Author Topic: Mustachian rat race feeling  (Read 1807 times)

beekeeper

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Mustachian rat race feeling
« on: August 06, 2018, 07:42:28 AM »
Mustachianism has started to feel like a rat race for me. Chasing FIRE, feeling bound to work hard and save money, sacrificing today for tomorrow, living in fear of touching the 'stash, etc. I have a hard time enjoying life because I feel the pressure to make progress towards FIRE. I am cutting out all discretionary spending and on track to become a bit of an ascetic.

This feels all wrong on a gut level because I actually enjoy working when it's on my own terms, I have small kids and so leisure right now is actually worth more than leisure in the future, and even though I'm not FIRE I have already saved about 15 times my living cost and could afford to slip backwards a little. I'm much better off financially than lots of other people who worry less about money than I do lately.

So what can I do to make peace with being a Mustachian while also taking time to smell the roses even when this means forgoing significant income and delaying FIRE and gasp having to work more later to compensate?

Ecky

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2018, 08:21:50 AM »
Forest for the trees. Learn to either find a lot of joy in every sacrifice you make, rather than stress/anxiety, or allow yourself some small indiscretions and forgive yourself for them.

Cranky

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2018, 08:21:56 AM »
Do fun things that don't cost money. Small kids want to spend time with you, and going to the park with the splash pad is just as much fun for them, and possibly more, than hauling them across country to Disney.

Uturn

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2018, 08:23:55 AM »
It's not about laser focus on scrimping and saving and stressing over FIRE.  It's about not needing to spend and consume to find happiness.  It's about finding appreciation for what you have and not craving more just for the sake of having more.  The flip side to not blindly spending money is you get to save it and stop working sooner than most.  Once freed from the shekels of materialism and your stuff owning you, you are free to go find whatever makes you happy.   

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2018, 08:26:01 AM »
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/08/10/strategic-luxury-the-difference-between-frugality-and-miserliness/

Done right, this lifestyle should ENHANCE happiness, not detract from it. It should lead to a more intentional and joyful life, not discontent and feelings of deprivation.

dcheesi

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2018, 09:06:02 AM »
The whole reason MMM and his wife pursued FIRE was so that they could take the time to focus on raising their child as they saw fit. If you've got a situation where you can spend more time with your children without putting yourself in the poor-house, by all means do it! As long as you're aware of the trade-offs you're making, doing what you want and what you feel is right is totally cool and kind of the point, really.

StarBright

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2018, 09:22:29 AM »
I fall into this trap sometimes too and am in a similar situation. I have little kids, am not opposed to working when I'm enjoying my job, and actually have a husband in his dream job who doesn't want to EVER retire for love of his job and yet I will still scrimp and save and pinch pennies.

One of things I've learned about myself is that I always seem to need a goal or a project. Frugality is a seductive goal because you can always find ways to hone it and you can always try harder. But I always find myself drifting into miserliness and often find the need to course correct.

I am trying to accept that our savings are in a great place. I lowered my annual savings goal this year. I  started making new goals for myself that focus on spending time with kids and trying new things. I try to keep these things frugal because I believe in frugality but I also allow myself to spend on things that might bring me joy (a nicer pen for my journal, an activity with a friend, etc).

I post things on this board sometime that have people calling me a consumer sucker or throwing facepunches my way and I have learned to be okay with it because I know that super-frugality makes me less happy. I still frequent this forum because there isn't really a forum for people who want to save 30-40% of their income but not more or less.  I encourage you to think about the things that make you happy and lean into them (caveat - if spending all your money makes you happy I don't encourage that :)). If FIRE isn't one of those things - that is totally okay!

DCSaver659

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2018, 10:00:43 AM »
I know what you mean! I've been a good saver my whole life, more or less. Reading MMM and similar has given a new purpose to this habit, and I'm very excited for the future and being able to retire early. But at the same time I battle with not eliminating things I enjoy. I spend $250-$350 on restaurants and bars, including expensive cocktails and $4 iced coffees on afternoon weekends. To me it is money well spent, and I have to remind myself that if that means another year of work or whatever, so be it! Still working on conforming the principals to best suit my life so I'm not stressing about FIRE when I'm already doing so well.

beekeeper

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2018, 10:06:58 AM »
It's about not needing to spend and consume to find happiness.  It's about finding appreciation for what you have and not craving more just for the sake of having more.  The flip side to not blindly spending money is you get to save it and stop working sooner than most.  Once freed from the shekels of materialism and your stuff owning you, you are free to go find whatever makes you happy.

