I love writing in this space, because I’m the youngest of 8 children. My oldest sibling(s) has an entirely different idea about “Financial Independence and retiring early”. Flat out they discourage it. I don’t know if it’s because they’re concerned about my physical health, my mental health or just staying active. Maybe they just want to make sure that a younger generation continues to pay those taxes to fund social security. Accepting it is a different way of thinking, that really takes a while to get used to.
My oldest sister is just about hitting 70. When I told her I was thinking about leaving the work force, her reaction came as quite a surprise.
Actually, as I’ve touched on this topic with her over the past 5+ years, her reaction is always one of disapproval and disappointment. She still doesn’t get it after explaining my position on the lack of ROI of being employed full time. Even after factoring in a commute, she still doesn’t get it.
My own financial strength has really only slowly started to dawn on me over time. Similar to a lot of the millennial frugal bloggers that I follow, me and my wife always tried to live beneath our means. That was always great practice. It’s been like an old friend, now that we’ve returned to that, since becoming a one income family 2 years ago. Actually, if I had strictly stuck to that method, I’d probably have about 500K more in the bank right now, with an average combined salary of $120K per year. (I’d say we had a 7 or 8 year gap where we really didn’t live frugally from 40 to 47)
Knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing
Since my mother-in-law passed away last year, I’ve been more geared to ensuring that I’m enjoying what we have and sharing it when appropriate. My personal goal is to spend my very last dollar on the day that I die. If that were true, then I’m going to need to spend a good chunk of change between now and then. I never shy away from a large purchase, if it’s going to improve our quality of life. In the last year, we’ve completed a major kitchen renovation, outfitted the bedroom with an adjustable base bed, new mattress, surround sound system, and are in the process of giving the bathroom a facelift.
When I floated the idea of a new Dyson vacuum to my wife, in the range of $300 to $500, she was a little gun shy. However, we pulled the trigger on a refurbished model that is specifically for pets. I don’t think our home has ever been so clean. That’s a quality of life improvement for someone who has allergies and for a clean freak like my wife.
Understanding your buying power
One of the things that has slowly helped me gain confidence in my financial security has been the press coverage of the growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor.
Articles like the one about how most American’s couldn’t financially handle a $400 expense, without borrowing or putting it on a credit card shed some light for me. Because, while I know that is unfortunate for many people, that is far from my own profile.
Hey..everyone worries about money, right? Whether you’re wealthy or poor, people think about it…a lot. So when is the right time to spend or even splurge?
Actually, Sam from Financial Samurai, pointed me toward a post that he wrote, when I first started following his blog. It’s entitled “The fear of running out of money in retirement is overblown.” That was a nice little eye opener for me. Maybe not so much an opener as it was a balanced voice that offset some of the negative Nellies.
Getting to “Exactly”
In general, the more I write, the more I understand my own financial muscle. Some random thoughts about that.
In general, I don’t get “sticker shock” about anything. Differentiating between wants and needs is on automatic-pilot for us. However, when I see the price of most things, nothing seems unattainable at this stage in our lives.
Just before the wife was laid off in 2014, we engineered an all cash deal for a vacation home. The deal ultimately fell through, and the house sold for the around the price we were offering. The difference between people saying they’re interested in a deal, and actually pulling the trigger, is a world apart. When you have the leverage of cash, that can make a big difference in the price you can negotiate. You can also afford to wait for the deal that works for you. That is a much different position than competing with someone who is working on a rocket mortgage.
I leave you with this small story of a conversion with my Brother-in-law, who was married to my oldest sibling. He was selling his point that he thought that the gay community had it much better, when everything was “in the closet” and they had their own world. I abruptly asked him if living his entire life in secrecy would seem like fun to him. Surprisingly, he thanked me for helping him see things in a different way, and he was wondering why that was so difficult for him to understand over the years.