the process

It’s Okay to Be A Brat When Planning for (Early) Retirement

This funny thing tends to happen in the community of early retirement blogs and enthusiasts. We all say that we value freedom above all, which means the ability to shape our future to look exactly the way we want it to look, without having to answer to an employer or the man. Blogs are littered with rallying cries to freedom, possibility and bucking the trends (including ours). It’s inspiring stuff.

The funny part is what also tends to happen, something we detailed in our Road Less Traveled Challenge post: over time there has evolved the One True Path to early retirement, with its proscribed principles and edicts. But even more puzzling, given the emphasis on freedom, is the pressure that the community inadvertently puts on each of us:

Be as frugal as you can

Downsize your home, or eliminate it completely

Side hustle all you can to get to early retirement

Maximize every possible income stream

It’s a puzzling thing for a movement based on freedom to put so much pressure on all of us to conform to this standard.

And I don’t care if everything on that list is well and good. Following it – following any list that someone writes out for you, rather than you writing it out for yourself – is not freedom.

True financial freedom means getting to define every single part of your own journey to financial independence, early retirement, or whatever else you’re striving for, and it means getting to define everything that comes after that milestone, too. Even if it’s not optimal. Even if it doesn’t have the frugality stamp of approval. Even if someone else thinks you’re just dumb for it.

Which brings us to today’s topic: It’s okay to be a brat when planning for (early) retirement. We’ll confess our brattiest financial moments, and encourage you to define your own. Let’s go!

It's okay to buck the trends and be a brat when planning for early retirement, financial independence or any big life goal. Freedom means FREEDOM, after all. Define your future life the way you want to live it.

Writing this blog has truly transformed how we think about financial independence and early retirement, and it’s helped us get to several realizations, like the one that we will earn some money after we leave our careers, so we don’t need to save up every single penny we’ll ever need before we pull the plug.

But having that realization only happened because we came into this from a very resolute place, and one where I’d say we still very much are:

We don’t want to have to work in retirement, ever.

It means we’re saving more than others in our situation might save, and we’re okay with that, because having to go back to work, needing the money from work, would make it all feel less worthwhile to us, and could make us regret quitting when we do. (Note: the operative word there is having to work. We’re not opposed to work, even work for other people, but we want to decide when, where, how and why we do that. We don’t want it forced on us by circumstance.)

Plenty of folks have told us that we’re too hard-line in our thinking about this, and we don’t care, because this is our vision. Are we brats for wanting to be able to envision a future with not another penny of earned income? Maybe. But haven’t we earned the right with all this saving to be brats on a couple of things?

Being an FI Brat

I think of being a brat as doing what you’re doing for no especially good rational reason, or maybe for no reason at all except that you Feel Like It. “I want this thing to be this way, because I am the center of my universe, and I said so.”

We’d never recommend that for external life (we actually think we should all try harder to be good friends, neighbors and civic citizens), but for stuff within our own homes and our own lives, there is nothing wrong with a being a brat sometimes.

More Brattiness in Our Plan

Besides never wanting to have to work, we have some other stubborn parameters built into our plan which mean that – gasp! – we’re going to violate some of those core tenets of the FIRE movement. What’s our financial justification for going against the flow? We don’t have any!

Our justification is simply this: Because that’s what we want.

So what are those things we just want, for no good reason? Here’s a quick rundown.

I don’t want strangers in our house. A lot of early retirees and FIers rent out their homes on Airbnb, or even rent out a room while they are living there. And they pull in some healthy cash flow by being that. We say good for them. But also, yuck. I know it’s just us being weird, but we don’t especially want strangers in our house, whether or not we’re here. That’s not to say we’ll never rent it out ever, especially if we travel long term, but we will try our darnedest not to need to. And our super articulate and rational reason why we’d leave all that money on the table boils down to “Eww.”

We have high standards for a house we’d live in. Especially now that we’ve paid off our house, we are super picky about where we’d consider living. Not in terms of place (we love our mountain town and have no plans to leave), but in terms of the physical structure. We have considered downsizing and are totally open to it… if we could find essentially the perfect house, a house that we’re not convinced exists where we live. (Let’s just say the “must have” list would put any Househunters buyers to shame, though it’s filled with things like “flat driveway,” not “granite countertops.”) The inertia of not having a mortgage and not wanting to do the work of moving is strong, but more than that, we just aren’t willing to compromise on what it would take to move, no matter how good of financial opportunities we might be passing up in the meantime.

We don’t want to give up all the stuff we love that adds no empirical value. I’m writing this right now from the comfort of a lie-flat business class seat on a 12-hour flight across the biggest pond. This upgrade happened to be free (if you consider the time spent flying 125 flights last year “free”), but we actually talk about using our massive mile stash for upgrades on international flights in the future instead of stretching them farther on economy class tickets. We won’t see more of the world that way — in fact, we’ll see less of the world for the same amount of money — but we have no desire to cram ourselves into tiny coach seats when we’re talking trans-Pacific, and we can afford it with our collective miles. So we’re gonna do it.

Sometimes we just want to throw money around. This one is probably the most sacrilegious idea here, and one I hesitated to even commit to print on an FI blog. For the most part we’re good about cutting out the frivolous expenses, we’re committed DIYers who generally prefer to do things ourselves, and we don’t need much stuff to be happy. But every once in a while we want to be able to write a big check to charity, or treat a loved one to a fancy dinner out that they wouldn’t splurge on themselves, and sometimes we even just want to have a spa day. I’m not telling anyone else that you should spend on these things, but being able to splash out every once in a while makes us happy, so we have no intention of stopping after we quit later this year.

