As I’ve been increasing interaction with the “normal” online world (i.e., non-frugalistic crazy, non-obsessed with budgeting and spreadsheets people) through a variety of freelancing jobs, I’m noticing something. Those of us who are working toward financial freedom have a completely different idea of what a “need” and a “want” are than the rest of society.
What Do You Mean, It’s Not a Need?
Through these interactions, I’ve been able to have conversations with people who have said things like,
“What do you mean, going to the salon is not a ‘need’?”
“What do you mean, going out clubbing/restauranting, etc. is not a ‘need’?”
“What do you mean my gym membership is not a ‘need’?”
“What do you mean my cable package is not a ‘need’?”
As I continued working with these people, I became increasingly baffled at the people and their inability to see things clearly like us FI freaks do. We cut our own hair. We do our own nails. We work out at home or by running in local parks. We skip the movie theater and have a movie night at home or make our fave restaurant meals at home instead of going out. We forego expensive cable TV packages for Netflix, or for, God forbid, plain old local TV channels.
These things are a way of life for many pursuing financial independence, and so when people talk about spending hundreds of dollars at the salon we’re confused. Or when they have a $150 cable bill each month we’re screaming inside.
Many of us are unknowingly living in a Bizarro world where right is wrong and wrong is right – at least from the majority’s point of view.
I Used to be Normal Too
If I’m brutally honest, I used to be like “them”. I used to be normal too. Before we moved out to the country, I saw salon visits as needs, I saw our gym membership, our cable TV and many other things as needs. Things that I wouldn’t dare spend money on now while we’re working on our FI goals.
Why? Why is “now” different? Because I’ve now got a bullseye pic of FREEDOM super glued in my head , and I’m drawn to it like our dog is drawn to obeying me when I have a piece of steak in my hand. If I’m holding a piece of medium-rare cooked ribeye in my hands (don’t worry – we get it for under $4 a pound by buying in bulk through a local butcher 🙂 ), that dog will do anything I say for hours on end.
Why? Because she’s focused. She’s intense. She’s got her eye on a prize that’s worth working for.
And so now is our life of super frugality.
Like yesterday, as we were coming home from a hike at a local park. The drive home was about a half an hour, and of course, the kids were “starving” (they’d just eaten before we left home, BTW). “Pleeeeeease, can we stop and get something?” What they meant was could we hit a drive thru.
While it was super tempting to be able to avoid making dinner, the word FREEDOM again showed up in my mind like a light bulb, and we said no, opting for the already-paid for food at home.
But honestly, after four+ years of living this way, I’d forgotten how abnormal our life has become compared to the rest of the world. Living this way has become normal to us.
And truly, we don’t miss those things. I think even without our FI goals and focus on freedom we wouldn’t miss those things. After living this way for some time now, we’ve learned that the things we thought brought us joy didn’t really bring us much joy at all.
Not like financial freedom does, anyway. Not like the joy we get when our debt load decreases and our savings increasing. Not like the joy we get as our net worth goes up, up, up every month.
My PF loving, FI loving, debt destruction loving friends, we may be weird, but I like it here. I like the feeling I get when my financial peace increases every month. And when we have more and more money available to give to those in need. And when we have more and more choices in our lives because we have more money. I like being frugal, even if it’s weird.
Who’s with me?