If you’re on the journey to a work optional life, or you’re already retired, you have probably spent some time pondering what you truly value most, and what doesn’t add value to your life. But do you spend accordingly, and — importantly — without guilt? If not, this post is for you, talking all about giving yourself permission to spend on what you value most, whatever it is, and regardless of whether others in the FIRE movement think it’s a worthy expense.
I recently had an experience that offered a sharp reminder: despite years of saving (successfully!) and a year and a half of not blowing our early retirement budget, I’m still a spender at heart. But being a spender rather than naturally frugal doesn’t doom you to fail financially. You can still thrive and save at a high rate if you just structure your life in ways that set you up to succeed.
The choice of whether to buy on the basis of cost first, or on the basis of quality first, is a personal one, and in our case, we tend to go for quality as the first consider and price second. But that approach has taught us some hard lessons, both good and bad. Here are three examples of purchases, and the lessons we’ve taken away from them.
After taking a little time off from the blog to promote Work Optional, I’m back with a more detailed post on one of our biggest learnings thus far in early retirement: that you might spend more when you’re not working than you think you will. Let’s talk about why that is and what you should do about it.
It seems that the period of stock market volatility we’ve been in the past few months is here to stay for a while. Does that have you feeling anxious? If so, you’re normal, but you don’t have to stay that way. Learning not to let the markets or their machinations affect you is surprisingly easy to do if you make that your intention. Let’s talk about how.
Typical financial advice often focuses on learning to tell needs from wants. Which is great! But it only gets you so far. Most of the choices we make aren’t about needs vs. wants. They’re about wants vs. wants, or need-wants vs. want-needs. Rather than making your spending decisions based on this false binary, here’s why you should instead listen to the feelings of future you.
While the online financial independence community is fantastic for inspiration and support, having a real life circle of friends who are like-minded on money comes with enormous benefits. Let’s talk about what those benefits are, and how you can build or strengthen a frugal friend group in real life.
Aligning your spending with your values with one of the first bits of advice many of us here when we get on the path to financial independence. But that advice usually goes on to talk about value — specifically what you get most value from — and not really about values at all. This is my case for why it serves you better to think about both what you value and your personal values when it comes to your spending and economic power.
A year ago, I issued the Use It Up Challenge, and lots of you took it on. (Tell me how it went!) But there was part of the challenge that we took on specifically — the nothing new year — that we didn’t fully live up to. So we’re leveling up this year.
As total newbs to this whole early retirement thing, though admittedly newbs who’ve thought about this stuff a ton, we find ourselves now wrestling with a very practical question: Should we spend what we budgeted for this year, or aim to spend less, maybe a lot less? There are good reasons for either approach, so let’s talk about what those are.
In just two short months, we’ll be retired and living on a constrained income for the first time in ages. But we’re not worried, because we have a whole bunch of ways to live beyond that budget, especially once we have time to invest in research and deal-finding. (Plus, we can live a pretty sweet life for not a lot of money, so it doesn’t take much budget stretching to feel like we’re living a life of luxury.) Check out our plan for living beyond our budget — and then let us know what we missed!
The question of whether 4 percent is a safe withdrawal rate, as the “4 percent rule” suggests has been — and will continue to be — debated endlessly. Fortunately, this isn’t more of that debate. Instead, let’s look at whether the fundamental underlying assumption of the 4 percent rule — level spending every year — is actually realistic and safe to plan around. (Spoiler: it’s not.)
I know you’ve heard this one before: the narrative of “working a job you hate to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like.” It’s what I’ve come to call the Fight Club narrative, a distinct strand of the FI movement that posits consumerism as public enemy number 1. And while it’s a compelling narrative, here’s my case for why it’s harmful, and what we should be talking about instead.
Vicki Robin’s book Your Money or Your Life had a huge impact on how I view money, asking us to equate money we might spend with the life force it represents, in other words, the time it took to earn it. And while that’s a great starting point for shifting our thinking about money and spending, I have a different proposal for how we should think of that money to speed our progress toward financial independence, focusing not on how long the money took to earn, but on how much time it buys us back.
Today I’m (finally) sharing something that I’ve wanted to write about for a long time, but haven’t tackled because there is no easy formula: how to determine what is “enough” to save for early retirement. “Enough” is perhaps the centrally important concept to early retirement, but it can feel overwhelming to quantify your own. Here’s a breakdown on how we calculated ours, and how you can do the same for your own circumstances.
We don’t walk around in the world feeling like some financial masters of the universe. I blog about money, of course, so I think about it a fair amount – though less […]
There’s a principle in medicine that the dose makes the poison. Which means, very few substances are good or bad for us no matter what. Instead, what matters is how much of them we take. And it’s exactly the same with money. It’s easy to make symbols of things like buying lattes or paying for cable, but those behaviors aren’t objectively a problem. What might be the problem, however, is the dose. Why we’re big believers in focusing on the dose, in context, and embracing a sense of radical moderation.
It is a natural thing to want to save money, and those of us pursuing huge financial goals innately find the idea of saving even more powerful. The problem comes when marketers deliberately blur the line between saving and spending, convincing us we’re doing one when really we’re doing the other. Today, recognizing when saving money is actually spending money, and how to keep the focus on the saving itself.
We are not the poster children for frugality or for minimalism, but we are constantly surrounded by people who have bought all these things. And we want to shout: you don’t need any of it! It only makes you look like you are good at something, versus actually being good at it. Here’s how we learned to separate the things that only add cachet from the things that add actual value to our lives.
We’ve gotten a lot of money advice in our adult lives, and quite a lot of it seemed totally convincing… until we examined the philosophical question underlying that advice. How we learned to tell whether that reasonable-sounding advice is actually good or not.
We’ve spent more than a decade building up our savings and investments, all the while granting them a special status by not touching them. Even shelling out $8,000 for our tax bill this year felt painful. The pain of paying that bill made me wonder if I have “special occasion thinking” around our investments. And if, when it comes time for it next year, we’ll actually be able to spend our investments. Let’s explore…
We constantly come across new tips on how to get to “optimal frugality,” and while we think it’s great to continually try to optimize your spending, something that we now know to be true is that there’s never a point of ultimate optimization, a point when we have everything figured out perfectly. Rather, it’s an ongoing process of dropping habits and adding new ones. Here are some we’re happy we’ve dropped.
so many of us have had the experience, before we got smart about our finances, of not knowing where our money went. as i was reading another blogger’s post about that last week, i had the thought: “where did the day go?” where did the money go? where did the time go? these are not such different questions. here’s how we’re changing our mindset around time, to see it as our most precious asset.
this was our sliding doors weekend. you know the concept: you rush into a train station, and just barely catch the train. but then in an alternate reality or parallel universe, you rush for the same train, but the doors close before you can hop on. that triggers a sequence of events that leads you to a completely different future.
we frequently read blog posts outlining people’s grocery spending and practically have to pick our jaws up off the floor afterward. you’re spending only $30 a week for groceries?!?! you’re feeding a […]
that impulse buy was a reminder that, even if we’re living way below our means, we still have to improve our habits if we’re going to be able to live within our early retirement allocations in a very short two and a half years’ time.