How to make saving for early retirement not feel like a sacrifice // Saving, frugality, retirement savingswe've learned

How to Make Saving for Early Retirement Not Feel Like a Sacrifice

A lot has surprised us about the journey to early retirement: how much faster it has gone than we could ever have expected when we first formulated our plan, how many friends we’ve made along the way (Hi!), how much harder it is to walk away from work than we’d have guessed, and even how little pushback we’ve gotten from friends, family and the few coworkers we’ve told over the years (occasionally we get a “Won’t you be bored?” but no one has ever once told us that we shouldn’t do it).

But the biggest surprise of all has been that it hasn’t felt like a sacrifice.

Which doesn’t mean that we haven’t sacrificed. Our spending looks a whole lot different now from what it once looked like, especially in those baller years. We’ve given up entire categories of spending, and made major chops to key expenditures, including in the categories that make us happiest, like travel and adventure. But those were all cuts we think of as “happy sacrifices,” not real pain.

There is a hefty dose of privilege present in this because having the ability to save quickly for early retirement without feeling massively squeezed means that we’re among the lucky few who earn significantly more than we need. We’re grateful for that every day, but we won’t focus on that aspect in this post.

Instead, let’s talk about the ways in which we’ve (often through happy accidents) engineered our life to make those subtractions feel easy or invisible instead of like sacrifices.

How to make saving for early retirement not feel like a sacrifice // Saving, frugality, retirement savings

The Circumstances Make the Sacrifice

Picture this: Living a baller life, spending within your means, but blowing through all the money that’s coming in. And why wouldn’t you? Everyone you know does the same thing. The housing where you live costs a small fortune, and all those meals out add up. But you work hard, and deserve to unwind and treat yourself, right? Otherwise, how else will you get through another 30 years of working at this otherwise unsustainable pace? 

We were never quite at that point — blowing all the money that came in — but we can understand that mindset 100 percent. That’s the sales pitch that comes with high pressure jobs: You’re going to work yourself to the point of unhappiness and unhealthiness, but the rewards will make it worth it!

We are all so heavily influenced by those around us, and if everyone in your life or everyone you work with behaves similarly with money, it’s awfully hard to realize that you’re in a money bubble. Realizing that there’s another way to view money — not as something that buys rewards for the hard work, but as something that can buy back your time so you don’t have to do that hard work forever — isn’t something everyone can do, but only because it’s hard to get out of a bubble if you don’t realize you’re in it and have no one giving you any indication that what you’re seeing with those around you isn’t the only or best way to do things.

Back to that baller scenario. You’ve learned that working for more money and status doesn’t make you happy, and you want to start saving your money so you can quit relying on work to pay your bills. But work still expects you to dress a certain way, which costs money. Your friends still want to go out for dinner and drinks, running at least $100 per outing. Your home still costs you a small fortune. To make real change, you have to learn to say “No,” which means feeling the FOMO every time you turn an offer down. Every change feels like a sacrifice.

A lot of you guys are up against circumstances like that, and I know it’s hard. We’ve been through that adjustment. And if you just keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, but with these big subtractions and the new and unfun habit of saying no to everything, life can get miserable quickly.

It’s one thing to know the financial wisdom. It’s another thing to follow that wisdom when it feels like you’re not really living your life to be able to follow it. 

The irony is that the “sacrifice lifestyle” that one person perceives may feel totally abundant to someone else, so it truly is all about what we’re used to.

Lifestyle Engineering to Avoid the Feeling of Sacrifice

The biggest mistake — in our humble opinion — that lots of people make when they find out about early retirement is to try to keep most things the same while they start hacking away at their expenditures. Some folks will get super into that and feel excited about all the optimization wins, but for most of us, that approach will come with FOMO and unhappiness, because that approach focuses our attention on what we’re giving up.

What we should be doing instead is recognizing that we’ve just made a freaking huge, life-changing discovery that changes everything, and engineering our lives to fit this new mission. And that means giving ourselves the perception of additions, even if we’re also making spending subtractions at the same time.

