Author Topic: Mustachianism as a vehicle to improve quality of life, rather than achieve FIRE?  (Read 4222 times)

onemorebike

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Mustachianism has changed my life forever, now considering a new turn and curious what people think.

A year ago after being at mustachianism for several years we were living pretty frugally, I'd knocked out about 50k in student loans with income from a rental in Denver and we'd lowered our household costs considerably. In the past year we sold the rental for a large profit, and sold our 1800 sq.ft., modest home for 4 people in Denver and moved to Minneapolis to be closer to family. We moved to a 1200 square foot home in South Minneapolis, 2 blocks from an enormous park (I liked to refer to this as our "rec room"), blocks from a robust bike trail system and walking/biking distance to just about everything we need. We've done most of the common mustachian tweaks (phones on prepaid, only one 14 year old vehicle, smaller home, bike/walk most places, eat beans/rice/etc.) and now we face an interesting situation.

Now that we've lowered costs so dramatically, we want to improve our quality of life by dialing back our work situations to allow more time to be with our young children, ride bikes, enjoy life in the way that we might when we retired. My wife took a .8 job with the school district here and I am looking to stop working a full time job and have pieced together a couple of part time gigs to pay our bills and leave ample time to be around. This means we have much less to contribute toward retirement but that we are spending more time right now living life to its fullest. We would be living much tighter, and more dependent on our incomes than ever before but we also want to escape the fast pace days of moving kids from here to there while we go to work all so we can get up the next morning and do it again until we finally retire. 

I imagine this won't be long term (or maybe it will?) as our children both become school age and have other worlds to run off to we may then decide to start working more. All this said, I'm curious what other mustachians think is the downside to this approach. (my other nonmustachian friends don't seem to understand how it is even possible) What do you think?

-onemorebike

Gray Matter

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I don't think there is a downside to this approach, but more of a trade-off.  The trade-off is you won't be able to fully retire as soon as you'd be able to if you were earning and saving as much money as possible right now.  But considering life is a journey, I think it's a great approach. 

I was making good money in the financial services and had I continued, probably could have FIREd in 4-5 years.  But my kids were 8, 9, and 12 and I wanted to spend more time with them now, plus I wanted more meaningful work, so I took a 50% pay cut to move to an .8 time position in the non-profit world and closer to home.  This will double our time to FIRE, but I'm OK with that.

I think Mustachianism is largely about improving quality of life, both today and in the future.  Your lifestyle sounds lovely.

forummm

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I don't think FIRE has to be the short term goal. The point is to make your life better. If you can do that short term while still working (but less), that's a good direction to go. For me, I want to be FI sooner rather than later, regardless of whether I RE. You may have different preferences. For me, I can make much more on an hourly basis full time than part time. And then there's compounding interest. So all the math pushes me to keep at the grindstone for awhile longer before I hit desired FI level and then dial it back as desired.

Kris

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I agree with the posts above.  Yes, in some ways, MMM is about FIRE, but I think the larger picture is about living a life of meaning, rather than being enslaved by consumerism, hedonic adaptation, and the social expectation that we all need to have certain possessions to be happy and fulfilled. 

BPA

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I did this before I found ERE or MMM.  I teach .67 and wanted to be more available for my kids who were eight and nine at the time.  They told me that my being home more was the best decision I made.  It meant no more before and after school care which saved money.  I google "frugality" to get more ideas to save money, found ERE, and then found MMM because of Jacob.

My children are now 16 and 18 and I still teach part-time.  I have no regrets and am hoping to retire at the end of this year. 

pachnik

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Yes, in the OP's circumstances it is finding the balance.  Being away at work all day while the kids are little or being home with them more while they are little?  It is great to have the choice and to know that you created your ability to choose.  I don't see a downside unless you are in a rush to FIRE which it doesn't sound like you are. 

ender

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I agree with the posts above.  Yes, in some ways, MMM is about FIRE, but I think the larger picture is about living a life of meaning, rather than being enslaved by consumerism, hedonic adaptation, and the social expectation that we all need to have certain possessions to be happy and fulfilled.

+1

I've done a lot of reflecting recently. My interests in optimizing my financial life brought me to a place where going after FIRE is by far the best way to achieve those goals.

But just as I am not willing to trade years of my life working for consumeristic desires which are ultimately fruitless, I am unwilling to waste the years of my life I am working purely in pursuit of FIRE.

One of the biggest downsides to my involvement with MMM perspectives has been the tendency to only look ahead and see FIRE or FI as an "ultimate" end goal and ignore the stops along the way. The stops along the way are wonderful, too. Some of them might cost us time along the journey. Or be detours.

But honestly? At my age (mid 20s) I'm not going to get worked up about a few thousand dollars a year. If we save 40% or 35%, we're going to be ok, as long as that 5% is bettering our lives currently. Neither my wife nor I spend frivolously.

Kepler

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We've been thinking about this a lot too.  We're currently at a point where I can either keep working full-time for the next 5-7 years, and retire fully, or I can shift to half-time, and retire at 60.  There's also the possibility, depending on a combination of luck and decisions about my partner's career, that I could go half time and the increase in his income will mean we could still retire early - but that won't be knowable for another few years.  I've had the opportunity over the last few years to take two long periods of maternity leave, with a couple years work in between. 

The first period of maternity leave was a burnout cure - I'd just paid off $50K of debt (run up in my name by my ex without my knowing...) in two years, mostly by taking a high-paid job I knew would be unpleasant.  I returned to work with a much more FU attitude, although not exactly what I'd call FU money, and as a result was able to negotiate much better working conditions.  Still, there were several moments where I wasn't completely sure I wasn't going to walk of the job, particularly as our accessible savings increased (before running into this site, I had been tucking all savings into retirement accounts - unlike the U.S., those savings are entirely inaccessible here until I turn 60).

I was much less burned out going into this period of maternity leave, and have therefore been able to enjoy the period mich more, and be more deliberate and active about how I approached it.  The result has been that the period has been a lot more like FIRE than anything I've experienced before - and I've told my partner that it's going to be really wrenching going back to work, as I enjoy it so much.  But I'm our main income, and we're not at the point where I can't go back at all.  The part-time option really appeals, but will massively reduce our savings (and I have a secondary worry about how well my employer will respect the part-time hours, instead of paying me part-time for something closer to full-time work).  I have the right to return part-time after maternity leave, for up to five years actually, without losing my entitlement to return a full-time position if I want.  I'm just trying to work out whether to pull the trigger...

Bracken_Joy

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To me, MMM is more about the 'FU' than the FIRE. While I hope to FIRE, it isn't my end all be all. More than anything, we want the flexibility that comes with the lifestyle. It also dovetails nicely with my values- good health, quality time engaging with friends/family/outdoors, 'insourcing', minimal environmental impact, etc.

I think you'll be happy with your choice- time with littles is time you won't get back.

alsoknownasDean

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Mustachianism is all about improving quality of life, due to its focus on happiness. The ease of reaching FIRE status that it often brings is just a pleasant side-effect.

If you're able to save 50% of two full time incomes easily, then surely you'll manage fine on two part-time incomes, and be able to focus the new-found free time on what makes you happy. Someone spending 100%+ of their income can't do that.

onemorebike

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Thanks everyone for the great responses. Since I've posted this my wife has accepted a .8 job with the school district and I am working two .3(ish) jobs that are very rewarding. We figured we could try it for a year or two and see how things shake out. I'm optimistic. :) So far it has been great to not be obsessed with work all of the time to appreciate the beauty of the world while I'm still young, and wild, and free.