Why We Can Be Brats

Maybe this stuff I just listed sounds bratty to you, or at the very least wasteful. And you’re right. On a purely logical level, some of what we want to do or not do with our money is wasteful, if the point of life was to maximize profit and minimize losses at all costs.

But we don’t ascribe to that vision of life. We believe money is a tool to buy freedom, and it’s up to each of us to define what that freedom looks like. Ours is fairly frugal overall, with a few big, bratty exceptions.

And it’s okay because we know all of this going in. Our plan doesn’t rely on vacation rental income to let us travel. It doesn’t rely on us taking money out of our house. It has wiggle room for occasional extravagance. And are we working a little longer than we have to in an objective sense? Yep, absolutely. But it’s worth it to us, because that’s the life we want to live.

You Have Permission to Be an FI Brat, Too

All the confessions I’ve shared today are here for this purpose: to say that whatever your vision of freedom is, it’s okay! You have our permission, not that you need it, not to follow every rule, or to be a good Mustachian at the cost of your happiness.

If being frugal all the time makes you happy, awesome. Build your life plan around that. If being frugal all the time makes you miserable, awesome. Build your life plan around that instead. There is no One True Path to FI, and no one right way to live your life or spend your money.

If you’re doing the hard work to save up and reach FI, then at the very least you’ve earned the right to build some indulgences into your plan, if that’s what you crave.

Join the Confessional!

So let’s all have a big group hug/brattiness confessional. What are your big indulgences (or small ones!) that you are building into your FI plan that you don’t always feel like you can talk about in PF land? Or what are the things you wish you could do in early retirement but haven’t built into your plan because it’s not “allowed”? Well we hereby grant you permission to indulge in those things you want just because! Let’s discuss all of it in the comments!

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107 replies »

  1. It is absolutely your call and your life and its not surprising that everyone looking for financial independence is an individual with their own ideas. We couldn’t picture any sort of life without a campervan and when they cost about half as much as a house in Salford this is major brattiness and is just because …

    • I am so glad that you guys keep your campervan and live that life — I always love when I can pop in on your adventures in the van! We hope to do something similar in the very near future! :-D

  2. We’re building a Roomba into our retirement plans, because the piece of mind I get by not having to clean the floors twice a week is priceless (we get bring a lot of dirt in from outside and pet hair does not help). Sure, I can hear the : “Get a smaller house then!” cries of the Mustachian crowd, but hey, my house is 1500 square feet and I love every bit of it. We have custom built it and it is perfect for us. Also, I’ve worked damned hard to pay for it and it’s my money, so there.

    I think that actually, as a community, the PF crowd is a lot better than other communities and we tend not to judge each other so harshly. So you know, give in your bratty selves. Depending on your beliefs, this is the only life you have so spend it accordingly.

    • LOL — That is a small and specific luxury that I can totally appreciate and also hear the critics rail against. ;-) And I love your “so there.” :-D I agree that this community is quite open-minded, and I don’t think the rules have ever been posited as rules. Instead, it’s more just the cumulative weight of so many people saying the same things — it starts to feel like these things are in fact rules!

  3. Amen to choosing the life you want to live! I think a common trait in the Fire community is the mindfulness of what you truly want, what truly brings you joy. So even if we do follow a prescribed plan for FI, we can know we’re doing it on our own terms. My husband and I like to remind ourselves that we’re aiming to choose our life, not just “end up” somewhere by chance.

    • I love that way of putting it: you don’t want to end up somewhere by chance just because you went with the FI flow. You want to end up at YOUR dream destination. ;-)

  4. I’m planning on funding college for my three kids, in addition to reaching financial independence. It seems often in the community that’s not a popular tactic, and many people feel that their kids should pay for college themselves. That’s fine for them, but I went down that path for college (completely paying for my undergrad and grad school) and I want to give my kids more opportunities than I had. There are limits, of course (I’m not writing a blank check) but I have some pretty specific and aggressive goals for what I want to fund. This is in addition to my own financial freedom and paying off my mortgage- they’re the three key pieces of my financial puzzle.

    • Good for you for paying for your kids’ college! I really admire that. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer on that, but I agree there can be pressure to not fund kids’ college, and so high five for making your own choice on that.

  5. I love how you’re challenging and defying the very real “rules” of early retirement! There is so much out there that is good advice, but not good advice for our family. For example, since having kids we have no hustles and I don’t work (for money). This was a very deliberate choice but sometimes I feel like a spoiled brat for getting to make it. I just need to own it instead of feeling guilty sometimes. We also spend a considerable amount of money on church retreats and functions, and don’t regret a bit of it. And Neil has asked that we never get rid of any of our retro video gaming stuff, regardless of what it would fetch or how much space it takes up. And I’m fine with that.

    I think others are always excited about what is working for them. So you write about it and try to explain why it’s good. It’s helpful to realize that without taking things as hard and fast rules or assigning value judgments for your own life.

    • I don’t think anyone means to suggest in their blogs that certain things are hard and fast rules, but it’s more of a cumulative effect: when enough people are espousing the same things, it starts to become very real pressure to follow the herd! Even if this herd is some offshoot herd from the main herd. ;-) I love that you guys are doing your own thing, your own way, though my anti-hoarder needs would make me a little crazy to keep all that old gaming stuff around. ;-) Hahahahaah.

  6. You will always have second guessers. We do too – but as the phrase goes: “Opinions are like assholes…everybody’s got one”. I think it works well in this discussion. :)

    You’re dead on in your insistence that being a “brat” is fine. As you’ve probably been able to tell, being a brat isn’t something that I’m particularly worried about, either. My life. My money. I do what I want, when I want and for whatever reason I want. If someone else disagrees with what I’m doing, that’s great. Their opinion. Honestly, I don’t particularly care.

