As we continue down this road of self reflection, it is painfully obvious that controlling expenses is the number one priority for anyone pursuing financial independence. I know, thank you Captain Obvious! There is more to this than I originally thought of or considered when we set ourselves on this path. Not only are we trying to cut expenses to increase our savings rate now, we are cutting expenses to create a new baseline for our lifestyle in the future.
The way we have lived our lives over the past twenty years has ranged from frugal to frivolous and everything in between. The challenge going forward is to contain our emotional wants to purchase things simply because we want them. We need to limit ourselves to those things we need and start to redefine our lifestyle. This is easier said than done. We have habits to break, obligations to live out and a future full of uncertainty. There are some things we just can’t do anything about for the next year and a half. So what can we do now without making ourselves feel like hermits?
First and foremost is no more buying the latest and greatest gadgets. I’ll confess, I am an Appleaholic. I love my iPhone, iPad, iMac and my Apple Watch, and I’m not afraid to admit it. We are the prototypical consumers that companies like Apple love and cater to. We make a good living and we love to upgrade to the latest product to hit the open market. This gets very expensive and is about as frivolous as you can get. It’s also not sustainable and is a bad habit that we need to either break completely or at the very least reform our mindset to fit into a more modest lifestyle. Maybe upgrade every few years instead.
Next is the cost of entertaining ourselves. We love to go out and have a good time. The only problem is that a good time can get very expensive. We have done a fairly good job of cutting back in recent months, but we can certainly do better. There is plenty of room in the decisions we make to still have those good times, but at a lower cost. It would probably be healthier for us too.
The last area would be dining out, which is all on me. I eat out almost every day for lunch and that is expensive. The main reason is that I work in a horrible area and I just want to get away from the madness. Leaving that office and area is a mental reset for me every day. The other reason is that, I like it! Not only is this expensive but it’s unhealthy. I need to make an adjustment to accomplish my mental reset and spare myself the expense of buying lunch everyday.
There is one other area that we spend a lot of money on, but for now it’s untouchable and will eventually disappear on its own. That is our never-ending desire to be in our RV heading somewhere. We travel to semi-local locations for weekend getaways at least twice a month and it can be expensive. But for the peace of mind it provides us and the family time we get is not something we are going to give up or cut back on. Eventually our son will head off to college and we will start making our transition to the RV.
There is a lot of work to be done. One thing is for sure though; if we don’t reign in our expenses and make the necessary lifestyle adjustments, there is no FIRE.
What are you struggling with on your journey to reach FI? Leave a comment with any suggestions or questions.