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Old 06-27-2014, 10:07 AM   #21
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:10 AM   #22
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I guess what I am trying to ask did anyone struggle with the transition from "we make a great living and can buy what we want and travel when we want to" now "we will be on a fixed income and I have to live within my means."
We used to think exactly like that and I wasn't sure at first how this would all work out. But we have been pleasantly surprised it actually has.

I still buy stuff but I like bargain hunting these days. I try to buy products that we can use for sustainable living that end up saving more money over the long term than they originally cost. I get a lot of stuff at deep discounts or practically free with specials and coupons, for doing product reviews or discounted open box items on Amazon warehouse deals.

We bought quite a few energy saving products on Amazon these past few years, which has helped to cut our annual energy bills by more than half.
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:12 AM   #23
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You are trying to fill a hole with "things". Figure out what is missing and address that. There are people that specialize in figuring out this stuff.
Yes this is accurate. A little empty nest adjusting. All of my time was running for the kids, grabbing this or that they needed for school, sports, etc. so definitely a huge amount of time left over at the end of the day now.

There are so many steps to the process and since I am learning as we go. Another part of the equation may be no one in our social circle or age group is in our position so a little keeping up with the Jone'es needs to go. Our friends are still having kids, building bigger houses, or don't have the retirement plan with lifetime health insurance that my H has so they have another 20-25 years of work to go.
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:15 AM   #24
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We used to think exactly like that and I wasn't sure at first how this would all work out. But we have been pleasantly surprised it actually has.

I still buy stuff but I like bargain hunting these days.
By talking it out and I am more honest with my H about my fears then I was even 6 months ago I have no doubt we will surprise ourselves too.
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:45 AM   #25
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My formula for impulse control: build structure and understand motivation / triggers to help build the right ones.

With structure it is stuff like
  • Put money in an account which is hard to access
  • Create an automatic cooldown period.
  • Reward yourself for not buying something, or finding it cheaper.
  • Look for things you can return or sell later at a higher price.
  • Give a friend authority to override any purchase (not your husband since he eggs you on), or at least let them ask questions
  • Write a standard "question" checklist you need to work through
  • Never pay credit card, only cash
  • Convert shopping impulse always in 'hours of work'. Realizing you need to work two full months for a gizmo you don't even need puts a damper on things for me
Understanding triggers and motivation is powerful, my examples
  • I associate some foods with sugary drinks (e.g. pizza). Knowing that I am much more resistant to it. I make sure not to go out shopping after I had a pizza.
  • Looking at my portfolio when it's dropping increases my nervousness. Knowing that I created a rule for my ETFs (structure): no portfolio looking for a month when the value has dropped significantly.
  • Sports is a chore, but I feel great afterwards. So I created a deal with myself: if I don't feel like doing sports, I go anyway. If afterwards I regret having gone, next time I don't want to go, I stay home. Never happened.
  • Getting out of the house is a shopping motivation for me. Knowing that, I try to substitute it with sports.
...
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:07 AM   #26
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I found an easy way to deal with this problem when in the accumulation phase, before retiring. I cut back on my spending until I was spending less than I planned to have available in retirement.

This had two good results: First, I never got used to spending much, so I am not having to cut back; and second, that gave me more to put into my retirement nestegg.

Use your math skills in preparing for retirement: Cut back until what you are spending is consistent with what you will have to spend in retirement. You are not going to magically become frugal just because you retire. Now is the time to do that (in my opinion! )

Good luck and I hope this helps.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:14 AM   #27
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You are not going to magically become frugal just because you retire. Now is the time to do that (in my opinion! )
Very good point
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:18 AM   #28
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I had a sister in law that would go drunken binge shopping (that was her name for it) she and her friends or daughters would get schnockered then go the the mall and buy outrageous amounts of clothes, purses, whatever, just for the fun of shopping. Charge it all, then return it the next day. A dangerous way to feed the buying monster, but they had great fun. I can barely get myself into the grocery store, much less the mall.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:41 AM   #29
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I've always been a LBYM type person. Yet at the same time I don't mind splurging on something that I really like. But I think the title "Needs vs Wants" says it all.

When I used to w*rk my mind went like "Everyone else has cable, so I should too. Everyone else has a monthly mobile service. so should I, etc. etc." But what I retired my mindset changed and I had to ask myself "Do I really need it or just want it?"

Having a good budget is an important start. I've found that budgeting allows me to buy stuff that I really need and want instead of stuff I have no need for and wonder why I got that in the first place. Plus, if forces honesty.

Also, sometimes just going to a store and browsing can bring a similar high. The 3 most powerful words when shopping "I'm just browsing"
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:02 PM   #30
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You are trying to fill a hole with "things". Figure out what is missing and address that. There are people that specialize in figuring out this stuff.

I think that was my problem while I was still working. I was so unhappy with my job, in the last few years, that I might have been trying to plug that hole. Since I retired, I've desired much less.


