endless doubt on FIRE

The idea sounds great: live well below your means, invest the difference and in about 15 years we will be Financially independent and could retire early.

Or, we could live now, travel the world and seven seas now. Not bad either

The ideal life for me has the following elements, that is why they are life goals

  • Educate the children in finance
  • Experience the world and other cultures via travel
  • Live now
  • Prepare FIRE
  • Have a roof above our heads

The conflict is mainly between travel /live now and prepare FIRE. I will focus here on the travel alone.

The cause of the doubt

In order to experience the world you need time and money. In order to prepare FIRE, you need to work and save money. These two cleary conflict, as they use the same resources: Time and Money

Travel wants the time to see the world. Prepare FIRE  needs the time to produce money.

Travel wants the money to see the world. Prepare FIRE needs the money to invest.

As I do not want to or plan to choose between the one or the other, the challenge is to find the right balance and explore alternatives.

The alternatives

The cost of travel can be reduced by traveling cheap. To me, this has limits. Today, we do not travel like kings – no 5 star hotels here or no first class flights. Our travel today is already cheap as we can use an almost free accommodation. Not that I complain, but after 5 years on the same spot, I would not mind some variation.

BoF2009-254

Travel hacking is unmastered area for me, and maybe even difficult in Belgium. I have no knowledge of good credit cards that earn you a lot of miles or hotel bonuses. I have found a few, but they did not look that interesting. Maybe my expectations are too high.

Possibilities are to travel more in Belgium, start to camp and return to the basics. This would for sure create a lot of experiences and good memories.

 

I could also work on the Money side and get a second job, or a side hustle. My current job is already filling up most of week days. The weekends are reserved for family and friends. Maybe old school or too restrictive? I understand that this is a serious limitation I give myself. What if I worked in a restaurant or a grocery store in the weekends and earn an extra 10 or 20 pct per year? This would clearly boost our savings rate.

One of the things that is important for me is the wife and kids. I want to have a good relationship with them. This means I need to be there for them, now, so we can bond. In a few years, they will start to live their own life, then it might be too late. In effect, this is a third goal that want to use the resource Time.

Next steps

Unless I find a loop hole in the Time and Money constraint, I will have to settle with FI around the age of 53.

How do you manage life now vs save it all for later?

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54 thoughts on “endless doubt on FIRE

  1. This is a very good question!

    Still, I’m more part of the “Or, we could live now, travel the world and seven seas now. ” believers.

    I intend to retire early simply by concentrating on making more money. By working smarter on your on side project (note that I’ used to word “smarter” no “harder” 😉 ), you can generate a second income flow that can served to finance your traveling project while you day job pay check will finance FIRE. Since the age of 16, I’ve always had 2 jobs, this is the only way I found to accelerate my FIRE and still live a very interesting life today.

    However, while this solution is simple… it is far from being easy!

    Cheers,

    Mike

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    1. the focus on making more money still needs to settle in here at home. For now, I fail to find a good side hustle that is passive enough as income stream. I like what you say: it is easy and far from simple!
      I keep my eyes open

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      1. Start with something you enjoy. Side hustle is hard to create, but when you start from one of your passion, it doesn’t feel like working and it is often how you can start making money 😉
        Cheers,
        Mike.

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  2. Seeing the world with young children is over rated. I took my kids to Italy when they were 8 & 10 years old but they really didn’t remember very much. They did remember our camping trips because of being all together. I would recommend planning a trip for just the two of you on special events like wedding date milestone.
    Wait for your children to be in their late teenage years for traveling

