I Didn’t Know We Were Weird

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. Β 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 πŸ™‚ ), 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.Β 

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?” Β 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?

27 comments on “I Didn’t Know We Were Weird

  1. I think in modern society it has become almost impossible for people to distinguish wants from needs. While I’m not foggy on whether cable or salon visits are needs, I still struggle with figuring out whether other things are necessary or not. We’re not really talking about needs in terms of basic survival in most cases. There is a consideration for living in your culture in a way that is not completely off-the-wall, but that doesn’t have to mean gym memberships and Netflix are necessary. I’m totally willing to be a weirdo but I admit I have my limits, too.

    1. I think it’s important to be honest with ourselves about it, Kalie, and you’re doing a terrific job of that. Friday night I spent a bit of money on going out to eat. I needed the break from the routine around here. Really needed it. Now, I don’t “need” to go out to eat every time I’m craving the local Chinese buffet food, but sometimes I do need to spend money on eating out. And that’s okay as long as I am honest with myself about whether it’s a need or an excuse. The $15 I spent on eating out Friday night did wonders for my mental health. πŸ™‚

  2. Bizarro world it is! Love the clip. It’s all about finding the balance. We have cut back on several wants over the years, and we are about to rethink these again with two of our three children heading to college. We still enjoy a movie at a theater. Typically a matinee, with candy and drinks brought in. So we still find a way to enjoy the movie, but not at nearly the cosy it use to.

    1. It can be done!! There are always ways to compromise and cut in some places so that you can be confident in spending in other places. We do movies probably about once or twice a year. We still buy popcorn and candy, and we always do the matinee, but because we go so rarely I’m okay with spending the money on candy and popcorn.

  3. I often forget that we’re weird. We were on such a tight budget for so long, we seem to have forgotten about those “finer” things in life that others take for granted. I must admit, we’re still super frugal, maybe even more so now. Long term habits become ingrained and it’s so nice when it’s the good ones that stick!

  4. I definitely think it is all about balance πŸ™‚ We never go to the movie theater, but we do have Netflix, and try to rent movies from the library which are free!

  5. I agree that it’s about balance, and also about your personal priorities. The problem, as I see it, is many people aren’t choosing those priorities, they’re just going along with what they think everyone else does, or what’s “normal”. Bizarro world might take them a lot closer to what they really want, only they don’t know it or believe it.

  6. Yes! I’ve experienced this too. I am so entrenched in the FI, debt freedom culture I forget that I’m weird! But then when I go out into the real world, I realize how different I really am. I took my daughter and some of her friends to the mall a couple of months ago and it felt soooo odd. I had a bit of culture shock.

    That said, we do go out to eat 1-2x each month – for entertainment (and a break as you mentioned above) and do other “normal” things. But we pick and choose those things very carefully and intentionally.

    1. Yes!! The mall is definitely a culture shock. We went a couple of months ago too and seeing everyone holding dozens of bags with new stuff, LOL, it was so odd!! I felt a bit ashamed that we were carrying a bag, but winter coats on clearance for the younger girls from Justice for $10 each? I just couldn’t pass that up. πŸ™‚

  7. I don’t care for what’s “normal”. Normal is mediocrity. It’s getting mediocre grades in school, going to the bar every Friday night, slaving away at a 9-5 job, and (hopefully) retiring when you’re 65. Doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

  8. True confession: We went out for a meal after church . . . just because. It was unplanned, spontaneous, “a treat” . . . and we all felt bloated afterwards. Ugh! I feel an uneasiness in my stomach just thinking about it now. Last night (which was Monday night – the next day), we sat around the dining room table playing UNO. Lots of high drama, screaming, fun. It didn’t cost a cent. Of the two experiences, I know which one I’d choose again in a heartbeat.

    1. Amazing, isn’t it? We went out Friday night (I spent $15) and it was GREAT. Well worth the money. But plenty of times we have and it was SO not worth it. I think it’s all about assessment. On Friday, there was lots of prayer involved and we felt the suggestion was from God. Other times we just go on our own wants and it’s not ever fulfilling.