Because while spending may be quantifiable and absolute, “sacrifice” is a comparative perception — a feeling — based on our expectations and past experiences.

How We’ve Subtracted Without It Feeling Like Sacrifice

We took some dramatic steps when we knew we were chasing early retirement. We left the big expensive city we’d called home for several years and moved to a smaller and slightly less expensive mountain town. We never connected the cable at our new place. We stopped eating out and ordering food delivery, mostly because there were so many fewer options than we’d had in the city (plus no one who would deliver us food). We stopped paying for ski trips because we had mountains nearby. We stopped buying most clothes we’d wear in the city and began living in fleece.

Those are all subtractions, but they didn’t feel like sacrifices because they all came with a huge upside: our new mountain life adventure. (Okay, I admit that it was hard to adjust to no food delivery, especially after we’d just moved in and didn’t have dishes or cookware unpacked. But that passed quickly.) We might not have three coffee shops within walking distance, but we now had trails at the end of the block. We visited fewer new ski resorts each winter, but we got more total skiing. We had no access to HGTV or ESPN, but for the first time in our adult lives, we weren’t sharing walls with anyone else, and we could now blast the speakers when we watched Netflix. We got to try fewer new restaurants, but more new recipes.

If you know, as we did, that early retirement would be tons harder to pull off where you live now compared to some place you’d rather live in retirement, you might consider moving there sooner rather than later, if you can make a move compatible with your work.

But you don’t have to pick up and move somewhere new to be able to engineer a new lifestyle that makes subtraction feel positive.

The difference is all mindset. Accept that you’re making a big life shift. You’re on a new path now, after all, and it’s only natural that the scenery is going to look different. It might confuse some people around you, but if you’re preparing yourself for an early retired life, you might as well get used to that early.

Ideas to Engineer a New, Non-Sacrificing Lifestyle

Stay focused on the “why” — Things are so much more likely to feel like sacrifices if we don’t totally understand or agree with the rationale behind them. Get crystal clear on exactly why you are doing this — what you want to retire to, not just from, and what you believe your true calling or purpose to be.

Practice lifestyle stagnation — If your income increases over time, you can boost your savings without every actually giving anything up if you practice lifestyle stagnation and avoid lifestyle inflation. Even if giving a bunch of stuff up isn’t feasible for you, containing your spending will help you get ahead of most people who continually expand their spending to match their income (or their available lines of credit).

Go slow — It’s normal to go straight for the deep end after discovering early retirement, but that’s a surefire recipe to focus more on what we’re giving up than what we’re gaining. Bring yourself back to the shallow end until you can balance subtractions with additions, and then make those subtractions little by little, instead of all at once. (See next item.)

Find the free or cheap additions — The most important idea here. If you don’t want to feel like you’re giving stuff up, you need to add things in proportion to what you’re subtracting. (Not necessarily one for one — most of us have too much going on in our lives, and some subtraction is a good thing for our sanity.) The key is to find additions that require little to no spending, but those are all around us. Free events in parks and libraries. Clubs that do meals potluck-style. Outdoor recreation and workouts. Side hustles that are fun but also pay you, like teaching classes in the community. Or — our favorite — finding volunteer opportunities that allow you to do activities you enjoy while meeting new people with similar interests. Just going to free events loses its luster after a while, if you don’t know anyone there and aren’t really making friends. Taking on sustained roles with local charities, though, lets you form relationships that make it all a lot more fulfilling. (Service activities that are especially fun: Adaptive sports that allow disabled people to do various activities with your help, adaptive art classes for seniors or people with developmental disabilities, tutoring or mentoring students, building or repairing trails, planning fundraising events for all manner of organizations.)

Find your community — The second most important idea here. Going back to that baller scenario above, if everyone you know is still using their money the old way, as a reward instead of a tool to buy back your time, it can feel awfully lonely to be the one person trying to save it. It’s so important to find your community to support you in your goals, and to give you a social circle who won’t make you feel like you’re missing out. I certainly didn’t expect when starting this blog that my blog friends would so quickly become real friends, but that is one of my favorite effects of all of this. This community is especially eager to connect, so reach out to bloggers you relate to and link up. Start conversations with other readers. We aren’t just a bunch of strangers on the internet — we’re a community, and you can be as much a part of it as you want to be. But focus on your in-person community, too, creating a new circle of folks you can call if you want to do some free activity, or who understand your journey in ways your colleagues at work or family may not.

