Rant: ???

I’ve largely given up on my ranting. It’s a side-effect of trying to live a more positive life. However, sometimes I just can’t help myself…


We were mostly anonymous until we received some press last year. After that, our cover was mostly blown. To my surprise, none of our friends or family cared much. Some of them made comments like:

Oh wow, I see you’re on Yahoo!.


Y’all are millionaires? That’s cool!

And that was the end of it.

And I was a little disappointed. I was hoping that our publicity would provide a conversation opener to help folks. I’m so happy with the way my life has turned out and I love showing others the path. It wasn’t to be. We have been asked for advice this many times:


Up until very recently, I’d even try to chat people up about money. And let me tell you how well that worked out:

No one wants to talk about money. Ever. I just keep my mouth shut now.

And I’ve realized I was foolish for even trying. If the student isn’t ready, the teacher should shut the hell up. But I digress…


A Confrontation

OK, I lied. I’ve been around some folks who want to talk money, but it hasn’t been positive. This conversation happened recently:

  • Other person: Hey, I saw your story on the internet.
  • Me: Cool! What did you think?
  • Other person: Well, I couldn’t live the way you do.
  • Me: Oh, ok. Which part?
  • Other person: I don’t want to offend you, but I like my new car. I just couldn’t live with an old one.

The conversation went downhill from there. It was clear that he thought that my writing was an assault on his lifestyle. He was clearly offended (he’ll probably be even more offended if he reads this post!).

I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation confrontation. On a walk I considered my life. When it comes to achieving financial independence, the two items that you must care about are cars and housing:

  • Car: Yes, my car is old. It’s a 2003 Honda Element with 160,000 miles on the clock. It’s been amazingly reliable, so I see no reason to get replace it. Also, the insurance is cheap and I only get slightly mad when it gets dinged by a careless person.
  • House: Our house is a modest 1800 square feet. I like our home, but I value neighbors and location much more than the house. We’re surrounded by mostly good people and we’re close enough to walk to local parks, so I’m happy.


Sacrifices, Compromises and the Big ???

Whenever I hear another blogger being interviewed, at some point, the conversation usually turns to sacrifices. The interviewer usually asks something like this:

What sacrifices are you making to achieve financial independence?

The questioner assumes that the aspiring Financial Independence Seeker is living a life of compromise. Having an old car or not going out to eat 3 times a week is only a sacrifice if you look at the situation superficially. Those things do not bring long term, deep happiness.

For once, I’d like to hear the guy with the new car asked about sacrifice:

You just paid $3,000 over sticker price to be one of the first to own the new Ford 6000 SUX. Since you’re young, the $30,000 you spent could be worth hundreds of thousands later in life if you invested it. How does it feel to have to work an extra decade just to own this car?

My “friend” refused to acknowledge or even consider that any part of his life could be a sacrifice. I kept my tongue in check, but wanted to say this to him:

It’s silly to own a nice car to get you to a job that you need in order to be able to afford the nice car. Let them cancel each other out.

I’m not sacrificing and I’m not choosing to have less. I’m choosing to have much, much more, just at a later date. By delaying gratification, I’m gathering money to be able to do whatever the hell I want.

  • Travel: Maybe one day I’ll roam the world for a year.
  • Build stuff: I’d like to build  a cabin in the mountains with my own hands.
  • Tesla: Yes, I said it. This is unlikely, but maybe I’ll lose my mind and buy a nice car. I would never go back to work for it though; I’m not that crazy.
  • ???: This is the best one! ??? is uncertainty. ??? is options and possibilities. ??? is whatever you want. And:

??? == Freedom

Whatever ??? means to you, this is always true:

??? >> Cube confinement

I don’t have a fancy car or a big home, but I have ???. And I wouldn’t trade ??? for anything.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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90 Responses to Rant: ???

  1. Cowboy says:

    I have tried and failed to talk to people about money before, but as you say it’s a total no go for conversation. I don’t understand why people don’t care about the most important aspect of the modern world to understand if you want a good life.

    Having said that I don’t feel like I have sacrificed anything to get to about 30% of the way there.

    • “don’t understand why people don’t care about the most important aspect of the modern world to understand if you want a good life.”

      I know, right?

  2. I have definitely had similar encounters. It usually gets down to what they value vs. what I value. I value having the freedom to choose what I’d like to do later in life. Often times they have a higher value on things in the present. The great thing is I get to make my choices while they get to make their own. If they’re happy with the choices they make in the present in the future, great. If not, they have no one to blame but themselves.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Are You Pursuing Your Passion?My Profile

  3. My take is that if your friend really truly values a new car that much, then great, go for it. I don’t personally value that possession enough to warrant all the costs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right decision for someone else. To your point, the most frustrating thing to me is that a lot of people don’t even consider that possessions and spending are inherently a sacrifice. You can’t have it all; there’s always a trade-off. Respectfully sharing that perspective isn’t an attack on anyone’s lifestyle, it’s just urging people to consider the full cost of their spending decisions.
    Matt @ The Resume Gap recently posted…Would You Risk Financial Independence for a Dream?My Profile

  4. Wayne the Wiser. says:

    People that do ask me for advice are actually wanting me to approve of their latest get rich scheme. Once i begin my pitch for index funds their eyes glaze over. I have learned to stop. OTOH, if everyone thought like me this simple path to independence snd wealth would probably not be so easy.

