Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Are you working the same job you are in now, just with higher pay (you did get a raise, for goodness sake)? Have you gotten a promotion? Are you running your division? What would you think about running the company? Are you loving every minute of your job?
What if, in 10 years, you could be sitting on the beach, building anything you want, or hanging out and exploring nature with your children (or without your children – I don’t judge). What if you could do anything you wanted because you decided to choose early retirement?
We have officially updated our 10-year plan. Recently, we made the decision to put everything we have into early retirement. It is a slow process changing habits to become more frugal and breaking out of the spending mindset. But it will be worth it, because in less than 10 years from now, we will be retired and doing whatever we decide to do on any given day.
Our Working Life
If you have read the About Me page, you know that my husband and I are both engineers. We have always enjoyed math and numbers. We crunch numbers for most every life decision – we always have. But when it came to retirement, we just assumed it would come at around 63 years old after putting in our ‘due time’ at work and saving millions of dollars to fund our retirement lifestyles.
Since we both work, we don’t have time to actually slow down and enjoy our son’s childhood as much as we truly want. We figured we would always be pushing as many activities and fun into the very, very short weekends before we got ready to go back to work and daycare/school.
As it is, nights barely have enough time to get home, eat dinner as a family, play for about an hour, and get Monkey ready for bed – that is assuming the toddler doesn’t decide to turn into a howler monkey as soon as we get home because he woke up too early from his nap at daycare.
It was hard to imagine a life that we thoroughly enjoyed and in which we felt fulfilled when we were always on the go and trying to ensure we did all of the things we were supposed to do as parents. Our day-to-day life actually started to feel like a drag. We wanted more time to not have to rush through life. We wanted to slow down and enjoy the little moments, all of the learning experiences.
It wasn’t until we heard about the FIRE (Financial Independence/Retiring Early) lifestyle that our viewpoint on life started to change.
The Lifestyle Shift
Once we heard about the movement to become financially independent and retire early, we were sure that was the life for us. We don’t hate our jobs, per se, but we love the thought of being able to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We knew we would have to make some lifestyle changes and save our money more efficiently to make our new dream a reality.
I signed up for Mint.com and input all of our accounts, both spending and investments. Mint gave us nice little pie charts and graphs of all of our spending categories – this, in itself, is an engineer’s dream. It was beautiful, I tell you, beautiful!
Once we knew how much money we were spending every month (we looked at the total over several years – depressing), we quickly made changes to ensure we were saving every leftover penny. We also looked at areas of our life that could improve from spending less.
My husband pointed out that I had spent over $1,500 at The Dollar Tree from the beginning of the tracking in Mint. That was the hard slap-in-the-face I needed to fully embrace our desire to become more frugal in ALL aspects of our life, even dollar store finds that seem to good to be true – spoiler alert, they usually are.
Areas of Improvement
There are many areas of our life where we can make more improvements. I don’t think we will ever be optimally efficient, but we strive to strike a good balance between living frugally and living without unnecessary stress. We will slowly tackle our areas of improvement and move ourselves closer to our retirement dream.
- Food/Meals – We still eat out too often and have too much waste in our cooking/leftovers. Food is yummy, but restaurants overcharge for a meal that we can easily make at home. And most times, our homemade meals are better suited to our tastes. That does not even include fast food – nowhere near appetizing or healthy most of the time.
- Lawn Maintenance – We consider this a ‘splurge’ since it is something we very well could do, but choose to spend that extra time with family. Plus, Mr. 4Ds allergies are terrible, and cutting the grass gives him a slight sensation of what it would be like to drown – yuck!
- Vehicles – We own two cars that are not great on gas. We would love to have an electric car to replace one of our gas-guzzlers. For now, we will aim to drive less and save on gas where possible.
- Housekeeping – We do our normal cleaning, but we do hire a maid once a month to do a deep clean for us. This is another ‘splurge’ that saves us time to be together, but will not be needed in retirement (even as much as I would love to keep this until I die).
- Gifting – We get great joy in giving gifts to people, but gifts usually cost a good amount of money. This gets much harder once you have kids – you have to buy gifts for the birthday parties they will undoubtedly get invited to. Did you know that most toddlers enjoy the boxes and wrapping paper more than the gifts themselves?
Some of our ‘splurges’ actually decrease the amount of stress in our lives. We plan to eliminate these when we retire (at 35 years old!) and have more time to become more efficient. For now, these save us time so we can spend it with each other and our son.
Moving Forward toward Early Retirement
We definitely are not the Frugal Aficionados of Mr. Money Mustache or Frugalwoods. But we are trying. We continue to make progress and are working to see how far left we can move that retirement date. Once we retire, we will have seemingly unlimited time to spend with our family and watching our son grow and learn – our main goal.
Have you begun your road to early retirement? What areas of spending are you trying to improve on?
*Photo Credit to Mandi O’Connor