    And we have the same aversion to strangers sleeping in our home. There is NO WAY that I’d rent out our home as an AirBnB (in the event that we still owned a traditional home, that is). I don’t care what the potential income is. When people treat your house like a hotel room, that instantly lessens the appeal of it for me. Ain’t gonna happen.

    I don’t know if I can really pick out areas in our lives where we are “brats” because, well, we’re just doing whatever we feel is in our best interest. I can’t apply the brat vs. non brat descriptor to ’em, I guess. We sold both of our homes and bought an Airstream. We’re going to be traveling the country with our two dogs. We might workcamp if a job sounds fun, but like you, we never plan on working again.

    Maybe the biggest thing from our situation is the fact that we’re doing all of this on less than a million bucks going into it. I’ve found so many PF and early retirement bloggers have the million-dollar figure in mind as some kind of a goal. I suppose it’s a fine goal, but we’ve never felt particularly beholden to that number. We want what we need.

    I am finding that opportunities are all over the place to earn extra income, but we tend to ignore those opportunities when we have full-time jobs because we’re already making a good enough income. But once that source of money disappears, we mentally readjust to the world and begin to see things a bit differently. If we want/need to make a little extra cash down the road, we won’t have to go very far before finding a good opportunity.

    And, that’s what is so wonderful about this country. There are a TON of ways to make extra cash and get involved in the things that we care enough about. And, once we don’t have that nice stream of income hitting our bank accounts, we instantly see these opportunities so much more clearly.

    • You have always struck me as someone who has an easier time than most shrugging off others’ opinions, which is a great trait in a FIREr. ;-) I don’t care much what others think, but I do sometimes get that feeling like, “Well, everyone is saying that this is important, so am I missing something if I don’t think it is?” It’s more of the “have I thought of everything?” style of overthinking that put on full display here on the blog. ;-) I fully agree with you — I know once we leave our jobs behind, we’ll see all kinds of new money-making opportunities that we have long been blind to. But we’re still hoping we don’t ultimately need them. ;-)

  7. I completely agree that our future is based on a giant game of “would you rather.” Would you rather work another year or give up restaurants and spa days for the next 10 years or plan to earn some income on the side? It was hard at first to own the full impact of my choices but I am becoming more comfortable with it as time goes on. On days I hate my job it can be hard to accept that I could have been done by now if I was willing to give up the big house for a camper. I think that is what many fire blogs try to point out-there is another way and it is a choice, but you can take or leave the rest as it suits you. Own those choices girlfriend!

    • I totally love that way of thinking about it. And no way would I trade a decade of restaurants and occasional spa days for one less year of work! ;-) And you obviously know we are in the same boat as you re: not wanting to give up the house and live in a camper. Totally with you owning those choices! :-)

  8. I break all the core tenets :) At the end of the day you need to live the life that is best for you.

    1) I’m not as frugal as I can be. I am frugal where I see fit. We share one car and my GF cuts my hair, but then we go out to eat 2x a week on average because we enjoy it.

    2) I rent so I don’t think this is applicable. But we could definitely downsize our rental, but we get a good deal right now so I don’t think it would actually save us any money.

    3) I have exactly zero side hustles. My only income source is my day job (I guess you could say my brokerage account is a side hustle, but I don’t).

    4) I don’t maximize every possible income stream. You will never see me airbnbing our spare bedroom that we don’t use.

    • Woot to the rule breakers! ;-) I am totally with you on all of your choices. I’m sure someone could be puzzled by your cheapness on some things but extravagance in other areas, but I call that good prioritization based on your happiness. :-)

  9. Finally, you’ve given us permission to call you bratty! I love this post; you have to define what the ideal life looks like for you, period. Living someone else’s dream will cease to be satisfying very quickly. The emphasis on some of the core tenets is good, I think — those are some of the key lifestyle changes that enable this FI freedom, and they’re worth exploring. But if you don’t want a lot of downside risk, or to live in a shack, or strangers in your house, hey, no judgment here. Keep living your dream!

    • I figured I could only escape the title for so long. Soon people will see the real me and then I’ll be outed once and for all for the huge brat I really am, so I figured I’d beat everyone to the punch. ;-) Hahahaahaha.

      I totally agree that some of what has grown into the central tenets is for VERY good reason. Like I’ll sing the praises of low-fee index funds all day long. But the stuff that’s about more personal choice, I don’t think anyone MEANS to shame those who don’t want to side hustle all the time, but there’s weird pressure that comes when you see so many people talking about side hustling. Just one example. So it’s a good reminder that we all get to define our own path and our own end goals. :-)

  10. I’m like you, it’s not about self denial or even maximizing every income stream for me. It’s about cutting out all the crap I don’t enjoy. Just doing that means I can be FI and happy. It might take a little longer then if I lived in a house the size of my shed and rented out a top bunk on air bob, but that wouldn’t make me happy. Life to me is about maximizing happiness across my entire life. Not just today, but tomorrow, and thirty years in the future the lord willing. I live life that way as such. And if others think I’m a brat or something else for doing so, well I think they probably should consider how I live my life per above. Afterall worrying about someone else’s choices is not part of finding value in your own life. Afterall I blog as a source of potential ideas and community., not for validation.

  11. I’m with you on all points. What good is being frugal to save money if you end up being miserable? Life is for living and we shouldn’t forget this, no matter what our money goals are.

