Author Topic: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"  (Read 4428 times)

TheRabbit

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Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« on: October 28, 2014, 05:06:38 AM »
I'm a recent convert to Mustachiansim (and still working on getting my husband on-board).

In general, we are pretty good at small expenditures, but have trouble saying no to "experience-based" expenditures like vacations/travel-study opportunities (I'm a graduate student).

My husband thinks that by avoiding these experiences, we are decreasing our potential happiness, the exact opposite of what Mustachianism is supposed to achieve! This is why he is having trouble converting.

How can you spin it in your mind that not traveling to exotic locales and sharing the world with your children while they are young is better than saving for the next 15 years and then traveling when the children are already grown up?

Also, in general, we go through this "back-sliding," where we are very frugal for about 2-3 months and then somehow go crazy with our spending. It feels like we can't get off the consumer rollercoaster for good.

We are taking home combined 50,000 after taxes and 401k investments. Need some serious re-thinking to get our yearly living budget down to 25,000 so we can save half, but we want the changes to add to our life, not feel restrictive.

Tips? Ideas? Philosophies of the Mind?

VirginiaBob

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 05:18:31 AM »
Travel in this order:

1.  Staycations
2.  Less than 2 hours away trips
3.  Less than 5 hours away trips
4.  Less than 8 hours away trips
5.  8 hours or more trips
6.  International travel

After you have exhausted everything possible to do in category 1 (repeat things that you really enjoyed to further extend this category), then move to category 2, etc. 

Also, think tents and camping. 

ak907

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 05:27:42 AM »
Mustachiansim is does not necessarily cutting all travel. Many Mustachians travel. Mustachiansim is about learning to detox from consumerism (it can be very very hard to separate out what you value and what you value because of what others think of you/say you should value) and thinking very critically and honestly about what spending truly brings you long term happiness, satisfaction, and freedom (through financial independence). The path you take is going to be unique to you and your situation.

There are some commonalities, if your in debt you need to deeply cut back on luxuries. If you find yourself frequently complaining because you don't have enough money, or you can't do something you want you need to make changes in how you spend you money.
Picture your life in the future after traveling down different paths. Does that Disney trip really have a long term positive effect on your kids lives (I can tell you it made little difference for me, but I have a friend who is obsessed with Disney so it may have had some value(or fed an unhealthy obsession))? Or would being able to retire earlier and spend more time with the kids one on one have more value?

Paint a picture in your discussions with your husband, not of what you are cutting back on, but what life could be in the long off future. I.E. freedom to switch between full/part time jobs projects easily, spend infinite amounts of time with your kids when they are not at school, and with eachother and friends when they are. Time to exercise and feel healthy, etc.

Good Luck :)

Gin1984

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2014, 05:32:07 AM »
I'm a recent convert to Mustachiansim (and still working on getting my husband on-board).

In general, we are pretty good at small expenditures, but have trouble saying no to "experience-based" expenditures like vacations/travel-study opportunities (I'm a graduate student).

My husband thinks that by avoiding these experiences, we are decreasing our potential happiness, the exact opposite of what Mustachianism is supposed to achieve! This is why he is having trouble converting.

How can you spin it in your mind that not traveling to exotic locales and sharing the world with your children while they are young is better than saving for the next 15 years and then traveling when the children are already grown up?

Also, in general, we go through this "back-sliding," where we are very frugal for about 2-3 months and then somehow go crazy with our spending. It feels like we can't get off the consumer rollercoaster for good.

We are taking home combined 50,000 after taxes and 401k investments. Need some serious re-thinking to get our yearly living budget down to 25,000 so we can save half, but we want the changes to add to our life, not feel restrictive.

Tips? Ideas? Philosophies of the Mind?
Can you apply to have your costs covered, if the travel is related to a conference/acedemic benefit?  I applied to our graduate student association to fund a conference a days drive (which paid for the hotel).

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2014, 05:55:03 AM »
It sounds like you need to make a budget.  Making a budget allows you to clearly set where you want your money to go.

In your case, it sounds like you want to save 50% of your income and travel.  Those aren't mutually exclusive!