    • Get rich schemes, argggh.

      “…if everyone thought like me this simple path to independence snd wealth would probably not be so easy.”


  5. Kyle says:

    I would have said “you’d be surprised what you can live with”. Unless you were spoiled by parents, you didn’t always drive a newer car.

    I guess I’d have to say I sacrifice home and car. I would like a new car and updated maybe slightly bigger home.
    But as you pointed out, the main reason for the car is to get you to work and my current car will likely be reliable for 5 more years and I’m only at my house to sleep, otherwise I’m at work.
    If I remember correctly, there was a correlation between long term planning and intelligence/ higher IQ. Probably a big reason why a lot of us tend to be engineers or engineer minded people.
    I’d rather be free later and get the toys than get toys now and be chained to my desk until I die. One side of the equation clearly has more pros than cons but it doesn’t matter if you can’t see 2 weeks in front of your face.

    If I could financially justify it, and was already retired, I’d get the Tesla 3

  6. Everyone makes their own choices in life. As a car nut I still own a sports car I bought as a third car almost ten years ago new (corvette). Is it frugal or was it even a wise financial move at the time, no. I’ve not upgraded it so it has little to do with my financial lifestyle now except that 40k might be worth 100k now.. but I enjoy car driving as a hobby. I’ve chosen to dive that toy over being 100k closer to my retirement number (actually more like 30k difference as the conflict at the time was buy a house or the car, and houses are still under water here).

    But cars are one of my hobbies, elsewhere in my life I don’t eat out regularly and force myself to pay for other luxuries with credit card churning. If The car keeps me happy and from spending elsewhere in my life, then perhaps it still saved me 100k. I.e. Saving and financial independence are not about any one thing or deprivation. They are fundamentally about realizing you have to choose your ???. You can’t have everything but technically you can have anything. -within reason the equation would be different if I used my life savings to buy a high end Ferrari.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…How and When to Rebalance your PortfolioMy Profile

    • I don’t mind a big purchase as long as it’s not mindless. Clearly, cars are important to you and you know what you’re giving up to own them, so it’s all good.

      I may have a nice car some day too, although I’m holding out for the Zora* Lithium Corvette (with a mid-mount* battery back of course). We’ll do a track day then…

      *Bonus points to anyone who knows what I’m talking about here.

      • Mike says:

        I had to Google it. Do I still get a bonus point?
        Zora was the name of the engineer who put the Corvette on the map with the Stingray. The new mid-mount engine Corvette (which I did know about) is reportedly going to be named for him, or maybe just another ZR-1 or moniker with a nod to him.

        I am a car guy and cars have been one of the things slowing done reaching FI. I have a 67 Camaro and a 69 FJ40. Neither cost a ton each year to ensure, maintain etc. But over 10 years and compounding interest it does add up. I also would *like* to do a few things to the Camaro in the next few years.

        I still enjoy them however and the thought of selling them doesn’t appeal to me, especially when in the context of selling them due to high prices. This smacks of market timing to me. I dollar cost average my investments into index funds to avoid dealing with that rigamarole.

        • Haha, you win! I can’t wait to see the new mid-engine Corvette. I think we’ll see in the next 18 months. Very cool.

          You have some nice rides! I love those old Toyotas. And man, some of them are worth a fortune too.

  7. Mr. SSC says:

    In my experience it comes down to prioritization and mindset of what “living like you” means to that person. Hell, it took Mrs. SSC a couple of years or more to convince me that living on $50k/yr was what we were already doing… I’m not kidding in the least.

    My mindset was “that’s ridiculous, we make good money, we can’t live on that little a year.” To be fair, we don’t currently live on that, BUT when you take out mortgage because we plan on buying outright, and you remove daycare, essentially another mortgage, and the extraneous things we’d cut anyway like cleaning service, and more convenience type things… yep, our FIRE number is right around $50k. That’s with $9.6k in allowances built in… Sheesh.

    I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything, which was a key part of me getting on board with this whole concept to begin with. It’s all what you prioritize and what your mindset is on what it actually feels like to “live on that little amount.”
    Mr. SSC recently posted…February 2017 Spending: Our Money Went Where?!My Profile

  8. I agree to a certain point as long as people are being intentional about what they want. There is a balance to delayed gratification in that I’ve known people (old school grandparents) who lived by this and delayed and delayed until it became such a habit they couldn’t enjoy what they had. My dad does this. He has plenty of money and bickers over a $10 phone charge. He just can’t chill out about money!

