we didn’t mind working longer than we plan to. People dining out at expensive restaurants, going to fancy yoga classes, getting cold-pressed juice as an everyday thing. And I’m not going to lie — I felt a tiny pang of I want that. Just a tiny pang, but a pang nonetheless. I didn’t envy their nice cars or even their rather spectacular, modern homes, but just the things they get to do.

But it made us wonder: How many of us who are saving for early retirement would happily spend more if we had more to spend? If spending more wouldn’t derail our plans? 

What do you think? If you didn’t have an early exit planned, would you splurge more, or would you stick to your minimal spending plan? Or even if you did have that exit planned, but had more to spend, and could splurge without setting back your timeline?

There are clearly those in life who enjoy being frugal, who appreciate efficiency and loathe waste. Who are generally averse to splurging, and are happiest when not spending or spending minimally. According to the Millionaire Next Door, one of the best books of the personal finance canon, and a great book for changing your mindset about what it means to be rich and what it takes to get there, those who are naturally frugal are more likely to get and stay rich than those who spend more freely.

But then there are those who are comfortable with spending. I’m not even talking about overspending, which is obviously bad, but more of the value-neutral spending that you can afford, but which diminishes your saving ability. These people value generosity, don’t hesitate to spend out to have a good time and are happy to do something nice for loved ones. Those who will happily pay for experiences, even if they don’t care so much about acquiring things.

If you’ve been reading here for long, you already know we fall into the latter camp. We value experiences over things, but we also want All The Experiences. (And we’ve already had tons of them, for which we’re super grateful.) But we want to see and do and touch and taste and feel and hear and every other possible sense, all the time. There are a thousand ways to have those experiences, and they don’t have to involve $20-a-class yoga or $12-a-glass juice, but that life I peeked in on sure looked tempting.. if you’re willing to pay for it.

Are We Cut Out for Early Retirement?

Usually, we’re on the same page, and so I use the royal “we” to describe our shared mindset. But on this question, it’s worth making the distinction.

Mr. ONL is probably already in the right head space for early retirement. He is happy to splurge on a good meal, but he doesn’t need anything fancy to be happy. The only stuff he ever wants is better skis, or fatter mountain bike tires, but mostly he’s happy doing free stuff — skinning up a mountain to get some free backcountry ski laps, or bombing down some curvy mountain bike course. Most of his clothes date back from before we met 12 years ago, and he has no problems couch-surfing when traveling. But, he also doesn’t know what things should cost, or what represents a good value, and whenever he does the shopping, we end up with some overpriced items in the bag. That’s fixable, though.

On my side of things, I do wonder if I’m cut out for early retirement and the small budget that goes with it. (I’m definitely cut out for the not working part.) I do not give one flip about name brands or luxury things, so I’m not at all worried about not being able to buy stuff, or not being able to prance around like a well-heeled rich person. But I do like to be able to see something that looks awesome and then go do that thing. I’m impatient, and I don’t like walking away from things that seem fun. I sometimes wonder if early retirement will mean saying “no” too much of the time, and if that will frustrate me.

Fortunately, our actual spending even now in our highest earning years is already in a low enough range that all we have to do is sustain it in retirement, and we’ll be fine. But we’re losing a lot of subsidized work benefits like my new iPhone, dinners out, coffeehouse lattes and, yes, cold-pressed juice. ;-)

Would We Spend More If We Could?

So back to the question we posed at the beginning: Would we spend more if we had more to spend? In our case, the answer without hesitation is YES! We’ll be able to travel the world once we’re retired, but we’ll be doing it dirtbag style. The way we think about it is, Why wouldn’t we travel with a nicer level of accommodations if we could? Why force ourselves to choose between option A and option B when we could do both? 

If I had to pick my single favorite thing to do out of every possible choice in the world, I’d probably say try new restaurants. Sadly, that can get expensive fast, so it’s not the most compatible with an early retirement lifestyle. But if we had more to spend, you can for sure bet we’d be trying a lot more restaurants in a lot more places, plus traveling to those places, which all adds up.

