Author Topic: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?  (Read 3006 times)

FIREstache

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Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« on: April 29, 2019, 05:04:11 PM »

Have any of you FIREd folks been super frugal while working, perhaps a tightwad or cheapskate, and then opened the purse strings wide for experiences after you FIRE?

I'm not talking about wasting money or buying a bunch of useless commercial crap, but increasing your discretionary spending by a significant multiple, perhaps 10X or more, after you FIREd for entertainment, travel, etc. to bring rich experiences to your FIRE life that you weren't participating in much (if at all) while working.

I'm asking because I've always been pretty frugal by not eating out much or vacationing and such, and my discretionary spending has always been very low, less than $1000/yr in recent years (which includes eating out) while saving closer to 80% of my take home pay.  Instead of feeling like I was going without, there was a feeling of satisfaction to spend that little while saving.  But I've written into my FIRE budget that I'll have $25K/yr discretionary based on a 3.5% SWR.  Bump that up to 4% SWR, and that would make it $30K/yr discretionary, about 30X what my discretionary spending has been in recent years.

I've mentioned this plan online and IRL, and I've had some responses from people stating that they didn't think I would end up spending that much.  I admit, it's a paradigm shift for me, but then, so is FIRE.  I'm 54, so I'm feeling it's about time to start reaping the benefits of what I've saved while I'm still healthy and have the energy and motivation to do.  I just wondered if anyone else has made such a big shift in discretionary spending after they FIREd.

Kris

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2019, 05:09:29 PM »
I haven't, but I don't see anything wrong with it at all if you have the money.

DH has only been RE for three months (and I make money writing, so I'm not retired, but I have basically engineered my life to live on my own terms and I feel pretty retired a lot of the time), and I can tell that our shift is basically happening in two directions: one, simpler life (fewer possessions, enjoying being home and in our neighborhood, "living" instead of "buying"); and two, less frequent but longer travel (i.e., instead of two trips a year, maybe one trip but for 1-3 months instead of 4-5 days).

We're spending less, but our it's seeming to happen fairly naturally. We're just not in an accumulation phase of our lives anymore. We're happy using the things we have, and get a lot of satisfaction out of having a paid-off house, no car note, and nothing much that we need.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2019, 05:54:08 PM »
One of the great things that happened when I started seriously pursuing FIRE is that I had to get creative with my hobbies and social life. I found that I was missing out on a lot of cool stuff by doing the default bars and restaurants of a 20-something in NYC. I discovered lecture series, free comedy shows, started exploring the city more on foot, hosting potlucks, drawing, volunteering.

I cannot imagine putting tens of thousands of dollars toward discretionary spending. My entire annual budget, aside from healthcare, is $20k. I did bump up my entertainment budget (from basically zero) so I can go see shows sometimes and get to know my new city. I could travel more luxuriously, but that doesn't have a big impact on my happiness. I could eat out more often, but I usually overeat at restaurants and feel sick afterward. I don't care about fancy clothes or kitchenware or cars. Not sure what else I would want to spend money on. Maybe camera lenses. That could eat up a lot of money if I let it, actually.

ysette9

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2019, 09:37:10 PM »
As a kid I remember strongly how my aunt and uncle were super frugal. Cheap even. They were the intimate mustachian two decades before it was a thing. Part of it was my grandparentsí focus on saving and part of it was losing everything when the Panama Canal Zone got handed back over to the Panamanians and the banks got nationalized, screwing over all of the foreigners that had been using them. They had to start over in their early 30s with nothing.

Anyway, they saved and scrimped and invested and paid the mortgage off early and retired early. Today they live in a McMansion and drinks Starbucks all the time and drive a million miles a year and cruise internationally all the time and appear to be loving life. They also are living within their retirement income and seem to be widely having Vanguard manage their retirement investments for them. So.... who am I to judge what makes them happy, even if it does seem to be a pretty big change in philosophy?

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 12:13:04 PM »
I cannot imagine putting tens of thousands of dollars toward discretionary spending. My entire annual budget, aside from healthcare, is $20k.