Focus on quality over quantity — When we shift into money saving mode, the natural tendency is to look for the cheapest option, which often means buying crap that’s low quality. I will spare you stories of the horribly processed grocery items I once bought during my extreme couponing phase, because they were nearly free. And that food was not only terrible for our health, it also wasn’t especially tasty. Now, we don’t buy the cheapest stuff, we just buy very limited quantities of more expensive stuff. You will definitely find a fancy cheese in our fridge right now, but it’s a tiny sliver from the Whole Foods remnant basket. (Same unit price, but thumb-sized pieces instead of big blocks.) Likewise, we still buy top quality outdoor gear, we just buy a lot less of it. And we go to music festivals and concerts fairly regularly, but instead of going to whatever is happening just to go, we focus on the ones we really, truly care about, even if they are more expensive. If you told us we had to give up fancy cheese, outdoor gear and concerts, we’d tell you life is no longer worth living. But we didn’t give them up — we just put quality over quantity. And that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.

Celebrate as a team — Making any of these big changes all alone means there’s no one to celebrate those wins with you, and celebrating them is important to avoid focusing on the subtractions. Make sure you have a support team in place, whether that’s a relative, a spouse, a friend, a neighbor, a blog buddy — whoever makes sense for you. Share your plans and goals, and hold each other accountable. Then celebrate like crazy together. (And if you’re married or partnered up, please for your own sake make sure you and your partner are on the same page before making big subtractions. This stuff can’t be unilateral if you want the partnership to remain happy.)

Maximize earnings — We couldn’t have frugaled our way into retiring as early as we we’ll be doing if our income hadn’t gone up over the years as it had. Earning more has absolutely been what has made it all work for us, and we knew that was all part of the deal we signed up for with our career paths. But if you’re in a job that has small increases and less advancement potential, ask yourself if you must stay in that path, or if you could find another one. The Charltons, who retired around 40 without ever cracking six figures combined, made their early retirement possible by having Robin retrain for a new career as a nurse, which then sped their progress. Focusing on maximizing their earnings not only brought in more money for them, it also opened up a whole new area of interest to learn about and become immersed in.

What Tricks Can You Share?

Let’s add to this list! What ways have you engineered your life to lessen the feeling of sacrifice? What are some great additions you can suggest to folks, to make it easier to make those subtractions without pain? Any tricks you’ve learned to make those transitional moments easier? Secrets for creating your community of fellow savers? Let’s dive into it all in the comments!

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70 replies »

  1. I think the biggest thing that has helped us was to pay ourselves first. We set up auto deductions for retirement funding so that we never really saw the money. Then we lived within the remaining amount.

      • Agree…. but I think a lot of folks who might be saving the minimum to take advantage of a company 401K match and/or who put away a little for a rainy day may feel like they are paying themselves first… and they absolutely are… that was totally what we did in our early years. The key for us in our FIRE journey to shave off years (if not a decade) on the back end was… to challenge the AMOUNT we were saving… to try paying ourselves more and more and see if we can still live on what remained while still being happy & content. My reply to Mrs. ONL’s post is below. Years ago we challenged outselves to save what seemed like a crazy number… and we did it… month after month. And as our salaries grew, we continued to challenge ourselves… pay ourselves first “big time”…. and then live on what remained.

      • We used a similar approach, but attempted to keep it mostly invisible from ourselves. So we kept increasing how much was being withheld for our 401(k)s and diverted from our regular paycheck to go to savings. And we set up auto investments on payday so we never “missed” the money. Big fans of amping up the pay yourself first approach for big results!

