Author Topic: Red Pill or Blue Pill, Do you ever one wonder about just taking the blue pill?  (Read 19699 times)

James

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Boy, the Red Pill, Blue Pill idea hits a big thought in my life as well. My wife and I used to be fundamentalist Christians (more or less, it's a broad spectrum), and though we were never horrible with money, we always seemed to spend more than we brought in unless we constantly focused on trying not to. The kicker was buying a huge lake house right at the top of the market, and then taking a handful of red pills over the following few years. I often wonder if we would actually be more happy never going through those years of thought and change, and just muddling along like we had been.


This is the part where I impart some special wisdom about what worked for me and how to make it all better... or maybe not. Sometimes questions don't have answers. Regret may be the most powerful emotion we have, it can really pull a person apart. I find the entertainment of this question in and of itself does me little good, so mostly I avoid it and try to look forward. I can tell myself taking the red pills was right, it made sense, I don't want to be blind, I want to live a "real" life, things are more meaningful now, I never really believed those things anyway, I will be happier with my finances later, I will find even better friends going forward, etc, etc, etc. But none of those things really help, the only thing that helps me is to shut those thoughts down after giving it a fair moment to ponder them. I just don't see a resolution to the question, so the best answer to move forward without resolution, and to be ok with that. I am happiest when I am moving forward best I know how. If there are regrets or missing part of my life, I need to focus on resolving that, not figuring out if I would be better off in some alternate reality.


Having said that, I greatly appreciate the question. This is a great place to bring out those thoughts and put them down on paper. And it's also a great place to find ideas for what to work on after considering these ideas and then setting them aside. I think that is a big reason I keep coming back to MMM, it gives me reminders of things to focus on rather than the regrets my mind might consider.

Elaine

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I've recently had a pretty big falling out with one of my closest friends. We have different ideas about money, but that actually had nothing to do with it. I'm 26 and she's 28, and while I'm sort of over the whole "going out and getting wasted while hooking up with random people", it's still a big part of her life. I don't feel like going to a party that starts at 10:30 pm, with an after drag party at 3:00am,  but I'm also not still single like she is. She's happy to pay a $20 cover charge at a club, I no longer see the purpose. I'm a big reader, she isn't- as I get older I am realizing that I prefer to stay home and do projects than go out all the time. I'm shocked because I was a pretty big party girl (ok, shamefully big), but people change. We had some of the best times ever in college, and I don't think they were worthless, it was an awesome time!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that life is evolution, and sometimes friendships are just for a season. I have other friends from college who are still very much a part of my life, but she isn't one of them. It doesn't devalue the time we did spend, I have no ill feelings toward her at all. But I'm sure that from her end of things it appears that I've become boring, old, settled (all negatives in my social circle). In reality, I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'm working on a book (Fantasy/sci fi epic, in case you were wondering-yes I work in IT), I love to cook, I just started Aerial Silks classes (which feeds a craving I've been ignoring, I used to be a ballet dancer ages 5-20ish, but that fell away when partying seemed more enticing).

At first I was angry thinking about how my friend might now consider me a bit of a loser. But then I checked myself and got some gratitude for my life. I have so much, awesome financials thanks to MMM, great relationship, adorable cat, nice apartment that fits all our needs, a job that will help lead me to FI. Now I don't feel angry or slighted. I am aware that there are things I have that she may never have, and everything always looks different from the outside. Best of luck, I'm sure you will be happy with your decisions!

Mr.Macinstache

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Boy, the Red Pill, Blue Pill idea hits a big thought in my life as well. My wife and I used to be fundamentalist Christians (more or less, it's a broad spectrum), and though we were never horrible with money, we always seemed to spend more than we brought in unless we constantly focused on trying not to. The kicker was buying a huge lake house right at the top of the market, and then taking a handful of red pills over the following few years. I often wonder if we would actually be more happy never going through those years of thought and change, and just muddling along like we had been.