When I look at $25K to $30K per year for discretionary spending as a single person, I feel the same way - hard to imagine spending that much.  My FIRE budget for all the necessities is closer to $20K (details in my case study).  And I've been spending $500 to $1000 most years on discretionary spending.  But when I break that $25K down to monthly, $2K per month doesn't sounds like so much when you're planning to travel (I've seen the figures that people have posted for their traveling expenses).  I haven't done any real traveling outside of work in years, so I'm looking forward to having the time to do it, but I'm not sure how much it will improve my happiness, or if I'll get it out of my system after some early FIRE traveling, or if I'll develop an appetite to do more of it year after year.  So, that makes it a big variable.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 12:50:47 PM »
I cannot imagine putting tens of thousands of dollars toward discretionary spending. My entire annual budget, aside from healthcare, is $20k.

When I look at $25K to $30K per year for discretionary spending as a single person, I feel the same way - hard to imagine spending that much.  My FIRE budget for all the necessities is closer to $20K (details in my case study).  And I've been spending $500 to $1000 most years on discretionary spending.  But when I break that $25K down to monthly, $2K per month doesn't sounds like so much when you're planning to travel (I've seen the figures that people have posted for their traveling expenses).  I haven't done any real traveling outside of work in years, so I'm looking forward to having the time to do it, but I'm not sure how much it will improve my happiness, or if I'll get it out of my system after some early FIRE traveling, or if I'll develop an appetite to do more of it year after year.  So, that makes it a big variable.

If you're retired and can slow travel, it doesn't need to be that much more expensive than regular life. If you're adding it on top of keeping your regular home, then you're essentially paying for two homes. What are you doing with your primary residence while you travel?

It sounds like you've already saved up the money to cover this, so it doesn't really matter. Either you'll spend it or you won't. You've got a lot of options.

secondcor521

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 12:56:32 PM »
I haven't known anyone who has done that, but if you've got reasons for your plan being that way, I think it could work.

I will say that I currently have the opposite problem.  According to what I personally consider safe, I could be spending about three times what I am currently spending.  Since about 90% of my current expenditures are what you might consider non-discretionary (food, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.), tripling my overall budget would multiply my discretionary expenses by about 20x.

I'm having a hard time doing it.  Spending just for spending's sake seems wasteful.  Spending on anything more than what I normally do seems either unnecessary or indulgent, and I can only indulge so much before I feel "full".  To make a food analogy, a bite of tiramisu is great, and a serving of tiramisu is good, but I wouldn't eat five of them for dessert.  And if I did eat five, I'd probably lay off for a week, which would result in a pretty low "tiramisus per day" rate.

So I think you may have a hard time actually doing it when the time comes unless you have very specific plans for what that 30x is going to do for you.  You may want to consider retiring earlier or donating more or considering the extra money to be super-duper extra safety factor.

deborah

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 02:30:22 PM »
I was never going overseas when I retired - there is an enormous amount to see and do in Australia, that Iíve never done, and my default form of travel means I spend about the same whether I travel or not.

But, enticements came my way. There are meetups in far flung places. My parents are old and frail, so I spend most of my life driving 7.5 hours to their place, staying for about a week and coming back. Iíve done that eight times so far this year, and to ensure I get a break, the only thing is to travel to far flung places. Otherwise, I would feel compelled to break off my meanderings and go to them if there was need.

If you go to far flung places from Australia, you need to go for a while to justify the lengthy plane trips.

So I now go on long trips to far flung places, and spend vast amounts more on discretionary things than I used to. I am not putting my retirement at risk, as I worked much longer than I should have, and my stash is still growing.

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 04:37:33 PM »
I cannot imagine putting tens of thousands of dollars toward discretionary spending. My entire annual budget, aside from healthcare, is $20k.

When I look at $25K to $30K per year for discretionary spending as a single person, I feel the same way - hard to imagine spending that much.  My FIRE budget for all the necessities is closer to $20K (details in my case study).  And I've been spending $500 to $1000 most years on discretionary spending.  But when I break that $25K down to monthly, $2K per month doesn't sounds like so much when you're planning to travel (I've seen the figures that people have posted for their traveling expenses).  I haven't done any real traveling outside of work in years, so I'm looking forward to having the time to do it, but I'm not sure how much it will improve my happiness, or if I'll get it out of my system after some early FIRE traveling, or if I'll develop an appetite to do more of it year after year.  So, that makes it a big variable.

If you're retired and can slow travel, it doesn't need to be that much more expensive than regular life. If you're adding it on top of keeping your regular home, then you're essentially paying for two homes. What are you doing with your primary residence while you travel?