So tell us: Would you splurge if you could without consequence, or do you find joy in “enough” and in being naturally frugal, regardless of how much you have to spend? We’d love to hear from you!

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80 replies »

  1. I’m afraid I would splurge – but on experiences. I’ve never been one to care about luxury brands, and I like having a few “uniforms” in my closet to keep things simple. But, I would spend a whole lot more on travel experiences – and making travel happen more for friends and family. I’m naturally frugal in a whole lot of ways – no fancy yoga or daily latte/juice for me , but add in all the travel I want to do…or causes I want to help…well, those can get expensive fast, and I would splurge, definitely.

    • Thanks for chiming in! You raised something that no one else has: making travel happen for friends and family. I love that you immediately go to such a generous place in your thinking about this. Same goes for thinking about the causes you’d support. But I’m glad that you’d splurge on lots of travel for yourself too! :-)

  2. I don’t think I’d spend more if I had more money, but then, at a certain income point, I probably would spend more. Sorry to be indecisive! I love the efficiency of frugality, though I also spend in ways that are completely inefficient. For example, we’re taking a 12-hour drive to camp for a week with a bunch of friends soon. That is wasteful in many ways (gas!), but so worth it for the experience, and the memories we and our kids make.

    • Haha — you’re allowed to be indecisive, since it’s an imaginary exercise. :-) I think it’s great that you guys seem to genuinely enjoy frugality (or some better word for it) ;-) and it really seems like a reflection of your values, which I respect a lot. As for that drive, if you view it as being totally about the experience and the time with your kids and friends, then I’m sure it’s worth it. :-)

  3. I struggle with the difference between hypothetical relaxed spending and what would I do if I won the lottery spending. I know I don’t have unlimited means and my brain quickly assumes that expanded spending is a slippery slope to living paycheck to paycheck or worse. I genuinely enjoy saving and saving more, but most of that is fueled by getting further away from my disaster fantasies.

    As for spending, most of my travel plans are limited by time. I wouldn’t mind being okay with spending more to save time. E.g., I want to go to Northern Norway but its a 24 hour train ride from Oslo. Paying to fly instead of taking the train would save a lot of time.

    • I know what you mean, and it’s a bit of a flawed thought experiment because we’re not talking unlimited money. Just some vague notion of “more,” but which you can’t save or invest. :-) I like how you’re thinking about it, though, in terms of trading that money for more time. Good call.

  4. We’ve over saved a bit for early retirement. I didn’t want to feel like we needed to take a step back in lifestyle, particularly when we have more time on our hands to fill. That doesn’t mean we have or will be free-spenders – just that we have the opportunity to spend more if we’d like to.

    • I think it’s great that you’ve saved enough to afford you guys more than the bare bones lifestyle many FIRE folks are aiming for, in addition to your year for charity. We would love to save up that level, but are just far too impatient to get out, so will accept the consequences. :-) And maybe if we want to do some splurgy stuff, we’ll do some part-time consulting or other side work to afford that specific splurge.

  5. Let me think – oh yes, definitely yes, I’d spend more if it was available. Not in the wasteful category, but like you, I also like eating out. Mrs. SSC does as well, but generally laments that, “We could have made something better at home.” Clearly we’re going to the wrong places… With traveling, why not stay in a better place if money isn’t an issue – although I find at a certain level, you end up just paying more, so I do have a price point, even if money is no object.

    My biggest worry, and even Mrs. SSC’s is that I’ll also feel too constrained by a tighter budget when we quit and that will lead to some negativity on my end. It’s possible, but like most people I think our actual spending will go down. It would be nice to know there’s a better buffer for kids activities and other things that pop up, beyond what we’ve built in. For instance, Mrs. SSC decided she wanted to learn the cello a few weeks ago. She’s done music before, but not strings, and I’ve been intrigued with the cello, so of course I support it. That led to looking for rental vs. buy, lessons, etc… First off – cello’s are spendy! But, rentals have a rent to own or get credit towards a purchase, so not a bad deal. Lessons aren’t expensive, but they’d be another $100 or so a month if she did one a week. It could come from allowance I guess, but the main thing it brought up was, hmmm are we budgeting enough for the kids if they want to get into things like this? We think we have, but you never know, and then it gets back to the “feelings of negativity when constrained by cash” scenario.