This is the part where I impart some special wisdom about what worked for me and how to make it all better... or maybe not. Sometimes questions don't have answers. Regret may be the most powerful emotion we have, it can really pull a person apart. I find the entertainment of this question in and of itself does me little good, so mostly I avoid it and try to look forward. I can tell myself taking the red pills was right, it made sense, I don't want to be blind, I want to live a "real" life, things are more meaningful now, I never really believed those things anyway, I will be happier with my finances later, I will find even better friends going forward, etc, etc, etc. But none of those things really help, the only thing that helps me is to shut those thoughts down after giving it a fair moment to ponder them. I just don't see a resolution to the question, so the best answer to move forward without resolution, and to be ok with that. I am happiest when I am moving forward best I know how. If there are regrets or missing part of my life, I need to focus on resolving that, not figuring out if I would be better off in some alternate reality.


Having said that, I greatly appreciate the question. This is a great place to bring out those thoughts and put them down on paper. And it's also a great place to find ideas for what to work on after considering these ideas and then setting them aside. I think that is a big reason I keep coming back to MMM, it gives me reminders of things to focus on rather than the regrets my mind might consider.

Being that you're in my generation.. you might be familiar with this song... it helps me out a lot sometimes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O7jmmSYI9U

My wife has a hard problem living in the present... she lives in the future..always planning and looking forward to things. It's weird how people live in different time relative to their existence.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 11:22:26 AM by Mr.Macinstache »

WageSlave

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I think the financial aspect of your lifestyle can be defined in terms of a continuum, with ERE/MMM on one end, and the consumerist debt-laden over-spender on the other end.  The middle is probably someone who got a "C" in Personal Finance 101: he isn't spending more than he makes, but could stand to do a fair amount of optimizing.

tomsang, I get the impression that you're like me, in that you're somewhere between MMM and the midpoint, the 25th percentile, so to speak: doing far better than the typical first-world middle class individual, but still not living up to the standard set by MMM.  Clearly there are different opinions on the "philosophy" of Mustachianism.   Some will say you're already there, since you're saving so well and living in a conscientious manner.  Others take a harder line on the issue, and want you to be nearly a clone of MMM before you're truly living out the philosophy.

I agree that it can be alienating to go "further down the rabbit hole" of Mustachianism (to use the Matrix analogy).  When I think and post on these things, I like to start with the How to Go from Middle-Class to Kickass post.  My spending is around twice that of MMM's... but it's still far less than MMM's former colleagues, and I'm lucky to make a considerable wage---enough that my savings percentage is definitely "MMM approved".  But the savings rate is really only one facet of the overall MMM lifestyle.

I see some signs of relationship straining with my closest friends.  They also have high incomes, but take the "your lifestyle should reflect your status" attitude.  For example, luxury cars.  We got into a somewhat heated argument about how wasteful they are.  I was looking at downsizing and going more fuel-efficient; my friends think I'm ridiculous for not getting a luxury car.  As others have said, it's a matter of values.  They value the "finer things" in life, even if it means working longer or even leveraging yourself; I value getting FIRE sooner than later.

That story might make me sound like I'm living the Mustachian life.  Clearly, my friends are candidates for the "Antimustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy".  But if you pick the story apart, so am I.  Though I'm going for a small, fuel-efficient hatchback, and paying cash, I'm still looking to buy new, and indulge in a few upgrades.  And why am I buying a car anyway, why am I not using my bicycle for 99% of my transportation needs?

I found great comfort in the book The Millionaire Next Door.  It seemed to be largely about people who were more like myself: that is, recognizing the value of saving and investing, and generally living below one's means.  But by and large, I don't think these were "extreme frugality" types (except maybe the Scottish).  I suspect most fit in the 25% percentile I suggested in the continuum discussion above.

