I have been known to drop the line “We aren’t going to work forever” around my family and friends, but they definitely don’t take that as we are going to exit full-time work in the next 25 years. They think we are on a pretty typical path right now – the infamous Earn More to Spend More cycle. Up until recently, I have left our ultimate plan off the table but decided to take a leap faith.
For me, opening up about our plans is a consistent internal battle. “What if one of them would embrace this path?” vs possible negative reactions, jealousy, judgment (both them judging us and thinking we are judging them), etc, etc, etc.
Putting the negative thoughts aside, for the first time ever I dropped a major bomb on a family member that our plans don’t have us working full-time passed the age of 40. Even though our FI timeline says I will be closer to 42 – we are going to make 40 happen. Don’t kill my dream.
The person I was talking to is intelligent, has a well-paying job, and invests regularly. We have talked money multiple times and while our investing philosophies are different I have enjoyed all our conversations and find them productive.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but the conversation didn’t tread into the area I hoped. I was hoping for some interest. A how, what, why, or at a minimum “tell me how you’re not batshit crazy” would have been cool with me.
Instead, I was hit with a look that I wish I had a picture of. Somewhere between confused, disbelief, and skeptical. There was an eagerness to crap all over my parade, and if you know me, you know I don’t like parades, but if I do attend one they better be crap free.
When FIRE Meets Water
Before going any further, this is not a “look at how dumb people who aren’t pursuing Financial Independence or Early Retirement are” post. I want to look at the mindset that gets ingrained into peoples brain from a very young age. Unless you grew up in a special FIRE household, we all watched our parents, neighbors, and peers seek to display wealth instead of actually build it.
The conversation only lasted about 20 minutes, but there was a full out explosion reasons it can’t be done. I have conveniently laid them out below for your viewing pleasure.
Lifestyle Inflation is a Fact of Life
Not too much of a surprise here, but the Earn More Spend More engine is still churning strong. The list of things that should inflate with earnings is not short but always starts with the two big ones. Houses and Cars.
“You guys will look for a bigger house and get nicer cars over the years.”
Exact quote. Which is a little ironic considering our downsizing in home size from our first to second home and the fact that a car from 2001 currently sits in our driveway.
This is not out of the ordinary however, it is one of those things that people just do. More money means you can take on more debt and still “afford” the payments. You watch everyone around you inflate and want to be part of the crowd. Unfortunately, that crowd battles month-in, month-out with their bills.
Overestimating the Sacrifice
“I’m not willing to give up everything we are doing now”
Tying in with the Assumption of Lifestyle inflation, the perception of sacrifice is blown way out of proportion. I spend a lot of time interacting with and reading about other peoples Financial Independence journey and I don’t know any that feel like they are sacrificing things that are important to them.
Mindful spending has the opposite effect in my experience. Spending more on the things you actually care about and enjoy is empowering. Everything else feels like a waste of time, energy, and money.
I don’t feel like I am sacrificing anything. We live comfortably and the small sacrifices can’t hold a candle to the time and options this life buys us.
Ironically this conversation took place on a boat, on a Monday, with beer present. Such a rough life 🙂
Underestimating Investment Gains
“How do I know what my money will grow like that?”
Totally understandable. If you have never seen something happen personally it seems far-fetched to believe it will happen to you. I had a hard time embracing the unknown when I first started reading about investing.
That being said, after the first impulse of rejecting the unknown, we need to embrace other peoples experience and research. The information is there, the models are there, and most importantly the community is there. People that are willing to help, for free and show the path themselves. Along with all the mistakes and setbacks along the way.
The biggest downfall of this one is you can’t afford to “wait and see”. Get in as early as possible and stay in forever. The longer you wait, the less chance your money has of doubling. Time, like always, is your enemy.
The “Impossible” Mindset
Anyone said or heard these before?
- We can’t max out our 401K
- We can’t save 50% of our income
- It’s impossible to retire early without an inheritance or windfall
- We aren’t willing to sacrifice enough to make major improvements in our finances
- We will never get out of debt
I have thought each one of these things, but thankfully one tiny spark ignited a curiosity that has developed into our current situation. We haven’t knocked all these things off yet, but are closing in on the majority of them.
We aren’t unique and I truly believe that just about anyone can do this, it may take you longer, your road might be more difficult but rid yourself of the impossibility mindset. It is a dangerous beast.
Why I took a shot
As I alluded to in the intro, this constant battle between opening up or staying stealthy rages on. I would feel bad if in X number of years we stop being anonymous and share this site only to realize there was some interest and we could have supported/pushed people forward. I hope this person keeps our conversation in the back of their mind. No one can give you back the time.