    My guess is that most bloggers don’t mean to come off as judgmental but it’s hard to reflect tone in our posts. Going forward I think we can all be a little more careful about saying that this is what we’ve decided is best for each of us and it’s an option that might work for others as well.

    • I’m totally with you re: bloggers and what we convey! I know very few bloggers intend to be judgmental, and I think it’s more of a cumulative effect across blogs that readers can come away with. If you read that so many people were frugal on X or side hustled for Y, then it’s easy to feel like you’re doing it wrong if you don’t do those things. I don’t know that there’s an easy antidote to that other than to just have a disruptive post like this one every once in a while. We should all do more of these! :-)

  12. I love building business and teams of awesome people, and unique sales channels for unique products that will help improve the quality of people’s lives. Honestly, I do it just for enough money so that I can live a simple, happy life. The rest of the time I do it because I love the challenge, and the friends I meet along the way. I don’t do it for a brand new BMW or a 6,000 square foot house with a 30 foot waterfall in the backyard.

    My confession is that I love to use my talents that God gave me to actually do something awesome that I can share with the world. My retirement vision is: reading and growing half the day, and executing the things I am learning about the other half of the day. That’s my view of my dream life and “retirement.” Yes, some people may call that work, but that’s my dream life, and that’s what I am sacrificing and working toward every single day, because that’s the life I want.

  13. We are bratty in things too, and get flack from people we know. We choose to live very frugally day to day, but take on average 4 vacations a year. It’s what makes us happy and we are still on track to retire earlier than most. In the end it is your life, your happiness and only you can decide how that looks. Good for you!!

    • I can totally picture those conversations, and on some level I can understand the disconnect it must inspire in people. But we don’t have to be all frugal or all extravagant — we can pick and choose the things we want to spend and save on, and I’m glad you guys have found your own set of priorities.

  14. I call that being selfish, which is A-OK sometimes. I have expensive hobbies. If that means spending $50 on fabric and 20 hours of time on a quilt I give away to a friend, then that’s what I want to do because it makes *me* happy to make *others* happy with my skills. Last year I spent close to $2k on my hobbies. The year before that I spent ~$5k because I got a kickass sewing machine with a laser! Could I invest that $7k and make more money? Sure. But my life wouldn’t be so fulfilling, and that’s not what I want out of my life.

  15. How boring would the FIRE blog world be if everyone followed the same principals?? :) I think the path to FI is your own and you need to determine what your deal breakers are. I’ve finally had my FI epiphany and have determined in 7 years we will be FI. However, it could be faster if we hadn’t done a few things. Like we paid off our home, instead of investing the $$. And we are actually going to add 800-1000 square feet to our garage space for a workshop and toy car space for my husband in the next few years, no downsizing for us. We also give at least 10% of our gross to our church. I don’t see a lot of FI bloggers talk about this, but giving so much a year (although it helps with our taxes), sets our FI date back at least a couple of years, and I’m totally fine with it. Our goal is to never have to work for money again, but we want to also balance our saving with our generosity. That’s important to us.

    • I’m so glad that you guys put such a high priority on giving! That’s a subject close to my heart, and we try to nudge folks often to give more (even if 10% is not something that most folks would consider, especially 10% of gross!). But even giving 1 or 2% can really help others, so high five to you guys for building that into your plan!

  16. Oooh how juicy!
    This is the exact feeling that made me start my blog. FIRE is all about pinching the pennies that work for you. Your lifestyle and my lifestyle are considered frugal, but that comes in so many different shades. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to adhere to a certain standard of living.
    For me, my bratty financial moment is still eating out, even when we have perfectly good food at home. Mr. Picky Pincher and I are foodies and love to treat ourselves to a nice restaurant meal every now and then. The difference is that we only eat out when we want to and don’t treat it as a daily necessity (like we used to!).

    • ;-) I love how you put it: “pinching the pennies that work for you.” And I’m glad you’re still making room in your spending plan for eating out if you guys are foodies! Living in a small mountain town has necessarily limited our food spending, because there aren’t as many options, but when we travel, we still show our true foodie colors!

  17. I feel like we have carved out exactly the life that is most important and meaningful to us, and all I can do is encourage others to find that for themselves. I think once we figure out what is important to us it makes the money stuff easier. Spend money on the important (to you) stuff and skimp on all the rest. It might be easier, because I feel like our path is so darn weird, that it would be laughable to recommend as an exact guide to follow.

    • Haha — I feel the same way about our path! It would be impossible to replicate it our way because we’ve had so many twists and turns, and ended up in some places just by dumb luck. :-) But what’s important is just what you said — shaping the life that is most important and meaningful to YOU.

  18. It’s something that I have made self proclaimed proclamation about over the last few months in calling myself a financial independence unicorn. In some ways this applies to your FI brat, there are some great strategies and people out there but what if you want to be a brat or a unicorn, that’s what makes this all fun and unique to each person. Cheers to being a brat or a unicorn that’s probably why I stop by and read from time to time;)

    • I love that you’re so assertive in saying what you’re about and how your path is different from others. How boring would it be if we were all doing this exactly the same way? So whether we’re unicorns or brats, it’s all good. :-)

  19. Exactly. Since I also follow the MMM blog, I would disagree that owning the smallest house as possible is Mustachian. Pete took an older house and basically rebuilt the thing to be super nice and energy efficient because he likes to do that stuff and it makes him happy. I live in SoCal and I have high tax rates and expensive real estate, but I don’t plan on leaving, ever. I really like my community and I’ve built all these lovely extra Socal expenses into my retirement numbers. Truth be told, there are also lots of potential savings to be had which help offset those “sunshine taxes”… and good on you using your points for maximum happiness. I took a couple of trans-con 1st class flights with my kiddo when she was little on points (it was one of those situations where the cost of the 1st class flight wasn’t that much more). And although she was 3 and 4 at the time, it made the long trip super comfy and easy peasy – lots of access to healthy snacks, water and a close bathroom. :)