    Ahhh, the unique trials and tribulations of trying to achieve FIRE in an unpredictable world, lol.

    • Did you really have to think about it? ;-) I agree with you (and have learned from experience) that there’s a happy medium with hotels especially. Even if we had tons of money, we still wouldn’t pay to stay at the Ritz or Four Seasons. Mid-level places like Marriotts or regular Hyatts are just fine, thanks, and have everything we need.

      But I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who worries about feeling resentful about the smaller budget in retirement — so thank you for sharing! I think it will probably be fine, but do wonder if I’ll get restless or anxious at not being able to say yes to enough things. But as for the cello — that sounds so awesome! I would love to be able to do something like that. We have a garage sale piano that we play very rarely now, but we’re super excited to get back into after we pull the plug. :-)

      • On that same thread of getting into music when I have more time in a few years, I decided to start working on the dobro now. I figure this way I can be a few years ahead, or at least 6 months ahead, even if I don’t put a lot of time towards it, but enough to learn some basics, and get the style down. So far it’s been fun, as expected and I haven’t even started working on any blues yet, just bluegrass stuff for now. I’m even more excited about getting to learn some blues songs on it though! Hopefully I won’t need to play them out of necessity when we do pull the trigger though, lol.

      • I love that you’re playing dobro — though you know that you’re going to need a super snazzy outfit to go with that super snazzy instrument. :-) And LOL, I don’t think you’ll be singing the blues in FFLC — you guys are too good of planners!

  6. It seems to me that the point of this is “How much is enough, but not too much?” While we save like crazy so that we will be able to live comfortably as we age, we also try to remember that we are living NOW, and so we splurge occasionally on experiences that enhance our lives. That said, we always remember that the best stuff in life is not stuff!

  7. I absolutely would spend more on travel adventures if I had more money. (Who wouldn’t?) I mean, there are certain things that have price points that I would find offensive. ($12 for a glass of juice seems pretty up there!), but frugality for frugality sake isn’t some badge of honor that I wear. The sacrifice now is knowing that there will be more fun later….when I won’t be constrained by the bounds of M-F 9-5.

    It’s all about finding the right balance, I’ve definitely had moments where I am delaying too much, and that’s not healthy either.

    • I like how you put it: frugality for frugality’s sake. I know that lots of people love optimizing and trying to live as cheaply as possible, and I say, hats off to them. But that’s not us, and it sounds like it’s not you either. So yeah, we can all dream of lots more travel if money were no object. :-)

  8. Some writers I follow claim to have reached that true minimalist “enough” point, where they wouldn’t consume anything more even if it were given to them for free. I was going to respond that we’re far from that mentality, but I actually think we’ve achieved it in some major categories. I probably wouldn’t upgrade my car, for example, even with a windfall of millions. I might go buy some new t-shirts, but I have no desire for thousands of dollars of new clothes. I don’t think I’d be shopping for any new furniture or gadgets, either.

    On experiences, though? We would spend more, without question. Probably a lot more, if we could. New and exotic travel experiences? Culinary masterpieces prepared around the world? Yeah, we’re still hardcore consumers in a few of these areas. Having the opportunity to spend other people’s money on these things only confirms it — while I won’t cross the line into wastefulness, you also won’t find me staying at the Motel 6 or hesitating to order appetizers and drinks when traveling for work.

    Given the research on what makes people happy, I’m ok with where we’ve landed. Perhaps over time the allure of exotic experiences will fade. If not, that’s where we’ll continue to focus the majority of our spending.

    • As usual, I completely agree with you. :-) I simply have no desire to have a luxury car, or more clothes, or any of that consumerist stuff. But yeah, as Mr. ONL put it today, I do actually have lifestyle inflation with my work travel, and it might be hard to lose those benefits. (Fill me in on that as you get farther away from work travel, please!) But yeah, if money weren’t in limited supply, you can bet we’d travel and dine out a lot more, and do a nicer level of accommodations.