    I choose to spend on vacations (for example — travel is my ???) now rather than later. Why? Because I’ll never get the chance to travel with my kids again at ages where everything is new to them and they don’t roll their eyes at their parents. Yes, I’ll work 5 more years to be able to do this. (But I like my job, so there’s that factor as well.) The alternative is waiting to travel when they are older and I’m older, or worst case I get hit by a bus and never took the time and spent the money to have adventures.

    Granted, these are not either / or scenarios but a question of balance … –R
    Rich @ pennyandrich.com recently posted…Are Stocks In A Bubble? And Why Do Engineers Retire Early? — Rich’s RamblingsMy Profile

    • I like travel too, but there are plenty of ways to do that on a budget too. I love travel hacking with credit cards.

      • Dr-In-Debt says:

        I agree, travel hacking is key when traveling with a family. It will not cover all the costs but done right we can usually cover the flight and hotel for at least one trip per year.

        The other thing with traveling and kids is to get them excited early and let them help plan the trip. It makes the sights much more enjoyable.

  9. Makes me think of the Dave Ramsey quote, which has always “worked” for me: “Live Like No One Else, So Later You Can Live Like No One Else”.

    As I said in my recent post “Stealth Wealth”, “I hope you like that new Porche, and the handcuffs that will keep you bound to your desk for 10 years longer than me.”

  10. This is great!! I’m not sacrificing anything either, in fact I consider how I sacrifice time everyday to go to work as opposed to being with my family. I’m reminded of this sacrifice every morning, when I ask my son for a hug goodbye. No car or house could replace the experiences I enjoy as a family.
    I’ve not had any confrontations yet, as the only family and friends who know what we’re up to are all on board themselves.
    PedalsforPennies recently posted…What have you been up to?My Profile

  11. It’s kind of crazy that zero people have sought out advice from you after learning about your story. That said, I am familiar with people getting defensive and not wanting to talk about it. Two things that I find really interesting to discuss are money and politics. Both are instant conversation killers in most cases. People just assume that if you have different views from them, then you are the enemy assaulting their lifestyle (like your confrontation).

    We need to figure out a way to get their defenses down and get people to have open conversations. Especially because it seems like the people that need it most are often the people that get the most defensive. I don’t really have an answer for how to do that, but it is definitely a problem that needs solving.
    Matt @ Optimize Your Life recently posted…One Tax Season Tip to Save $9,000My Profile

  12. Mike says:

    The greatest freedom comes from not worrying at all about other peoples choices and/or what they say and do 🙂

  13. I came across this quote in my twitter feed right after reading this post. It seemed appropriate.

    “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

    Keep dispensing your money advice through your blog. We’ll listen.

  14. One Dad says:

    Great post! A lot of people simply value consumerism over freedom. I think it really comes down to that.

  15. Stafford says:

    I’ve been on my own FI journey for a few years now (with a few more years to go) and I can honestly say that I take pride in some of the changes that my family and I have made. From simply cutting the cable cord to deciding to become a 1 car family, each decision has helped bring us closer to our goal and has helped us grow as we have learned that there is more to life then spending money on “stuff.”

  16. Chris says:

    Whenever I have these conversations, it usually starts with the other person stating, “I know you won’t like this, but…”

    I do my best to not judge. They are adults. They can do whatever they like. Unless they complain about their finances. That’s where I stop them. You can choose a big car payment. But you can’t make that choice and then bitch about how you don’t have enough to fund (regular) retirement. That’s when I bring the “adulting” hammer out.

  17. Adam says:

    In your position I’d find it pretty difficult not to say “you know that nice car you love to drive, i could buy 10 of them and hardly notice…”

  18. Just as an FYI, your add at the bottom of the post shows up to me as a 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia which costs $40k 🙂

    At the end of the day, you can be FI and quite fast even if you like a nice car! You might have to work another year or two or cut back in other areas. People shouldn’t just think that since they like having a new car every 4 years that they can’t be FI or RE. Say you want to lease a car for $400/month for the rest of your life. You just need to save an extra $120k… It’s possible.
    Fervent Finance recently posted…Time, the Ultimate CommodityMy Profile

  19. Well said. I run into this ALL the time from friends. Inevitable I also have another conversation with them later down the line about how they are stressed about money and/or in debt. Although many are afraid to have that conversation with me too, as if I were to say I told you so. OK, sometimes I secretly think that.