My primary residence costs me about $20/day to maintain.  I might travel for weeks at a time, but probably less than 2 months usually.  I am not planning on full time travel, so I still need my home to come home to.

Quote
It sounds like you've already saved up the money to cover this, so it doesn't really matter. Either you'll spend it or you won't. You've got a lot of options.

Yes, $25K/yr on total discretionary would fit comfortably in the budget with a 3.5% SWR.   But it would still be a big change for me to actually spend that, which is why I was asking if anyone else has done it after being very frugal prior to that.

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2019, 04:42:33 PM »
I haven't known anyone who has done that, but if you've got reasons for your plan being that way, I think it could work.

I will say that I currently have the opposite problem.  According to what I personally consider safe, I could be spending about three times what I am currently spending.  Since about 90% of my current expenditures are what you might consider non-discretionary (food, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.), tripling my overall budget would multiply my discretionary expenses by about 20x.

I'm having a hard time doing it.  Spending just for spending's sake seems wasteful.  Spending on anything more than what I normally do seems either unnecessary or indulgent, and I can only indulge so much before I feel "full".

Yeah, I'm not wanting to spend just for spending's sake or to be wasteful.  I mentioned that in my first post.  This would be to enrich FIRE with actual experiences that I have been holding off on during my working career.  It's something I've looked forward to, but maybe I'll have a hard time carrying through when the times comes, as you mentioned.

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2019, 04:53:29 PM »
I was never going overseas when I retired - there is an enormous amount to see and do in Australia, that Iíve never done, and my default form of travel means I spend about the same whether I travel or not.

But, enticements came my way. There are meetups in far flung places. My parents are old and frail, so I spend most of my life driving 7.5 hours to their place, staying for about a week and coming back. Iíve done that eight times so far this year, and to ensure I get a break, the only thing is to travel to far flung places. Otherwise, I would feel compelled to break off my meanderings and go to them if there was need.

If you go to far flung places from Australia, you need to go for a while to justify the lengthy plane trips.

So I now go on long trips to far flung places, and spend vast amounts more on discretionary things than I used to. I am not putting my retirement at risk, as I worked much longer than I should have, and my stash is still growing.

That sounds close to what I'm talking about if you were pretty frugal early on, although my high discretionary spend is planned from the first year that I FIRE.  I figured I would start by taking some shorter trips closer to home and work my way up to some longer distance and extended trips here in the U.S.  After some of that, maybe I would want to travel overseas.  Or, I might not want to, or I might lose interest in traveling, altogether.  Without traveling, I don't think I would keep spending anywhere near what my discretionary budget allows.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 04:56:35 PM by FIREstache »

Moustachienne

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2019, 11:51:27 AM »
One of the great things that happened when I started seriously pursuing FIRE is that I had to get creative with my hobbies and social life. I found that I was missing out on a lot of cool stuff by doing the default bars and restaurants of a 20-something in NYC. I discovered lecture series, free comedy shows, started exploring the city more on foot, hosting potlucks, drawing, volunteering.
...

I absolutely agree that this hobby and social creativity is one of the great things about a "frugal" mindset, at whatever spending level.  Now that I'm FIR, I am spending a bit more on fun activities (it's all fun!) like courses, concerts, swimming, etc., because now I have the time to do these things. They were always in the plan. But I still get a huge amount of pleasure from the things MonkeyJenga lists, both at home and when we travel.  I'd also add that even though we can well afford to be more fancy pants (and sometimes are) both DH and I most enjoy things like discovering a modest family-run motel that's clean and comfortable or excellent food at an unassuming local restaurant or the great mountain and harbour views from a non-fancy neighbourhood. Searching out these experiences is as much fun or more that just putting down the $$ for a luxury experience. 

Just before and just after FIR I wondered how we would switch from a saving to spending mindset.  Would we spend too much? Would we spend too little?  How to make spending wisely as big and as fun of a goal as saving wisely was?   Would we get whiplash from the 180 degree turn?   As it's turned out, no!  Our values are consistent and we are spending well.  Sounds like many FIREees are the same.

Mr. Green

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2019, 03:45:58 PM »
I suppose I could make the argument that we fall into this category. Pre-FIRE, less than 10% of our annual spending was on entertainment and travel. Now over 50% of our spending is since we're travelling long term.

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2019, 06:04:21 PM »
I suppose I could make the argument that we fall into this category. Pre-FIRE, less than 10% of our annual spending was on entertainment and travel. Now over 50% of our spending is since we're travelling long term.