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed with you: we also think that overseas travel with kids is not worth the money. We therefore only plan to do so when the oldest gets 12 and the youngest is 10.
      For now, we keep it local, spiced with a ski holiday. That is something they remember…
      Camping is on my wishlist for this summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting perspective AT. Thanks for sharing. Like many of our fellow investors, and you based on this post, we are believers in balance. There is no extreme frugality in our house. We eat healthy food and travel about, like the extended roadtrip we too recently. Sure we would have saved another $10k per year if we made those sacrifices, but we would have made ourselves miserable…….or worse yet damaged our health. That wouldn’t have been worth it. Instead, we spend our time and money intentionally……and only on the things we care about. We are happy with the balance we’ve struck…..and it sounds like you are as well. Good luck in your journey 🙂

    -Bryan

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  4. A question we endlessly debate in the house of PIE. At the end of the day, we find balance in both. Our view is that life is way too short to be so frugal that you can’t enjoy the now. And early retirement at 45-55 range is so much better than slaving to 65 or longer in the corporate world. I have no doubt that we could have reached FIRE earlier if we had sacrificed a lot of vacations, did not travel with the kids from a young age and not enjoyed great New England restaurants over the years. But no, those experiences are priceless and we have ZERO regrets. None, nada, zilch.

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  5. I love how clear your goals are, and the “opportunity costs” of those goals. And that you value your time with your wife and children and are keeping that in the balance. We live in the US and camping allows us to travel more often because it is inexpensive and we already have the gear. I know many people are hesitant to camp with small children but we’ve found our kids loved it, and even camped for a week with a 4 month old and a toddler. So I agree that may be a good solution to some the trade-offs you are facing, though I don’t know anything about camping in Europe.

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  6. Life is all about the balance! You’re doing well, enjoying life as you go, and still retiring early. I’m on the same track. We’ve enjoyed wonderful vacations every year, building memories with our daughter as she grew, and we’ll retire early at 55. Well done, my friend. Well done.

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    1. Maybe we can play the lotto? Having a clear goal, reading on alternatives ways to live and reading what others do for sure help us to put the needle right when making a call on spending.

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  7. You will probably always have this battle but I think you are looking at the problem in a great way!

    Most people try to do it all and end up not saving much (if any)

    I bet you will come up with the best solution for your family and will get creative with your travel!

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  8. I think making lovely memories with your family is well worth retiring a couple of years later. We travel with the kids (currently aged 7, 10 and 13) every year and it is wonderful family time. They might not remember the details of the location when they are older but YOU will and they will benefit from the renewed family closeness 🙂 so go for it and live 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s a tricky balance but I sat down with my husband and we mapped out what our perfect life would be in retirement and what it would be like now. So the way we spend and live now is a balance between the two.

    I would like to travel more in theory now but with 2 kids it just doesn’t make sense. So it’s something we are planning for later down the line when the kids are older and when we can travel on our own in retirement.

    I guess I also just set a concrete plan in motion to have the option to retire in 7 years but it could be done earlier if we lived more frugally and only had the minimum. But that wouldn’t make life enjoyable for us right now, we like to go out to eat here and there and not worry about every penny being spent. So we could go harder and more aggressive in our plan to speed things up but it’s not worth being “unhappy” or “stretched” in the present moment.

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  10. So true about the conflicts between living now and preparing for FIRE. I constantly remind myself that FIRE is only a means to an end – the goal of being able to spend time doing the things I love with the people I love. When I think about that ultimate goal, the balance becomes a bit easier.

    On a separate note, I wonder if you could monetize this blog and avoid the time sink of taking on a second job?

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    1. The ultimate goal is indeed do things we like with people we like. when we can do that already very often now by balancing spend/invest, we are actually more than half way there…
      Monetising the blog is not yet soon my radar… Google ad program would require a lot more page views to have a meaningful income. Affiliate links might work. The same remark would apply

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  11. Have you ever considered renting or buying a campervan? It seems like a lot more people are using campervans to travel around Europe affordably, and traveling that way would give you all lots of family bonding time. Just a thought… 🙂

    I think you hit right on the most important question en route to FIRE: where on the spectrum of “the future” vs “today” to fall. We try hard not to focus entirely on the future, but to make the things we do today relatively affordable (though, admittedly, with some splurges). I don’t think there’s one right answer, but instead it’s a matter of trying different approaches until you find what feels best for you and your family.

