Author Topic: Am I doing it wrong?  (Read 4006 times)

mom-n-teacher

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Am I doing it wrong?
« on: July 07, 2013, 03:36:08 PM »
I've been reading MMM for about a month now and the message really resonates. While Hubby and I don't tend to be the biggest spenders on the block anyway, we've still found a bunch of places to scale back. Last week, I called and canceled cable TV. We've cut way back on eating out (although not completely), and I've managed to only drive somewhere 5/7 days instead of 7/7 days for the last two weeks. A few days ago, we bought a used 2000 compact car (40 mpg, cheap to insure, etc.) to replace my 2011 Sienna (23 mpg, car note, must have comprehensive insurance).

As we lighten our financial load, I keep expecting to experience positive emotions, like the burdens of consumerism are being lifted and we are FREEEEEEEEE.

I don't. It's been eight days, and I miss watching TV. I like the little car we bought (and it truly does meet all our needs...now that two of our four kids are over 18, the minivan is really excess), but I LOVE my Sienna and even though it's technically still in our driveway because we still have to sell it, I already miss it.

Worse, Hubby and I are at slightly different places in this journey. We each go through phases as far as whether we think a particular expenditure is valuable enough to keep, but we don't seem to be going through the same Mustachian phases at the same time, and it is causing friction and annoyance.

So, I guess I am asking...do I just need to wait for my emotions to catch up? Is this a normal part of the process of withdrawing from consumerism? Because right now, it just doesn't feel good. I want to feel liberated and happy, but I feel more like a consumer whose consumerism isn't being indulged. I don't think my attitude adjustment wrench has been turned quite to the sweet spot.

hybrid

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2013, 04:13:48 PM »
Hmmmmm, that's a tough one.  As for the cable, there are less expensive alternatives.  We are getting ready to cut ours in large part because there are so many streaming series on Netflix we never watched when they were new, and it will literally take us months and months to catch up.  Not that I think we will anytime soon, because I generally don't want to spend that much time in front of the tube flat screen (sorry, showed my age there).

I'm a relative newbie as well, found out about this site a few months back.  Made a bunch of changes.  And, well, I hate to burst your bubble a little but hell yeah I feel good about it, I feel great about it.  My life is soooo much more focused and positive than it was before.  I am sorry your results have been different so far.

A Mustachian lifestyle really shouldn't feel like deprivation at all.  To a Mustachian a car is a car is just a car.  If you find you miss the old lifestyle then perhaps this simply isn't the right path for you.  I would only ask if you were happy in general and especially about your financial situation beforehand.  If so, maybe this isn't your path.  But if not, you and the hubbie have some soul-searching to do.  As in, make an informed choice.  More creature comforts and less in the bank, or a different path.  As long as you are financially responsible with either scenario then there is no wrong choice.  Just a better choice.

Also, it doesn't hurt to take things a little slower at first.  The missus really likes cable and I don't give a damn about it, so we made cuts in other areas first until she felt more comfortable to make the switch.

Ultimately my advice to you is to give it an honest effort, persevere another month or two and see how you are feeling about things.  Because you can always resubscribe to cable, you can always get another car.  If fixing your own meals and saving a boatload of cash in the process isn't nearly as pleasurable as dining out (and I am assuming you can afford to eat out), then just eat out more.  If you really miss that Siena in two months, then that's just who you are.  Just be honest with yourself.   

Inquizator

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2013, 04:24:21 PM »
So, I guess I am asking...do I just need to wait for my emotions to catch up? Is this a normal part of the process of withdrawing from consumerism? Because right now, it just doesn't feel good. I want to feel liberated and happy, but I feel more like a consumer whose consumerism isn't being indulged. I don't think my attitude adjustment wrench has been turned quite to the sweet spot.

What motivates mustachians varies a lot. It can be the anti-consumerism / minimalism, early retirement / financial independence, living a healthier life, etc. etc. (or any combination / subset). It sounds to be like you're going after the anti-consumerism / minimalism? But maybe you need more than that?