    • Oh, amen to that. Paying ourselves first has been the key to it all. But it’s easier to pay yourself first if you engineer your life so you aren’t tempted to spend some of what you’re trying to save! ;-)

  2. I love the advice about finding your community. When what you’re doing feels normal and is loudly encouraged, it’s easier to keep traveling down that path. I also really appreciate the fact that this post isn’t just about moving to a lower COL area. Not only would we both be paid significantly less if we moved somewhere cheaper in our state, we’re both really stubborn about leaving a place we love.

    • I mean, our “lower” cost of living area is still wickedly expensive, and that’s non-negotiable for us. All the places we’d be excited to live cost a fortune — the only difference is that the culture in our mountain town is less spending-focused. (Probably BECAUSE everything costs so much. Hmm… maybe I will post actual prices when we reveal!)

  3. Great perspective. I feel that you can also coin sacrifice as a temporary measure to a better life after that sacrifice.

    I’m currently working to pay off debt, once it is paid off, the addition will be more money for taxable brokerage accounts. That’s a double whammy addition! More stocks + more income :)

    • It’s true, but too much sacrifice for too long makes for misery, and greater likelihood of crashing and burning with those big goals! Finding a balance, and making sure you can still enjoy life while you’re paying off debt or saving is so important.

      Good luck polishing off that debt! :-)

  4. I like to set up mini-goals that’ll help me towards my main goal. Right now that’s saving up an $8,000 emergency fund. After that, pay off all my debt. Then, max out my retirement accounts. After that, throw everything else in a taxable investment account and start building!

    • Those aren’t mini-goals — those are all legit goals in their own right! So awesome you’re ticking them off one by one. (Also, it gives me life to see a reasonable emergency fund — for years we kept truly massive amounts in ours, because I was a risk-averse fraidy pants. All those stock market gains we squandered!) ;-)

  5. Back in 1999, we dropped down to one income when we started our family. We were just breaking even. As the years went by, we began to have little extra. When my wife went back to work part-time in 2007, we decided to really challenge ourselves by contributing the IRS max into my 401K and try to live on what was left. We kept a small reserve in savings just in case we fell short. One month went by and we stayed in budget, 2 months, 3 months… and we never looked back. If a big ticket item like a roof came up, we adjusted our contributions for short period and then went right back. As my salary grew and my wife returned to work full-time, we continued to challenge ourselves… maxing our Roths, maxing out her 403b, paying off our mortgage, contributing to college 529 savings plan, etc. Today we are still basically living on our 2007 budget adjusted for inflation. Maybe early on, we may have felt we were making sacrifices… but now it is just our norm… and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Take the challenge.

    • Wow, you guys turned yourselves into masters of goal crushing! Congrats! It sounds like you DID feel like you were sacrificing, but managed to make that into your normal so it didn’t keep feeling like sacrifice.

      • At the end of 1999, when we went from DINKs and a raging tech market that was nearly providing a 3rd salary to us (I had back to back years of > 50% gains)… and then went down to one salary when my wife stopped working and 2000 crushed our trading acccount.. our means were so limited. So yeah… compared to how were were living before, I’m sure it felt like we were making sacrifies. Now looking back… being forced into simplicity was the one of the best things that ever happened to us. So much more to life than things… and having bigger, better, newer.

      • Such a wonderful and healthy perspective, especially in the face of what I’m sure felt scary and surreal at the time!

  6. Yeah, this is a toughie. So many people look at frugal living and think that it’s about deprivation. But my life is fuller and richer than it ever was when I blew all of my money each month. It’s just about finding things that you can live without–and humans really can live without a lot of crap!

    • So true! There is definitely something to be said for surrounding ourselves with less stuff for the sake of our own happiness.

  7. My favorite free addition for us is the hiking trails right behind our house. They were a large part of why we bought our home 6 years ago and are definitely one of the best things about our location. We’ve recently gotten back to going out for a quick hour or so on week nights which really lets us relax and enjoy instead of just getting through the week. Plus, we don’t even have to get in the car and pay to get there.

