Author Topic: What's worth postponing FIRE?  (Read 9480 times)

Ynari

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What's worth postponing FIRE?
« on: August 27, 2014, 11:10:08 AM »
I know we talk a lot about using the simple math to figure out whether that expense is worth the extra X weeks/months/years of working.  (I.e. are the daily lattes worth an extra 6 months of working?) Many of those things come up with the answer "no", it's not worth it.

But what have said "yes" to?  What IS worth the extra time working?  For you?

I ask because I'm finding myself feeling guilty spending on things that do significantly improve my quality of life. I feel like I have two conflicting mentalities - the first is the desire to get to FIRE ASAP and eschew many material comforts in pursuit; the second is to add in the more beneficial comforts, like eating out more often and having a membership to the office gym, to postpone FIRE by maybe 1-2 years while making all of the years more enjoyable. A year or two seems insignificant when compared to the higher quality of life, so I'm probably going to say "yes" here. It still makes me feel like I'm not doing the right thing, though, because the information around FIRE tends to vilify expenses like that.

Gone Fishing

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2014, 11:29:21 AM »
You have to do what works best for you.  Looking back, I probably could have made FIRE a year or two earlier if we had lived a more spartan existance, but I can tell you it would not have been pleasant.  If your job is tolerable, you are not a living volcano of wastefulness, and your financial plan does not depend on things like making a 20% return every year, by all means, do what you want.  The whole point of Mustachianism is that you are in control of your destiny, and if you so choose, you can abstain from many common creature comforts to shave years off of your working career.

We deliver face punches to those who have become lulled into believing the HAVE to have those creature comforts to survive, identify themselves with objects, or have just overlooked the actual numbers and don't realize how much something is costing them.     

I am working two years past my earliest possible FIRE date in a good paying but stressful job so we can have a nice fat travel budget and some insurance (in the form of extra $).  In the short term it feels like torture, but in the end I know it will be worth it.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 11:57:46 AM by So Close »

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2014, 11:31:57 AM »
I know we talk a lot about using the simple math to figure out whether that expense is worth the extra X weeks/months/years of working.  (I.e. are the daily lattes worth an extra 6 months of working?) Many of those things come up with the answer "no", it's not worth it.

But what have said "yes" to?  What IS worth the extra time working?  For you?

I ask because I'm finding myself feeling guilty spending on things that do significantly improve my quality of life. I feel like I have two conflicting mentalities - the first is the desire to get to FIRE ASAP and eschew many material comforts in pursuit; the second is to add in the more beneficial comforts, like eating out more often and having a membership to the office gym, to postpone FIRE by maybe 1-2 years while making all of the years more enjoyable. A year or two seems insignificant when compared to the higher quality of life, so I'm probably going to say "yes" here. It still makes me feel like I'm not doing the right thing, though, because the information around FIRE tends to vilify expenses like that.

None of that is worth it to me. If I could pull in FIRE 1-2 whole years by doing something as simple as not eating out much or cancelling a gym subscription, I would be on it in a flash. Have you heard of Hedonic adaptation? Imagine what having several more whole years of freedom could mean to you.

Right now I'm debating whether I should move from my 250-square ft. studio to renting a room in a house. Would allow me to FIRE ~1.5 years earlier, at the cost of some privacy (but probably a nicer kitchen).

wtjbatman

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 11:36:28 AM »
We are picking up cable tv for the football season. I have no qualms with paying extra for four months so I can experience something I really enjoy. When the season is over, we will drop back to just cable internet.

Clearly my values are out of whack if I like watching football on Sundays instead of building houses with my bare hands, but for now, I'll just have to live with myself.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2014, 11:42:34 AM »
1. A slightly higher grocery bill, but we don't buy ANY convenience foods. It's just a bit of extra animal protein and some more varied produce to complement what we don't grow ourselves. Worth it especially to keep my wife on board, as she's very prone to appetite fatigue.

2. Modest educational field trip expenses. Sure, we could homeschool and keep the kids entirely within biking range, but we'd lose a lot - for a minimal financial and environmental gain.