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    1. A campervan is a nice suggestion! With my patents, we did it once and it was great fun! I need to look into this.
      As we can use a house real close to the coast for free, that is our goto destination. It is frugal… At one point, i want to show the kids as well other locations.
      The occasional splurge, we have that as well…!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. We struggle with this too. I even work part time to create time with the kids which obviously delays FIRE. I’m in the camp of balance, we love travelling and are planing out first real overseas trip with the kids next year. We can still meet our goals but of course it delays FIRE. I wouldn’t give m weekends to get another job, your relationships have to come first. We do a lot of camping too, it is an investment at first to get good gear but cheap after that. And the kids love camping.

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  13. Just like many things in life, it takes a delicate balance to find a happy median where you enjoy life today but also save for tomorrow. And ideally with the compounding of interest you would actually have more to spend tomorrow by saving today.

    My wife and I struggle with the same balance. We want to spend as much time with our little one as he grows up. Ultimately though, being on path to hit FI at 53 is darn good and you should feel proud to hit that milestone so early.

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  14. You just asked the million dollar question and there may not even be a solution! Enjoyed you sharing your story but I will tell you what my mom told me when I was younger and all I wanted was to be “rich”. She said nothing is wrong with wanting boat loads of money but make sure you do not lose those that you love on that journey or you will have nobody to celebrate it with. I am a heavy believer in enjoying life today but do it frugally so you can save enough money to retire early. I do not plan on retiring at 35 like some people as I want to travel the world and gain new experiences.

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    1. Good to know that there might not be an answer! Seriously, it is great to read that a lot of people struggle with the same.
      A very good point to make sure you have people you can share the wealth with. The good news: I already know with whom I will share it.

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  15. I can have both: low budget and happy holidays. I am renting on airbnb, I follow cheap flight tickets. I travel ( with one child) with hand luggage (and I wash the clothes there, the aprt. it is must to have a washing machine). I study before, to see where and what it is child friendly.
    Indeed, we didn’t try yet any camping holidays ( with a child), but before the child I did a lot hiking. Do you have some recommandations in Be?

    About how much money you can ‘gain’ with an extra job in weekend as a second job, I did some calculus for me ( excel is a nice tool) and I found it pointless: any extra job will raise the life costs, any less job will cut the life costs. For me more efficient it is to re-analyze my expensive and to reduce it. For example, me, as a lady, I spend extra 15 minutes daily and I cook extra food and to prepare lunch boxes for all the family ( even for child at school lunch): So I convert 15 minutes work and I save around 10 euro daily (no taxes for this, sir 😀 ). Or I replace some services with handmade and … I can see the difference, daily, for the rest of our life :).

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    1. Great indeed to have both: low budget and happy holidays. That is what we have now as well. As my goal is to see the world, we will have a significant airfare budget. With our kids, we have less flexibility compared to the times where we travelled just the 2 of us.
      Camping is still an unknown to me. Maybe check out pasar?

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  16. We are actually planning an 7-8 week break in 2018 to bridge to FI (we realized that this will be the last time we can holiday with Miss CF before she goes into 11-3 years or so of mandatory school…..no exceptions). You are right that its a long stretch of 10, 15 or 20 years before you reach FI without living in the now.

    Based on our personal experience, the mini retirements in between are worth their weight in gold (well maybe not that much, but you get the drift). Any change to you plan a 4 or 6 week trip with the whole family to experience longer periods of time off? In our experience, they are worth it!

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    1. Those longer breaks pre FI are good ideas! Our oldest goes the the primary school in September, so we kinda missed the out-of-school slots. A longer holiday in the summer should be possible… touring France or the northern countries… You make me dream 🙂

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  17. good question!