I suppose that I am hooked on consuming time. I want to spend time relaxing and taking care of my kids even though it would be much more economical to pay somebody else to do this while I am working. So I am foregoing $x0,000 in annual savings by not working very much and I feel guilty about this. As a consequence I am developing a complex about spending money e.g. quit drinking coffee to save money, don't want to take vacations, etc. I feel like this is escalating and beyond the point of being rational.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2018, 10:22:34 AM »
So I am foregoing $x0,000 in annual savings by not working very much and I feel guilty about this. As a consequence I am developing a complex about spending money e.g. quit drinking coffee to save money, don't want to take vacations, etc. I feel like this is escalating and beyond the point of being rational.

Is your spouse on board with you being home more?  Does your family have a prioritized list of goals?

It might help to write them down, so that when you start feeling guilty you can actually see that  "one parent being home with the kids" is higher on the goals list than "retire in 4 years".

My husband was a full-time student/part-time SAHD the last 3 years, and he also felt guilty sometimes about spending money since he wasn't contributing financially to the household.  We had lots and lots of conversations about how much he was actually contributing to the household - we didn't have to pay day care, convenience foods went down, and the fact that he was home when the kids got out of school was priceless.

Our goals are not to cut out everything and FIRE at the absolute earliest point.  We gave ourselves a date to work towards that we should be able to meet while also enjoying our lives.  For example, our financial goals list includes a line item for how much vacation we're going to take every year.

SunnyDays

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2018, 11:33:23 AM »
It's not about laser focus on scrimping and saving and stressing over FIRE.  It's about not needing to spend and consume to find happiness.  It's about finding appreciation for what you have and not craving more just for the sake of having more.  The flip side to not blindly spending money is you get to save it and stop working sooner than most.  Once freed from the shekels of materialism and your stuff owning you, you are free to go find whatever makes you happy.   

I agree with this.  Although I had to giggle at the use of "shekels" instead of "shackles."  Freudian slip?

Samuel

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2018, 12:04:44 PM »
It's not about laser focus on scrimping and saving and stressing over FIRE.  It's about not needing to spend and consume to find happiness.  It's about finding appreciation for what you have and not craving more just for the sake of having more.  The flip side to not blindly spending money is you get to save it and stop working sooner than most.  Once freed from the shekels of materialism and your stuff owning you, you are free to go find whatever makes you happy.   

I agree with this.  Although I had to giggle at the use of "shekels" instead of "shackles."  Freudian slip?

Yep. This right here.

I've never been super hardcore about pursuing FIRE although I'm steadily moving that direction. The concept of FIRE broke apart my preconceived ideas about money and spending but it was the self imposed frugality that really taught me how tenuous the link between spending and happiness can be. To me eventual FIRE is a byproduct of getting my priorities in order. I don't live super frugally now, but I'm pretty confident I don't waste much money on low return purchases. If necessary I'll tighten up for a month or two if I feel I've slipped up.


thesis

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2018, 08:38:11 AM »
Humans can and will turn anything into a status symbol. Cars, careers, kids, even how many birds you've seen and photographed. But we all want to believe good things about ourselves; we all want to believe we have made good decisions. There's some great FI lazer-focus on these forums, for example, but you really have to pick the savings rate that is best for you, and this is going to be different for everyone. For example, I'm at 50%, but there is no shortage of people killing it at 70%+. I just realized that going higher was going to push me to insanity and not leave me with any flexibility. It turns out that I still save more than this, but some of this is earmarked for fun and life. Also, I'm seriously struggling to keep my food budget below threshold. I'm doing great in every other area, so it seems silly to beat myself up over this one. The point is that you are still setting aside loads of money, and your future is much brighter for it, so feel free to relax a little :)

beekeeper

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Re: Mustachian rat race feeling
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2018, 12:44:21 PM »
Is your spouse on board with you being home more?  Does your family have a prioritized list of goals?

It might help to write them down, so that when you start feeling guilty you can actually see that  "one parent being home with the kids" is higher on the goals list than "retire in 4 years".

Good pointed question. Yes, my spouse is on board, but no, we don't have a prioritized list of goals.

I suppose that my discomfort is mostly that being a SAHP will have a very large impact on our savings rate. On the one hand we have talked about FIRE as a goal and this decision is not aligned with that. On the other hand we have already saved ~15 years of living costs in our portfolio so I feel like even with a 0% savings rate we could reasonably expect portfolio appreciation to bring us to FIRE over the next 10 years.

So perhaps I am trying to come to terms with transitioning to a 0% savings rate and living the FIRE lifestyle while my spouse makes sure we (at least) don't draw down our portfolio.