Author Topic: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest  (Read 4000 times)

Bumperpuff

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https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gya8bx/i-tested-the-saving-technique-that-promises-retirement-at-40

The statements that stood out to me:
"My salary is just under the London average of £34,000 [$44,711]. Taking half my monthly wage for saving, along with rent, bills, and monthly subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify, I'm left with £377 [$495] for the month—a budget of around £12 [$16] a day to cover food, travel, and any other expenses." - Maybe cut some subscriptions?

"I settle into a new routine during my working days: Getting the bus to and from work (£3) [$4]—sometimes running home to save £1.50 [$1.97]—and eating a Tesco meal deal for lunch (£3) [$4]. I know I should be preparing my own lunches to save an extra bit of cash, but the effort required to save an extra dollar a day doesn't quite cut it for me." - it's possible to bring a sandwich from home and save $3/day.

The guy cuts out the things that makes him happiest and finishes the article with the "i could drop dead tomorrow" canard.

Parizade

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2019, 06:39:58 PM »
"Saving money was satisfying, but at the same time, viewing life through the narrow lens of cost/benefit analysis sucked the joy out of it. Far from helping my financial anxiety, it was only making it worse."

This sort of statement always confuses me. When I started "viewing life through the narrow lens of cost/benefit analysis" my joy increased substantially because I was only spending money on things that actually made my life better. So when I read something like this I think they must be doing it wrong if it's making them miserable.

And when he mentioned living on beans and pita bread it made me realize how long it's been since I've had that for dinner. Now I'm craving it.

thesis

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2019, 06:43:51 PM »
What gets me is at the very end. The whole, "I could die!" argument for not doing anything about your money. Nobody ever says, "I could live and have absolutely no options in life!"

Besides, if you die, you die. You won't be around to miss all the booze you didn't guzzle. It's mind-blowing to me. Sure, spend on the things that bring you true happiness, but that author is way out of touch with happiness in the first place, it sounds.

cloudsail

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2019, 07:01:29 PM »
Is going out for drinks a huge thing for British people? I've noticed in articles and books written by people in the UK that seems like it's almost a mandatory part of life. Like if you didn't go to a pub regularly you would have no social life.

As someone who almost never visits pubs it seems very bizarre to me.

obstinate

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2019, 09:13:35 PM »
It seems like it may be somewhat more so than most other places, but I'm sure the bigger issue is that if you make friends with people in pubs, your friends will be people who like to go to pubs. So if you stop going to pubs, you won't see as much of them.

SotI

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 11:15:35 PM »
"Saving money was satisfying, but at the same time, viewing life through the narrow lens of cost/benefit analysis sucked the joy out of it. Far from helping my financial anxiety, it was only making it worse."

This sort of statement always confuses me. When I started "viewing life through the narrow lens of cost/benefit analysis" my joy increased substantially because I was only spending money on things that actually made my life better. So when I read something like this I think they must be doing it wrong if it's making them miserable.
Yes, I  think they get obsessive instead of reflecting on saving benefits.
I can relate to this, as I also tend to act "rule-base" ("grocery budget for this week is spent = no more cash to spend"). I actively have to remind myself then that additional spending might be beneficial  ("oops, out of coffee; DH will be happier if I spend the extra $4 this week instead of next").

Actually, just happened, so I can see this occasional disconnect between stingyness and benefit (I bought the coffee, ofc).

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2019, 12:20:18 AM »
Firstly, I wonder whether the author realises you can FIRE by increasing income, and also working on savings, i.e., there are two, independent parts to FIRE.

Secondly, perhaps the author choosing not to view life via cost/benefit analysis explains why he believes he ought to rent an expensive home on a mediocre income and then whinge about being financially anxious.

Enigma

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2019, 08:29:58 AM »
The author made the biggest mistake of undertaking it as a short term project.  You wouldnt go to a 4-year university with that mindset.  The issue that struck me most was his comment:

"I spend the rest of the week either at work or at home, not spending much, and not really doing much, either. Time stretches out when you have nothing to do."

Besides the meal prep that he eluded to not doing.  He made a comment about buying clothes.  I am sure he could have bought a 6-pack of beer and then invited friends over with a BYOB (bring your own beer) evening while they watched some Netflix or talked about life.  Plus his original quest was due to "my more sensible friends living within their means for the first time in our lives".  Why couldnt he host evenings with them were they talked about finances, economy, weather, and the such.

"clothes, food, and things for the house were all easy to cut back on"...  If he had been buying clothes every month he could have spent days going through and organizing his warddrobe.  Anyway that is some of the issues that popped out at me.

flipboard

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2019, 10:36:20 AM »
Firstly, I wonder whether the author realises you can FIRE by increasing income, and also working on savings, i.e., there are two, independent parts to FIRE.

Secondly, perhaps the author choosing not to view life via cost/benefit analysis explains why he believes he ought to rent an expensive home on a mediocre income and then whinge about being financially anxious.
Something tells me you have absolutely zero familiarity with typical London salaries and rents.

Nicholas Carter

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2019, 12:59:40 PM »
"Saving money was satisfying, but at the same time, viewing life through the narrow lens of cost/benefit analysis sucked the joy out of it. Far from helping my financial anxiety, it was only making it worse."

