One of the biggest misconceptions of the FIRE movement is that one must delay gratification indefinitely, not taking the time or spending the money to enjoy life along the way to FI.
If that’s your plan, you’re doing it wrong.
The point of reaching your financial independence goal is to be able to live the life you desire, including the budget you desire, at an age where you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it. If you’re not happy with the lifestyle pre-FIRE, there’s no sense in locking in a life of austerity with a premature retirement.
The early-retired CEO from Accidentally Retired penned today’s Friday Feature. A fatFIRE devotee, he reminds us that it’s OK to indulge from time to time on the things you truly value. I couldn’t agree more. This article originally appeared on Accidentally Retired.
Indulge the things that make you happy, then ruthlessly cut the rest
As I write this post, I want to acknowledge that the life I live is one of privilege. I have never had to struggle to put food on the table, find a job, pay the bills, etc…
I am a white male in America, who hit the lottery with great parents, a solid education and excellent role models. I acknowledge all of that. I am as privileged as privileged can be.
So this article is not intended for anyone who is currently struggling to make ends meet.
This article is not for anyone who is digging their way out of debt.
This article is not for anyone who cannot put food on their table.
Don’t forget, you only live once.
I am 100% for earning, saving and investing as much as you possibly can. That means cutting the fat, and that means making sacrifices.
But we all agree that we only have one life to live. ONE.
That is it.
There are no do-overs and I certainly don’t want to live with regret. Neither should you.
So this is about embracing the one life that we have. That means that you should be exploring and embracing having fun, pursuing your passions, finding hobbies/things to do that give you joy.
Finding joy and happiness it the ultimate reason to go after Financial Independence like a dog with a bone. Why else do we need to be financial free if not to live life to its fullest every day?
You may be in the process of pursuing FI, making sacrifices, being frugal and earning/saving/investing as much as you can to reach that moment when you are 25x expenses and can walk into your bosses office, drop the mic and peace out.
But what if your plan has you still 5 or 10 or 20 years away from FI? What then?
We can’t all be sacrificing without living life. And there are so many free options out there to live our best life. So by all means we can/should utilize the free options.
However, we also can’t deny that there are things that we each enjoy that cost money.
Spend your money on things that bring you joy
My wife and I got married at the age of 24, which this day in age is pretty young.
Neither of us wanted kids right away, so our goal was to travel for 5-6 years before thinking about kids.
We started off with a Honeymoon to Europe and we never looked back. We budgeted $10K for our 2 week trip and we saved for a year to take the trip of a lifetime.
And every year since, we have carved out vacations and experiences big and small.
Traveling has opened us up to new cultures and experiences, given us time to reconnect, and enjoy the finer things in life.
We have stayed at 5-star resorts. We have stayed in everything from Overwater Bungalows in Tahiti to a Houseboat in San Diego. We have stayed in cramped small hotels in Europe and hostels in NYC.
The point is, that we decided that traveling and spending money doing it is worth doing NOW and not waiting to a later date.
I have never regretted a trip we have taken, and often the worst trips and worst moments, make for the most fun stories.
Find the things that make you happiest and indulge away
But even travel really only occurs here and there. When you most need a break from the daily grind. What about those other moments?
I grew up playing golf (see, told you I was privileged). And I still love golfing, so I make sure to indulge every so often and get out there and play.
Do you love video games? No reason not to indulge in that!
Or what about massages or fine dining. Indulge!
Skiing? Snowboarding? Indulge.
Is your passion astronomy? Indulge in that $1,000 telescope.
Spending a small portion of your budget on things that you enjoy is necessary. It is a must.
It is too easy to get stuck in the frugality mindset. Too easy to get obsessed with only investing. Too easy to focus on our careers and forget about the things that we enjoy in the process.
But we only get this ONE life, and you best enjoy it NOW, even if your goal is Financial Independence. Even if your goal is still to Retire Early.
FI takes sacrifice, but it is entirely possible to achieve FI and live a fun and fulfilling life in the meantime.
Happiness is what we are looking to achieve, and while money can’t buy happiness, sometimes it is the perfect vehicle to pursuing what can make you happy.
Indulge, but for half the cost
A balanced budget is key. If you love golfing, consider golfing at the cheaper courses in the area. For instance, an average round where I live will go for about $50-200 at a nicer course. Instead, I opt for the cheaper courses. I enjoy golfing, not partaking in the nicest/prettiest course. So I spend $30 tops.
Massages? I love massages. And not the kind that you get at the Massage Envy’s of the world. I want to really have a full spa day at a nice resort. We wait until the offseason and then snag up deals on Travelzoo and other platforms for 50% off.
Eating a nice meal out? We use Yelp to try to scout out 5-star restaurants that are around town, but aren’t overpriced. Then my wife and I will often times share an appetizer, entree, and dessert. ONE of each. A great meal, typically for under $100.
We indulge and spend on a variety of things, but then we find ways to aggressively save in other ways.
Ruthlessly cut unnecessary expenses
Even though we indulge in many of the things that I mentioned above, we still find ways to save as much money as we can on the flipside.
You see it is all about balance.
I am my own handyman. If anything breaks around the house, I look up the solution on Youtube, and attempt to tackle it myself.
I am my own landscaper. Trees need a trim? No problem.
I am my own pest control. Instead of that costly monthly pest control fee, I spray our house down myself.
I am my own security install technician. Our home security/monitoring was outrageous, so we switched to Ring, for pennies on the dollar.
Prepay expenses when you can get a discount.
For us, this is car insurance (10% discount if you pay 6 months in advance). And many SaaS services like Dropbox or Google Drive are cheaper if you pay yearly vs. monthly.
So you see, we have found real balance in our budget. We can indulge in those extra things that bring us happiness, but also cut back on the things that don’t.
Don’t take life and don’t take financial independence so seriously that you forget to live.
What do you spend money on that brings you joy? How do you indulge in life? Comment below!