Learn to say ‘enough’ to be happy on your path to FIRE (financial independence retire early): An important concept for FIRE and life…

 

Saying when it’s enough on your path to financial independence 

Laurance Rockefeller:  “Individually, people are finding that a simpler lifestyle provides greater satisfaction than relentless pursuit of materialism.”

My wife and I are recent early retirees at ages 51 and 48.  We’ve been slow traveling with our companion Toby, a 13 pound Pomeranian dog since our early retirement last August, 2020.  We’ve visited destinations such as Ocean City (Maryland), Atlantic Beach (North Carolina), Claysburg (Pennsylvania), Ellicottville (New York), the Poconos (Pennsylvania), and other attractions on the eastern parts of the United States.

In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts on saying when it’s ‘enough’.  

The concept of when it’s ‘enough’ is central to being happy in life and happy while pursuing financial independence.  In our consumption driven economy these days, if you don’t realize you have enough material goods already, then you’ll constantly be in debt.  

If you’re constantly looking at the latest of everything (cars, smartphones, clothes, restaurants, concerts, hot vacation spots, latest gadgets, etc.), you’ll never be able to retire early.  If you must live the YOLO (you only live once) or FOMO (fear of missing out) lifestyle, then you’ll never be able to retire early.

You give me a frugal person who lives well below his means vs a person who’s not, and I’ll bet in most cases, the frugal person will have a better retirement.  It doesn’t matter how much you make, but rather, how much you save your paycheck!

If you make $100,000 and spend $120,000, then you’re broke.  On the other hand, if you make $100,000 and spend only $50,000, then you can save the remainder towards your retirement.  The second scenario where someone is living below their means, will equal earlier retirement.

In every instance of a FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement follower, the person is always budgeting and living below their means during the accumulation phase and later during the spending phase.  There is no magic pill to retire early and be financially independent.

You MUST live below your means, which means to not overspend!  You must then save the remaining money towards your retirement.  The more you put away will equal less years you have to work!

It comes down to hard work/save now to relax later.  Of course, you can also do this the normal way.  That is, work until you’re 62 to 65, then retire.  This is totally up to you.  

Buy less things, do less activities that cost money, eat out less, and take cheaper vacations.  You can do it, and others have done it.  Find activities that don’t cost $200 per person, and eat less at restaurants that cost $100 per meal.  Don’t take that European vacation just because your neighbor or your friend did.  

Again, you have a choice.  You can either do all of these expensive things then retire normally at 62 or 65, or do less of these expensive things, then retire early.  

I would rather sacrifice now for an early retirement where I’m free do the things I wanted to do.  I can choose to work or not work.  I can choose to sleep late or not.  I can choose where I want to visit next month rather than needing to work, dreading going to work…

As I always mention in my blog, you must have discipline, commitment, and desire to want to retire early. It requires sacrifice to get what you want.  You didn’t learn a skill by NOT sacrificing.  Everything that’s worthwhile was earned with sacrifice.  The choice to do this or not, comes down to you...

This concept of ‘enough’ isn’t just with material goods.  This also applies to food we eat.  There was a time in my twenties and thirties, when I would eat until I was completely full!  I would order drinks (the sugary kind like pina coladas), order appetizers, eat the free bread, order entrees, then order dessert.  

I felt good after pigging out.  It wasn’t until a week or few weeks later that I noticed I was gaining weight (and high credit card bills).   This never saying ‘enough’ when eating, cost me my waist size and money!  Eventually, I stopped eating until I was completely full.  Instead, I ate to get satisfied and enough, which helped with my waist size and my wallet!

This concept is also important to an early retiree.  Once you accrue the requisite amount for YOUR retirement, you should be able to say that’s enough and be satisfied.  If you don’t do that, then you may end up working longer and longer, to get to your perceived safe number for retirement.

Once again, everyone is different.  I was perfectly ok with what I considered enough for retirement.  This is a decision you’ll need to make once you get to that point.

My argument for wanting to get off the rat race is so I can enjoy my remaining healthy years right now, rather than wait until I have more money, but with less remaining healthy years.  Think about this for a moment.

All of us are growing old every single day.  I think most of you will agree once we reach midlife and later, that our health isn’t what it used to be.  We generally get less healthy as we age, not more healthy.

I just want to enjoy my life when I’m still healthy enough right now.  Right now at age 49, I feel good.  I don’t have any aches and pains, nor do I suffer from any ailments that I know of... I maintain a healthy lifestyle that I hope will allow me to continue living healthy well into my fifties and later...

I don’t want to wait until I’m 65 to enjoy my life.  Who knows if I’ll still be healthy at that age?  I may have more money at 65, but does that really make me that much happier?  

It’s been well documented that once most people earn around $75,000 or so, that they are happy.  Beyond that salary, there is no discernible difference between someone making $75,000 or someone making over $100,000.

This tells you something about human nature.  It proves most people will be happy once they reach a certain point.  After that, it’s personal preference...

So once again you have a choice.  You can either choose to retire sooner with less money but have more good/healthy years, or retire later with more money but with less healthy years.  To my way of thinking, we can’t get our years (or time) back.  You can at least make more money.  

In conclusion:

Practicing the concept of saying ‘enough’ and being satisfied is vital for happy life and happy early retirement.  Without having this concept down, it’ll be a constant struggle to want more and more.  More food, more things, more money, etc...

In the end, ‘is it making you happy?’ is always a question you’ll want to ask yourself.  

For me, the delayed gratification was totally worth the sacrifice.  I would rather have time to do what I want to do every single day, without needing to work at a job I don’t truly enjoy, then to work longer to buy the stuff now…

What’s your choice?


Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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