    • Maybe house size was a bad example of Mustachianism, but I do think there’s a general ethos against extravagance. And while I would argue against being extravagant in all things for similar reasons Pete would cite, namely not wanting to trash the planet, I think we all get to determine a few areas where we’re willing to spend more for an upgraded experience. And yeah, as you’ve seen, there is something so much more civilized about not having to spend 12 hours in that tiny seat on a long-long-haul flight! :-)

      • You are probably correct… I think you keeping your house at 50 degrees (or whatever cold temperature you maintain) is kind of funny since I like to be comfortable when I’m working and not have frozen fingers. I’m all for some voluntary hardship. To me, pursuing FI or “being Mustachian” is more about embracing that you have all sorts of daily choices you can make that can directly affect your path to FIRE and perhaps thinking a little bit differently about those daily choices may seem like hardship (at the time), like driving your child to school instead of walking the 1.7 miles uphill in the morning. Really that so called hardship is actually more fun, invigorating and better for you if only you are willing to try it. *personally, I don’t have my $%^& together in the am to pull this one off yet (1st on my list when I’m not longer working and my attention in the am is not divided between kiddo and stressful JOB). I totally dispute that pursuing FIRE and being Mustachian means that you are cheap and you live in a more spartan house/apartment/or whatever. I think it’s more about having a lot of gratitude for what we have and picking and choosing those spots to be a little more extravagant especially when you do it in a more life hacking type way. I’m thinking my points will allow us to stay in slightly better accommodations next winter as we pursue our ski/snowboard passions and I’m looking forward to it! I’m willing to spend those extra points to do so especially since I’m following your advice to accumulate extra. :) Also I’ve realized this travel hacking thing isn’t that complicated and getting more points doesn’t take much work (and I’m really still scratching the surface).

      • We don’t go quite as low as 50. ;-) Mostly in the 55-58 range, which is a big difference. And this ski trip has made us super glad that we’re used to the cold, so we can go out and keep skiing when others are going out to warm up! ;-)

        Though we’ve accumulated our points the hard way, we’re starting to hack a little too, or at least I got the Sapphire Reserve card and like the look of those UR miles. Can’t wait to use more of these points starting next year!

      • Oh, and I have something to add to your skiing bucket list (just in case you needed another)…

        I did the heli trip (and yes it was extravagant but I had been wanting to do it for 11 years before I pulled the trigger) but you two badasses would crush the touring (or heli if that suits your fancy). The conditions were so darn amazing and the scenery so epic that it was worth every penny and the outfit is first rate, safe and the food was fabulous.

      • Oh, don’t worry — that’s already on the list. ;-) Though Mr. ONL has been heliskiing twice ( and I am not sure that I want to get into that chopper. ;-) I love the touring idea, though! I didn’t realize that was an option. I love, too, that the Alaska season is later, so you can have a full season at home, get in great shape to make the AK trip worthwhile, and then go crush it. :-)

      • The heli ride was like riding a magic carpet, seriously. I had never been on one before and I was definitely nervous about it. The touring thing is still 4-5 years out for me as I have to keep things fun for the 9 year old but when she is old enough, I’m planning to learn and dabble in back country.

      • lol… well I felt like I was watching a Warren Miller movie and my eyes were the camera. It was truly breathtaking and spectacular. Keep on writing… it’s fun to read your stuff, though I don’t get into the nitty gritty details as much as you do but it expands my brain regardless.

      • Cool bucket list. I wasn’t following your blog then and haven’t read it all the way through (no disrespect, I have gone down way too many internet FIRE rabbit holes these past 2 years and had to scale back). :) Exciting lives you two lead and have led…. it will be cool to see what’s next.

      • You would deserve a medal if you actually did read it all — we’re talking several books worth of words here. ;-) But yeah, we feel pretty lucky about how much cool stuff we’ve gotten to do!

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  21. I enjoy the challenge of optimizing things and doing the best possible job at saving for my future. Although I wont do this at the expense of fun and happiness. I’m feeling your vibes on this post and tend to agree with most of what you are raising as valid points. Good job ya big Brats :)

    • Haha — thanks, buddy! Right now we’re being HUGE brats by blowing a whole bunch of money to ski Japan when we could ski very little at home. So yeah, guilty as charged. :-)

      • I think it was a TGR movie a few years back that first made us pay attention to Japan. But since then, practically every skiing friend we know has gone, and we finally had to just do it. So glad we did!

  22. Great stuff! The whole point of FIRE is to be able to do what you want.

    For people that don’t get this, and even for those that do just looking for an interesting conversation to listen to, check out the Tim Ferris podcast interview with Mr Money Mustache that just came out in the last week. On the surface, these 2 “gurus” seem extremely opposite.
    TF: Never retire. Delaying gratification is dumb.
    TF: Think about how you can throw money at a problem to make it go away.
    MMM: DIY everything to build frugality muscle and be more efficient.

    However, as they dive deeper, they agree on almost everything. I’ve learned a great amount from both of those guys, and many other sources including this blog (though my path looks very little like anyone else I know). The key to me is being able to take lessons from different sources and applying what makes sense to your own situation and values.

    • Thanks! I’ll add that podcast episode to my list! I do think it’s interesting when people who seem to disagree really just have different ways of articulating similar values and priorities. Thanks for saying that you’ve learned some things here — that’s a great compliment. :-) I can’t wait to hear what’s next for you guys!

