Misunderstandings

Hope by Jeremy Fish
Hope By Jeremy Fish
I only have a few people in my real life that know about this blog. I keep it to a minimum for a number of reasons, and based on the number of misinterpretations by the few people that know, I feel like I made a good choice for now. People tend to think that once you start working towards a goal like retirement and you're so fanatical about it that you write about it multiple times a week that you are obsessed with not spending money. Therefore you are cheap. They believe that anything that costs money is something that you avoid like the plague.

Perhaps in some situations they are correct, I know that I could live in a fancier house without roommates, buy nicer food, or even just pay for the convenience of driving to work to save time avoiding public transportation for an extra $200 per month. But I choose not to do any of those things.

I actually think that I am horrible at being frugal. Yes, I will not buy things that I don't really need, but if I feel like it's something important then I will most likely overspend on it. My rationale usually follows along the lines of, "if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right." That's also part of the reason that I take this blog seriously, since I'm going to do it, I'm not going to half-ass it. I'm going to do better than the "good old college try" I'm going to see if I can make it work.

Last weekend for example I had to go to a wedding for a friend from high school. I was in the bridal party so I had a specific suit that I had to wear, and I had to purchase the proper color shoes and belt to match. There was also the wedding gift, bachelor party, and booking a hotel so that I could have some place to sleep that night since it was a few hours drive from where I live. A few years ago I had a somewhat similar experience except I didn't have a role in the wedding, but I had to travel to Ecuador attend the wedding. For each of these weddings I ended up paying at least $1000 for everything involved, and I know that I could have made it through a lot cheaper, but I choose to do things "right" because they were my good friends and I wanted to make sure I would do my part to make their days special since I know it was important to them so it was important to me as well.

Recently one of my friends asked me if I went to this music festival that was in town. When I told him that I didn't he said, "Oh yeah, that's right, you don't spend money. You're saving for retirement." This kind of rubbed me the wrong way, he assumed that didn't go because I didn't want to pay for the experience of it. But that's hardly the reason I wouldn't go. I was automatically pigeonholed as this penny pincer who will sacrifice everything, including my social life for money.

For me a music festival (and most other purchases) are more of a matter of deliberate consumption. Is paying $150 to go see bands play music for 10 hours worth it to me? It could be... Maybe if the Wu-Tang Clan, Rage Against The Machine, The Mars Volta, and Radiohead were all playing on the same day, but that wasn't the case. Also, as I've gotten older my body doesn't like standing in one spot for hours on end anymore so concerts are less fun because my body complains more than it did 7 years ago. So paying money to make my body hurt doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me, I just recently did that and it was a fairly draining few days when it was all over.


The goal of early retirement for me is not specifically about not working, it's about getting what I want out of life. I don't want to spend another 30 years in an office with nothing but carpal tunnel to show for it. I want to be able to spend my time and energy on things that are important in my life. Wanting to spend my life living more intentionally just happens to also mean that the regular workforce is not something that interests me.

But there's also another twist to all of this. While I do want to retire early, it's not my only goal in life. Sometimes life happens, things come up that are more important than this singular goal of mine. My life is more complicated than working towards one thing. If one day I one day I decide to get married and have kids then I know that my family would be a higher priority than retiring early. So while I do have goals in mind, they are flexible and re-evaluated as needed. If I need to push back early retirement a few years then I'm more than willing to do that if it's for something that's important to me.

I don't know if saving aggressively is the right path for the long term. Right now it feels right so I'm sticking to it, and now that I have a decent sized snow ball built up it's momentum will still carry me along even if I can't save as much in the future.

Have you ever had people misunderstand your goals in life?

15 comments:

  1. This is 100% how I feel: "The goal of early retirement for me is not specifically about not working, it's about getting what I want out of life." I also don't share my FIRE goals/plans with a lot of people in my real life, because I've found that it's often not met with excitement or interest--usually disdain or a categorization of me as "cheap." So, I think I know where you're coming from! Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Mrs. Frugalwoods,

      Some people in my life know about my early retirement plans but not about my blog. I'm pretty sure that when I say I want to retire early they are thinking in my 50's, not 40's. I also wrote this to eventually point people to as they discover my blog so they hopefully can get a better idea of my mindset. Thanks for stopping by!

