People have called us frugal and cheap to our faces, probably adding some snarky comments behind our backs. We’ve been told that we’re missing out (on life?), need to replace our furniture, etc. etc. If there was a frugal flag to fly, you better believe we would wave that flag proud and loud for all to see and perhaps we would even lead the frugality parade. I bet you there would be a pretty badass picnic after the parade with delicious sandwiches, cheese, and wine.
We realize that spending less than 50% of our income is “abnormal”, but our spending is not dictated by our income. It is driven by conscious realization of a) what we need and b) what makes us happy. Marketing messages, friend’s recommendations, and social media’s driven urges bypass us without effort. Even if we see a large increase in income, our consumption and spending will remain unchanged. This is the millionaire next door mindset. Media has portrayed success synonymously with lifestyle inflation, including large extravagant houses, new cars, and the latest technologies. By foregoing these items we risk the impression from friends and family that we are not successful, taking a hit to our self-worth, even as these material possessions add no true value to our lives.
The quicker you realize you shouldn’t make purchasing decisions to influence the impression of others, the sooner you can exercise control of your desires and start to discover your passions in your life. With life being a continual work in progress, why not have the option to change course at any point in time? Financial independence gives you this option.
The ability to live life with as little stress as possible, being free to learn, explore, grow as an individual and together, and to give back. This is why, as the WinningWilliams, we are on our own path, walking to work, with our 1 bedroom apartment, shopping at Aldi, and ultimately saving (and investing) a high percentage of our income.
A few things that have helped WinningWilliams on our journey:
- Money Mustache – simple ideas, genius with communication/writing style (he has a cult-like following for a reason).
- Our Parents – instilled strong core values, both with spending and saving, but also general life principles (although they have recently gone overboard on Christmas decorations!).
- TV – or lack thereof! Our TV broke several months ago… and we haven’t fixed or replaced it. This has provided more time to focus on each other, reading, projects, and without the negative influence of commercials and those annoying political ads!!!
- Excel – there are some avid users of YNAB, but for us, we have slowly modified in Excel our “budget”. It helps us visualize where we are on our journey, reinforcing how our conscious efforts are reaping awards on our path to financial independence. You can check out the details of our budget.
- Communication – this is a fundamental key, keeping each other inspired and understood
There is no question in the value of making conscious decisions independent of the opinion of others. There is no question in the value of realizing your material possessions do not impact on the value of you as a human being. In doing so, you remove yourself from the nasty world of consumption for perception sake.
I recently had a discussion with a close friend about why we desire financial independence. There was quite a bit of push-back: you’re going to dislike not working, you’ll be bored out of your mind, there are so many things that will happen to throw off your independence, it’ll be difficult to re-enter the workforce, and so on.
There is truth to much of that. I really DO enjoy the challenges my workplace brings, some interesting social interaction, and a few pretty darn cool perks (free mini-cruises from time to time!). I do have a nice setup NOW, but you never know how things will change. New management? Financial downturn and layoffs? New policies?
We may absolutely continue to work at our LEISURE after reaching financial independence. But we will continue to strive to reach independence at an early age, all the while traveling the world on our vacation breaks and making the most out of each and every day. Our current goal is to be financially independent somewhere by the time Mr. WW reaches 40 years of young age. Nonetheless, the benefits of our “frugal living” and saving such a high percentage of our income is clear:
- How would you feel if you lost your job? What if you and your significant other BOTH lost their job? We’d feel disappointed that our financial plan was set back, but we know that we have significant cushion because of the lifestyle we have lived. Not to mention, could this be a catalyst to make radical changes to our life? Take a sabbatical and live inexpensively in a low cost of living country? Move to another part of the country? Maybe. But we wouldn’t worry about taking the first job that came to us. We wouldn’t worry about where our rent money would come from.
- Ability to change jobs at OUR discretion. This is commonly referred to as f-you money. After reaching financial independence, you have the power to make demands at your workplace. Don’t like the hours? Don’t like the commute? Don’t like the new boss? You have the power to make demands for the job to fit YOUR description and if they don’t oblige, see ya!
- The ability to give back and truly discover our passions. When you are fully enveloped in the consumeristic mindset, you NEED your job to pay your mortgage, to pay your car bill, to pay for the fancy restaurant, the technologies, etc. If you don’t pay your bills, everything is lost. You have no option but to continue to drag yourself to the job to support this lifestyle. If you are financially independent, you have the ability to get away and give back. If you don’t know what your passion might be from a time-giving perspective, you can continue to work and give lavishly to your charity of choice. I’d much rather have decades to discover and give back then retiring in my 60’s, with potentially limited physical ability, and an unknown amount of time left.
- Combining the sabbatical and age consideration, it would be nice to have time to slow travel the world in your late 30’s or early 40’s when you have greater capacity to explore, and handle both physical and mental demands of this type of travel.
Take your pick: slow traveling the world at your leisure, discovering different cultures, and gaining life experiences, or waking up a 7-am to fight rush hour traffic sit in a cube/office, deal with office politics, and return again the next day. Change the mindset, stop caring about what others think, and start dictating your life on your terms.