Just three years ago “frugality” wasn’t even a word in our vocabulary. We preferred the high life, and back in those days, we probably would have laughed at the word and associated it with people who were cheap.
We wore high-end clothing – We used to visit Copley Plaza so we could shop at the finest department stores. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit that I wouldn’t allow us to step outside our front door unless we were wearing designer threads. I was obsessed with clothing by Ann Taylor and Jones of New York, and despite my overly stuffed closet, I kept buying more.
We spent a fortune on entertainment – We never thought twice about buying the best tickets that money could buy. We went to numerous concerts and enjoyed tons of broadway performances such as Swan Lake and Phantom of the Opera. We also didn’t mind dropping $50 or more on parking so we didn’t have to walk far. Then afterwards we would savor a meal at one of Boston’s finest restaurants.
I was high maintenance – My bathroom vanity was filled with expensive cosmetics from high-end department stores. I would schedule regular salon visits at the top salons in the city, and would think nothing of spending upwards of $300, plus a tip, every 6-8 weeks to maintain my hair. Manicures and pedicures were also regularly scheduled because I felt as though I deserved to get the full spa experience.
We thought we were athletes – We both had gym memberships with a monthly maintenance fee of $200. I had a personal trainer and paid an additional $50 per session, three times per week. I kept this routine for almost two years.
We traveled in luxury – We leased brand new cars and would turn them in every two years for a new model. We needed those cars so we could enjoy our weekend getaways. Plus, we wanted people to know that we were doing well.
In hindsight, we lived like a couple of pretentious fools. Now we look back on our old spending habits and cringe. We had no savings, and we were constantly fighting to get ahead in our careers so we could keep up with this ridiculous lifestyle.
Thankfully We Came to Our Senses
Once we had our epiphany, we knew that if we were to achieve FIRE, then we would need to make some radical changes in our spending habits. So we quickly went to work at reducing our expenses.
And soon after we adopted a more frugal lifestyle, our lives had improved dramatically. We felt less stressed and more at ease. We stopped caring about what other people thought of us, and no longer felt the need to impress them. We were finally free from the constraints of consumerism.
Family and Friends Thought We Were Crazy
It didn’t take long for us to discover that we were an island by ourselves. Some treated us as if we were lepers and they became very judgemental. They wondered if we were suffering financially (or mentally!), and when we tried to explain our goal to achieve FIRE, we were met with skepticism. According to them, we are not supposed to retire until we are at least 70. Some even implied that we were lazy.
This new way of life also had a negative impact on our social lives. People just couldn’t understand why we no longer wanted to drop a few hundred on a meal out. When we made other suggestions like hosting a potluck or having a picnic in the park, we were met with lots of resistance. Eventually we had to cut our ties and move on. But for us, our goal of reaching FIRE was far more important than living up to someone else’s expectations, or keeping up with our ludicrous facade.
We have now lived a more frugal lifestyle for two years now, and you know what? We can honestly say that we don’t care what people think! For us, frugality is a choice, not a punishment.
What do you think about our choice to live a frugal lifestyle?