Last year, my wife and I took a semi-expensive adults-only vacation with said friends.  It wasn't crazy expensive, but definitely and indulgence, and quite unlikely to be "MMM approved".  We had a great time.  Part of my justification for the trip was that, with kids, I really won't have opportunities to do these kinds of things very often.  But while there (since I had more time to think than I usually do), I found myself thinking about Mustachianism, and what makes me happy.  Yes, I want FIRE very badly, and the best way to get there is to reduce costs and spending to a minimum.  But what happens when sweating every penny becomes an obsession?  If it's just saving for the sake of saving, then is that what I really want out of life?  Well no---it's saving for a longer-term, bigger goal.  But if reaching that goal means I have to give up these rare opportunities to relax without kids and enjoy the company of friends, is it worth it?  (And in case I mis-characterized my friends: yes, we clearly have some drifting values.  But still we share a number of values, and more importantly, don't take ourselves seriously enough for the differences to matter.  We can disagree, and maybe even get a little tense, but 10 minutes later we're all laughing again.)

While some friction between friends does occur, I can thank my kids for helping smooth things out.  Without kids, I think my friends would be more often trying to pull me into spending money.  But with kids, we barely have time to get enough sleep, let alone do all this stuff that requires money.  Increasingly, the gatherings with friends are increasingly low-key, and more of the lines of "let's hang out at someone's house and just take it easy for a few hours."

I'm living in Chicago now, as are the high-income friends I've mentioned.  I'm a transplant to this city, though.  In my hometown, I have friends and family of much more modest means.  I'm only here for the high-paying gig, and when I hit FI, it's back to my hometown.  This is in line with what other people in this thread have suggested: it can really help to literally move in order to better surround yourself with more like-minded people.  And I think you really have two options: surround yourself with other rich-but-frugal Mustachian types, or people who simply don't have the means to live "above" MMM's lifestyle.  Either way, you fit in.  :)

I also believe that moving back to my hometown will further help me reduce expenses---but then again, maybe it's just a dangerous rationalization for letting my expenses be where they are now.  If nothing else, housing costs will all but vanish (I have a mortgage now, but will own outright after FIRE).  The number of times my Chicago friends will be able to rope me into spending money will effectively be zero---spending money with them will now be a special occasion, rather than a regular weekend thing.  Restaurant selection will shrink dramatically, so the temptation to eat out will be lowered.  Living near both sets of grandparents means free babysitting.  And I'll have so much more free time to DIY all the things we now pay for to save time.

As evidenced from this post, clearly, I favor the "soft form" of Mustachianism; I haven't fully drank the kool-aid.  I still maintain a number of "typical" middle class lifestyle behaviors, but I do so conscientiously (insofar as my own values are concerned), and spend far less than I earn.  And I still keep an eye out for waste and areas where we can save more.

I think that, loosely speaking, with regards to Mustachianism, people fall into three camps: (1) hopeless, (2) natural, and (3) transitioning.  The first are the ones who'll never get it; these are the haters that show up spewing vitriol whenever MMM gets mainstream exposure.  The second are the "natural" Mustachians, the ones who have always, instinctively lived a life similar to MMM's.  The last group are probably the biggest group, those who are not natural Mustachians, but who want to adopt a similar lifestyle.  And I'm sure within this group there's still a fair amount of diversity, from those that just need to make a few little tweaks, to those that need a radical lifestyle overhaul.  But in either case, you have a transition, and the dynamics that encompass the transition can make it smooth and easy, or painful and difficult.  A major factor in the transition is one's spouse---that's got to be one of MMM's FAQs: "I want to be like MMM, but my wife/husband doesn't, what do I do?"  The fundamental question is, what happens to my relationship to someone I love when our values change?  Framed that way, the question applies not just to one's spouse, but his family and friends as well.  In the worst case, there's divorce/disownment/ended friendships.  But more likely (and hopeful) is probably some middle ground or compromise.  Which do you love more, your wife or Mustachianism?  Assuming the former, you'll probably relax your definition of Mustachianism a bit to save your marriage.  Hence, the continuum.  Stated another way, depending on how far you want to take it, it's really a character-defining situation.

