Saving towards achieving early Financial Independence reminds me of my pregnancy. When the “big day” was nine months away, I didn’t think about it. But, by month seven and a half I was a bundle of anxieties, and excitement. Simultaneously, time suddenly began to move veeery slooooowly.
I had to learn to enjoy the smaller milestones so that the time warp wouldn’t overwhelm me. This new Journey to Financial Independence requires similar mind tricks.
Plugging along with life seemed like no big deal when I assumed I would retire at a ripe old age. But now that we plan to supercharge the timeline and achieve Financial Independence in the next six years, each day seems to trickle by like molasses.
I’ve decided to stoke the fires of our enthusiasm for this project while avoiding burn-out through a couple of avenues.
Fire Up Your Creative Side
This Blog is a channel to share my feelings about this Journey, and discuss the baby steps we take to get to Financial Independence. It gives me the immediate gratification of publication, and the satisfaction of an achievement with every post. Importantly, while it is about the Journey to Financial Independence, it is also its own animal. Tending to it helps avoid frugality exhaustion/boredom with this ongoing project.
A Game With A Pay-Off
As I mentioned in a prior post, I do not play games because I do not understand expending energy without a concrete return on investment. But saving for Financial Independence is a game I’m willing to play. I see the pay-off and it is sweet.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend to whom I confessed the Grasshopper’s money-saving trick du jour (using vinegar and water as a cleaning solution to substitute expensive cleaning supplies) asked me how I felt about my recent lifestyle sacrifices. My answer was that I didn’t mind it. What helps me escape the feeling of being some kind of modern day Cinderella is knowing that the self-denial is voluntary and finite. While I could afford a more lavish lifestyle if I chose to expend my resources, the self-denial has spurred a new game. Mr. Money Mustache writes about finding a problem you might usually throw money at and attempting to device a low-cost/no-cost alternative as a challenge; not a burden.
In a real-life Grasshopper example, we ran out of shower gel. This may not sound like much, but pre-Journey Grasshoppers enjoyed using fancy frou-frou organic shower gels. These artisanal soaps cost exactly what you might imagine it costs to make a man in the alps hand mix your lye and water while yodeling. A lot! It goes without saying that a replacement in-kind was not on the table.
I did contemplate making our own soap but was suitably chastened when I learned that mixing lye and water to start saponification can be literally an explosive experience. Since I regularly fall over while walking over level ground and once cut myself with a safety scissor, I decided that the process was not for the likes of me.
Inspiration came in the form of Baby G. People must believe that babies are filthy creatures (they are but soap is not always the answer) and accordingly give expectant parents oodles of baby soap for baby showers. That explains why about two and a half years after giving birth to Baby G, we still have an entire cabinet dedicated to baby soaps. Ah ha! As you may have already guessed, the Grasshoppers are all now baby soft. Baby G could not possibly have burned through all that soap in 18 years, and even as a family it will likely take us at least a year or more to use up our stores of baby soap. We also all smell very cuddly 🙂
Practice Purposeful Spending
While I am by no means a shopaholic, I am quite the online shopper. I have had to identify and monitor that urge since we have begun to work towards Financial Independence. As a rule of thumb, I perform several gut checks before making any purchase as I described in a prior post.
For larger purchases – birthday treats like a vacation to NYC perhaps – I try to imagine what that money might one day blossom into if I contributed it towards my retirement instead. Sometimes, the immediate desire for something is worth it. But many other times, this self-reflection helps me realize I really didn’t need the object of my affections.
A related trick is to monitor the personalized advertising on the internet. Often those algorithms are a little to adept at identifying products that I’d find tempting. Luckily, Facebook allows me to block the shopping related ones, and I have to depend on my self-discipline to get me past the rest.
Focus on Having Fun Free or Dirt Cheap
One of my favorite aspects of frugality is the focus it has helped me put on things that really make me happy. While a trip to the mall for that new luxury purchase might excite me, a few hours with Baby G or Mr. Grasshopper are much more rewarding. Interestingly, we no longer “hang out” at the mall, and I cannot recall the last time we were there.
Monitoring local happenings through the “events” tab on Facebook also helps us plan no-cost/low-cost local events like Touch-A-Truck ($5) or trick-or-treat at a local farmer’s market (free) that our family might enjoy.
Talk To Someone
If blogging isn’t for you, or if you do not have a significant other who is joining you on this Journey, you might benefit from an online forum. Here’s one that seems to be discussing just the topic of my post today.
We aren’t alone, and there was rarely anything worth doing that wasn’t worth doing with friends.
Happy Hunting, and don’t forget to tell me what you do to keep motivated.