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Balance - How are you enjoying life before FIRE?
Old 02-21-2011, 09:05 AM   #1
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Balance - How are you enjoying life before FIRE?

I am by nature a planner and a "work before play" person like everyone on this forum seems to be. That being said, I have been focusing more the last couple of years on enjoying life in the moment vesus constantly plannning for the future. I am curious what the folks here who are a ways out from FIRE do to enjoy the here and now with a focus on things that costs money at the possible expense of saving more for retirement.

I am 44 and most likely 15 years away from retirement - i contribute the max to my 401k each year, fully fund two IRAs and also contribute to a separate stock portfolio each year. So, here are the things my family and I splurge on now that helps us enjoy the here and now, even if it means retiring at 60 or so instead of 55.

-Vacations: We go on a few great vacations a year. Just booked a cruise for our anniversary. We try to travel every week I have off from work and beginning in June I get four weeks a year.

-Vehicles: We drive very nice cars (purchased 2-3 years old and always at a sharp price). I also have a couple of motorcycles that I get tremendous enjoyment from. Only payment I have is on my car - everything else purchased with cash.

-Tennis Club - joined one last year and loving it.

-Dining: We eat out at least onece a week - nothing too fancy but a date night is very good for a relationship.

-Dogs - two artsy fartsy dogs that require lots of grooming. My wife loves them and it's kind of her hobby.


So - very curious to hear from others and wondering if this is a taboo topic. Am I a bad person because I would rather take a cruise every year, drive a BMW and retire at 60 versus retiring at 55? Will I be banned from this forum after only a few posts?
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:32 AM   #2
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I am now happily retired, but I enjoyed life as much as possible before FIRE.

Personally I didn't choose to spend money on vacations, tennis club, and flashy new cars in order to enjoy life. Instead I got my jollies out of paying off my mortgage, and challenging myself as to how much I could save each month (which I regarded as an "in your face" act towards management, even though it was entirely unknown to them).

Each to his/her own! This was my choice, and was what made me happy. Had I spent on the same things you are spending on, I would have been miserable. Knowing myself, and how I would have felt, I chose not to do that.

Certainly lavish spending is not a taboo topic, and I know of many here who have several homes, RVs, antique cars, and other expenditures that make them happy. I don't think that ANY kind of spending makes you "a bad person". After all, it's your money, not ours.

I think it's not the spending that would raise my eyebrows - - it's whether or not you know yourself, and are doing what is in your own best interest while not shooting yourself in the foot. If you can afford it, still have enough to deal with life's vicissitudes, and can still retire on your own schedule, then spend away!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:04 AM   #3
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My philosophy was to spend some and save some. You just want to make sure that when you do decide to retire that you don't suffer a huge lifestyle change.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:12 AM   #4
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So - very curious to hear from others and wondering if this is a taboo topic. Am I a bad person because I would rather take a cruise every year, drive a BMW and retire at 60 versus retiring at 55?
In my opinion, you are absolutely not. I think the key is to make sure you fully understand the implications of your spending in terms of utility and opportunity cost. If you fully understand these implications (and it sounds like you do), then you are operating at an optimal level for you.

Most people here understand the implications of their spending and choose FIRE as one of the highest levels of utility for their spending, but I've never seen anyone do more than encourage others to consider that as a possibility for themselves.

I could retire now if I lived like some extreme early retirement individuals, but I choose to wait for reasons not totally dissimilar than yours.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:17 AM   #5
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I view each weekend, holiday, and day off as retirement practice. Fortunate to have dual careers (Navy Reserve [currently on mil leave from civ job]) that I enjoy more days than not. We have a side gig "working" beer festivals for a vendor - that provide great enjoyment - with pay and free beer (and lodging when out of town). Both cars paid off. I have influenced DBF (eventually to be DH) - to really come to terms with early retirement - we plan on retiring together in 2020. As a result of his career shift (from corporate to sales) around the time I met him, he learned on his own how to live frugally. We save to take awesome yet well budgeted somewhat frugal vacations. No debt, and working on home improvements in tandem with paying off the mortgage in the next 5 or so years. We are living life to the fullest today - and planning appropriately for ER in the not too distant future. We both have had some major personal/financial losses/set backs/tragedy along our respective life paths, so definitely appreciate things today. All that is holding me back today from ER is two sets of proverbial pension handcuffs - but at least they are fuzzy! Life does not suck at all!
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:22 AM   #6
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Spending years living a crabbed and miserable existence just so I can spend more years living a crabbed and miserable existence does not seem like a good game plan to me. The young wife and I eat and drink well and go on foreign and domestic vacations every year. We fix up our house the way we want it to be. In general, we try to maximize our enjoyment of life now while still planning prudently for the future. It's a balance we each must strike on our own.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:41 AM   #7
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Given sufficient income, you can be very LBYM and still enjoy spending on carefully selected things that are important to you. For example, this week I spent $750 on a very special dinner to celebrate a special occasion with friends. I may buy a new car this year (in cash). I feel happy about both decisions.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:53 AM   #8
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Great responses - I really appreciate everyone's input. I am sure the money I spend on vehicles seems dumb to some but it's also kind of a hobby - I have always been a car nut and now a motorcycle nut as well. I still won't get the cheese on my Whopper (because it's a ripoff!) even when going through the drive through in my 530.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:59 AM   #9
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Given the numerous layoffs DW and I both have been though we have focused exclusively on FIRE, haven't been on a vacation in 5+ years (actually cannot remember the last time we took a vacation, DD has traveled tons with various school sponsored events, she spent winter break in Italy so I don't feel too badly for her).