  20. Ms. Montana says:

    I worked a job with a rather unpleasant coworker, who mocked and criticized me constantly. She once tried to convict our boss that my old ugly car should not be allowed to be parked close to the entrances where customers might see it. At some point you have to stop caring. So what if she wants to drive a $30,000 car payment to work, pick up a $4 coffee, and grab a $7 salad for lunch everyday in order to work a job she clearly hated? I’ll just drive my ugly car, invest in rentals, pack my lunch and then quite. Now when we are heading out to Glacier National Park to hike for the day or play at the lake on a perfect summer day midweek, I’ll drive by and see her car loan still sitting there and think, “I know I’m happy with my choices, hope you are too!”
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Grow the Gap: Guard the GapMy Profile

  21. Joe says:

    I don’t initiate money conversation. If someone wants to talk money, I’m ready to help, but most people are just not interested.
    Yeah – the sacrifice question is distracting. I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything at all. I have a lot more time and freedom and driving an older car isn’t a big deal to me. Why do I need a new car every few years when I don’t even drive that much. People are brainwashed by corporations.
    Good stuff.

  22. Team CF says:

    Yup, this sounds all too familiar! I’ve tried replacing the word “sacrifice” with “improved efficiency”…. Still no luck though!
    Oh, I claim the bonus points 😋

  23. Yessssss. FIRE isn’t about making sacrifices or living like a hermit in a cave. It’s about contentment and not needing new, expensive things. I pretty much avoid talking about my money or lifestyle around anyone I don’t know. People get very aggressive about this for some reason–I agree, it’s almost like our way of life is an insult to theirs. It’s sad because it could lead to some good (actual) conversations if people wouldn’t be so butthurt about it.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Moving Tips On A BudgetMy Profile

    • Mrs. Picky — I agree on contentment part, and if someone is content with a new car and they can afford it, cool beans for them, they just shouldn’t complain about the cost.

      But the real reason I’m replying to your comment is because you said “butthurt”. Thank you for that.

      I enjoy money conversations because you learn a lot about what people value in life, why they value it, and how they achieve goals. Butthurt. Ha!

  24. Those reporters do want to know what you sacrificed, don’t they? I like your reframing of the question. What about a normal guy with the nice car…what is he giving up?

  25. I usually avoid money conversations at work, but I did my taxes over the weekend and am getting a little money back. I told one of my co-workers this and she asked me what I was going to do with the money.
    Me: I’m going to save it. Throw it in my IRA.
    Co-worker: You’re so responsible. We got a couple thousand back this year and my husband put it on the mortgage….hmmmm….I guess we’re responsible to.

    That conversation went about as well as I could have wanted it to!

  26. It’s really interesting the viewpoint people take against financial independence. I received a comment on my blog recently that inferred I was living an unfulfilled life because I save so much money. It’s funny how people automatically equate having lots of stuff to happiness. I think a lot of that comes from the hours on end of TV that people watch showing make believe families with a huge house and nice cars and all sorts of other stuff. Then we see the commercials that are hell bent in convincing us our lives are unfulfilled without their product.

    As for me, I don’t feel like I sacrifice anything. We live in a 900 square foot home built 60 years ago because having a huge house doesn’t matter to us. I drive an 11 year old car because it still serves its purpose incredibly well. We spend a lot on trips, quality food, and activities we enjoy. That’s what’s important to us and brings us joy.

    • “We spend a lot on trips, quality food, and activities we enjoy. That’s what’s important to us and brings us joy.”

      Us too. And that spending isn’t a big deal. For example, we paid $1,000 for a family ski pass. That’s 2 car payments if you have a nice car of a fraction of a mortgage payment if you have a big home.

    • Wow GFY – I literally could have written your comment. From your receiving a bah-humbug comment on your blog to the square footage and age of your house to the age of your car to what you value and spend money on (trips, quality food, activities).

      We’re living the same life! And it’s a damn good one, isn’t it?
      Laura aka Mrs Nickels recently posted…Check Out Our Guest Post Over at 1500Days.com!My Profile

  27. Kate says:

    Oh, how I love your honesty and ability to rant about those you speak with. I was asked once for help when I started writing about frugal living, and it ended up in the person screaming at me in messages through a chat when I recommended they pick up their own dog poop instead of hiring someone to do it for them. Or get rid of two leased cars. At least since then, I’ve helped a few other people who were open to the idea of hard changes and even one person said, “you saved us.” So, I’ve learned to walk away from people who can’t even consider an older car or no loan payments or credit card bills. Thank you for sharing what you share, it inspires me to be a little more open and hard lined (maybe one day!) on my blog.
    Kate recently posted…February 2017 Frugal Momster Expense Report: A Forced Day Without the CarMy Profile

  28. I’m surprised you weren’t inundated with questions when you became famous. Does TMZ follow you around? Dig through your trash to look for inconsistencies in your frugal ways?