My last paragraph made me think about this question in a more general sense: what are your biggest sticking points when it comes to transitioning to Mustachianism?  Is the numbers/math?  Is it giving up convenience and luxury?  Is it the effect it will have on your relationships?  Is it simply the fear of getting out of your comfort zone?  The answers, and the degree, will of course be different for everyone.

Whew, that got pretty long.  I'll be happy if anyone bothered to read the whole thing.  Even happier if anyone got anything out of it!  :)

tomsang

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Whew, that got pretty long.  I'll be happy if anyone bothered to read the whole thing.  Even happier if anyone got anything out of it!  :)

Thanks for the post. I did get a lot out of it.

Thanks for everyone's input.   

Adventine

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Whew, that got pretty long.  I'll be happy if anyone bothered to read the whole thing.  Even happier if anyone got anything out of it!  :)

I liked it a lot as well :)

Osprey

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Whew, that got pretty long.  I'll be happy if anyone bothered to read the whole thing.  Even happier if anyone got anything out of it!  :)

I also liked your post! It's interesting what you say about "natural" mustachians versus the new ones, and about the different value systems. When seen from this perspective it's easier to to understand the fears and incorrect assumptions of non-mustachian friends and family, and to address them (if the relationship is woth it to you).

Ishmael

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According to the author of the book "The Happiness Hypothesis", Jonathan Haidt, everybody has a story in their head about how their life should be. This story can be anything - CEO of a major corporation, or a freedom seeker who travels around in a van from place to place.

A major factor of our happiness is how closely our lives actually match up to this inner story. When you read MMM and an article resonates, that's because you're learning parts of your own inner story. 

In the Matrix, Neo was unhappy, and he needed to understand why - that's what the red pill did for him. That's what MMM and others are doing for people - explaining exactly WHY the consumerist lifestyle is inherently unhappy, and more importantly, what they can do to fix the problem.

Therefore, the difference between taking the red pill and the blue pill is that with the red pill a person can now understand how to fix the problem. The problem will still exist with the blue pill, but they can't ever know how to fix it.

Also in the book mentioned,  he examines the role of buying stuff towards happiness. Conclusion (not surprisingly to anyone here) is that it provides a short-lived rush of happiness that fades out very quickly. It's a never-ending treadmill that leads to a place of emptiness because there will be a point where you either can't buy the next thing to make you happy, or it loses all meaning - like a drug addiction.

Happiness is largely controlled by two other things - a person's natural baseline (which can be reset by meditation, cognitive therapy or certain pharmaceuticals) and their involvement with other people in a cause larger than themselves.

oldtoyota

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Nice. How'd they turn out? My wife tried to make cauliflower mashed "potatoes" (sans potatoes) and..... eh, not so good.

We are thinking of diving into bread making with almond flour or rice flour. The Udi bread is killing us is at $4.50 a loaf.

Mr. Mac. Do you guys like challah? The UDIs was killing my good bill too and I found a good challah recipe. PM me if you want it.

MsGuided

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Whew, that got pretty long.  I'll be happy if anyone bothered to read the whole thing.  Even happier if anyone got anything out of it!  :)

Thanks for the post. I did get a lot out of it.

Thanks for everyone's input.   

Your post helped me to understand my thoughts in a more coherent way.  In some ways I'm similar to you and have been trying to figure out exactly where on the MMM continuum I want to land.  Still processing it, but know I feel very Mustachian with my peers in real life and very extravagant when on this site/forum. 

I see a lot of wisdom in seeking out either wealthy mustachian types or those who don't have a lot of money to spend.  Unfortunately, in our neighborhood and most of the circles we run in, we are surrounded by mostly people spending a lot, even those who consider themselves frugal.

Thanks for your post.  I'd love to read more of your thoughts.