This sort of statement always confuses me. When I started "viewing life through the narrow lens of cost/benefit analysis" my joy increased substantially because I was only spending money on things that actually made my life better. So when I read something like this I think they must be doing it wrong if it's making them miserable.

And when he mentioned living on beans and pita bread it made me realize how long it's been since I've had that for dinner. Now I'm craving it.
If the problem is how much money you have, then you have one, admittedly opaque problem. If the problem is how much money you spend you now have dozens of problems.
MMM is a very trendy version of the Voluntary Poverty movement. And the reason most people don't like to do it is the same reason we don't call it that. Optimizing every financial decision is something poor people have to do, or their never going to maintain a family on a $15 per person per week food budget. So not optimizing every financial decision is how you show yourself you aren't poor.

Bee763

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2019, 05:09:39 AM »
Is going out for drinks a huge thing for British people? I've noticed in articles and books written by people in the UK that seems like it's almost a mandatory part of life. Like if you didn't go to a pub regularly you would have no social life.

As someone who almost never visits pubs it seems very bizarre to me.

Pub-going is rather embedded in UK culture, although apparently it is in decline. There definitely are social circles that exist mainly in pubs and if you didn't go to the pub regularly you essentially wouldn't have a social life at all. The pub is kind of the ultimate non-shared-interest forum for socialising, and plenty of interest groups also use pubs as social venues.

I don't do a lot of pubbing these days, it was more of a feature in my life when drinking was a relatively new experience and everyone lived at home. We would take it in turns to host occasionally, but it was far easier to meet up at a pub and we'd often frequent those with live music, especially if friends were playing. These days I am more likely to go to a pub for a meal, or maybe briefly for drinks after a theatre or cinema trip, but still not regularly. There's a fair class divide on pubbing too - working class men are almost expected to be in the pub at least a couple of nights a week but the middle and upper classes are more likely to do their socialising in other venues. Different industries differ here to - you hear a lot about people with those networky-type jobs going for drinks after work, less so in other arenas.

Enigma

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2019, 07:45:15 AM »
Pub-going is rather embedded in UK culture, although apparently it is in decline. There definitely are social circles that exist mainly in pubs and if you didn't go to the pub regularly you essentially wouldn't have a social life at all. The pub is kind of the ultimate non-shared-interest forum for socialising, and plenty of interest groups also use pubs as social venues.
The Washington DC area had the same culture when I lived there a few years ago.  After work everyone usually went to the bars to socialize.  Every now and then I was dragged into it with friends.  We usually picked venues that had "happy hours" (discounts).

I usually drank a free water and then nursed my beer for an hour or longer.  May even grab another water between 2 beers if I got another.  But by the second beer and all the water I was running to the restroom every 5 minutes.  Others just seemed to down hard liquors and beer like they were goign out of style.

fattest_foot

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2019, 10:48:50 AM »
The author took the New Years dieting approach to FIRE. Cut out everything, make yourself miserable, and then quit.

Someone should have told him that the "FIRE by 30" crowd is only for high income earners. The math doesn't work if you're making $40k a year.

That doesn't mean it's worthless. For someone at his income level (assuming it stayed steady through his working career) it means the option of actually retiring versus working until you drop dead. And, maybe, if you start early enough and do find areas to cut, retiring early at 50 or 55.

But his biggest mistake is that his entire life has been built around spending money (friends all meet at pub, etc). When you cut all of that out, it doesn't leave you with anything else to do. It's why people who don't have hobbies fair poorly in early retirement. If your entire identity is built around your job, and then you quit it early, you're not left with anything.

Missy B

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2019, 09:47:40 PM »
Is going out for drinks a huge thing for British people? I've noticed in articles and books written by people in the UK that seems like it's almost a mandatory part of life. Like if you didn't go to a pub regularly you would have no social life.

As someone who almost never visits pubs it seems very bizarre to me.

Yes. It's a major thing. Drink is woven into the cultural fabric, and regardless of where and how you meet people initially, they are going to expect to meet up at the pub for a pint after. It's very enabling of addictive behaviour -- and alcoholism raises eyebrows no more than allergies do.
Not everyone enjoys this -- I've had a couple of english emigres comment on how much they appreciate not being expected to drink until late on weeknights with their work-mates, and how people do other things after work instead.

Zikoris

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2019, 11:03:10 PM »
It's funny, to me $16/day seems like plenty to cover food, transit, and incidentals. That's more than we would spend even combined. It seems like you could definitely have a few drinks a couple nights a week, and do some other social stuff on that if you wanted to.

benoitor

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Re: Author attempts FIRE by cutting the things that make him happiest
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2019, 02:39:01 AM »
I agree with most of the comments here. Heavy dieting has never worked, same with personal finances!
Start with 10%SR, then increase slowly and steadily.

One relevant point of the post is :
Quote
With global warming triggering the collapse of entire ecosystems, and the constant barrage of other anxiety-inducing news, now does not seem a particularly prescient time to hinge your future on the continuing ability of the global economy to offer returns on your savings at its historic average

Global warming is a long term process that will probably hit up near 2050.
FIRE process is also a long term process, based on returns of economical agents that are not very compatible with global warming (resource consumption, CO2 emissions...etc)

For me, the more I read about global warming, the less I believe in FIREing (I guess it is linked to being optimistic about the future)
Anyone has had this reasoning before ?