I was reading a BudgetsAreSexy post last week about the thought of withdrawing from your nest egg after spending so many years building it up. While that thought is terrifying to me (considering I resist tapping our Emergency Fund even when we have emergency worthy expenses – it’s going to take a missing finger for me to break into that) it brought up another question:
Could we go back to a life of consumerism?
In many ways, we live a “no frills” lifestyle (compared to the average American at least), some examples that come to mind:
- We don’t go overboard on decorations, we DIY some and we have family pictures. But we don’t do a lot of the “Pier 1 Imports” type of decoration or have books on our tables just so they can be there
- We don’t buy “touristy” crap when we go on vacation
- I have had the same winter jacket for the last 4 years (Dark Grey and Black jackets are always-in-style right?)
- I don’t buy new shoes until they become dangerously slippery due to lack of tread
- Once I find a hat I like, I wear it until it becomes embarrassingly (for Mrs. AE at least) faded/tattered
- I have had the same flip flops since I was 18 years old
It looks like I am in good company, Millennial Money Man had a post last week showing some pretty sweet socks
Don’t get me wrong, we still spend money, by comparison to some of the super-duper savers out there we are not that frugal. But sometimes I glance around at what my friends and co-workers are buying and I realize we spend far, far less on non-essential things. The crazy part is, I don’t feel like we are missing out on anything.
Case in point, after I started this post one of my friends threw away a perfectly fine outdoor patio furniture cushion because it was dirty……. I told him to throw it in the washing machine and see if that would work (it would, it was dirt that splashed up from the patio) and he glanced at it, said “Nahhhh, I am just going to toss it and get a new one. Don’t tell my wife.”
Off to the garbage can he went, and at that point, I realized that people don’t think the same way I do. I would try just about anything to save a trip to the store to replace something that didn’t need replacing.
When Established Habits go Unnoticed
Our financial habits have become part of our day-to-day life. I don’t think about the money that goes into our investment accounts every 2 weeks. Mindful spending (and some judging of others spending….sorry..) is second nature now. We are used to living on less than we earn, and have honed in our spending.
- Whenever I go shopping, I check the price even if it has no impact on if I am going to buy the item or not
- Every time I see one of my buddies pull up in a new truck (which is shockingly often), I think of how much money they are wasting in interest and depreciation (not to mention they have absolutely no use for a truck)
- I look to fix something before thinking about replacing it
- We Find cheaper solutions to expensive problems
- I search for coupons before purchasing anything online.
I guess the point I am trying to make is, we don’t feel like we are missing out today, we are content with our spending habits now.
Will we be able to break these habits?
Down the road, when we are financially independent and don’t need to accumulate more money to live comfortably, will we still scrutinize purchases like we do today? Will we continue to get more frugal as time goes on?
The thought of sitting with a stack of cash that we saved for the purpose of spending later, but still being hesitant to spend it bothers me. I cringe a bit when I see people still working that have way more money than they will ever need.
It is hard to un-learn the impact of compound interest and the benefits of spending wisely, but at some point, I am going to have to ignore the little voice in my head that wants me to get every last mile of out of a pair of jeans and shoes.
When we hit our goals and don’t have to worry about money – will I be able to say F**k it and swipe the card on something I normally wouldn’t?
If our safe withdrawal rate is 4%, will we try to unnecessarily live on 3% because we are used to living on less? I could see myself going down this path honestly, and I guess it’s a good thing to start thinking about now.
I don’t really have an ultimate point to make here, just something that I have been thinking about time to time and want to keep in check. If you want some wisdom at the end of this rambling: Don’t give money more credit it than it deserves – it is there to serve you not be part of you.