EscapeVelocity2020

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I now realize this is a dead thread (as I started my post to it), however, with the advent of Bitcoin (something you'll never hold in your hand), YouTube, etc., we are living incredibly further virtual lives.  It's an interesting intersection between living more of our lives online and seeking FI early (being different from the masses) - virtual life is a good reason to get to FI early (more time to live self-directed life) and good support to allow you to reach FI earlier (more 'cheap' options / money saving ideas).  Sorry it's a little bit of a ramble, but I think it's interesting that I may think I've taken the Red Pill (if I follow through with FIRE'ing) only to accidentally have taken the Blue Pill (spending all of my new found free time online)!   

:)  Probably doing a horrible job of expressing this, but I think it's in human nature to end up 'blue pilling' sooner or later :)
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 11:27:08 AM by EscapeVelocity2020 »

soccerluvof4

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What if he took both pills? .....haha.


Anyhow i agree with many others on here stay the course. I think alot of people while they wont admit would much rather live more like you are and just cant get off the hampster wheel. Its easier for them to stay their course than make the change. In time as i have found out more and more people will come out of the woodwork and look to find you! 

scrubbyfish

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Just learned this is an old thread, but since it got reignited, I'm going to run with it.

Really appreciating this conversation. I've had a few things pop up in my MMM/social journey.

1. I have a kid with me full-time, thus much contact with the outside world is with other parents. I find it very, very difficult to connect with other parents, even the very interesting, wonderful ones. This is just logistics: we meet at our kids' activities, and outside of those we're all on different schedules -including kid bedtimes- and are also exhausted/shell-shocked as a result of raising humans. If we meet socially, the kids are with us and this interrupts the flow. These facts frustrate me to no end. However, I'm hoping to soon move to a town where the geographic area is much smaller, and the ratio of homeschooling families is much higher. I'm thinking this new combination may allow more of a free-flow between households.

2. In my effort to get a grip financially, I had to largely shut people out for a while. Some of my companions were really committed to a non-MMM life, and it was hard for me to move forward financially while hanging with people who were super committed to remaining in poverty, or to me doing so. The other piece was that moving out of poverty took all my resources: time, energy, money, etc. Between caring for my kid and moving us out of poverty, I had nothing left for social relationships. So in the transition, I was simply alone. After the transition, other stuff popped up, as described below.

3. One favourite friend is so extremely frugal I can't get him to do anything with me that costs more than $2. Sometimes I want to do something like see a play, or take a ski lesson, and would love to do these with a friend, but this one insists that everything over $2 is a no go. On the flip side, I am much more frugal than other people, such that I am essentially in my friend's position in relation to them (case in point follows)! In either position, I end up feeling like I'm largely flying solo and can feel sad about it.

4. I've recently been finding like-spirited people at 12 Step recovery meetings. However, I do not get to see them outside of the meetings, for two reasons: One, they are all super busy and not available to meet except for the hour after meetings, when they all go to a coffee shop. I already donate to the meetings, and do not feel I can also afford a coffee out afterwards. I also don't want to make my kid sit through a meeting PLUS adult coffee, and am reluctant to spend $15/hr on child care. I feel this loss.

5. Another friend started out super frugal while I was more spendy, and over the last year or so we "traded places". We can't seem to be samies at the same time. We each keep influencing the other in whatever new direction we're taking, and by the time the other catches up, we've morphed our original position. Example: We had a standing date of dinner out once a week, but he decided to take up intermittent fasting. I initially resented that this beloved point of connection was gone. But eventually I came to love the financial savings. Then he got into indoor climbing and wanted me to come along, but I was in my new budget. When I proposed meeting outdoors, I learned he had just released his car to save money. And so on. Ha!

All of these affect my social life, and in direct relation to my MMM consciousness. The good news is both friends (#3, #5) and I are in full agreement about long conversations over a cup of tea, long walks, etc. So we do what we can together and sometimes one funds another to come along where there is a difference of financial opinion. My biggest barrier is child care -with child care I would be free to do lots of free stuff as they come up. But that's not my reality at the moment. But I'd rather have my kid anyway :)