    • This may be an odd inquiry (seem like it’s an obvious answer) – but how did you find a house that had access to hiking trials? Was that something you were specifically looking for? Were you looking in a city you were already familiar with? If you’re looking in a particular city, then you probably have an idea where to look. I am not sure where i want to ultimately end up (other than generally west), but I know that I want to be close to hiking trails (i.e. walking distance from where I live to them) but am not sure how to go about searching for areas like that, especially since I don’t want anywhere too remote so that sort of eliminates some of the more obvious searches. Interested in tips from anyone!

      • We weren’t specifically looking for hiking trails per se (since we’re in the Seattle area there are tons within a 30 minute- 2 hour drive) but we WERE looking specifically for houses that backed up to parkland / permanent green belts for privacy. Walkscore.come helps with general walkability and you could use that for looking at parks etc if you aren’t familiar with the area. I grew up in the city we bought in, but the other side, so I wasn’t super familiar with the very local area (and we were looking at a number of different cities at the time). We looked at a TON of homes before we bought and did a ton of driving and walking around potential neighborhoods to get a better feel for them. It was a ton of work but it was worth it to find our place.

      • It’s awesome you invested so much time in finding the ideal place where you can stay put! Walkscore and similar calculators are great if you want to be able to walk to stores and such, but they are less helpful if you want trails but don’t care if you can walk to services. Just FYI for those searching! :-)

      • My two cents: look for much more than just hiking trails. Towns in the west can diverge greatly in community feel, openness to newcomers, cultural activities, politics, etc., so choosing based on beauty or trails alone might put you in a mismatch situation. If you know you want to move, map out the places that might fit your criteria (not too remote will cross lots of places off your list), and plan several vacations to check out those places so you can get a good feel. Then once you know where you feel most at home, you can search out neighborhoods with trail access. ;-)

  8. What helped me was and find a bunch of people who openly talk about money matters. It is a very different feeling when meeting with people who absolutely love talking about money, compared hanging out with my “normal” friends, who don’t feel comfortable talking about the topic or like to avoid it altogether.

    • I love the “Find your Community” concept. While its been wonderful to be able to connect online with other like-minded folks through Mrs. ONL’s and other blogs, I’m sure many will agree that in our day to day lives, it can be a very lonely journey. Lazy Radish… when you used, what specifically did you search for and find? Can you elaborate on your experience when you actually “met up” with others… what was shared/discussed? To others out there… are there any other ways you’ve found to find local communities that you would recommend? Have any of you started a local FIRE chapter… maybe through your library or community center?

      • I’d love to hear folks’ answers to this, too! Most of the folks we’ve met have been via the blog — and the vast majority have been bloggers themselves. I know that doesn’t apply to everyone! So please spill any good ideas you’ve got, friends! :-)

      • I searched for “money mustache”, “mustachian”, “early retirement”, etc. I live in large metropolitan area on the West coast of the US, so of course there was a meetup group. Not sure how it works in smaller cities, tho.

        When attending the meetups, I was surprised how warm and welcoming everybody was. And it is totally OK to talk about specific numbers, income, expenses etc. #financialporn When I started going to the meetings tow years ago, I was mainly interested in talking about money and investing. But now I am more into the what-do-I-want-to-do-with-my-life aspects. Some people recently retired, so it’s great to hear from them what there are up now. One couple is landlording. Another one is building his own house. Another one (early 20s) has the dream of walking the Appalachian Trail. Another one (50s?) biked from Seattle to California on her own. It’s so refreshing to hear these unconventional stories. And these are normal people, who made the decision to spend less than average money, and they all look incredibly happy to me.

      • That’s so awesome that you have access to all of that IN PERSON! It’s something most of the rest of us have to get on the internet. :-)

    • Two thoughts: 1. What did you search for to find a meetup group related to money? 2. I’ve found that dropping occasional open-ended money hints has resulted in more “normal” friends wanting to talk money. I think lots of people actually DO want to talk about it, but the social norms telling them it’s off-limits are SO strong.