3. Giving food from the garden to others. I'd rather share a bit of our bounty than hoard every last homegrown calorie to ourselves.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 11:51:05 AM »
It's all about what you want and what makes you happy.

For my wife and I, it's eating out, vacations, and nicer cars...along with having some extra spending money to buy things we want. My wife and I could probably FIRE in 12-15 years if we were dedicated and we only started saving about a year ago. We try to save as much as we possibly can, but not at the risk of our happiness. Our current retirement/savings plan puts us at having 25 times our monthly spending in 19 years when I'm 46. We are thinking we probably won't retire until mid 50s anyhow. We want to be able to do what we want, when we want in retirement without having to worry about money.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 12:04:08 PM »
One of the interesting side effects of cutting expenses to the bone is that you find out 80% of them didn't really add any value to your life.  From there, it is simple enough to ration out the other 20% in a manner that doesn't leave you on the financial treadmill for the rest of your life. 

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2014, 12:24:58 PM »
The big question for me is whether or not to have kids.  I know they would delay my retirement by several years, and I really want to retire as soon as possible.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2014, 12:30:24 PM »
I am thinking of working a little bit longer to save up a travel splurge fund, which will allow us to do a little bit of luxuried up, unique travelling while we are young. I think of it as saving for a once in a lifetime experience. We want to spend a month or two living in several different countries, and while we don't need every vacation to be a five star hotel affair, having a little fund for two or three of them in our lifetime is exciting to me.

I like the idea of setting a baseline budget and calculating required nest egg + safety margin for that, and then thinking of how much extra I need to a few unique lifetime experiences I also want to experience before I die.

Cassie

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2014, 12:51:42 PM »
Vacations, eating out, cable are things that bring us much joy.  We did without when we were young & now we are going to spend $ on the things we enjoy.  Actually we are going to Europe in Oct & next Aug.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2014, 01:53:07 PM »
I think there are a few things that I would delay FIRE for. 

The very top of the list is my kids.  I have four.  I would work until I was 80 if I had to to finance a life with kids.  I won't have to, and should retire around 50. 

The point of the FIRE is to give up consumption and the treadmill to find happiness doing what you love to do.  If kids make you happy, then don't delay.  FI increases happiness to a degree, but RE is not automatically equal to happiness.  The point of RE is to chase after what you want and not to have someone else dictate your life.  If what you want is kids, then in a sense, you can get happiness right now.

Just get your basic finances together, make certain you and your SO want kids, and then start today.

P.S. the second reason I would delay RE is my job.  I like it.  I don't want to depend on it so am chasing FI, but I may work part time the rest of my life at what I do.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2014, 08:49:28 PM »
I think you're presenting a false choice. Just because you're FIRE doesn't mean you can't work for some amount of time if you choose to!

I think a better approach is: 1) FIRE as early as possible at a decent "comfortable" standard of living then 2) If you want to do something more extravagant and it doesn't fit in your budget, you can always work for it, do a part time gig or somesuch.

It will probably result in you doing less extravagant things, but allow you to enjoy it more when you do - because you worked for it!

Gray Matter

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2014, 06:12:44 AM »
I am willing to delay FIRE in order to have more time with my kids right now.  In theory, anyway.  They are currently 8, 10, and 12, and both DH and I work full-time.  But I keep thinking about going part-time in order to spend more time with them before they fly the coop.

Also, we like to do things together as a family, and though some of them don't cost anything, some of them do (international travel).  I'm happy (?) to work an extra few years in order to be able to take our kids on international trips.

arebelspy

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2014, 03:46:54 PM »
I like this question.

Some answers I could see people proposing that are valid, IMO, is things related to their health and/or kids.

I also like the reverse question.  Instead of "What's worth postponing FIRE for?" it would be "What is worth postponing until after FIRE?"  (I.e. I want it, but will do without for now or put it off to accelerate FIRE).
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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2014, 04:22:54 PM »
I also like the reverse question.  Instead of "What's worth postponing FIRE for?" it would be "What is worth postponing until after FIRE?"  (I.e. I want it, but will do without for now or put it off to accelerate FIRE).