    I’m exploring the possibility of going part-time, which has already lead to some interesting questions. Like why and how could I consider the option after working only 11 years. I keep my answers pretty short and simple. Like “we just don’t spend / need that much,” “I’d like more free time,” etc…


  29. Ford 6000 SUX hahahaha thanks for the giggle this morning!

    I would say at first it’s probably a sacrifice, and then it becomes a lifestyle.

  30. Tawcan says:

    I have come to the realization that not everyone has the same priorities as me when it comes to money and financial independence. It’s totally fine that they have different priorities so I avoid talking about money with these people. Now if someone is on the same wavelength as me when it comes to money and financial independence, I’m all for talking and discussing ideas. So I’m a bit like Joe. 🙂

    Just to add, my motto is finding your personal balance between saving and enjoying life now. If you’re living in the extremes, IMO that’s no good for you. What’s the right balance for you may not be the right balance for me. Having said all that, I’m all for some sacrifices now to give me some freedom in the near future.
    Tawcan recently posted…Some reading materialsMy Profile

  31. Joel says:

    “I don’t want to offend you, but I like my new car.” Of course they do! Who doesn’t like a new car? It’s just that timing is everything…

    Buy a $30k new car as a recent college grad and it’s 3000% of your net worth, signing you up for a long working career. Buy that same car after FI and it’s less than 3% of your net worth. You can afford it comfortably.

    Ironically though, after you reach FI, you probably won’t waste money on such a frivolous purchase. Because when you finally get good at saving money, you start to respect it more, and the freedom it buys you.
    Joel recently posted…The Dark Side of InterestMy Profile

    • “Ironically though, after you reach FI, you probably won’t waste money on such a frivolous purchase.”

      Yeah, and the desire diminishes too. As a dumb teenager, I lusted after cars. Now that I can own just about any one I’d like, it just doesn’t mean that much to me anymore. And I’m glad.

  32. Mrs. BITA says:

    I’m still in stealth mode so the vast majority of my friends and colleagues have no idea what I’m quietly plotting. My confrontational conversation count so far is nice round 0 and I hope it stays that way for a while.

    Your poor “friend”! You have the stash, the freedom and the fame. Let the poor guy comfort himself with his shiny new toy and cling to the belief that his life is superior. He may not have much else to cling to.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…What might the AHCA mean for Early Retirement?My Profile

    • “He may not have much else to cling to.”

      Yeah, true. And very sad. I know a couple others with nice cars. One of them has a car that set him back $100,000. It’s sad to see these folks almost lose their lunch when they notice a little rock ding. Dude, it’s a car. Move on.

  33. I think you hold the ultimate trump card: you’ve got freedom. You’ve retired early. When people look at me and my car they might thumb their nose and think I’m cheap. What am I gonna say? My net worth is higher? How can your friend compare having a nicer car to not having to go to work???!!!

  34. BucketBabe says:

    By profession, I am a health care provider, so a “caretaker” and “helper” by nature. It is very hard to see some of my co-workers, some of whom I really do like, make some of the most azzhat financial decisions over and over again. I really want to “help” them. Some of these people make so little (the lower skilled techs or medical assistants) and work really hard. Some make some “killer” money (easily close to $100K upwards of $140K all by themselves) and are in a dual income situation. I feel sad for some of these co-workers who really don’t seem to “get” it. I have learned that I need to be content with living by example – brown bagging daily, announcing my “no spend clothing ban till 2018”, making no secret of currently downsizing to my boyfriend’s 700 SF condo and the renovations of it in order to dump the $2200 mortgage on a 2400 SF house for two, etc. I figure that most have noticed by now that I am frugal – don’t order take-out daily with the crowd, drive a nine year old car, don’t take European vacations or have “exciting” vacation plans, etc.

    After hearing my counterpart (same position, likely same salary) complain yet again about how she has never handled money well and how much money she regularly “wastes” in her very consumer driven lifestyle, I’ve just learned to SHUT UP and politely nod and smile. She’s obviously aware there’s a huge difference in our lifestyle choices. In the past I’ve shared a few websites and I’ve shared my FIRE aspirations, my desire for an ex-pat life in a much more economical economy (She has a dream of living in Europe) – it hasn’t changed anything. In the end, I’ve realized whether it comes to finances, health, whatever – knowledge doesn’t change behavior. It is truly discipline.

    I do have one colleague that I speak with about money all the time – we are in sync, and although far apart in age – she has turned me onto some cool apps and money saving opportunities (Ibotta) – and I do the same with the information gleaned from all my internet reading on FIRE (digit, boxed, and strategies). We get a few of “eye rolls” from the less frugal amongst us. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate these few and far between information exchanges because she is the only person that “gets” me in my work environment.

    • You are far better adjusted than I! I especially like this:

      “I have learned that I need to be content with living by example.”