BUT, and it's a big but, you need to cut everything non-essential that doesn't relate to one of those goals.  Love eating out while in a foreign country?  Me too!  I can't imagine travel without sampling the local food and drink.  So I save my pennies when in the US by never eating out.  You get the idea.

I find that dramatic frugality is much easier when you have a clearly defined goal.  Within a couple, the key is to have a clearly defined shared goal.  This makes it easier to avoid resentment.

hdatontodo

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2014, 06:08:43 AM »
I agree with the person who said make a budget.

I make a cash flow list in a spreadsheet one full year into the future and update it multiple times per month (numbers below are fictional) with each paycheck, each house payment, each cash withdrawal, each Visa payment, etc. At the bottom you can see where you'll be end of year and how much you have extra (less if you failed to put in what you really spend each month)

                                          balance   $2500

October

Paycheck $1000                                $3500

Pay Visa -$500                                  $3000

Paycheck $1000                                $4000

House Payment - $2000                   $2000

Cash withdrawal -$200                    $1800

November

xxx
xxx
xxx

December

yyy
yyyy
yyy

yyy

End of year balance                             $1,250

I do this a full year out and can tell you how much money I expect to have unspoken for at the end of 2015.

begood

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2014, 06:49:05 AM »
You don't count your 401K contributions in your savings rate? You say you bring home about $50K after taxes and 401K contributions, but you want to live on $25K so you can save half of your take-home pay. I'm not saying you can't make that a goal, but money going into your 401K should be counted as savings, IMHO.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2014, 08:33:36 AM »
You don't count your 401K contributions in your savings rate? You say you bring home about $50K after taxes and 401K contributions, but you want to live on $25K so you can save half of your take-home pay. I'm not saying you can't make that a goal, but money going into your 401K should be counted as savings, IMHO.

+1.

Also Stoicism.

Practice a little voluntary discomfort at least once/week if not more. No A/C or heat, ride a bike to work, take the stairs, fast for a day, deep clean your entire house, maybe go as far as covering an eye or wearing ear plugs for an entire day. You will start to appreciate your normal life more.

Vacations are fine, education is fine, but you don't need to break the bank to enjoy your life.

senecando

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2014, 08:58:17 AM »
How can you spin it in your mind that not traveling to exotic locales and sharing the world with your children while they are young is better than saving for the next 15 years and then traveling when the children are already grown up?

"Exotic" seems like a codeword for "impressive". Your kid needs to see the pyramids just like a kid in Cairo needs to see Minneapolis. She will be fine. She is too young to have ruts to be stuck in.

I'm with Bob; I think we can do all of the vacation stuff pretty close to home, at least at first. Start--near home--to see nature, to calm down, to be curious, to learn history, to think that people and place can teach you, to pay 6 dollars for a water bottle.

Vacations are fine, education is fine, but you don't need to break the bank to enjoy your life.

+ 1, or to experience the world.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 09:13:12 AM by senecando »

LiseE

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2014, 09:08:09 AM »
Hi there .. we are also recent converts having found this blog in the spring of this year.  We are working to payoff our debt emergency right now.  It took a while (5 months) of tracking all of our money to see where it was all going and then to attack frivolous spending.  As another post mentioned, since we have credit card debt to payoff we have eliminated much of our 'luxury' spending (i.e. eating out and going to the movies although we have two little kids so we still go out but are on a shoestring budget and get discounted movie tickets.)  Before I knew where all of the bleeding was coming from, I started paying down the debt with an additional 1500 a month.  Now, after 5 months of tracking and training my family to enjoy a non-spendy lifestyle, I am able to pay down our debt at $2500 chunks!   Watching our debt bubble burst is addicting and it makes any spending painful to me as I want that debt gone!  I'm also highly motivated to keep the snowball growing .. last month the snowball I was able to roll was 4k! 

I share my story because we are still a work in progress and it takes time.  The more you track and hone your spending the more you will 'find' money and wont' want to spend it. (I will admit that with the 4K pot of money this money I did treat my family eating out and a movie.)