For those just now beginning their careers, I'd answer kids. Even if you aren't shooting for FIRE in less than 10 years, you could amass an insane stache and easily go PT or take easy contracts, or take a full on mini retirement, going back to work down the road as needed.

Then again, if my wife and I had been Mustachians from the get go, we could have had all 3 kids as young as we were and been FIRE right about now, or maybe within about 5 years, depending on whether we were sensible enough to avoid buying a house at the peak.

DoubleDown

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2014, 12:07:24 PM »
As long as one understands the connection (or lack of) between happiness and stuff, then there is no such thing as a wrong choice of what to spend on, or anything that should be vilified. There are so many things that I don't "need" but that bring me a great deal of joy or convenience or benefit: Musical equipment, good coffee, weight set, my laptop, a nice home that I'm comfortable in immediately come to mind. I would gladly work longer for those things, and other than the coffee they last virtually forever (I guess the laptop will be obsolete some years down the road).

I think anyone striving for a bare-bones ER (which they view as involving sacrifice) doesn't "get it." If they're happy bare-bones, then more power to them.

yandz

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2014, 02:42:35 PM »
I also like the reverse question.  Instead of "What's worth postponing FIRE for?" it would be "What is worth postponing until after FIRE?"  (I.e. I want it, but will do without for now or put it off to accelerate FIRE).

Agree.  For me (and I think many others) there is a separation of FI and desired RE lifestyle FI, right? Bare bones FI for most basic living expenses.  But FI that supports desired lifestyle might be a bit more  For us, the differentiator between those two numbers is travel budget.  It is so important to us. So important that we incorporate it into our current budget.  Are be "postponing" FIRE for that? I guess you can say that. Or you can say that life now and true FIRE include travel dollars.  Projections show that we could FIRE in 6.5 years (end of 2020) while spending on travel now and including budget for travel after RE. Stopping travel now wouldn't move it up by enough to stop us from enjoying the journey. So, not worth postponing until after FIRE.

arebelspy

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2014, 05:34:49 PM »
I also like the reverse question.  Instead of "What's worth postponing FIRE for?" it would be "What is worth postponing until after FIRE?"  (I.e. I want it, but will do without for now or put it off to accelerate FIRE).

Agree.  For me (and I think many others) there is a separation of FI and desired RE lifestyle FI, right? Bare bones FI for most basic living expenses.  But FI that supports desired lifestyle might be a bit more  For us, the differentiator between those two numbers is travel budget.  It is so important to us. So important that we incorporate it into our current budget.  Are be "postponing" FIRE for that? I guess you can say that. Or you can say that life now and true FIRE include travel dollars.  Projections show that we could FIRE in 6.5 years (end of 2020) while spending on travel now and including budget for travel after RE. Stopping travel now wouldn't move it up by enough to stop us from enjoying the journey. So, not worth postponing until after FIRE.

Ah, for us it's like an 8 years vs 2 years thing, so it's worth postponing 2 years to FIRE 6 years earlier.  Definitely something everyone should consider and decide "no, this is worth waiting for" or "no, the benefit of waiting isn't there", cause you can get very different outcomes, and if you never consider it, you'll never know what that other one could have been.
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DoubleDown

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #18 on: September 06, 2014, 11:08:16 AM »
I like this question.
I also like the reverse question.  Instead of "What's worth postponing FIRE for?" it would be "What is worth postponing until after FIRE?"  (I.e. I want it, but will do without for now or put it off to accelerate FIRE).

Answer: Not having to work + all the time off you want.

Signed, Captain Obvious ;-)

waltworks

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #19 on: September 06, 2014, 11:36:18 AM »
For crying out loud, FIRE is a *means to an end*. The end being satisfaction/happiness. If you are amazingly happy working at your job, sacrificing your gym membership is stupid since it'll make you less happy now and the exact date of FIRE is irrelevant to you. On the other hand, if your job makes you miserable, then adding a little extra sacrifice to get away from it a week/month/year earlier might very well be worth it.

For some folks here, the FIRE journey itself has become their main source of satisfaction in life. It will be interesting to see if that kind of person can actually stop working/accumulating money and still be happy.