  9. I love good food. But I don’t love fancy food. (Aside: there’s a great Phineas and Ferb episode where they make a restaurant to prove that they can make good food and serve a lot of it because they were tired of tiny portions at fancy places… moving on…) So, I would eat out more, but not go to the nicer places. That’s just a preference. But I’m with you on wanting ALL THE EXPERIENCES (I have to yell it because you can just capitalize to emphasize… I’m already in capitalization inflation over here…). I would definitely travel more. And that’s tricky in the future budget. But I’m hoping I can offset expensive places by then going to somewhere cheaper.

    • I had a dream last night that we were out at a fancy meal and we were eating more gold! LOL Of course I thought of you, possibly even in the dream. :-) As for travel, with your love of Cambodia, it seems like you guys have no problem traveling to super inexpensive places. As long as you stay away from Europe, Japan and Australia, there’s still tons of the world you can see for not that much. I know you guys will find ways to make it work. :-)

  10. My initial thought is that I am not frugal and don’t think much about spending, but I must admit that I don’t even know what a cold-press juice is and I guarantee I would not spend $12 for one (unless it is in a 5 gallon bucket at Sam’s club or Costco;), so maybe I am wrong.

    Otherwise, I would say we are definitely not frugal by nature. Our budgeting process has always just been to pay ourselves first and then spend whatever we want and make corrections if needed if we start to notice we’re having to dip into our savings to pay the bills when they come due with any regularity. I can’t say we would spend much if any more than we currently do, b/c we have managed to find a spot where we’re pretty happy. However, I can’t say that we wouldn’t b/c we only recently actually started to pay attention to our spending and if things came up, I wouldn’t want to be constrained. I’m sure we’ve spent more in the past.

    I guess this is a long way of saying we have no idea if we will want to spend more and so we have built the option into our plans. We know that we have no desire to try to live on a strict budget in early retirement. Instead we have various plans to continue to make some money to allow us this freedom of not feeling constrained by a budget as would be required by following the 4% (or any other number) rule for W/D’s from investments.

    • Haha — cold-pressed juice is the latest urban yuppie concoction that I would only ever buy on work’s dime. (It’s supposedly more vitamin-rich than the old style juicer stuff, which breaks down cell walls. It’s pretty ridiculous.) But we’re totally with you in not wanting to have to follow a strict line-item budget. We’ve also thrived on the pay ourselves first plan, living on the remainder, and will try to replicate something like that in retirement so that we don’t feel like we have to track every little thing.

  11. My first thought? If I had more money, we could semi-retire sooner. I would jump at the chance to move up our semi-retirement date. But, if I had to spend more money it would probably be on taking the family on more vacations. Mr. Smith and I went on a cruise back in 2009 and loved it. Also, I’d love to take the kids on more trips now, as opposed to our big road trip in 2022.

    • Yeah, this thought experiment is if you had to spend the extra, not save it. :-) I think we can all agree we’d all accelerate our timelines to ER if we could — it can’t come soon enough! But I love the idea of you guys taking more vacations with your kids! That’s a great answer.

  12. I am happy being frugal but I’d probably spend more on travel. Instead of trying to plan trips around airfares and miles and points, I would book whatever was convenient and what I wanted to do. I might eat out a little more since I’m in Manhattan. None of which would have a material impact on my happiness but might make things a little more fun.

    • And, admit it — maybe a first class flight once in a while? Haha. Yeah, that’s all we’d ever want to spend more on — travel and meals. Especially if we lived in a place with so many amazing options as you have in Manhattan!

  13. If I could spend more and if early retirement was a “thing” I would probably would only change my choices for housing. If I could pay others to do the maintenance on a house without feeling guilty about it, I might be more apt to buy. For now we rent and maintenance is lumped into the monthly bill. However, I still would probably buy the smallest house in the most expensive neighborhood. If early retirement is still on the table and money were no issue I would go back to school full time just for fun.

