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.
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. Also, it’s a big time for my friend Cait Flanders, and to celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of her book. Come enter!
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.
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.