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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Lia-Aimee on November 27, 2014, 10:59:25 PM

Title: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Lia-Aimee on November 27, 2014, 10:59:25 PM
Long-time lurker, first time poster. Just wanted to get some feedback inspired by Mademoiselle's post.

How do you decide which small luxuries to allow yourself,if any? I'm 26, going to reach MMM's level 2 in several months, and while I would like to be FI for the sake of saying I'm FI, I have no intention to leave the full-time workforce.

As a child, I was a natural-born mustachian. My mother, who grew up wealthy (and is addicted to stuff - family income was more than adequate) constantly ran out of money and the end of the month and referred to us as poor. From that, I developed an anxiety arou.d the lack of money - anything I got, I squirreled away for a rainy day.

From 18-25, I was determined to avoid student loans for my bachelors and masters, while helping out my younger sister who moved out at 16 through no fault of her own.

I kept my living costs extremely low, primarily by living in the very cheapest places I could find. There was mould, there were passed out people in the lobby, and a dumpster mattress that was disinfected 1000 times. There was walking home from the library at 2am since I didn't have a computer, and a ramen day/week. There was working full-time hours (2-3 different jobs) as a full-time student and reading my econ textbook while kneading bread dough.Granted, I had a few splurges like $30 mascara and flying across the country twice a year to visit family, but for the most part I was well-behaved.

Then I joined the ranks of the grown-up workforce, and kept my cost of living the same. It was easily legitimized in that it's allowed me to max out all my available no tax/tax deferred accounts (over 6 figures) but when I'm done with that...how frugal should I stay?

Now I naturally don't care much for stereotypical luxury - hell, I take transit instead a cab even when my employer is paying. I have no desire to ever own a vehicle or lululemon pants, or to vacation at a resort, but I know that the following things would really improve my quality of life:

1) Own above grade apartment ($1000/mo) instead of a windowless basement room with very nice but very messy roommates and a constant weed smell ($300.)
2) More travel, primarily but not exclusively to see family more (over half live in Europe)
3) Significantly more charitable giving
4) $70/month fake eyelashes




tl;dr - how did you decide what degree of "luxury" to allow yourself?
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: marty998 on November 28, 2014, 02:12:01 AM
Luxury is in the eye of the beholder.

I will happily eat a cheese sandwich for lunch, given the choice between that and restaurant quality fine dining*.

Some things are wasted on me :)

I agree with 1, 2 and 3. I can see the value in those. I do not see the value in 4. $840 a year for fake eyelashes?

Most girls look prettier without the whole bag of tricks plastered on their faces.

*unless it's a big juicy steak. Om nom nom.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: former player on November 28, 2014, 02:23:28 AM
Congratulations on everything you have done so far.  You sound as though you are an intelligent, hard-working, thoughtful, successful and well-balanced individual.  Except for the eyelashes, but we all have something, right?  And eyelashes seem pretty harmless.  Put the expenditure on them in the "hobby" category.

A windowless basement room infected by passive smoking is not a healthy environment, and one of the first tenets of mustachianism is a healthy environment - it will help you live a longer, more productive and healthier life.  So I'd put a priority on improving your housing situation.   After that, I'd say you are 26 and single and have spent a significant part of your life with little or no leisure time and activities, so putting some cash towards hobbies and social activities would be a good investment in making friends, memories, new or improved skills and an enjoyable life.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Spondulix on November 28, 2014, 02:36:18 AM
I think there could be a bigger question here: how do you feel about your own wealth? Do you have any aversions to having money? The nature of being Mustacian is to be frugal - but with the goal of becoming self-sustainable, which takes wealth. I've been frugal my whole life, but I've come to realize that I was also rejecting wealth (in part from my upbringing, but also in my own conception that people with money were jerks). The idea of being a millionaire made me uncomfortable, but in all likelihood, I will be a millionaire someday (just the nature of saving over time). Warren Buffett is the ultimate example of this - he loves to save and collect money, and now he's a billionaire. So when you're questioning luxury, I think it's worth questioning your own fears, aversions, and relationship with money.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Zette on November 28, 2014, 07:52:39 AM
You sound like the flip of the person who spends it all and isn't saving anything -- you're saving it all at the expense of your quality of life.  MMM emphasizes a *good* quality of life, not just the least expensive life possible. 