    • I love your last point — going back to school if money was not an issue. I’m totally there with you! There are about 10 degrees I’d love to get, and think I could be completely happy being a professional student. But the bills? No thanks! :-) Your thoughts on housing are interesting, too! I love that you’d go for a small house even if you didn’t have to.

      • There are many, many options for inexpensive/free classes – Check out how old you need to be at the local universities to audit a class – for free! Many universities do this, but it might be 55+ or 60+. They like having “older students who want to be there and learn” in the classes. There are also on-line free classes (lots of options – is one). So you can get “10 degrees” if you want to …the equivalent of it in learning anyway. Bills is so not the issue in learning… choosing what class to take next is!

      • Such a great point! I have failed At the Coursera classes I’ve tried, but of course that’s while working. I’m sure I’ll have better luck after we have more free time!

  14. If it is without consequence, then I would splurge. Only on things that I like a lot. Not too much on stuff, but rather on going out to a restaurant and have the 4 course with wine included, or the lobster menu with oysters (compared to a 2 course basic meal)
    I would not splurge on cloths, fancy shoes,…
    I would splurge on a good techno event (we took the priority pass for tomorrowland, rather than the entry level ticket), on a theatre play, on an adventurous day out with a death ride orso.

    I guess I am not too willing to give a away a few extras that make life a little more glamourous. The exchange between dirtbag and the occasional fancy out would be nice.

    • Mmm… your dining visions sound marvelous. :-) I would also love to get the VIP passes to music festivals instead of having the basic ticket, and would definitely do that if we had money to burn. I agree with you — an occasional special splurge in an otherwise dirtbag lifestyle seems like a good mix. :-)

  15. Yes, boy I didn’t have to think about that very long! But only on experiences like travel, and things that would free up more spare time (hiring a cleaner – oh heck this is hypothetical so lets get a maid!) so I could spend it with my family/friends and doing creative pursuits. Interestingly, we can ‘afford’ all this today (well maybe not the maid) and are skewing our spending on experiences rather than ‘stuff’. Love the question!

    • Haha — same here! We really need a maid, just because work keeps us so busy and I’m not home so much of the time. Mr. ONL was away this past weekend, and I spent almost the whole time cleaning… and doing taxes. And there is still So. Much. Dust. :-) But yeah, like you, we prioritize our spending on experiences, and spend very little these days on stuff.

  16. Tough call, but since I’m already early retired I know the answer for us: we would not spend more. I don’t really know what’s changed in retirement, but something definitely has kicked into frugal gear for both of us. Oddly, because we were never frugal. We ate out often, attended concerts, bought season tickets to sporting events, had designer clothes and handbags and lots and lots of jewelry. Somewhere along the way we just lost our taste for paying more than we need to for things we don’t need. I no longer enjoy restaurants, it feels like a decadent waste of money to me now, no matter how good the food is. I am more comfortable watching most events at home. I have given away all my designer clothes, shoes and purses and currently carry around a $29 Target backpack quite comfortably. I don’t really know what happened, but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say now that we’re no longer earning money we are much, much more aware of how valuable it actually is, and how difficult it would be to replace. We actually enjoy saving money and being frugal, it doesn’t feel like a chore in the least. Maybe it’s a function of age or the result of no longer having regular paychecks, but although we could certainly live high on the hog taking distributions from our asset accounts, we choose not to and do so with no regrets.

    • I always love when you weigh in! You add so much great info, and from the perspective of people who are already on the “other side.” :-) That’s so interesting to know that you have no desire to spend more now that you’re retired. I wonder if it will be the same for us. Only time will tell!

  17. I confess, I’m with you on splurging on experiences. And I also want to invest in my house — I got it for a song but I would love a new kitchen, modern appliances, that sort of thing. I’m already in a position that I won’t be retiring early — got a late start so I’ll be lucky to retire at all! But I’m hoping to set myself up so my actual necessary expenses are very low. That way I won’t feel like I’m ruining my finances if I take a trip every so often. Luckily I don’t mind working!