We would probably would have stopped to smell the roses some if the job situation hadn't been so perilous the past 7+ years, but who knows. I like being able to focus on FI (we're there) and now looking at how best to go to ESR.

good luck!
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:10 AM   #10
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I have influenced DBF (eventually to be DH)...
Well, he's finally getting there congratulations!

Have you told him yet?
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:18 AM   #11
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I still won't get the cheese on my Whopper (because it's a ripoff!) even when going through the drive through in my 530.
That's how me and my DW usually analyze things. It's all about weighing the cost of enjoyment.

Would we rather spend $x to have Y, or save $x and retire hours/days/months earlier. Many times it's yes, spend now.

It reminds me of my high school days working in fast food. someone would come in and order an extra large meal, with diet coke. Some coworkers would snicker, but it made sense to me, they enjoyed the burger & fries enough to suffer the calories, but the drink didn't matter.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:23 AM   #12
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I am now retired but while we were still working we always LBYM but we still traveled a lot and ate out once a week . I'm glad we did that because some of the travel is not conducive with aging (white water raft trips ).Plus you never know what the future holds so you need to enjoy the journey while you still save .
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:35 AM   #13
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That's how me and my DW usually analyze things. It's all about weighing the cost of enjoyment.

Would we rather spend $x to have Y, or save $x and retire hours/days/months earlier. Many times it's yes, spend now.

It reminds me of my high school days working in fast food. someone would come in and order an extra large meal, with diet coke. Some coworkers would snicker, but it made sense to me, they enjoyed the burger & fries enough to suffer the calories, but the drink didn't matter.
Right. I believe there was a book a few years back called "Trading Up" or something to that effect. Basic premise was that intelligent consumers go cheap on some things to afford spending on other things. For example, we have stayed in the same house instead of buying a McMansion like virtually all my peers at work. We already have 2100 sq ft in a great neighborhood with great schiools, etc. My housing cost (including taxes and insurance) is now down to just 6% of my annual gross pay so it allows us to spend on other stuff and still save. I just cringe when I hear of people spending 40-50% of their pay on housing.

And, yes, nothing wrong with a double whopper and a diet!
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:49 AM   #14
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As long as you are LBYM, you can decide how much of your discretionary income goes toward vacations, cars, etc.

Personally, I feel you need a balance: vacation and cars balanced with J*b. It makes it worth it at the end.

I think our "treat" to ourselves are vacation/travel and dining out. International trip every other year along with 1 - 3 domestic trips per year. Dining = DW likes seafood 1-2 times a month and casual dining 1-2 times a week, so we do it.

Sure we can save more if we trimmed some of this, but we enjoy it and still save a bit too.



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Old 02-21-2011, 11:51 AM   #15
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and onion rings.

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And, yes, nothing wrong with a double whopper and a diet!
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #16
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and onion rings.
That "zesty" sauce they have for the onion rings is FABULOUS!
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:28 PM   #17
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Well, he's finally getting there congratulations!

Have you told him yet?

He slipped and spilled the beans he is saving/shopping for a ring. I'd be thrilled with a simple band and a new kitchen!

I was informed yesterday he was doing some online courses for his job - "to influence our future financial success"
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:30 PM   #18
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That "zesty" sauce they have for the onion rings is FABULOUS!
Absolutely agree...don't read the ingredients list - I am sure they are gross! (along with the onion rings - sickenly processed - but yummy every once in a while!)
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:30 PM   #19
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Congrats and enjoy your new journey.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:41 PM   #20
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I am 48 and recently semi-retired. Still own a small biz that provides a substantial amount of income with and minimal amount of work. I believe that my very engaged type of personality required me to step into retirement slowly.

Prior to quiting my career, I too lived big. Wife with Lexus, me with BMW (check my name out), performance boat, show horses, big house and couple of vacations a year.

Now we both drives fords and our lives and spending are more focused on experiences rather than stuff. So now we take 4 or 5 trips a year. I know that the machines can also provide you with some good experiences too, but I roll them into trips, like last fall we rented a couple of bikes and did an Arizona ride.

So I guess what I'm saying is that likely as you age your choices will change and you'll start having some thoughts like "for the price of that BMW every year, I could spend a month in New Zealand!" You might say "I'll do both", but if you're still working and plan to retire at 59, you likely are not independently wealthy.

If you are a planner, you will work these things through and make the right decision for you and your family. Just be aware that they are going to likely change as you get older.
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