Next thing I have to tackle is our grocery bill.  It still escapes me how we spend $1000 a month on groceries when I'm careful and use coupons, etc.  I know my hubby and I are occasionally  getting cash back when we shop so that is part of it .. it's not a full 1K in groceries but I need to figure this out!  November I will use an envelope with cash for groceries only and keep my receipts to see what is being spent.   

The tracking is tedious at first but it's really useful to find the spend-bleeding. 

Best Wishes!

TheRabbit

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2014, 04:48:14 AM »
Thanks, everyone!

I will start making a more careful budget with 2 columns like hdatontodo suggested instead of just writing down what we are spending.

I will also consider more in-country vacations, but I'm a linguist and love traveling for the languages and cultures experienced. Not to say there are zero linguistic or cultural differences here, but you know what I mean...

And also, yes, I should start counting my 401k as part of my savings. I usually just pretend that money doesn't exist so that I feel pressured to save even more.

Thanks again!

Pooperman

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2014, 05:17:27 AM »
I went on international travel 5 times before 18. Nothing rediculous, just some close(ish) destinations. The craziest one for distance was a trip to Germany when I was too young to remember (family visit and parents sightseeing road trip). The other times were: a road trip to Canada (10 hour drive or so), a week in Puerto Rico followed by a week cruise, a week in Dominican republic, and finally a cruise to Bermuda. Living in the US, the trips internationally above are less than serious international travel. Did you know they speak French in Canada? Of course you did! From the east coast of th US, it's easy to drive there even if it is 'international'. Mexico is similar for those in the south west. Even international doesn't have to cost that much. Do what you can in ththe back yard of where you live. Personally, the trips I liked the most were to my grandparents' summer home in Cape Cod (a 6 hour trip, but a month long stay).

nereo

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2014, 08:01:40 AM »
Hello and welcome TheRabbit
some good advice offered here about budgeting and taking advantage of cheaper travel options closer to home.    IMO, mustachian living is all about optimization - taking what you have and extracting maximum enjoyment with minimal expense.  It's certainly hard (especially in the first few years) not to succumb to consumer marketing and go on spending binges because it is easy and brings immediate (but often very shortlived) pleasure.

I'm going to express an opinion here that others on here might instantly dislike:  As long as you 1) are taking advantage of your 401(k) and IRAs, 2) have no 'hair-on-fire' debt emergencies and 3) have an emergency fund or other plan to cover unexpected jobloss or sudden expenses of several thousand $$, you can pat yourself on the back and know that you will get to the happy fields of retirement eventually and much sooner than 90% of the population. 

You can estimate how far away FI is for you by knowing your "FI Number" (for simplicity use 25 x expected retirement spending) and plugging your 'stach + annual savings + estimated return into any of the hundreds of online calculators out there.  Tinker around a bit and you'll see how quickly saving another $100-200/week will have on lowering your time to retirement.

Then constantly evaluate what spending gives your life more joy, and what just unnecessarily clutters everything up -  If spending $5k/year to go on an overseas vacation is really important to you and you don't mind that you will need to work another X years before hitting FI, go ahead and take those life-enriching trips.

Just remember that reducing your spending (in any form) will have the biggest impact on reaching FI.
Cheers


Gimesalot

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Re: Back-sliding & not fully "converted"
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2014, 08:58:09 AM »
DH and I love to travel internationally.  We do so at least once a year.  It is built into our budget to the tune of $6000 a year.  We don't spend this every year, so it gets rolled over. 

During our travels, we focus money spent on the things that are important to us.  For example, we don't really care about nice hotels, so we stay at places that are just above hostels.  However, we are foodies, so we go to at least one super-fancy dinner on each trip.  The rest of the time, we eat cheap ethnic or street food.  I love museums, so large amounts of money are budgeted for us to get in to places, but we spend a lot of time trying to figure out free cultural activities and museum days.  Transportation is not very important to us, so we almost never use taxis, just busses, walking, and bikes. 

Figure out what you like about vacations, spend on that and cut everthing else as low as possible.