    • We *definitely* understand wanting to make your home how you want it. As long as you DIY most of the work, we’ve found that you can do a lot without spending a ton, especially if you work hard to find deals, buy outlet appliances, etc. And just because we’ve seen this a lot of times now, I bet that you’ll retire sooner than you think if you successfully set yourself up with those low expenses you’re aiming for!

  18. I am definitely not naturally frugal… I love spending on experiences and food… lots of food… If I had more money to spend, I would definitely increase my savings, but I would also increase the spending… I don’t think I could help it… And not always on eating out, but also on buying fancier ingredients to try making things at home…

    • I love that idea, too — not just dining out, but getting more adventurous with your home cooking! We’re big fans of that even without additional money on hand, so just look for deals on weird ingredients so we can try different things. Over Christmas we bought a “buddha’s hand” citrus that was on a great sale, and had fun experimenting with it. (Verdict: Don’t waste your time. It’s all pith and no fruit, but it does have very nice zest, and looks pretty strange sitting on your counter.) :-)

      • Was just reading a couple other comments on here… and would definitely also spend money on our house if we had extra. We are already planning on spending quite a bit on fixing it up, but if we had extra… oh the wonderful things we could do…

  19. I think one of the things that I would spend more on in a heartbeat is entertaining and hospitality. I feel like we get together with friends frequently, and we enjoy eating together and such, but I really like making unique meals with nice drinks, and would happily spend more on nicer food, drinks and patio furniture.

    My parents are the type to happily drop $250+ on an impromptu gathering, and if you’re in a position to do that financially, I don’t think anything should stop you. My grandparents are actually a lot like that too, but they own commercial real estate and they allowed a local pizza place to pay them in gift cards for 6 months of rent, so now they always want to have pizza parties.

    • Oh, I love your answer, Hannah! We used to be that way with parties, but have obviously dialed it back a lot. Still, we love to throw a big Thanksgiving feast, and that for sure adds up. This year we’re hosting a huge crew for Thanksgiving, and it will be a challenge to see if we can keep the cost down in the reasonable range. I can definitely see why you’d want to be able to spend more on entertaining — it’s a way to be generous with your loved ones, and enjoy a great time together, while experimenting on interesting food and drink. :-)

  20. We could EASILY spend more, without a doubt. Right now, we’re sending $2k+ each month to debt that will then go towards investments once the debt is gone…thankfully, we’re doing that and not spending it on value-less crap though.

    However, we don’t intend to let our FIRE journey stop us from spending altogether. For instance, we have every intention to take our son to Disney World sometime next summer when he’s around three and plan for many other adventures along the way, even though they will be potentially pricey. FIRE is the end-game, but we also believe that the journey along the way is a huge part of the adventure. Experiences and priceless memories with family justifies the costs in our opinion, and if this results in me/us working a little longer than anticipated, I’m at peace with that. :)

    • I love how you’re thinking about it, and planning for “adventures along the way.” SO important to do those, and not to live in total penury while you save up for FIRE.

  21. Like accidental retirees, we too are on the “other side”, just 18 months now. And unlike them, we in fact, spent more in the past year! With more time, we did more. More travel, more live theater, more eating out . (my three loves, besides my husband) I am enjoying the mid-week-dinner-out-so-you-don’t-fight-the-weekend-crowds! We are aware of spending and look for “deals”, but we have never been super frugal. While I would never spend $12 for a daily cold-pressed juice (I still get regular coffee at Starbucks!), I have been known to drop $200 for an amazing dinner out for 2. Not regularly, but still. One of my dreams is to do the “luxury vacation” just once….first class travel, five star hotel, concierge service, personalized tours. So yes, I would/do spend more “if I had it” – on some things … but we saved enough in our FI years to account for this!

    • If you planned for the higher spending, then there’s no problem! It will be interesting to see which side of things we end up falling into. I could honestly see us going either way! :-)

  22. Just have to weigh in because its fun to dream! We would spend a little more too, but are definitely working longer to allow some luxuries. We will not be doing the dirtbag thing! The biggest thing for me is eating out. I don’t like average restaurants. My work has a reputation for hitting some of the best restaurants in a city whenever we travel. I want to be able to go to those same places, but with DH, when we are retired! It will be a matter of reducing the frequency of the splurge so that it continues to feel special and does not break the retirement accounts. As others mentioned, its not about the things, its the experiences. Its easy to save when we don’t have time to do much. But once we have time I want to climb the rock wall! And learn the piano. And learn to paint. We need to save a little extra to be able to do some of these things.