That's a pretty big increase, and I assume that your total spending is higher as well.  My projected fire budget is 240% of my pre-FIRE budget, partly due to healthcare coveage costs, but mostly due to the large increase in discretionary spending, which had been $400 to $1K in recent years, and now I've got it tagged for $25K to $30K.  If I end up not spending that much, then I'll just have more padding in the stash.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 06:06:35 PM by FIREstache »

Mr. Green

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2019, 07:42:27 PM »
I suppose I could make the argument that we fall into this category. Pre-FIRE, less than 10% of our annual spending was on entertainment and travel. Now over 50% of our spending is since we're travelling long term.

That's a pretty big increase, and I assume that your total spending is higher as well.  My projected fire budget is 240% of my pre-FIRE budget, partly due to healthcare coveage costs, but mostly due to the large increase in discretionary spending, which had been $400 to $1K in recent years, and now I've got it tagged for $25K to $30K.  If I end up not spending that much, then I'll just have more padding in the stash.
Our spending has gone down a little because we moved out of our house and have tenants covering the mortgage. Outside of that expense I'd say our budget pre- and post-FIRE are the same.

spartana

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2019, 09:42:55 PM »
My discretionary spending, while low over all, is approx 50% to 75% of my total spending.  Much higher percentage since FIREing and most of it to travel and activity related things. However my base expenses were very low and my total monthly spend on an annual average for everything - base expenses and discretionary - is approx $1500/ month. Since I prefer to travel in a longer term lump once or twice a year for a few months at a time, and I travel very cheaply,  my monthly spending fluxuates depending if I'm at home or away. Some months when I'm at home I  may spend a few hundred, other months when travelling a couple of thousand. Like the OP I had a low expenses paid off house when I FIREd and inexpensive medical and no debt. So my only "at home" expenses were food and minimal car expenses.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2019, 09:45:34 PM by spartana »

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2019, 05:02:56 AM »
My discretionary spending, while low over all, is approx 50% to 75% of my total spending.  Much higher percentage since FIREing and most of it to travel and activity related things. However my base expenses were very low and my total monthly spend on an annual average for everything - base expenses and discretionary - is approx $1500/ month. Since I prefer to travel in a longer term lump once or twice a year for a few months at a time, and I travel very cheaply,  my monthly spending fluxuates depending if I'm at home or away. Some months when I'm at home I  may spend a few hundred, other months when travelling a couple of thousand. Like the OP I had a low expenses paid off house when I FIREd and inexpensive medical and no debt. So my only "at home" expenses were food and minimal car expenses.

You mentioned traveling very cheaply and spending a "couple of thousand" while traveling.  Is the $2K just for discretionary spending or your whole budget on those traveling months?   That's about what I'm budgeting for discretionary.  I didn't think I would travel too cheaply, although I don't want to be wasteful, either.  I'm not the type to go out camping by myself or sleeping in a vehicle, so I'm going to get hotels or Airbnb, for example.

spartana

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2019, 11:16:52 AM »
That would be whole budget - base expenses and discentionary/travel/fun expenses) but it's averaged over a year so month to month expenses (including travel) could vary widely.

 I don't track any of my expenses or have a budget since FIRE. I have a set amount of $$ put into a money market savings acct each month (approx $2100 now but was $1500 for years) and just spend it however I want or need (anything left over each month just piles up to use as wanted or needed later or is reinvested or just saved). At the end of the year I just figure out how much I spent overall but don't figure out on what it was spent on. As long as I keep within my annual passive income amount  for everything I don't really care what it is spent on either. I have a general idea of what my base monthly expenses are for housing, food, etc but other than that I might spend way more in one month then I would in another on discretionary stuff.

For example - I know I spend $18k last year for everything but I don't know on what or in which months I only spent $300 and which months I spent $3000.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2019, 11:20:20 AM by spartana »

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2019, 05:04:35 PM »

Spartana, that's pretty impressive that your figure includes all of your spending.  I consider my spending to be pretty low, but it's probably going be over $20,000/yr when I FIRE just for all of the required expenses on average, and that's without including any discretionary, so my actual spending will be a little further north of that, even if I end up not traveling much.  My housing and car including my new car fund exceed half that amount.  I think I would have to sell my house and live in a van down by the river to get down to a total spending level equal to you.  :)

spartana

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2019, 05:28:03 PM »
^ Well the van down by the river life does make your money for living and travel expenses pretty low. Throw in some free government cheese and what else does anyone need ;-).