Personally, I like the minimalism and the anti-consumerism appeals to me, but the true motivation to keep me going and improving is the financial independence (either for ER or just "FU money" / options). So, for me, it was important to see the financial changes: to see expenses going down month after month, to see net worth rising so quickly, to see our savings rate improve. Also, I've done some planning / experimenting (such as with FIREcalc) on where we're headed long term. That gives me motivation and happiness that I am on the path to achieve my goals.

So, probably your lack of excitement has to do with it all being so new but maybe it also is a symptom of ill defined or research longer term goals / path. If you haven't already I highly suggest defining what your goals are with all this and what it takes to achieve that. Then start tracking it. It takes a while, but eventually you can clearly see that you're headed in the right direction and that helps a ton.

uspsfanalan

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2013, 04:36:02 PM »
Defining goals is good advice to help you stay motivated. When you miss things, I would suggest taking a minute to dig deep and figure out why you miss something. For example, if you were missing eating out, you could be missing the taste of the food, the atmosphere or time with your partner. Whatever you deep down were missing you might be able to achieve it in another less expensive way.

Theadyn

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2013, 06:51:18 PM »
I know in the beginning it was a change, for sure.  It was very different.  Just knowing things were being paid down didn't give me the all out glee feeling, at first.  What we did, which really helped my late hubby 'see' that it was changing, was making a visual graph of what we were working on.  I made one of each of the debts we were tackling, the current one had a spot on the fridge, and every payday, we enjoyed filling in the blocks of money that was paid on it.  It was just a mental thing, for us anyways, to see that it was actually going for something, instead of in a bank where numbers were being moved and we didn't feel the satisfaction.  It kept us motivated.  Being able to rip that one off the fridge when it was paid was very fulfilling!!   We had a burning party on a few of them, lol.  The big-to-us student loan was the last debt we paid down, 19k worth, and boy did that one get the torch!!!   :D

So maybe something similar would help?   So you won't concentrate so much on the things you aren't getting, but have a visual reminder of why you are doing these things, and it's working.

I remember we bought a $1,000 auction car for me to drive so I could sell the $21k new car.  It wasn't as nice or new, and it sure didn't impress anyone, that's for sure.  But when I was able to start paying down on it, all that money that I was upside down on and couldn't get anyone to buy it, it really just made me angry at the car and start appreciating our paid for cheapy car.  Was able to put a hunk down on it (7k Christmas bonus dh got), and had enough equity in it to trade it down to a bit newer paid for car than my el cheapo and get out of that big honker car note.   I loved that bit newer paid for car and drove it for years.

It could be you have things you aren't willing to do without, and that's okay, as long as you know what it equal in the long run and you're okay with that.   No one has to do things exactly the same.  :) 

matchewed

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2013, 07:05:39 PM »
Any lifestyle change takes time for you to adapt. Remember it is a lifestyle change, 8 days is nothing. It is just your brain which is used to a certain pattern adjusting to the new patterns. Replace those money consuming behaviors with some less consumptive behaviors and give it time, it's a long game.

Will

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2013, 07:06:57 PM »
It's been eight days, and I miss watching TV.

I installed a FlatWave indoor TV antenna and get all the OTA channels.  There is enough crap on those to keep me entertained.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2013, 07:42:46 PM »
No, you're not doing it wrong, you're just going through detox right now.

Like the others mentioned, you're just at the beginning of this change - and it's still early days.   

It takes a little while sometimes for the spendy lifestyle habits (that are sometimes engrained since childhood) to adjust. You will miss things you used to do. 

When you start seeing the debts really disappearing and the savings growing, that's when it really hits home. That, and finding more interesting hobbies and interests that don't automatically mean "I have to spend money."