I would suggest you pick a percentage of your income, maybe 10% would be a good number, that you reassign from saving to improving your quality of life today.  Whether that money goes toward a better apartment, more travel, or eyelashes is up to you. 
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: boarder42 on November 28, 2014, 08:57:09 AM
Yeah those eyelashes are all I would question as mentioned above. I don't really see how they improve your quality of life. Everything else seems quite reasonable.

You have to be comfy with where you are and yourself. No one can tell you what that means.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: thecornercat on November 28, 2014, 09:01:03 AM
"Luxury" for me usually involves food. I really, really love food and being able to experience foods that might be more expensive (cheeses, for example) or a restaurant...


It sounds like you are on a great path and your experiences sound similar to mine. We are the same age and seem to have had the same anxiety about money. Congratulations to you for how much you have accomplished!
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: GardenFun on November 28, 2014, 09:02:51 AM
You're already ahead on this decision, because you were able to produce a top 3 list.  They also translate into Safety, Enjoyment, Goodwill.  Nothing wrong with increasing those areas when you can afford it.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: MoneyCat on November 28, 2014, 09:06:10 AM
Just choose a level of Mustachianism at which you can do anything you want, whenever you want, without having to ask permission or face economic consequences.  If you reach that level, then you are doing fine.  And a message to the lurkers, etc.: If you reach that level while living a stereotypical luxurious lifestyle, then this blog and forum probably aren't for you.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: MrsK on November 28, 2014, 09:08:30 AM
If eyelashes make you happy, get them.  No one else's opinion matters on this.  I have some splurges in the beauty area and there is no need to justify these purchases as long as you can pay cash for them. 

Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Zikoris on November 28, 2014, 09:13:21 AM
I keep the things that really give me a lot of enjoyment. For me, that would be:

1. International travel. However, I have no problem going cheapo on this, as long as I get there in one piece and get to see the things I want to see. Costs me $3500-$4000/year.

2. Soda. In reasonable amounts obviously. $10/month-ish.

3. Haircuts at a fancy salon. Costs about $70 every two months, but after spending years having horrible haircuts from people not knowing what to do with my curly-wavy-thick-short hair, I think it's worth it.

4. Dance training. Lifelong passion. I try to get with promotions or deals when I can, and I buy as little special clothing as possible, but it's not free. It's usually around $13-$15/class, which I do once a week.

Things that are not on the list: restaurants, alcohol, clothing, electronics, fancy apartments, and pretty much any type of shopping.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: sheepstache on November 28, 2014, 09:58:16 AM
Congrats, it sounds like you're doing well!

1. It sounds like your current living situation is soul-sucking and needlessly squalid. An improvement there would probably vastly improve your life.

I do wonder if you have to go all the way from $300 to $1000. Surely an incremental change would be a huge difference considering where you're starting from. Why not a nicer apartment but still have roommates? (And a nicer apartment might attract nicer roommates. Eventually you could look into buying a place and having roommates pay the mortgage.) I've noticed that there's a certain poverty mentality where people fall into an all-or-nothing trap and they don't so much focus on what would make them happy as what they want to get away from and reject. Slowly improving means you explore what aspects you really value. And then you might find an apartment which has exactly what you're looking for but is undervalued by others.

2. Definitely something you can budget for. Again, optimize. Feel free to post particular plans and locations and people will probably offer ideas how to do it most efficiently.

3. Totally a personal thing, though I'll point out lots of people on here feel they'll be able to do more good by reaching FI faster and having time to donate their efforts and skills to their preferred causes. Or they may be happier investing the money and thus being able to donate a greater amount at a later date. Also, I think Spondulix's response is particularly relevant to this one.

