I noticed something this weekend. Even though we are on the road mostly not taken to early retirement, we do not want for anything. At the beginning of the month we sit down to make a map for our money. I use the term, map, because it’s a loosey-goosey budget. We certainly don’t take the Dave Ramsey approach of every dollar, on paper, on purpose-although we think it’s great for the people who can make it work. It’s way too restrictive for us and, inevitably, we can never foresee every little expense that will come our way in any given month (think: a doctor’s visit and medication, ugh). Instead, we choose certain items and events that we want to purchase or attend at the beginning of each month. After allocating cash for our fixed bills and investments, we devote a certain amount of money to be used for entertainment. After that, we analyze Each. And. Every. Purchase. Any leftover Benjamins get shuffled into our taxable investment account in preparation for our next buy-and-hold real estate purchase. Yes! I swear this gets me more excited than buying a new pair of shoes!
In the past, Mr. MMM and I bought into the consumerist ways of our peers, and most of America. We thought we needed a big house, a fast car, and the best threads lining our closets. After all, isn’t that how we valuate ourselves? We compare ourselves to our peers to gauge where we fall on the socioeconomic success scale. If you haven’t noticed, that’s why we ask each other, “What do you do?”
Bucking the CONSUME-CONSUME-CONSUME-MACHINE is not very popular. We’re seen as outcasts among our peers that are still in the rat race. When we tell other people our plans, we’re met with smirks, negative remarks, and disbelief. Oftentimes, followed by exclamations of how the other person could never even consider retiring decades before the SYSTEM tells them to. Why? Because they haven’t resolved to be different and stop consuming. Resisting peer pressure and bucking the system is the key to breaking free. Thinking for ourselves and actively deciding what was best for us, despite what others are doing or thinking, was the key to our financial freedom aspirations.
Lean Times & Lavish Luxury
Every day is a lean day for us, at least in comparison to most people. Interestingly, we live every day in lavish luxury. Read that again. That’s right. We live a life of lavish luxury even though we watch every purchase. Each passing day gets us closer to our FIRE goal. Knowing that each day we don’t blow money foolishly gets us closer to financial freedom and peace of mind is what has us living in luxury. Freedom is attained through baby steps.
We also don’t deprive ourselves as much as you might think. For Valentine’s Day, Mr. MMM aren’t planning on staring at each other over a bowl of Cheerios. Although have vowed to not give each other gifts, we are still going to celebrate-give us a small break, we did just get married :) In honor of the nonsensical holiday, we earmarked some cash to hit a local, eclectic venue featuring bacon & beer and chocolate & wine for Valentine’s Weekend. Yum. Yum. Yum. No tickets or reservations required. Yes, we’re spending money (we also saw Star Wars in December), but the money we’re spending is part of our monthly plan, not money that should be devoted to debt repayment, retirement funds or other investments. We have everything else covered. We have a solid plan and resist spending on a whim. Always.
In our minds, we have a lavish, luxurious life. It’s a great feeling.
How do you handle entertainment and special occasions? Also, if you’re on FIRE, do you feel deprived or relief?
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