  23. Well, when you put it that way … I’m a huge brat. We have a huge house, fairly nice new cars, and two kids. You got that right TWO. Talk about extravagance!

    None of these things are strictly necessary, but they didn’t stop me from achieving FI either.

    • Hooray for huge brats! :-) If we stuck to only what was necessary, we’d all live incredibly boring lives. Not that we need tons of STUFF to be happy, but sometimes that stuff enables us to have certain EXPERIENCES that do make us happy. And kids provide happiness to lots of folks, as extravagant as they may be deemed to be by FIRE blog standards!

  24. I recently wrote a post about what I consider to be the five commandments of personal finance and there are two of them that I think are relevant to this discussion:

    1. To Thine Own Self Be True and
    2. Plan Thy Life and then Plan Thy Finances

    By ‘normal’ FIRE rules, our indulgences are aplenty:
    We use a maid service. We pay for a gardener. We spend money on meat that had a chance to live well before it was butchered. I could go on, but that isn’t really the point. My money, my plan, my indulgences, my path to FIRE.

    • A maid service?! The horror! Haha. Just kidding. I think it’s great you stick to your own priorities and let that dictate what you spend money on vs. letting the pressure of the community force you into doing all your own cleaning. And we’re with you on spending more on ethical food — and I have a rather extravagant grocery budget planned for retirement for the same reason. And there’s no talking me out of that. ;-)

  25. I might declare myself FI, even when I stil HAVE to work. It will be an intentional choice to work part time in exchange for a better life sooner. That would be my biggest against the stream item.

    And we own 2 cars, 3 laptops, 2 ipads, 4 smartphones. And so much more.

    The key is that you need to to what makes you happy. And once in a while, you will be wrong, splurge on something that turns out to be wrong. Guess what… Life happens :-)

    Enjoy the Japan toilets.

    • Hahaha — the Japan toilets are magical! I may have to add to our brat list: Buy a singing toilet. ;-) I think you’ve continued to be very thoughtful about your FI path, and what’s right for you and your family. You haven’t let the pressure of the community speed up your plan or change your spending, and I love that.

  26. SHHHHH. Don’t tell anybody, but we’re planning on buying a NEW F250 for retirement. Yep, a big ole’ chunk of change. We’ve run the numbers, and can swing it, so swing it we will.

    Please don’t tell any of my frugal FIRE friends, I wouldn’t want to be excommunicated from the community……

    • Oh, you big brat! But your secret is safe with me. (And anyone reading this comment section… but I bet they can keep a secret too.) ;-) It’s funny how doing certain things (buying a car brand new being top of the list) really do make it feel like we might get excommunicated! Haha

  27. I love it

    We are definitely not the ultra frugal FIRE pursuants – we spend money on things we want to do, when we want to do it. Our vision isn’t to skip experiences or plan everything down to the dollar in retirement – I would rather work an extra year and bank more cash than sacrifice our current lifestyle/worry about making ends meet.

    • Woot, non-ultra-frugal peeps! ;-) Totally with you — though you know how impatient I am to quit already, I don’t actually want that — I actually want to know that we’re set for life and won’t get stuck scrambling later… just like you!

  28. So true. There’s no point achieving FIRE unless it’s on terms that will make you happy.

  29. I think you’ve found the ‘I’ in FIRE – Independence. The definition of independence sums it up well: free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority, …

    So you get to make the rules. We certainly aren’t the most frugal people, we just try to not be wasteful and realize what we are spending our hard earned $$$ on. Nothing wrong with wanting a flat driveway in a mountain town :-)

    • I just took a pretty epic wipeout on sidewalk ice last night, so I’m standing by my insistence on that flat driveway — don’t need a car sliding into the house or into the street! ;-) I think it’s good for us all to be reminded once in a while that we do create our own visions, because there is a lot of full toward the common themes in this community!

  30. I want to move to Hawaii at some point. We’d get a few acres and build a few tiny homes/supporting structures. Friends and families can come stay with us and we’ll rent out some of the huts when nobody is there. It’ll be expensive and it means a working retirement. But that’s what I want to try for a few years… Not sure if it will happen, though. A guy can dream.

  31. I love how apologetically you call yourself a brat!

    Our journey is different because I’m going to semi-retire long before we have “enough” money saved up. I can’t continue working full-time in this occupation long enough to build enough investments to satisfy the 4% rule. Financial independence is an ideal. We should feel free to define the specifics for ourselves. That’s what it’s all about anyways – making your own path instead of just doing what’s “normal.”

  32. So many bratty things over at our house, where to begin. First, our current house is Yuge, almost 4k sq. ft., although we will downsize when we relocate. But, that downsizing still looks like a 3-4 br, 2.5 bath, preferably with basement, 3 car garage and/or workshop on some land, hopefully at least 2 acres. Could we live in a smaller place, – hell yeah we could, but I have hobbies and they chew up the space, and well frankly, who cares, we’re not asking anyone to buy our place for us, lol.

    I think like others have said, you need to find your version of FIRE that fits well with you. If it includes first class travel and more “luxuries” who cares, you’re not asking anyone else to foot your bill, right? :)

    Just like noone’s investment strategy is the same, noone’s FIRE vision is the same, I mean we took the RE out of FIRE and are just looking for a Lifestyle Change, OMG who does that? We still have house cleaners, although down to once a month, I still don’t change my own oil or do minor car maintenance, but there better not be any because it’s new. Oh crap, we also bought a new car – whoops…

    So much brattiness and so many rules being broken. There will always be people living off of more and people living off of less. Finding a nice balance of comfy and not extravagant is our mode, but who are we to tell anyone what their mode of living is?