      Living well, as most of us do, is the best answer to criticism.

      • BucketBabe says:

        Mr. 1500,

        Thanks so much for this blog! I was doing pretty well, saving the max in the 403b, HSA, etc. but your blog, MMM, MoneyHabit and MadFI led me down the rabbit hole of FIRE blogland fairly recently and I am hooked! I’ve already reaped many benefits – the apps, the calculators, the newfound enthusiasm! Thanks…just wanted to say how much you’re appreciated!

    • RocDoc says:

      Your observations really echo what I’ve observed as a fellow health care worker. I’ve always brown bagged it, don’t order take out, and although I buy my cars new I don’t buy expensive models and I drive them to the ground. I’m already financially independent but still enjoy working as a physician (partly because the financial independence allowed me to design the job I like.) I feel so badly for some of my co- workers, many of whom are poorly paid, single moms and are always saying they don’t have enough money. But seeing them with expensive phones, expensive brand new cars and going on multiple daily StarBucks runs and daily lunch take outs leaves me wondering how they are connecting the dots. So often I want to point them out to MMM and other financial web sites. But in my group it seems like the well paid physicians and NPs and RNs are the brown baggers and penny pinchers and the lower paid support staff are the big spenders.

      • BucketBabe says:

        Amen to that, RocDoc! The level of consumerism I see daily at work is like anesthesia for the hangover of overspending. It’s really just this vicious cycle.

  35. I love this and may well have to use it next time someone makes a snidey remark about my 14 year old car.

    Why are you sacrificing having a nice car Mr FIREstarter, don’t you feel less safe, less virile and less WINNING?

    Ahem, excuse me my friend but why are you sacrificing 10 years of freedom just so you can drive a f##king BMW?!

  36. Money Beagle says:

    Sounds like people want the new car but also want to have your success too.
    Money Beagle recently posted…Books I Read In January & February 2017My Profile

  37. Brian says:

    I really need to stop using the word sacrifice when talking budgets and money. Its all about choices. Love the friendly reminder!
    Brian recently posted…Income: Are you Being UnderpaidMy Profile

  38. jlcollinsnh says:

    I am so stealing that sad little girl picture and caption.

    Already sent it to my daughter. She can relate…

  39. What I have found is that there are three ways to discuss a low consumption lifestyle:

    economical (at a minimum, financial flexibility, if not full on FIRE)
    social (health, happiness, low stress)
    environmental (being “green”)

    If someone wants to talk about having an old car or none at all or living in a modest house, I try to appeal to one or more of these issues that they value the most. I personally started downsizing my life for less stress. But the financial and environmental benefits, are a nice side benefit! Even if I won the lottery, I wouldn’t change my lifestyle, instead I would be able to enjoy giving it away to a good cause. 🙂
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…From Cubicle to CoffinMy Profile

  40. LadyFIRE says:

    Absolutely this a million times! I would love to talk money with people, but why must it always inevitably turn to “I can’t believe you don’t have a car! I couldn’t live like that!” Really, why not? My car sat idle in my driveway for three months before I sold it. I can’t imagine having kept it, paying for services, insurance, registration when the only time I was taking it out was to keep the battery from going flat sitting idle.

    I can’t imagine paying through the nose for something that doesn’t add value to my life, yet I’m the crazy one? It’s such a strange world we live in…

  41. Liz says:

    As a recently retired (age 56 :)) accountant, one of my most frustrating conversations with clients was always about their spending. It was always ‘but I CAN’T live on less than $X’. I remember one who bumped up her spending from the $50,000 (before tax) she earned as an employee to way over that as a business owner – because the $$$ were just sitting there waiting to be spent. When I pointed out that she was now paying herself more than $80,000 (before tax) and rendering herself unable to pay her suppliers, she wailed that she just COULDN’T get by on any less (though she had only months earlier).
    Then there was the bloke who paid $12,000 into a get-rich-quick scheme which required him to attend training sessions, which he was always ‘too busy’ to do. So he threw away $12,000. I wished that I’d offered to invest it for him (he didn’t even have an interest-bearing bank account!) and give him back the $12,000 after a year, with the interest being my fee.
    I don’t have much in the way of spare $ myself, but I have a 10-year-old car which I bought as an ex-rental when it was only 9 months old and which I hope will do me until my dying day (though that may be a tad over-optimistic if I live to 90…). I own my house (on 16 acres of land) outright, live off the grid with no expenses for electricity, water or heating.
    I have a dainty superannuation [401K] balance and a small shares portfolio, plus I’m managing to save some of the $ from my business sale as they slowly trickle in.
    I will have to start up another business at some point, because my ??? is travel, which I can’t allow while I’m living off my business sale capital.
    But the freedom of being set free from what had become a very trying profession is GREAT!