  9. I too often forget how “normal” people live, and then I talk to my coworkers. Like the ones that buy expensive new cars every few years and yet “can’t save for retirement”. Or the ones who buy expensive new homes every couple years but “can’t save for college”. Let’s not forget the ones who go on fancy vacations multiple times a year, eat out for breakfast and lunch every day, but can’t possibly even get the company match in the 401k. I don’t really understand this way of living, to be honest. I do still spend money on wants, not all on needs, but I’m clear on the difference and only do it after my other financial goals are set.

  10. When people at work found out I was getting rid of the Hyundai Genesis for a “stock” Jetta they asked, “But you can afford a nice car, why would you downgrade your car?!” Umm, it cost a lot of money and I didn’t enjoy it.. I’m still loving the Jetta even though there’s no dual climate zone control, heated seats, and I have to turn on my own headlights (GASP!!). It’s fun to drive, gets about 34-36 mpg even the way I drive, lol, and maintenance is WAY lower because it’s not a “luxury” vehicle with luxury repair costs.

    We also mostly cut our own hair – everyone but me because i don’t trust Mrs. SSC totally yet. Actually, I do let her trim my hair occasionally which saves me another 2 months or so without a haircut. We’re cutting cable in another month or so as well. That will be interesting once football comes on in August/September but otherwise i won’t miss it really.

    Yep, I’d rather skimp on normal “needs” and be able to jettison Houston one year sooner than keep up with the Joneses and all the trappings of modern life. Life’s too short to live in Houston. πŸ™‚

  11. I don’t move among the normal people too much but I did recently and came away with a fun example of this very thing. We were discussing work with contractors on potential home remodeling because we can afford a fixer upper, and some moderate repairs to bring it up to code, we can’t afford a nice modern new build. Correction – I won’t pay that kind of money.

    Randomly (to me), the contractor said: Make sure you don’t go buy a new car or anything before you close, ok?
    Me: What? Why would I do that?
    Contractor: Well some people get their loan approved, then they go buy a new BMW and all new furniture. Then two days before they close, the lender looks at their debt to asset ratio and declines to fund their loan. I wouldn’t want you to lose your funding.
    Me: oh. Uh, that’s really nice of you but we’re not buying ANYTHING except food for a year after we get a house.
    Later…
    Me: oooh double ovens *drools*
    Contractor: Did you want a double oven?
    Me: Yes. But I don’t NEED one, so I’m not going to get greedy here.
    Contractor: So … double oven, or?
    Me: It’s just a want. Don’t need it, so no, just a standard oven will do the job.
    Contractor: *looks puzzled*

    A Twitter friend clarified that people apparently really do think they can go out and run up their credit cards, buy cars, etc, while they’re waiting to close escrow as if they think the lender won’t see this activity. I was boggled! Probably about as much as the contractor in our second chat πŸ™‚

    1. LOL, laughing because it’s true!! I worked in personal banking and mortgage for 15 years, and people did that all the time!!! I remember one guy getting super PO’d at me for denying him a personal loan because their DTI was super high after they’d just bought a new house. “Now what am I supposed to do!!??!?!?! I can’t have my old furniture in this new house!!!!” Umm, yes, yes you can. πŸ™‚

  12. I feel weird. But I’ve always been weird, so it’s ok. I’m just more intentional about my weirdness now, and it allows for a better life most of the time.

    That said, sometimes the transition can get a little scary, Like I’ve recently decided to cut my haircare bills in half by letting the gray hairs come on, after 5 years of coloring. Yikes.

  13. I feel like the only person in the world who didn’t love seinfeld. πŸ™‚ That probably makes me weird in an of itself. Yeah being super frugal isn’t the norm that’s for sure, but I like to think that I’m going to enjoy the expression on everyone’s face when I say I’m retired early. Well, as early as I CAN.

    1. LOL, it had some really great scenes/episodes, but there is a lot I didn’t like about it. πŸ™‚ Yeah, I can’t imagine much more that would be cooler than seeing that look on their faces, Tonya. I have a feeling that in a little while, they won’t think you’re so weird. πŸ™‚

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