    • I love your attitude about all of this — but of course you already knew that. ;-) Sure, you guys have more house than you need, but like you said, you’re not asking anyone else to pay for it. Same for all of our bratty non-negotiables. Recently someone was shocked when I said we weren’t going to rent our house out while we went on vacation, and I was just thinking, “Besides the ‘ew’ factor, how much time would it take to get the house ready to rent out, and then to recover from that afterward?” Hardly seems worth it, not to mention that we just simply wouldn’t have had the time to make all of that happen. Oh well! Good thing it’s our life, and good thing your life is yours! :-)

  33. Hell yeah! That’s what freedom is all about. There are several things that we want that many frugalers would disapprove, but hey if they want to be uber frugal, then good on them.

    For us, we might keep our “bigger than we need house” instead of downsizing, or splurge for the balcony on a cruise, or upgrade our backpacking gear whenever we want! But yeah, starting with the option by default of never to ever have to work again sounds like true freedom to me.

    • I love all of the possible upgrades you’re building into your plan! We might downsize because, like you guys, our house is a little bigger than we need… but we don’t want to HAVE to downsize. And a balcony on a cruise sounds so much better than not having that! That’s the equivalent of wanting a roomier seat on the plane for us. ;-)

  34. Welp, just realized I’m a brat! XD

    At this point I would be very reluctant to live with roommates beyond Fergus and Fluffster, so I can definitely relate on that point. Dancing in the nude should always be an option if you are truly free. 💃

    Other than that, location is very important to us, and we tend to prefer more expensive, urban areas. Similarly, we spend more on eating out than a lot of FI bloggers, but it’s made to be special and something we look forward to. Fluffster is also a money pit – but also non-negotiable. 🐶

    Man, there are so many little ways we could cut back, but we’ve made conscious choices to keep them in our budget. The biggest ones would be moving to a lower cost area, traveling less, not having pets, and not donating to charity or helping out family members. Our money, our choices – simple as that. 😀

    • FI brats unite! :-D And yes, haha — naked dancing is required for true freedom. ;-) The things that you’ve built into your budget are so similar to our list — which doesn’t surprise me at all!

  35. For us, who stumble on the FIRE concept but were already on the right track, it makes little sense to follow other’s “rules”!

    We plan to transition smoothly in the FIRE lifestyle, probably during the second child maternity leave, maybe transition on a part time job that is fulfilling and/or go back to university. So we probably will break FIRE tenants in all sort of ways.

    And we cannot escape it, as parents, we will be criticized for not working.

    I also just discovered this week that the government is really generous with parents with low income in Canada (Every parents receive something based on their tax report, so it’s nothing “special”). We did not take this into account before, but I’m sure people will criticize us for taking advantage of the system.

    So we cannot escape criticism from FIRE and Non-Fire crowd.

    People can criticize all they want, we know our plan is awesome !

    • I love that you know the criticism is out there, but you are braced to just brush it off! If that’s the system, then you aren’t taking advantage if you’re just following the law.

  36. Yes! I identify with this so much. We’re only a year into our FI journey and when we started out we thought the only way we’d achieve our goal was to be uber frugal. We quickly realised that wasn’t the best fit for us – our philosophy is that we still want to live whilst we’re working to FI and living to us means still taking trips and still eating out at restaurants – so that’s we’re doing!

  37. I find that I’m not typically bratty about things that cost money. For example, I’m bratty in that I must be able to watch my Patriots games. They are free, so the only price I pay is my time (and the occasional shirt or 800).

    On the other hand, I find I can be significantly less bratty if there’s significant financial reason to be. For example, I live in a high summer tourist area and renting our house for the summer would probably net us around $22,000. As long as we could protect some of our personal things (maybe move them into the basement and lock the door) it is hard to say “Ew.”

    I imagine we could travel Europe well for $22,000 (especially considering that we’d be fairly frugal) over 3 months.

    I find that with FI there’s more room for bratty behavior, but I don’t see myself ignoring the value of a dollar any time soon. I simply get to redefine what I’m willing to do to make that dollar.

    • That is some serious money you’d be looking at to rent out your home! I think if we were looking at anywhere near that much, we’d be thinking about things differently, too! (Or if we had a basement we could lock things in.) ;-)

  38. I couldn’t agree more. Your path to FI is just that – YOUR path, and it shouldn’t look exactly like anyone else’s. I’ve seen some YouTube videos recently about minimalism where a YouTuber posted about how she will no longer claim minimalism and include it in her video titles because of the criticism she’s received – for not being a true ‘minimalist’ because she wears make-up and buys certain other things. Absolutely ridiculous. Your version of minimalism or FI is going to need to suit your desires – or else you’re just going to burn out and get frustrated.

    • Ugh — that kind of internet shaming has to stop. The labels are half the problem sometimes, especially when some group decides that they are the arbiters of what does and doesn’t fit into said category. Like the retirement police, or in the video you mention, the minimalism police. Let’s just live our lives, people! :-)

  39. Live your best life by your own rules! Yes! I don’t drive and hate driving and have chosen to live in a city where a car is not necessary. My rent is higher and my apartment is smaller, but this is my best life. I don’t care that other people love driving, but just don’t want that for me.

    • That’s so ideal! I will confess that I kinda love driving, and didn’t totally mess with the car-unfriendly cities where I’ve lived. (I’m good with trains and buses and small doses, but they get tiring when they are an everyday thing…. for me, at least!) But that makes me happy that you can live in a place where you never have to drive and build your life around that!