4. Jesus Christ, really? I'm not so much concerned about the dollar amount as the fact that you aren't satisfied with your regular eyelashes. For most people this age is the best-looking they'll ever get. If nothing else, wait til you get a new living situation. I suspect once your overall happiness is improved you'll feel less longing for "splurges."
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Kaspian on November 28, 2014, 12:22:01 PM
When I first came here it wasn't drastic, I just slowly got rid of crap I didn't need over the past two years.  I still look for small areas to maximize--phone, internet, cable cutting, more DIY, groceries on sale, using the library, etc.  At first savings was 38%, then (last year) 49%, this year I'm set to hit 56%.  I don't make anywhere near as much as many of the rick-folk here, but my net worth has gone up $100,000 since reading this site.  ...Now what would you do for $100,000?  Give up fake eyelashes for awhile?  On a TV show people would do all sorts of mental things, but in real life it's much simpler.  The thing with giving something up (not "denial"--"optimization") is if it doesn't work, you can always flip back.  No harm done.  (I think the "no harm done" is something people don't understand at all.)  There are a few things I cut which didn't jive after they were gone, so I brought them back into my life.  The harm?  I saved a few bucks in the attempt.  :)

I take transit too.  The thought of a taxi is now insane and kept only for very important occasions.  My mindset is different.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: The_path_less_taken on November 28, 2014, 03:50:25 PM
I'm with all of the people who say improve the living situation: there's a possibility that you won't be able to pass a drug test if you're stuck in a basement apartment with a lot of residual smoke in the air....not that you've said your job requires it. But many do.

As for the basic question: FIRE is important, but you are also living your life now. Today, even. So there has to be something that you truly feel, in your heart, would bring you more happiness than the monetary amount of savings losing it would take.

An equation: If I have the eyelashes I want I have to work 'x' months/years more: is that worth it to me?

Only you can answer that.

That said...there was something on yahoo about mascara and that a $5 brand tested out to be just as effective as the pricey ones. I also know people who have individual glue on lashes...but they seem to fall out a lot.

Congrats on being a natural saver. And helping your sister through a hard time.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: kib on November 28, 2014, 04:23:00 PM
Maybe you could get creative with your spending and find joy while still honoring your frugal nature?  Find an above grade apartment with one non-smoking room mate who happens to work for an eyelash salon?  Donate time to a charitable volunteer cause while you're traveling?
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Mesmoiselle on November 28, 2014, 06:08:33 PM
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/09/20/wealth-advice-that-should-be-obvious/ (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/09/20/wealth-advice-that-should-be-obvious/)


Quote
   a couple of reminders on how to tell if you can afford something:

If are in any sort of debt emergency, you probably can’t yet afford “it”

If you still have to work for a living, and would prefer to have a choice in the matter, the diagnosis is the same.

Occasionally, we will all break this rule if something is really important to us. But in general, it is a good guideline.
Title: Re: Deciding just how mustaschian to be
Post by: Lia-Aimee on December 01, 2014, 12:52:55 PM
Thanks to you all (Mesmoiselle - my apologies for spelling your name wrong in the first post.) You all have great points and it was interesting to see different perspectives and what you choose as "luxury" spending, as well as neat compromises.


I'm amused by the (well-deserved) visceral reactions towards spending money on fake eyelashes. I knew that was coming :) (three! optometrists have told me that I have "unusually short" eyelashes haha. And I was talking about the individual glue-on lashes; I've had them done when I was modeling and they can actually be trimmed to a "normal" length and they look much more natural than mascara. Just in case anyone wants to go out and get them done now, lol.)

Spondulix - very good point, I haven't quite figured out my relationship with money yet...I'm terrified of not having it, have been pretty decent at making it/investing it since high school (knock on wood) and not that good at spending it.  I don't really like "stuff" very much, nor stereotypical luxury, but I like feeling that I could have it at any moment.  I always joke that I'm a very confused golddigger at heart, since I tend to date only older and high-net-worth men...and then strongly dissuade them from spending any money on me at all.   

Anyway, from someone who's friends/family/colleagues are "spendypants" for lack of a better word, you guys are a breath of fresh air. Cheers!