So many of us in the FIRE community spend endless amounts of time planning, plotting, strategically analyzing, and calculating every little detail in order to reach our goal.
For us, this means retiring by the time we both turn 50. To be able to leave our 9-5 existence behind us and never look back. To be free to live out the rest of our lives as we wish with few restrictions, and not spend our days trapped in a cubicle until we are 70.
For others, this goal may be exploring the world, becoming debt-free, or the freedom to pursue a career one is passionate about. But whatever the goal may be, we must ask ourselves this one question:
Is it worth the sacrifices that we have to make today, so we can achieve our goal for tomorrow?
This very question has forced us to carefully re-examine our lives. To make sure that we are not sacrificing the important things in order to reach our seemingly illusive goal. It’s not that we believe our goal is not worth striving for, we just know that we must be realists as we look toward the future.
Here are some of the sacrifices we have made thus far:
- We’ve missed out on precious time with family and friends in order to save money.
- We’ve decided to watch the Red Sox on a flat screen TV in our living room instead of experiencing a live game at the ballpark.
- We forego eating at some of the top restaurants in the country and opt for a slice of pizza for $3.00 at our favorite pizza joint.
- We’ve wasted precious hours driving in circles in order to find a cheap piece of land to park a depreciating asset.
- We routinely take advantage of the early morning specials and miss out on getting together with others at the movies, just so we can save a few bucks on the price of admission.
These seemingly small sacrifices may not appear like much on the surface, but this has had an impact on the amount of joy in our lives. And as we take a closer look at these sacrifices, we begin to wonder if our goal to achieve FIRE is worth what we are giving up along the way.
No one can deny that our future is unpredictable. We can do all of the scheming and plotting we want and have the best intentions, but the hard truth is that our lives can change in an instant. Life as we know it is not a guarantee, and we only have so many hours to experience those joyful occasions. The last thing we want is to look back on our lives and realize that we should have done things differently. This makes us ask another important question:
Will we have regrets later as a result of the sacrifices we made today?
When taking a really close look at what we’ve given up thus far, it’s impossible for us to know how we may feel the day we reach our goal. Will we look back and wish we have lived our lives differently? Or will we be so elated by reaching our goal that we move forward with our lives with much exuberance? Not having a crystal ball, we can’t predict this outcome. We can only make an assumption based on perception or how we imagine the end game may look like.
Does this mean we should give up our pursuit to achieve FIRE?
After a great deal of reflection, we have decided to simply take another look at our needs vs. wants. To shift things around per se. To understand our priorities so we can fulfill our present with worthwhile memories for the future. To never deny ourselves the opportunity to live a joyous life (thank you, Our Next Life!).
Here are some of the ways we can live in peace with our sacrifices:
- Find inexpensive activities to do with family and friends – Offer them cheaper alternatives to expensive restaurants so we can spend more time together without breaking the bank.
- Allow ourselves to see a live Red Sox game or two – Give ourselves permission to splurge once or twice a year so we can see a couple of games at the ballpark.
- Enjoy a couple of meals out at our favorite restaurants – Work to eliminate food waste to make room in our budget for a few cheat meals.
- STOP our obsession with cheap parking – Make fewer trips to the city so we can save money, gas, and time looking for a place to park our mobile. No more haggling with gas station owners in Boston to score cheap parking. Yep! We really did this!
- Go ahead and meet friends at a matinée movie – Purchase gift cards at Costco so we spend only $74.99 for $100.00 worth of tickets, no restrictions.
We realize that these are seemingly insignificant things that we are adding back into our lives, but think about it. Life is made of the little moments. It’s about the small things. Those sparks of happiness that make us feel alive. This way our sacrifices are no longer sacrifices, and more importantly, we no longer need to fear having regrets.