-W

Tyler

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #20 on: September 06, 2014, 12:15:29 PM »
To me, the good life is like riding a bike at a happy, sustainable pace.  Rather than racing towards an arbitrary finish line before starting that "better" future life, just live that way to the best of your ability today.  Eventually, you'll look back and realize your dad took his hand off of the bike a quarter mile back, and you've been balancing independently just fine.  Rather than immediately shopping for a better bike or fleeing your past, you'll just smile and keep cruising.

FIRE is just one passing moment.  It's a great accomplishment, but don't idolize it as the ultimate goal. 

Daisy

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #21 on: September 06, 2014, 12:33:23 PM »
All right waltworks and Tyler! I'm totally in agreement. Enjoy the journey. Delay FIRE if necessary to enjoy your current life (within frugal reason, of course). You never know what your future holds so don't live a miserable current life thinking the future will be so much better. Make your present better, be mindful, be kind and generous.

I liken it to people that think some future job or spouse or car will make them instantly happy. Own your present and prepare for the future responsibly. It can all be balanced.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #22 on: September 06, 2014, 12:44:34 PM »
For use, the most significant "yes" has been travel.  We knew we'd live in Europe for 2-3 years, and while we are here and getting to so many places is not only relatively cheap, but also possible with little or no vacation time, we wanted to make the most of it.  We just hit 21 months and 25 countries in that time, with multiple trips to many of those countries.  While we haven't traveled extravagantly, it has been a lot of money.  Working an extra few, or even 5 years has been worth it, if it comes to that.  I don't think it will since DH is someone who likes to work and I suspect the FIRE point will be blown past, with him still working for years. 

When we were in (and when we soon return) to DH's brutal schedule of sustained 110+ hour weeks,  there will be no time for travel.  At that point, out biggest splurge will probably be conveniences, so that his very limited time can be spent in a way that lets him get some rest and relaxation. If that means paying a kid to mow the yard sometimes, that's fine with us. 

arebelspy

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #23 on: September 06, 2014, 12:45:58 PM »
For crying out loud, FIRE is a *means to an end*. The end being satisfaction/happiness.

There are no means that will get you to that end.

That end is achievable only in and of itself.

FIRE won't make you happy.  Money won't make you happy.

FIRE can give you some options.  But it can't get you to that end of satisfaction/happiness.
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Lyssa

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #24 on: September 07, 2014, 08:10:17 AM »
We've just made the very un-mustachian choice of moving to a larger apartment with a lot more privacy.

Deciding factors were that we are very homy people (throwing more money on rent gives us a lot more "bang for the buck" than e.g. eating out more) and we had to deal with a lot of craziness from our landlord and neighbors during the last two years.

This means our saving rate will be 65 instead of 75% going forward and undoubtedly delay FI.

On our "worth waiting for list" are:

- expensive vacations (U.S. round trip, arctic cruise, New Zealand). This is not really difficult to delay as we have still plenty of more affordable trips on our to do list).

- a car (carfree since 4 months now, have not missed it. Probably will get something reasonable once FI for the purpose of being more flexible in our travel and hobby activities).

- expensive hobbies (really enjoyed tandem para-gliding during our last holiday, was briefly tempted to buy own equipment).

A few things we won't spend money on even after being FI are:

- cleaning service (neither of us enjoys cleaning but both of us are introverts craving a great deal of privacy and we don't want a service that "close", if that makes any sense. We'd rather continue cleaning our own bathroom and doing our own laundry).

- "wellness" related stuff

- clown cars

DecD

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2014, 08:36:53 AM »
We have a swimming pool.  Where we live, we can use it April to October most years.  And it makes the miserable summers infinitely more bearable.  It enhances our quality of life enough that its worth it while we are living here.  (In a different climate, it would not be!)

We have a service clean the house every 3weeks.  Totally worth it while we are both working full time with small children.  If our income changed, it would be the first thing to go.  But this has added a lot of peace to my life.  This will go once we are no longer working full time.  Even MMM himself said in a post (don't recall which one) that if you make over $x and save y% you're allowed a cleaning service :). But it's a luxury for sure.