    • Liz, nice work on retiring! And, if you want a side gig, I’m sure you could have your own blog where you tell these stories! Tales from the Consumer…

  42. Mrs Y says:

    I was just thinking about the very same thing this week. Every time when people talk about being frugal, they think about giving up everything in life. To me, being frugal means to be mindful of what we spend money on and make sure it enriches our life experiences. We choose not to delay our travels and did quite a few trips to some exotic locations in the past three years. We did a few trips on the frugal side and some on the nicer side. We still save more than 50% of our income to built towards the FI goal.
    It is good to enjoy life while reaching for FI.
    Mrs Y recently posted…We are back!My Profile

  43. Nobody asks me about money either….probably because I don’t *look* wealthy.

    People are too superficial…they’re more interested in displays of wealth, instead of *real* wealth.

    I wouldn’t let it bother you Carl. Most of those folks will be lucky if they save enough for retirement by age 65.
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes recently posted…February 2017 Dividend Income And ExpensesMy Profile

  44. ambertree says:

    Trying to help others is not easy. I tried a few times, no success yet… A lot of excuses not to invest, or to have a big fat car.

    Our cars are not big and fat and still do what they need to do: bring us is safe from A to B.

  45. I can totally relate to this post in that I’ve had similar discussions about cars in the past. The strangest part about these people is that they complain about their job every single day. Instead of doing something about it, they pursue temporary happiness. I don’t understand it.

    I’ve learned to just bite my tongue and say nothing. It’s bizarre to me that someone would want to sign up for something that cost them a years salary. Cars are an added convenience, but they are inconvenient in that they require maintenance, oil changes, gas, a spot to park, car insurance, and extra cleaning. Personally, I’ve been a lot happier since I sold my car. However, the people that I’ve had negative conversations about cars with don’t understand. They think less of me because I choose transit. Oh well. Your rant is making me go on a rant. Thanks for sharing!
    Graham @ Reverse The Crush recently posted…PD Blogger Progress for MarchMy Profile

  46. Stephonee says:

    LOVE THIS. I’ve found that I can’t help others directly. Few, if any, of them come to me (same as you), and if they do, they don’t like my answers to their questions.

    However, I’ve learned that the blog does work. I don’t know why, but me talking not directly to them seems to reasonate with certain people in my life. I guess it’s less confrontational, instead of “You, Friend, should do this!” it’s “Here’s stuff that works that you just happen to be reading about right now. No pressure. But if you did this, you’d be better off.”

    I guess that off-hands, no pressure tactic works, because I’ve had people come to me later and say “I did this thing you talked about on your blog, and it worked!” and I had no idea that person ever read my site. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    Stephonee recently posted…Reader Question: Should I Refinance My Student Loans?My Profile

  47. Brandon says:

    “It was clear that he thought that my writing was an assault on his lifestyle.” When I discovered FI I wanted to share with everybody but this statement couldn’t have been more true. I try to cull my behavior now because conversations tend to digress quickly.

    Also, why do we more easily believe what we read online than what we hear in-person from friends?

  48. Laurie says:

    When I watch those types of interviews, I always feel like the interviewer is really asking, “Tell me the shortcut. Come on. What’s the one thing you did (the sacrifice) to become a millionaire? Tell me, and then I can say, oh no, I don’t want to sacrifice that one thing, so that’s why I’m not wealthy.”

    I completely relate to your post! When I have made the mistake of mentioning to people that we are on track to retire earlier than the norm, I get the blank, shocked stare, zero questions, and, let’s change the subject as fast as possible!

    A friend told me, “you’re doing so well at investing, you should become a financial advisor. Then you can invest other people’s money and [after a decade] make $500K a year.” I’m like, “You’re missing the point of early retirement…”

  49. Unfortunately, I think people would rather have the new things instead of utilizing what they currently have.

    I wouldn’t want to change my lifestyle just for the sake of getting the latest and greatest technology out there. It’s unnecessary and would only probably enhance it by a few percent.

  50. I have a health blog and actually get the same kinds of blank stares — few ask for tips on eating healthy either. You just can’t convince some people that real food you make at home tastes so much better than the disgusting “food” from McDonalds. So like you, I try to keep my mouth shut. It’s not easy when you see so many getting more sick every day. 🙁

  51. Tammy says:

    Always enjoy your blog and I totally relate to having encounters that turn from conversation to confrontation so quickly!

    I’ve had this conversation many times in various forms: money, education, fitness, etc – anything that seems to require “sacrifice” and commitment. The interesting thing is that I’ve encountered the issue of sacrificing too much by people in very different economic situations – from my wealthy colleagues who complain of working too much, but insist
    they need another 100k car or a vacation home to family members who complain of not having lucrative jobs, but find the idea of training or other educational programs too hard or too time-consuming.