    • Love that we got you dreaming! :-) And LOL on the dirtbag thing. Our definition of “dirtbag” is probably not as simple as we make it sound, but I definitely hear you! I think your plan for experiences sounds fantastic — especially that you want to learn to climb! :-)

  23. Experiences!

    (Same as everyone else, looks like) :)

    I would love to be able to travel in a non-shoestring-budget kind of way. It can be fun to stay in hostels and eat peanut butter sandwiches (sort of), but honestly I have SO much enjoyed the handful of times when I’ve gone on a trip and gotten to stay in a nice hotel and go out to eat at interesting restaurants and do other activities without worrying too much about the cost. I know that not being in a position to upgrade my travel habits is an extreme example of a first-world problem, but there you have it.

    Do people really pay $20 per yoga class? I think I average out at about $10-11 per class by using various Groupons and deals, and that’s about the max I can handle in terms of cost. It’s already my biggest expense after rent and food.

    • I’m with you on travel! We don’t mind staying in inexpensive places, but when you hit that random place where the strip club next door is so loud that your earplugs can’t block out the sound, or you don’t feel like you can take off your shoes… well, it loses some of that excitement. :-) And YES, people do pay that much for yoga, though I am not among them. And yoga teacher payment is actually a crazy (first world) social justice issue — for that reason, I go at the gym and not at studios, or just do it at home.

  24. Maybe we’ve been frugal too long (a year and counting), but I don’t think we’d spend more than we already have planned. We’re getting on ok without the crazy amount we spent before. But then again, we weren’t spending on experiences, which seems like the popular choice here. :)

    • I think that’s a real testament to your commitment to your (newish) frugal lifestyle that you wouldn’t spend more even if you could! Congrats! :-)

  25. A good thoughtful post, thank you. I have no doubt I would spend more if I could but like many people who have responded, I would spend it on travel, socialising and eating out, rather than stuff. I like being frugal in terms of trying to have a minimalist lifestyle and as this feels good for the environment and good for my peace of mind but I would also find it hard not to join friends for a celebration meal or on a visit to an attraction for the day, those times with friends are precious. The planned retirement budget should allow for small splurges like this and I am happy to miss (I won’t even miss these as I’ve never bought in to the daily takeout drinks thing) the daily juice / latte expenses.

    • Haha, yeah, not a lot of support on the juice and lattes! :-) I would not spend our money on those things, but I sure enjoy them when work is paying! And yeah, it seems like a lot of us are of the same view that we wouldn’t spend more on stuff, but we would spend more on experiences, especially with loved ones!

  26. I certainly have pangs of things I want that prior to starting my FI journey I would have gone for. Just like you I don’t need a fancy car or even a nicer/bigger home but I have been really jonesing for a manicure lately. Winter is tough on my hands but this is a splurge that I haven’t been able to spring for. I sometimes think that I am just being cheap but then I remember what all of this is for and the freedom we will soon have so I stick to my guns.

    • I can definitely relate to that! There was a time when I used to get occasional massages, and we’ve mostly cut those out, but I do miss that splurge. :-) It does help to remember what it’s all for, like you said!

  27. Definitely! Like others, I will spend on travel and food and buy a house but I can’t see myself buying anything else. Oh and maybe game tickets! Haha! I think it’s difficult to abandon good money habits even when you end up having more than enough. Once you begin your pf journey, there is no turning back. I guess because you tend to see the real value of money (and things) once you start being conscious of your finances. That’s true for me, anyway. :) great post, as always!

