I wanted to share a story I read this week on Dividend Mantra that stuck in my head.
Dividend Mantra was given the opportunity to speak at 2015 Chautauqua. It’s a personal finance getaway down in the Equator with speakers like Mr. Money Mustache and James Collins. This is an amazing offer.
What’s even more amazing is that he turned it down.
He wasn’t busy that week. He didn’t have an even more incredible offer. He just wasn’t sure his message was the best fit for the participants because his approach was different from the other speakers. He says, “would I be able to provide value if I’m uncomfortable with coming from such a different perspective?”.
Personally, I think his point of view would have been a great addition to the line up. But, that’s beside the point.
Since starting the blog, I’ve sometimes felt like a fish out of water too because we don’t fit into a standard category either. I would like for us to be slapped with an incredible label like early retirement extreme. But personal finance is personal and we just don’t really fit anywhere.
How We’re Making Our Own Mold
- I’ll Never Retire
A couple of years after graduation, I left my 9-5 job to start my own business. I found that I only needed to work part-time to support myself and lead the simpler life I wanted.
When we became parents, I became a full time stay at home mom. Because we had cut back, we found that we could live well on just one income.
I’m 30 and I’ve taken myself out of the workforce. Although I’ve left the door open for me to jump back in, I have no plans to return to work when our Little Miss is X years old. The closest thing to “retirement” I may ever see is the fancy pen I got when I left my first grown-up job.
- We Don’t Want to Make More Money
We’re fortunate that Simple Cheap Dad’s salary can cover all our needs and enough of our wants for us to lead full and happy lives. He doesn’t make six figures, but he makes more than enough for us.
We realize that the time we have together is one of our most precious assets. Anything that takes time away from that had better be for a good reason. Money isn’t a good enough reason.
We do have some side hustles, but we’re not just in it for the money. If we can get someone to pay us to learn new skills, enjoy our hobbies or share our knowledge, we’re in!
- If We’re Not Careful, We’ll be Too Rich
Our status quo could be dangerous for our cheap lifestyle.
On the income side, if Simple Cheap Dad could pick an ideal side hustle, it would be his current day job. He’s excited to go to work now and he plans to stick around. On the expense side, we’re happy with our lives spending only about half of our income.
If we keep this up, we’ll be mortgage free by 35.
By 50 our investments will be able to cover our living costs.
If he can stick it out, at 57 Simple Cheap Dad will get an indexed pension that more than covers our costs.
Plus, we’ll get some government pensions.
In all, we’d be earning 2-3 times our expenses each year. When compound interest takes a hold of all the excess, we could have a real problem on our hands in the form of a massive amount of wealth.
We would need to get creative to spend that much money. It would be an interesting problem for us to have.
Early Retirement Extreme isn’t our Goal
There is nothing extreme about the suburban life we lead. We live in a two-storey, three bedroom home. We have a car. We have some of the latest tech and some outdated stuff. We eat a variety of foods. We have an entertainment budget. Our life is vanilla.
Our goal isn’t to maximize our income, cut out costs to the bone and retire extremely early because we can.
Yes, we find ways to make extra money. Yes, we’re always questioning our expenses and finding ways to spend less. Yes, we may retire early. But that’s not our end game. That’s not the goal we’re striving towards.
Our goal is to give our family stability
We don’t want our daughter to ever worry about where her next meal is coming from.
I don’t ever want to worry that we won’t have enough in our bank account to pay our electricity bill.
Living within our means allows us to build up the buffers that take away the everyday stresses of money. Our bank account holds 3-6 months’ worth of expenses at any given time.
Our goal is to give our family flexibility
We want to create an environment where we’re not reliant on earning a certain income.
I would hate for Simple Cheap Dad to feel trapped at his work because we needed the money.
If he wanted to pursue another passion and start from the bottom, I’d like him to know that our family will be fine no matter what income he makes.
Living within our means keeps our costs low enough that we could get by on a much lower income. We’ve budgeted for less than $30,000 in expenses for our family of three this year.
Our goal is to give our family opportunities
We’re happy with our life now. But we know that people and needs grow and change over time.
Our Little Miss will probably cost more and more as she leaves her diapers behind and grows into the confident young lady I hope she will become.
Now, there’s little desire for us to travel. But when the Little Miss is old enough to remember, maybe we’d be more interested in taking a long sabbatical to explore the world as a family.
Although I believe that we won’t find our happiness in consumer goods, I do acknowledge that our expenses might arise in the future. Living within our means now means that we’ll have room in the budget to increase our spending without going into debt.
If our costs get out of hand and we needed to increase our income. I’d go back to work. I can’t think of too many scenarios where that would be the case. Maybe the Little Miss would take up competitive hockey? Show jumping perhaps?
Living within our means on a single income means that we have the ability to take on new challenges and embrace opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if we spent every penny we made.
Everyone has a Difference Voice
Everyone has a story to share.
My voice is yelling, “live within your means!” It’s common knowledge, but I say it anyway. It’s been my experience that common knowledge isn’t so common anyhow. I believe living within your means is the most powerful tool for personal finance. I share our story because I want to show how it’s done in real life. What our budget looks like. What skills we have that save us money. What are goals are What we do when we fail. How we stay the course.
But there are so many different voices out there. So many stories to be told. So many lessons to be learned. Each one is important.
This week I also read a post on Prudence Debt Free that also stuck with me. It wasn’t a post that fits into any of the usual categories. But, it stands out. Kay from LifeStyleVoices came out of the personal finance closet and shared her personal history with bankruptcy.
It was touching, and sometimes tough, to read her sharing the secret she’d left off her blog. It wasn’t a story from a category I’d normally go out to find. But there it was. I’m glad I read it.
It’s the collection of all the different voices that give us different ideas and makes us think in different ways.
Maybe your true passions and goals line up with extreme early retirement. Fantastic! I can’t wait to watch how you rise to the challenge and get to your magic number. It’s fascinating and motivating and you’re a real inspiration.
Maybe your innermost goals have nothing to do with personal finances. Fantastic! I can’t wait to see what you can do either! Whatever it is. If you want it, go for it!
At the end of the day, we’re all on our own journeys. It doesn’t matter if you don’t fit nicely into a category. It doesn’t matter if you don’t follow the same path as the person that inspired you. Only you can decide if your life was a success. If you follow your own dreams down your own path, it might just be your voice and your story that will inspire people.
Each voice is moving and memorable when it is telling it’s own story. Use your voice. Use your ears. Go after what YOU really want.
What About You?
Do you fit nicely into a personal finance category?
Have you figured out what goals drive you?
Do you only see your finances as a means to an end?
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