      • 1… see comment above

        2… I haven’t figured out how to communicate with “normal” friends about that topic yet. I’m aware that as an introverted engineer my communication skills are lagging, and I probably go too fast into the factual side of explaining what I do. And I’m not explaining enough of why I’m doing it (having more time for myself and my goals, which don’t include a corporate career). Even more importantly, next time I will try to steer the discussion into their goals and values, like you showed in your latest article.

      • I get that this stuff is hard, and just to reassure you, it’s hard for skilled communicators, too! ;-) I’ve found that linking stuff to happiness works really well… and maybe I’ll just need to write a post about this stuff! Stay tuned… :-)

  9. Great post and reminder of how to make the journey sustainable.

    This honestly reads like a book on the path I took. I think much like you moving to a LCOL area and getting out of that lifestyle bubble helped immensely in breaking free of old ways. We liquidated most of our belongings and then set forth to the new path.

    The part about “blog buddies” or a community you can interact with is key. You need someone you can chat with and bounce ideas off. Having someone to help you stay accountable is also key to a successful journey.

    Have an awesome week !

    • LOL — Our area is NOT low cost of living. AT ALL. Just slightly lower than where we moved from. ;-) And, more importantly, it has less of a spending culture, which is the thing that helps us the most.

      But yes 100% to getting out of the lifestyle bubble! And to finding a community that can support a different way of living.

      Thanks for the well wishes! Back atcha! Enjoy your upcoming adventure. ;-)

  10. Creating a supportive environment was one of the biggest factors in my success. Our circle of friends aren’t spendypants so we’re happy to have potluck suppers instead of fancy cocktails and simple tent camping holidays instead of annual vacations to exotic locations.. My husband and I gave up cable tv so we miss all the advertisements for consumer goods that subtly permeates most people’s leisure time. I’ve cultivated a brown bag lunch club at work, so I avoid the peer pressure to grab a restaurant meal every day. We rarely go to malls and we’ve installed ad blocking apps. It’s all contributed to a lessening of the din of consumer culture and made it easier to stick to our goals, but it was all a conscious choice.

    I often equate pursuing FI/RE with a weight loss plan – hard to do if you’re surrounded by temptation. At least, at first – but then the intrinsic rewards begin to settle in and contribute to your momentum.

    • I love all of this. Sylvia Hall, who was on the Ladies on FIRE panel with me and Mrs. Frugalwoods at the Lola Retreat had a great line about brown bagging it at work: “Be the lunch you want to go to.” Your brown bag club is exactly that!

      The interesting thing about the dieting analogy is that most people in fact CAN’T stick to a diet for the long-term because we simply aren’t wired to feel deprived all the time. So I think it’s super important that saving NOT feel like a diet, but rather like something we can do forever. Sounds like you guys have engineered your life in so many ways, though, that you’re good to go. ;-)

  11. I think if I moved to a smaller city I’d save a TON of money. Like you said, no restaurants to try, so no eating out.

    The FIRE bug in me isn’t as strong as it is in other people, but I think a couple things help:
    -Practicing gratitude for the things you DO have. I might have posted this here before, but I thought I was living large when I was making $40k. Really. I was living in a nice apartment with my best friend and going out all the time. And saving money, all at the same time. I also think interacting with those who have lesser than you helps a lot, too. Like volunteering to help those less fortunate, or even when you go on vacation to a country that’s not as rich, interacting with some of the locals. See how they live and what they struggle with.
    -Keeping your eye on the ‘why’ (like you said), but framing it in a really positive, inspirational way. It could be something like printing out a picture of your goal and keeping it in a place you look at every day. I get really frustrated with young folks who don’t save, but then I realize it’s because we’re not delivering the virtues of saving in a way that inspires them. For instance, when I was a young punk my friend told me to get a Roth IRA. I was like, sure, great, and then proceeded to do nothing. BUT, if she had told me what that Roth IRA would have afforded me, like options and freedom, I might have been more motivated to actually do something about it.

    • It truly is the temptation that’s less where we live now, not the actual cost of anything. But that temptation was a HUGE part of our past spending!