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Old 06-27-2014, 12:03 PM   #31
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Lately we are just more aware of the differences between what advertisers say we need and what happiness studies find is really important. Many of the factors that make people happy are actually free or low cost - social connections, being around nature, creative hobbies and free time. Financial security makes people happy and that actually comes from buying less stuff not more.
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:41 PM   #32
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My formula for impulse control: build structure and understand motivation / triggers to help build the right ones.
...
Good strategy for a lot of life's challenges actually. Thank You
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:46 PM   #33
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I just want thank everyone for taking the time to let me talk through this. I was brought up in a home where you just plain were not encouraged to talk and you definitely did not discuss your feelings so I learned very young to stuff things down and learned unhealthy coping mechanisms. I am working on reversing that.
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Old 06-27-2014, 01:37 PM   #34
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Recommend spending some time on the Mr. Money Mustache blog. He has a lot to say about mindless spending.
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Old 06-27-2014, 01:55 PM   #35
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This "want Spending" has been an issue for both my wife and I. As we plan to retire next year we have done three things that have helped. First we have started selling "stuff" we don't need around the house. This makes us much more aware of amount of want stuff around. Second, we have made and discussed a post retirement budget so we have a better understanding of what changes in behavior it will take to successfully retire and travel (our # 1 discretionary item). Third we have practiced cutting want spending for the past 6 months to see how it feels and make sure we can do it.

The one cautionary item for us is the fact that I have been going through cancer treatment the past 6 months. While it is highly likely that it won't be an issue going forward, there has been a bit of pause on living to focus on the treatment so we aren't totally sure our attitudes and spending the last 6 months are reflective of a healthy reality.

This is a great subject. Thanks for bringing it up. It is really helpful seeing how others deal with it.


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Old 06-27-2014, 02:00 PM   #36
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It really isn't what I want. You could say I have a very addictive personality. shopping, eating, drinking. It is about controlling the urge so that we can live the life we deserve in retirement. Coming up with healthy habits instead of destructive ones.
On your deathbed, do you want to look back and reminisce about all the stuff you bought or do you want to think on how you spent your time and money doing things of value?

I think people in your situation, and I know many, could spend time in self-reflection and try to figure out who they really are. What are they about? What are their passions and interests.

Excessive consumerism is, IMO, always a sign of something else missing in one's life.
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:17 PM   #37
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I guess some would say I buy a fair amount of stuff. I have a lot of hobbies. As I stated before I love doing the research, joining forums and learning and then making an informed buying decision.

I could care less what anyone else has or does not have. It is for me. If I get to a place where I can't afford it, I will wait or save till I can or do without. To me, living within your means goes both ways.

Now DW........(just kidding)

YMMV
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:08 PM   #38
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I guess some would say I buy a fair amount of stuff. I have a lot of hobbies. As I stated before I love doing the research, joining forums and learning and then making an informed buying decision.

I could care less what anyone else has or does not have. It is for me. If I get to a place where I can't afford it, I will wait or save till I can or do without. To me, living within your means goes both ways.

Now DW........(just kidding)

YMMV
I think this is totally reasonable. It is very different from impulsive consumption that ends with buyer's remorse and a bunch of junk you don't want stuffed in closets.

But, it is probably healthier than many other compulsions!
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:54 PM   #39
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I too have had that issue long ago - couldn't keep a dollar in my pocket. I got over it by (at the time) going to almost all cash, no credit cards, and writing checks only for stuff that would be impractical to pay any other way - rent, utilities, etc.

And I learned to stay out of stores. That alone is huge. One of the more enlightening classes I ever took was one in marketing. There are some very smart people who have spent their entire lives studying how to get you to spend more money for stuff you don't even want. The psychology of what goes on in a store is well-studied and runs deep.

Knowing this made me admittedly a little paranoid and a lot more analytical when I'm in a store.

Other suggestions made are good - go to all cash when possible. Do you know why merchants love credit cards even with the fees they have to pay the banks? Because spending with a cc doesn't "feel" like spending and on average people spend 20% more with a cc than they do with cash. Pulling cash out of your wallet is a negative experience. Cc's give you immediate gratification with no immediate pain.

Someone else made a very good suggestion about the wish lists on online sites. I have several of those, containing items that I will never buy (think Nikon D4s, lens not included) unless I hit the lottery and we all know how likely that is.

We also have a spreadsheet that we use to enter that month's financials in that calculates our discretionary spending amount for the rest of the month which helps a lot to avoid unpleasant surprises the next month when the cc bills arrive in the mail. That's one tool that works well for us, YMMV.

In all, you have to find a method or system that will work for you and your H. Perhaps this will help: "Failure to do so will mean you have to go back to work!"
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:54 PM   #40
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Thanks guys, We have built in discretionary spending but it is when the whim hits I worry about. I have been known to blow a significant amount of money very quickly during one of my binges then have the "What have I done?" Mostly done in boredom like mindless eating.
I ask this question in all seriousness and from personal experience:

Have you ever considered that you might be bi-polar?

When many people think about bi-polar they think of massive mood swings from suicidal depression to drunken weekends in Vegas. There is a variant called bi-polar 2 which is reflected in less extreme swings between depression and manic episodes of intensity. Within that, there is a further classification called "rapid cycling bi-polar 2" where these swings come and go fairly quickly. Because these exist in the context of an otherwise "normal" life it can go un-diagnosed for a long time. Apparently there is also evidence that it can worsen in mid-life.

If you find yourself saying, "I try to stop these episodes but I can't", you may want to look into this. Particularly if you see a similar pattern in other aspects of your life and/or you have depressed episodes as well. If you're struggling with this stuff but keeping quiet, I implore you to talk to your doctor or a friend. Our society generally stinks at dealing with mental health issues...but there are many good web sites and a trip to your family doc can get this assessed fairly quickly.

This may well not be your situation, but your comment above made me think I should at least suggest it.

Good luck!
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