TrulyStashin

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2013, 08:18:05 PM »
I am a few months into the MMM journey and I'm having frustration of a different sort.  I've slashed my spending ($600+ with more in the works -- goal is $1200 +/ mo back in my wallet).  But I've also recently had many one-off costs (e.g. personal property taxes, summer school tuition) that prevented me from sending a pile of dough toward my debt.  This month, the story will be similar (cancellation fee for Verizon - switched to Ting) and next month is back to school with some extra expenses for my teenage son.  It will be September before I'm really able to throw money at my debt.  I'm finding that frustrating but I'm committed to this because I know this truth:

What I was doing and the way I was living DID NOT WORK.   

So I will keep going through the uncertainty, knowing that it can't be worse than the low-grade chronic worry over ever-increasing debt and the certainty that I'd NEVER retire.  Ever.

The bottom line is that money and emotions are inextricably tied together.  That's why so few people can do this.  It's why we keep spending.   Work on your emotions as diligently as you do your finances and it will likely start to get better soon.

happy

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2013, 06:21:08 AM »
I'm sure the journey is different for everyone. I agree with trying to nail down just why you are doing this, so that you can remind yourself when times are a bit tough.

In less than a month you've made some big changes.  Do a big happy dance or pat yourself on the back. Go for the "low hanging fruit " first.. ie those things you both agree you can do without stress. Then work up to the harder ones.

Some people fly into this and make huge changes fast...me: I'm a self declared slow changer: too much too fast and I'll get overwhelmed and give up. If you feel way out of your comfort zone then maybe you are going too fast.....unless you are in a big debt emergency you are better off making slow and steady progress than burning out. If you ARE in a big debt emergency then just grit your teeth and suck it up.

From what I remember of it in the beginning it felt like trying to turn the Queen Mary (not sure if this is currency in US, but the Queen Mary is a big ocean liner and it turns v slowly with a lot of effort and it seems like nothing much is happening....then the momentum builds and gradually but inexorably the ship starts to turn).  I went for easy cuts, some of them seemed very small. A little spendy voice in my head said things like "I don't know why you're bothering with that, such a small amount". A few things I felt bad about cutting, but within a short while I didn't notice any difference.  A few more things I tried and failed, tried and failed several times before I broke the habit. 18 months down the track there's still stuff I'm working on (or sitting on).  But you know within a couple of months there was breathing space in my bank account and my savings rate went to about 35%. Then within 3-4 months I was at 50%.  Then after 10 months I cut my income by 28%, declaring myself semi-retired, and still manage to save 50%.  At various points I've thought I was maxed out, but then intermittently things would come to me that I could save on and things I couldn't do initially suddenly seem easy to let go. 



MsSindy

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Re: Am I doing it wrong?
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2013, 10:09:23 AM »
Think about why you're doing all this - is it purely financial or is there some other benefit?  If it's financial, one trick that worked for us is putting graphs on the wall and being able to color them in (either debt reduction or savings) - it's a visual reminder of what we're working towards.

If you're also hoping to do something better with your life, then not watching TV should help you do that.  Start to exercise, learn a language, go to the library.  What are the things you're going to do when you're FI?  Start doing them now!  Basically, you need to break the habit of watching TV.  For example, if you traditionally come home, eat, clean-up, and then go watch TV, try and do something else.  Go for a walk/bike ride after dinner.  Go work on meal planning for the rest of the month.  Start prepping for tomorrow night's dinner, so you're ahead of the game and won't be tempted to eat out.  Start a garden.  You get the idea.

Also, it's only been a month so you haven't seen the benefits yet, only the 'sacrifice'.  You need to start changing your mindset on who you want to be.  "I'm a financial badass, that cooks from scratch, has time/energy to exercise......blah, blah, blah".   Instead of, "I miss TV, and want my semi-status-symbol car back.....wah, wah, wah!"   I'm not really making fun of you, just trying to bring in some humor here.  But seriously, start changing the way you think about who you are, and your actions will be aligned closer.