      You know I agree completely on gratitude. ;-) And on your why. Though that’s a challenging balance because of course knowing the reasoning behind doing something is critical, but getting so focused on a future goal can make us miss out on our lives today. So somewhere in between. ;-)

      (Also, you are my hero for feeling like you were balling at $40K! I definitely felt better at $40K than I had at $30K, but I did not get my act together to realize how much money that actually was until years later.)

  12. Your comments about additions and subtractions rang so true to me! Not to get all religiousy, but the bible ( example Ephesians 4:22-24) always talks about putting something off to then be able to put something on (usually referring to behavior). I’ve always loved this concept because of the focus on the tandem ideas. You can’t have one without the other. It has helped me over the years to not develop a “deprivation” mentality when pursuing other goals financially.

    • I love that you found a metaphor that’s so powerful for you! And I really do believe that the addition and subtraction have to feel like they balance each other out, or we’ll feel deprived and, like with a diet, struggle to stick with it long term.

  13. For us, the go slow now works. It was when my wife told she did not buy something we needed out of fear for the budget, we realized we needed to talk and rediscuss the topic.
    It takes practice, and now we are better aligned with our expectations. We now basically no longer adjust our spending to inflation or salary increase.

    We do spend more on holiday then before. For the joy and fun it brings.

    • Hi friend! I am realizing more and more all the time how wise you’ve been to go slowly through the journey rather than hurry up. Especially because you have your daughters, and don’t want to waste time you could be spending with them on working too many hours, or missing opportunities to go on memorable vacations together.

  14. It’s funny how living well differs from person to person. Someone living in one room thinks my studio is spacious, and someone struggling to make ends meet thinks my lifestyle is downright luxurious. It’s all a matter of how you look at things! I remember that whenever I’m tempted to complain about life. I’ve got it good, and it’s worth every bit of sacrifice now.

    • That’s such an awesome outlook, my friend! I love that you keep that perspective. We’re so trained to look at those ahead of us, not those behind us, and it’s easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. <3

  15. Moving to the Midwest from California made a huge difference in our savings rate. Lower cost of living along with more compact towns (less driving). But we still have a Trader Joe’s! Clean air, plenty of water, lots of wildlife. We’ve been asked many times if/when we are moving back (all family still lives there). We always say “No thanks, we like it here.” Hubby did a career change from high stress business to teaching (he wanted to coach) at 50. He retired from that at 60. I retired at 55. No way would that have been possible previously.

    BTW, I just finished reading all your posts from the beginning. Gold star!

    • Me too! Relocated from SoCal to the Midwest three years ago. Everything costs about 30% less here. My favorite thing is that I only pay for parking when I go downtown! Banking the capital gains from my home in California & my savings here are allowing me to retire at least 3 years earlier!

      • That’s awesome that you feel good about your move! You’re a good example of saving money by moving to a LCOL place. We moved from one HCOL place to another, but where we live now didn’t have the same spending culture. Either way — LCOL or HCOL with low-spending culture — can be a major financial boon.

    • Gold medal for you! If you don’t mind saying, how long did it take you to get through all the posts? I’m so curious! Because now, almost 300 posts in, ONL matches the word count of War and Peace (or its original title, “War, What Is It Good For?”). ;-)

      Congrats on being able to pull off the earlier retirement post-move! I am not trying to push everyone to move, but the cost of living of a place or just its spending culture (the latter is more what benefits us, because it’s still expensive here!) can make a major difference in your ability to save and retire!

      • Reading all the posts took a bit. I read a month’s worth of posts at a sitting, so not that many days but couldn’t read every day. Even in retirement, you have to choose what won’t get done. Wasn’t tracking but I think it was 3 or 4 months? Didn’t read the comments, though. Getting through the posts was challenge enough.

        Over at Intentional Retirement , Joe Hearn talks about 30 day challenges. In 30 days you try something new, bucket list or not, not to master but to break through the resistance/procrastination. I’ve found it helpful. I didn’t fail at my attempt, my 30 days was done.

      • Wow, that’s great to know! Thanks again for investing so much of your time in my little hobby. ;-) And I love the idea of those 30 day challenges. We will almost certainly try some things like that when we have a bit more time on our hands — very soon!