    • Oh, gosh, we have definitely had slip-ups here and there, but glad to know that you’ve had an easier time staying on the straight and narrow. :-) And I love your addition to the list of game tickets! That’s like us with concert tickets… we would go to so many shows if we could! :-)

  28. My answer is an unequivocal “yes” – I would – and do – spend more! I have embraced lifestyle inflation, which I sometimes feel bad about, but I still save 40% of our gross income and obsess about our finances and net worth trajectory. I’ve gotten “richer” every single year, even as my spending has increased and included many “wasteful” splurges. I think some money-obsessed people (myself included) will just get richer and richer until they die, and so some increased spending along the way is not that bad as it seems – or as bad as it may be for “normal” overspenders.

    You can’t take it with you, after all. I’ve watched my dad, mom, and both sets of grandparents live off Social Security and their retirement portfolio income, never dreaming of spending down the principal at all. Lifetime money hoarders find it hard to let go and suddenly start spending big at age 70 – go figure! As a result all of them are richer now than they have ever been, even well into retirement – and the ones who have passed left great fortunes.

    I just wrote a post on this very thing and how I’ve decided that early retirement isn’t necessarily my primary goal anymore. Here is the link if you want to check it out:

    • We love hearing different perspectives, and yours is definitely divergent from the frugality-at-all costs mindset that pervades the PF blog community! :-) I think it’s all about your goals. There’s nothing wrong with spending most of your money if you have no problem working until your 60s — and since that fits you, great! Our goal is to stop working at a much earlier age, so that of course shifts our spending priorities. But you do you, and if inflating your lifestyle makes you happy, more power to you!

  29. I have to say yes and no. I love being frugal and being very choosy about how I spend my money. At the same time, I have dreams of the perfect property, the best equipment, and unlimited money to do all the fun stuff like outdoor recreation and travel. This is tough! I guess I would say yes, I would spend more IF I was making more? I now try to think of my spending in relation to how much I make instead of dollar figures. But on the flip side, using the increased spending to attain freedom from work is equally important. I don’t know! This post gave me a lot to think about :)

    • This is all imaginary money, so it’s okay to say yes! :-) I think for what you want to do — have a self-sufficient homestead — having a little more to spend would get you set up a lot sooner and faster, which I’m sure would be a positive thing for you. But it’s also awesome to know that you get so much joy from frugality!

  30. To me, being frugal is not only fun, but a badge of honor!

    While I do love to spend money on a good meal or concert, I love the feeling of saving money and not getting suckered into buying the latest and greatest. I carried my old iPhone 5s with pride until the day that it stopped holding a charge. I was happy driving a 13 year old car. Sadly, I recently had to replace both of those things.

  31. I’m not sure we would since we never really feel restricted now and occasionally do splurge a bit. If we had say double the stash we currently have, we may not do quite as much research to find good deals on travel and other purchases. But honestly, finding great values is part of the fun.

    Since we plan to continue making money once we stop working full time, I don’t think there will be a ton of pressure to keep our spending super low.

    • So true — the hunt for the best deals is fun in itself. And it’s awesome that you guys have a plan figured out that doesn’t involve major scrimping. I sure hope that you get to spend lots of time exploring Europe while you’re over there, even though it can get pricey. It’s one of those life experiences that is priceless, and I know you’ll make the most of it.

  32. I think I’ve spent enough and my goals are to spend more time in the outdoors where more money doesn’t increase happiness. I’m sure this may seem odd to others to people like yourselves and me who are passionate about remote wild places I think we can both agree on this.

    • Totally with you — except we’d love to spend more to GET TO those remote places. :-) But yeah, money sure doesn’t buy happiness in the outdoors!

  33. Yes, we would splurge more if we’re rich. That’s a trade off I’m will to make, though. I’d rather not work and spend less than the other way around.
    I’m carefully watching our expenditure for now. When we hit 50, I’ll probably loosen up some. Our retirement fund should be in better shape and we should be used to the early retirement budget by then.

    • We’re the same as you — we’d rather not work than have more to spend! And likewise we’ll step up our spending a bit when we get older — not as soon as 50, unless our investments just take off, but certainly by the time we hit 59 1/2 and can tap our tax-advantaged funds without penalty!