  40. Wow! What a powerful statement “Financial freedom means getting to define every single part of your journey…” Retirement should be a required course taught in college because people are living longer these days.

  41. I think pursuing FI is counter-culture to begin with, so I love the idea that you’re challenging the unwritten rules of this internet space! My family’s plan for “our next life” (which for us means location independence) has always included working. In the end, like you said, it’s your life and you get to live it the way you see fit!

    • Thanks, Laurie! We’re all about sharing what has worked for all of us, but we like to shake things up before we all get too cult-like in our thinking. Haha. ;-) Your next life plan sounds wonderful! I completely love that you’re defining it the way YOU all want it.

  42. Thanks for this! I’ve never been particularly frugal – and I don’t intend to be and don’t need to be to keep up a big savings rate and retire on the timetable I want. But this can sound like blasphemy in the PF blog world.

    One thing I keep in mind which may seem like rationalization but actually makes me feel better about certain spending is that no dollar is really “wasted” in our society. You can only do three things with money – spend it, invest it, or give it away – and there is actually a lot more overlap between the three than many people imagine.

    For example, I spend money to have my house cleaned. That’s a luxury “spending” item for me, which some would call wasteful indulgence. Fair enough, but would firing my maid and depriving her of employment that she values so that I can save a few hundred extra bucks a month and retire a few months earlier or richer really be the most ethical/charitable/responsible money move?

    Money hoarded doesn’t do anyone (or our economy) any good. It’s going to be spent sooner or later, either by me or my heirs, so I refuse to feel guilty about using it to buy fancy piles of bricks for my family to live in or decadent chunks of moldy cow’s milk for me to spread on crackers. My purchases help create jobs and keep others fed and housed, as do my index funds and bank deposits which keep financial professionals going, as do my charitable dollars which help those in need.. It’s all just one big monopoly game.

    • I completely love how you articulate this! “Don’t be a hoarder!” is one of my central but unwritten themes around here, and you just explained exactly why. Or for people who’ve said we’re dumb to make a personal loan to a relative, I’m always like, “That’s what money is for! To help people we love!” (Plus we’re getting a nice return on it, so it’s not like we’re just pure altruists.) If paying to have your house cleaned feels good to you, then keep it up! And if you love that good cheese, then keep buying it! You know you can afford it and what it means for your timeline, so no shame in forging your own path. :-)

  43. Agree completely there is such criticism in the community, omg you drive a car to work, eat out occasionally etc it is ridiculous and one of the reasons i love your blog. I will happily drive my car to work and pay a couple hundred bucks to do it and others can bike just hate when they criticize minor life choices my theory is do what is best for your life and ignore what the fi police say

    • Amen to all of that! There’s no reason why certain lifestyle choices have to be attached to the idea of FI, and so it’s completely fine to reject them. Sorry, but if it’s blizzarding outside, there’s no way I’m riding a bike! ;-) Decide what adds value to your life, and spend on that stuff without guilt!

  44. I am so here for this line of thinking. I’m 29 and single, and the house I bought is way too big for me by myself (I’m hoping I eventually have a partner and children to stick in it, but that’s not a given), and I have successfully resisted my father’s repeated suggestions that I rent part of it out because I like having my own space and not having to deal with anyone else’s mess and any time I have to wear pants in my own house I am profoundly upset. I like buying pretty things (clothes, shoes, art, makeup). I eat out WAY too often. I watch too much television, and that means I want cable, even though I know I can do something better with my time and even though I hate my cable company, and even though I know it costs a ridiculous amount of money, I WANT it, and it’s my money and I can afford it. I bought a car with heated seats because I’m always cold and my back is often tense. I make sure to set aside at least 5% of my take-home pay for traveling because I like vacation and some of my favorite people live far away (I plan to spend at least 10% of my post-retirement money traveling). Does that mean that I might not actually get to retire at 50 (my current goal)? Maybe. But I want to enjoy my life both now and in the future, and I want to make sure that I have some “fat” to trim if I really really have to later in life due to market conditions or illness or some catastrophe.

    • It’s funny looking back at this post. I’m not sure that I would write it again today. ;-) Haha. But absolutely yes, it’s YOUR money and you should do whatever makes you happiest with it. Also super smart to have some fat you can trim later!

      • I am glad you did write this post as I love it and it chimes with my own attitude to spending in retirement. I was raised a saver and totally get being frugal in order to FIRE. I also get continuing to be frugal in early retirement if that is your thing. But if you have more, and want to ease off the frugality, then why not? My (not) guilty pleasures include
        1) Owning a “way too big for my family” house. I actually see this as one of my contingencies – if things do not work out I can always downsize and raise some funds. Sure owning a rental and a smaller house may make more economic sense but we love our house and see it is as a home rather than an investment and I am totally with your “Eww” to non family members.
        2) Buying new cars. Sure buying used is cheaper – so is buying second hand shirts, computers and, well, just about everything. I am not interested in fancy brands and I own for a long time – My oldest car is 15 years young and still going strong – but when I buy my next car it will be new again.
        3) Food. I love food. No scrimping for me on this one.
        4) One offs. Before I retired I went part time and decided to spend every penny I earned to see what it actually felt like. I want to continue to provide a few treats for a couple of years in retirement to really get it off to a fun start. So I have overloaded my cash bucket and (provided the market behaves so I can continue to draw down) will treat my daughter to a special holiday after she finishes her exams and encourage Mrs PJ to indulge her interior design fetish to get the house up to her exacting standards. However, my mothers teaching has had some effect as I cant think of a one off for me that I actually want! I love playing sports which, overall, is a pretty cheap activity that I was already funding.