  16. Working on the spending without feeling like I’m sacrificing is something I have definitely struggled with – especially on the going out to eat front. I am a single woman who just recently moved to the area I live less than 2 years ago. It’s a big commuting area so people don’t live nearby each other and frankly, it’s not a great, friendly vibe at my small workplace anyway so I’m not really friends with people there. So with the few friends outside work I have here, eating out or meeting for drinks is the most common way of socializing. While I have tried inviting for dinner at my place, that’s not really convenient for them – plus I find when I host dinner I end up spending a lot on groceries anyway! And I don’t own a car. One solution I’ve found is doing things like drinking less alcohol (or even no alcohol) as alcohol will definitely bump the bill up! Plus I’ve been slowing down on that for health anyway. And also avoiding extras like other paid drinks or dessert, etc. That’s helped some as an alternative to not going out at all and becoming a hermit! But, I also don’t want to come up with all kinds of excuses not to cut back. And before everyone tells me to make more friends who don’t want to just eat out, let me tell you it’s not that easy to make friends when you get to middle age!

    Kind of fun trying to figure it all out though. So personal for everybody figuring out where and how to make cuts . . . And the journey continues . . . :)

    • I found the benefit of low alcohol or other paid drinks/desserts when I decided to cut the amount of sugar in my diet. All of a sudden, my restaurant bills went down. (And odd side benefit – turning down alcohol at a bar because of health reasons seems to be better accepted (at least in my circle) than doing so to save on the overpriced drinks. So I get more support on not spending that $$$ from the very crowd that doesn’t quite get the whole FIRE idea.)

      • That is so true about the not drinking being for health reasons being way more acceptable than to try to save money! If it’s about money, then the peer pressure comes. If it’s about health, sometimes there’s a little pressure (oh surely you can just have one), but it’s not as bad as if you say it’s about money. I am trying completely cutting out sugar, which helps on restaurant and grocery bills as you said. So far that’s going pretty well actually!

      • Awesome that it’s going well so far! Tune out those naysayers and do what’s best for you. (The FI training must make you pretty great at that by now!) ;-)

      • Ha — I love using another argument to save money without resistence. ;-) (Obviously the health benefit is huge, too, so it’s totally valid!)

    • You get big high fives for being so determined to crack that nut! :-D I love the idea of still going out but drinking less (for both money and health), and making the focus be the social time. I think the common advice to stop going out is just not realistic for many people, and we would go crazy if someone told us we had to stop altogether!

  17. Another relevant post, and wonderful writing – I love that you don’t BS (with font sizes, spacing and the likes). We just started our journey to FI as well :)

    • Thanks so much! :-) Glad you’re enjoying! Sending you good vibes for your FI journey.

  18. The best “sacrifice” for us in our path to FI has been slowing down in life and rejecting the “busy” culture. It is so easy to give into FOMO, but we started questioning that fear. We realized what parts of our social life we were truly enjoying, and which parts were emotional and physical drains. This means we spend a few more weekends a year exploring our city and hanging out at home, but we also are so much happier. This has helped our jobs be less draining and in the end was not a sacrifice in the least!

    • I love this. It’s SO important to tune out that message that we need to do everything all the time — that thinking is so toxic and bad for us! High five for paying more attention to what feels best for you guys!

  19. This will sound a little off, but using my savings to start a business that has definitely taken lots of money from me over the past few years has actually felt like more of an addition rather than a sacrifice. It takes lots of time and money, but it has helped to focus me. I don’t go to as many events in my community, but those events were very alcohol-heavy and not focused on developing strong ties. My life is richer. The ties are fewer, but much stronger. I also have a great excuse to get out of things that sound terrible, but are expected, because I am too busy to waste my time. That excuse will wain once my business is more profitable, but it will still have power.

    • I don’t think that sounds off at all! I think the focus point is really important. It’s a micro example, but I think that’s why people pay personal trainers or other pros — by putting money behind something, you’re signaling your seriousness to yourself, making it a key priority and holding yourself accountable.