And then there are more direct things. I'm considering taking a leave absence for 6 weeks in the summer to camp with the kids.  I'm considering options to go part time.  I'm considering a different type of job with better benefits and vacation but lower pay.  Right now these are just thoughts/ideas, but any of them would delay FI, of course.  But might be worth it.  Not ready yet to take the plunge on any of them, but something I'm considering for the future.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #26 on: September 07, 2014, 10:10:51 AM »
While we don't spend extravagantly, I won't make us miserable either.  Life is a journey and one that should be enjoyed.  While I love the idea of saving in "unimportant" areas in order to do/have more "important" things/experiences...those definitions change depending on who you are talking to and usually again depending on where they are in their lives.  My parents saved and saved for travel for after retirement only to have my mother diagnosed with stage 4 cancer months before her early retirement.  Now, my Dad is alone with a ton of money in the bank and no partner to travel with.  There is something to be said for sometimes enjoying the 'now'.  There should and can be a happy medium.  Luckily my parents had that happy medium and also enjoyed every moment, but there are so many on this forum that just seem to be saving everything for later.  Reminds me of that quote, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans". 

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2014, 10:29:17 AM »
Helping with College and Healthcare costs..  As long as our business can help us contribute and cover the cost of these 2 items and build Stash in 401ks, etc.. with My wife working 25-30 hrs a week max, with 4 kids as long as shes happy its a win win.  The minute its not we would be done!  I want to help with College as much as I can and I don't feel comfortable with the Healthcare system enough.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2014, 11:47:43 AM »
For us, it's traveling to visit family. 4 plane tickets. Our kids love their grandparents and wouldn't see them otherwise.

DH and I were talking out what we'd like to do most if money was no longer the motivation. He pretty much wants to have his same job for free, just show up for fewer meetings. I guess postponing RE isn't much of a concern!

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2014, 12:25:33 PM »
One of the interesting side effects of cutting expenses to the bone is that you find out 80% of them didn't really add any value to your life.  From there, it is simple enough to ration out the other 20% in a manner that doesn't leave you on the financial treadmill for the rest of your life.

Exactly. There are things I don't miss at all and there are those that I wouldn't sacrifice for FIREing. I wouldn't count dining out as something worth delaying FIRE for, but I would count buying a house with a mortgage (in the town where my parents live) as something worthy of delaying FIRE. 

For us right now, it's less on the "expenses" side of the balance sheet than the "income" side. I could be working more hours and making more money, but I'm spending my non-working time with my family, writing, and generally enjoying myself -- so I don't put in those extra hours. Our family harmony is so much more important than FIREing!

Beric01

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2014, 12:28:56 PM »
For us right now, it's less on the "expenses" side of the balance sheet than the "income" side. I could be working more hours and making more money, but I'm spending my non-working time with my family, writing, and generally enjoying myself -- so I don't put in those extra hours. Our family harmony is so much more important than FIREing!

That's definitely a perspective I'm taking. I could be working a high-powered career putting in 80+ hours a week, and could probably take in a lot more money. But I value spending time with my family and friends, and on my hobbies, more.

Spending-wise, though, I'll cut my expenses to the bone.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2014, 01:26:54 PM »
This is a fantastic discussion!  I'm going to add something that hasn't been mentioned...postponing FIRE to do a job you really love going to everyday vs. a job that pays much better and is miserable.  A few years ago I took a $25k pay cut to change careers.  That was before I had discovered MMM, but at the time I was totally focused on retiring as early as possible.  For me, the main part of that was that I didn't enjoy work and found it stressful. Now I absolutely love the new gig, and I could see myself doing it into my 70s (I'm 39 now) where before I was shooting for retiring at about 43-44.  I'm still really frugal, but my attitude about everything FIRE has changed after changing careers.  I will say that the fact that I was already over halfway to FI when I made this decision made it a lot easier to choose to take a giant paycut and commit to many extra years of work.

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Re: What's worth postponing FIRE?
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2014, 02:21:15 PM »
For me I would say my hobbies.  I could probably shave off a year or two by not getting a jet ski and getting rid of the motorcycle and dirt bike, but I do it in a relatively cheap way, so it's not an egregiously expensive hobby.