    Happily, I’ve found the FI community online to keep me from feeling like I’m crazy in my quest to live outside of the consumer/lifelong worker culture.

    Thanks for posting.

    • Thanks for the kind comment Tammy!

      “Happily, I’ve found the FI community online to keep me from feeling like I’m crazy in my quest to live outside of the consumer/lifelong worker culture.”

      Ha ha, you should find us in real life too! Just last night, I met up with a bunch of FI freaks in Fort Collins and it was wonderful. Seriously, find a meetup group near you or start one on the MMM forums. You won’t regret it! And, you can always look me up on your next visit to CO!

  52. Ed69 says:

    First, I have to say that even though you are trying to live a more positive life, I really like your rants and wish for you to continue. Judging from the comments, so do a lot of readers 😉

    Second, I think my next response to the ‘other person’ would have been, “so your car gets you from point A to point B better than mine?”

    I think leading by example is a good start. I have had co-workers in general mention they need to be better by bringing their lunch from home when they see me with mine.

    With tax time upon us I notice a lot of employees mentioning their tax refunds and such. They used to ask me how much I was getting back because of my salary they think I am getting bank (not to mention another coworker in the same title, so same salary, and a spouse with similar income mentioned how they were getting $14k back) I used to tell them hopefully only a few hundred or I will only owe a few hundred.

    They can’t believe it. When I explain to them I like to get my money throughout the year instead of giving Uncle Sam an interest free loan they come up with a lame excuse like, “that is the only way I can save” yet they have plans to blow the money on some soon to be forgotten item anyway. They have since stopped asking. lol.

    I also find it funny how people are in a rush for their tax returns. Mid January, even before the IRS is accepting tax returns they are biting at the bit to get their w-2’s and file their taxes. I tell them I am in no rush cause I won’t even get my brokerage statements till the end of Feb. In fact I was planning on finishing up my taxes today but I am doing this instead. Ha

    The complete non comprehension of basic finances and taxes are funny to witness. In my place of employment the long term employees get a bonus every 6 months, these are hourly employees who make on average $23/hr. This bonus is anywhere from $2k to $3500 based on years of employment. At this time of year when the bonus comes out a flurry of w-4 changes go into effect for a 2 week period so people can claim 10+ dependents so the least amount of taxes will be with held. I tried to explain to a few that at the end of the year all the money is considered the same when you do your taxes, but some will never get it.

  53. I think my friends are afraid to complain about money in front of me, probably for fear that I would judge them. (Which is entirely possible depending on the nature of their complaint.) We save over 1/3 of our income, spend a little more where the joy is (travel / quality food), and spend less on the rest (houses/cars/clothes). I know this philosophy isn’t for everyone, I just don’t like the assumption that our life sucks.

    So if the opportunity comes, I’m prepared to have the following conversation:

    Blissfully Ignorant Person: Why would you want to live in such a small house and drive such an old car just to put money in savings? That would be miserable. I love my $40,000 SUV / Enormous House.

    Me: I’m sure you do. Last February, we drove our 11-year-old car to the airport, where we boarded a $350 flight to Europe, in time to take an evening walk under the Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day. After a delicious French dinner, we headed to our $50/night AirBnB flat in a nice neighborhood, our homebase for a week-long stay in Paris. Meanwhile, you were probably home on Valentine’s Day spending the equivalent on a car payment, trying to decide whether to take your sweetheart to dinner at Chipotle or Applebee’s.

    To each their own, right?
    Laura aka Mrs Nickels recently posted…Check Out Our Guest Post Over at 1500Days.com!My Profile

  54. TinaP says:

    I don’t really understand how you feel giving up nice things and eating out 12 times a week isn’t a sacrifice; I mean, it’s not even like you have to pay for them now….I figure if I put them on my ever expanding credit line and pay the minimum, I can just pay it off when I win the lottery and retire then all at the same time; win-win!

    On the more serious side, I never have an ‘acceptable’ answer when people ask me what I am going to do when I retire knowing I am not one who could do nothing – I think your ??? put it perfectly and literally gave me goosebumps! I’m sure that still isn’t an acceptable answer to those who are working until they are 87 and a half, but they won’t understand the fart jokes either so I guess it’s a fair trade.

  55. Steve from Arkansas says:

    I’ve been frugal, retired at 60, although I could have earlier. Work was way fun so I didn’t. Although I have a lot of money in investments and still make six figures with part time side gigs that I do for entertainment I have trouble making significant purchases. My wife and I love to fish but our 17 year old used boat and motor have become very unreliable. It is a real inconvenience and can be a safety issue on some of the rivers we fish if it won’t start miles from the car or when you need to position the boat in fast current. I’ll do it, but it’s very hard to turn off the frugal mind set. I managed to replace our p.o.s. ATV’s a couple of years ago with a new ORV and have never regretted it. But that was a hard decision also.

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