      -Zee

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  2. I'm totally with you on "doing things right." If it's an event I'm not excited about, I wouldn't want to go (even if it was free). I'm just very selective about how I spend my limited free time, which also translates to being selective about how I spent my limited money (aren't we all, to a certain extent?). In fact, I paid $200 to see Radiohead a couple years back in concert. I think it's worth it to save on events you don't care about, so you can go to the ones you do without any hesitation. And YES to ANY music festival where The Mars Volta and Radiohead are both playing. I would pay a lot of money for that show!! :D

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    1. Ms. Debt Emergency,

      I've never seen the Mars Volta and Radiohead play together, but I have seen them separately. Luckily I didn't have to pay $200 for it either. I'm learning to be more selective with my time lately, sometimes I get invited to things where I feel somewhat obligated to come but I know I will not enjoy it. I'm trying to learn to cut these events out of my life as they really do not improve my life or those friendships in meaningful ways. Anyways, I'm glad like you sound like you're doing the same. Thanks for stopping by!

      -Zee

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  3. All. the. time. Some people think I'm depriving myself by not spending my entire paycheck. They never consider whether or not I actually want to spend money on the crap they do. Money aside, I don't want most of that stuff.

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    1. I guess I don't understand people that would rather spend all of their money on things they don't really need than save some of it for their future. I guess I don't understand wanting to have a day job for 35+ years.

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  4. Lol my wife doesnt even know about my blog. I have told nobody I know!

    I am misunderstood every day by everyone! I hear ya man.

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    1. Wow, your wife doesn't even know! That's impressive (I think... I'm not sure actually, haha.) I don't think I could keep that a secret to someone like that for too long. Though it did take me about 6 months to tell anyone in my real life about my blog!

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  5. Nobody knows about my blog as I don't think anyone will understand! Only my best friend knows I'm saving for early retirement/FI. My family and close friends think I'm 'careful' with my money but don't see me as 'cheap' because I go on holiday abroad every year and yes, I'm going to a music festival this weekend. I love the experience of festivals, one of my favourite bands is playing and I'll be spending some fun time with friends.

    I decided early on that I won't be sacrificing things that I still deem important in my life, such as my holidays, gym membership and social life.

    My goal will take longer to achieve but I'm ok with that and accept it.

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    1. I don't think it's good to sacrifice things that are important in your life. So most of my social life is 100% in tact, but when it comes to going out to lunch everyday at work or going out to buy coffee... those are things I'm willing to cut out!

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  6. Weddings always kill my budget. There are always expenses like that in life that are unavoidable and we should not feel guilty for splurging on important things.

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    1. Yeah, wedding are really unavoidable. There are ways to make them cheaper as a guest, but I figure that they are only a one time thing for that person so I think it's okay to splurge a little. Thanks for stopping by!

      -Zee

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  7. To me the question posed would be: "have you ever had anyone misunderstand your values because of your goals?" Goals are something that are pretty easy to lay out. Example: Goal-Retire early. Value: being able to focus on the meaningful things in life such as relationships, travel, family, etc. Purpose of Goal: To not be confined by the need to make money or show up to a job on a regular basis in an effort to maintain my values. Goals are targets where values are the base upon which we run our lives, how we see the world, what we see as important, and what we believe for ourselves. We can choose to remain focused on our goals (although the path to it may twist and turn) and still have our values change based on growth, circumstances, desire, etc.

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    1. Rags2Riches,

      Well, that seems like a much more accurate description of what I was trying to get at. You should really just start writing for me or at least proof reading to make sure I get my point across! j/k (but not really!)

      -Zee

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    2. I'd be happy to help or I can just keep inserting annoying opinions in response to your posts. :)

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