I do have a van and do travel in it, usually camping, so it is cheap.  I sold my house but have a home-base shared living arrangement right now which is cheap so keeps my expenses very low. I'll be travelling overseas somewhat long term this year (no set agenda or time frame) so travel and living expenses will be the same since I don't plan to keep a home base during that time. Will likely get rid of the van then too and be car less and homeless for a while. Although I'm on the fence about buying a new place asap or wait longer. I'm not big on renting my home out either.

Mr. Green

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2019, 07:30:26 PM »
I have to say, I'm amazed at how cheaply you can live if you're into vanlife. We're out here in Moab, UT and we've seen fee camping sites all over the place. Pop into town for services, showers, etc. It would be easy to live on less than $10,000 a year.

kei te pai

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2019, 02:45:47 AM »
My biggest increase in spending Post FIRE has been charity and gifts. I enjoy feeling free to give more, and have little desire for anything more for myself.

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2019, 03:48:52 AM »
I have to say, I'm amazed at how cheaply you can live if you're into vanlife. We're out here in Moab, UT and we've seen fee camping sites all over the place. Pop into town for services, showers, etc. It would be easy to live on less than $10,000 a year.


I see your from Wilmington. I spent a lot of time in Asheville and whenever there like anywhere I always go to the Ymca to get a workout in. Being FIre'd later though down the line when the other two are out of the house I want to do exactly that live mostly out of a van or something similar. What I was getting at though is at the Ymca's everyday I saw several people living in Vans and using the Ymca for workouts , showers etc.. Dollar for dollar I think thats a pretty good way to go.

Mr. Green

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2019, 08:03:49 AM »
I have to say, I'm amazed at how cheaply you can live if you're into vanlife. We're out here in Moab, UT and we've seen fee camping sites all over the place. Pop into town for services, showers, etc. It would be easy to live on less than $10,000 a year.


I see your from Wilmington. I spent a lot of time in Asheville and whenever there like anywhere I always go to the Ymca to get a workout in. Being FIre'd later though down the line when the other two are out of the house I want to do exactly that live mostly out of a van or something similar. What I was getting at though is at the Ymca's everyday I saw several people living in Vans and using the Ymca for workouts , showers etc.. Dollar for dollar I think thats a pretty good way to go.
I bet! I've heard similar stories about Planet Fitness. They're nationwide and $20 a month gets you access to showers and workout equipment. While less robust than a YMCA, not a bad deal for someone moving around. Though I've found that many of the park/monument areas in northern Arizona and southern Utah are so far away from everything that I doubt there's even a Planet Fitness nearby.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2019, 08:07:10 AM by Mr. Green »

FIREstache

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2019, 01:23:30 AM »

So, driving a van would use more gas than my car.  To cut costs, I would have to sleep in it and avoid those hotel and Airbnb costs, which add up!

Regarding increased discretionary spending in FIRE based on my tentative budget, I got to thinking how back in December, I decided that I would not FIRE in 2019 but that I would allow myself to spend a little more freely on discretionary spending since I was going to work an extra year.  Well, we've completed 4 months of the year, and I haven't increased my discretionary spending at all.  I haven't even had any desire to spend any more.  In fact, I'm spending even less than last year on discretionary spending to this point.  Of course, the big difference with FIRE is that I will have a lot more free time.

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2019, 08:48:08 AM »
I find that with all of the free time that I have in FIRE, my discretionary spending has decreased. Granted, I'm not interested in travel these days, so it may increase if / when the bug hits me again. I attribute the reduction in spending to having less work/time stress and far more time to do things myself. For instance, I've painted my home exterior, I do my own landscaping and minor repairs around the house and cook all of my meals from scratch - because I enjoy doing these things.

As I age or resume traveling, I expect my spending to increase. However, 2 years in to FIRE, the things that I feel luxurious about are either cheap (home made bread) or not really that expensive (shoveling a $100 truckload of compost made me feel like Scrooge McDuck, swimming in gold).

Dicey

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Re: Cheapskate to Spendypants in FIRE?
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2019, 06:27:17 AM »
Yup...mostly philanthropically. Where I used to give more time than money, post-FIRE, I have the luxury of doing both, which I quite enjoy.