    I think my trip to italy is a good example for how i handle this.
    I am trying to save extremly for one or two month. this means that 60-80 percent of my salary goes into my brokerage account.
    but then, when I am on a trip, i dont look at the money. I give it all for what I want. 🙂

    best regards

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  18. You are right, its important to find that balance where you can live for today while still saving for tomorrow in such a way that makes one have financial freedom. My husband and I are planning a trip to Hawaii in September and we are struggling with this very thing. Do we go super frugal on the vacation so we can have one and save more? Or do we enjoy ourselves, trim down the savings for a few months and then get back at it when we return? A vacation is definitely long overdue after spending 2.5 years paying off $120k the entire time and having stay-cations as well. We will probably come to middle ground, but I am not sure what that will look like.

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    1. Sounds like the holiday is well deserved… The price will be visible, but the value of the memories will be way higher. As long as you decide on purpose to splurge or go above the usual budget, then it is fine in my books. And in reality, people actively thinking on the subject will find the right balance.
      Enjoy Hawaii

      Liked by 1 person

  19. What is the point of all the saving, all the investing, all the frugalness, if we then aren’t able to live how we want to? That doesn’t going out and buying 5 ferraris, but we have saved for future spending. Future enjoyment. Our live isn’t a game of monopoly where once we have all the money in the world we win – it doesn’t work like that 🙂

    We aim to live how we want to (within financial reason), that doesn’t jepardise our future finances, and we keep investing during that time. Live off the income 🙂

    Easy.

    Tristan

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  20. For us, the balance is finding income sources that provide needed cash flow, but allow for flexibility. Both Ms. Financial Slacker and I work from home and have for the past ten years. The income is good, and actually we can work from anywhere, not just home.

    That also means we are less concerned about officially retiring early, because we have the best of both worlds.

    My recommendation is to start looking for ways to work remotely away from an office.

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    1. That is a good recommendation to look into. I work one half day per week already at home. It sure is nice. I am not sure what would happen if I would work too often from home. I like the buzz of an office space and the interaction.

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  21. It’s always a little tricky to balance now vs the future and when I don’t know I always put the question in the perspective of “Will I regret it later if I don’t do this now?”.
    There’s a certain amount of money I feel I need to save & invest on a yearly basis, typically over 60%+ of income. Lower than that and I feel that I could do more and I’ll regret it later.
    But on the other side, we’re going on a 3 week vacation soon, which is definitely impacting our savings, but I know I’d regret it later if I can’t spend some nice vacation with my wife and take a break from work at least once a year.
    That’s a balance to strike and I find that asking myself if I’ll ever regret doing / not doing is the best to find that balance. I’ve had no regrets so far!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi atl,
    I think living in the “now” is the best way to find balance – there’s only so much you can plan for, so make a reasonable plan for the future and enjoy life along the way. Even if you retired at 55; that’s still young by today’s standards.

    Increasing income is easier than cutting costs in the long term I think; since there’s only so much that can be cut. But it takes time as you mention if you’re not able to combine it with something you love doing.

    Best wishes on your FIRE journey!
    -DL

    Liked by 1 person

  23. All about the balance here too ATL!

    No point in working yourself into the ground for ten years solid. I’d go insane!

    I believe it is possible to save for FIRE and live for today, although you have to be prepared for true FIRE to take longer to get to. I’m pretty happy with that scenario though.

    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Finally managed to (binge)read your blog 🙂

    This is my personal struggle these days. I’m getting closer and with crazily high saving rate I see the goal not that far (within 4 years) if I keep my earning pace. Problem is: the closer I get the more I suffer for not being free already.

    My personal take here is: once you reach 40-60% of your Target Nest Egg you can slow down and accept to go full FIRE later and enjoying the present. In Switzerland working 60-80% is common and it’s a good thing. I’ve never heard anyone complaining that it was a mistake. Actually, whoever I spoke with says they can’t think of returning to work 100% anytime soon!

    So my suggestion is: rush till at least 40% of your target and then slow down and enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

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