Change is hard and I worry that I am being a cheapskate

We have only just started on our journey towards financial independence (see my previous post for a quick overview of FIRE) so we haven’t yet built good and lasting habits or found a sustainable level when it comes to balancing saving and spending.

Reflecting on last month it feels like we often took one step forward and two steps back. It’s been a struggle at times. It’s also been exciting as we saw the impact of our decisions.

Overall though I think we made great progress in April and are off to a great start.

April highlights

  • Moved to a smaller home, which will hopefully cost less to heat, cool and maintain
  • Changed banks and received a $500 signup bonus in the process
  • Cancelled our cable subscription and home phone line
  • Reviewed our auto insurance, changed insurers and saved ~50% in the process

As a result of lowering our expenses we’ve now set a new baseline for living costs and will be able to save more each month going forward. The pleasing thing is that we’ve stopped drifting through life and now are much more intentional about our finances.

The savings jar

Finding the right balance

It hasn’t been easy though. I’ve felt quite mean and cheap at times reminding my family we couldn’t eat out nearly as often as we used to. My wife has struggled when catching up with friends who just want to go shopping. While I remind myself FIRE isn’t about deprivation, it’s felt like that at times. Change is hard ! This is especially the case when trying to modify decades of old habits and going against the norms of society to consume, consume, consume as we’ve been trained by the advertising industry.

Lots of good little decisions will ultimately add up to something amazing

I’m confident that it will get easier the further into this we get. The freedom enabled by financial independence is so alluring that we’re committed to change. As the saying goes “hard choices easy life, easy choices hard life”.

It’s a given that we’ll sometimes not make the best decisions but we will make small steps forward knowing that the marginal gains will aggregate over time and make a big difference. April wasn’t perfect but it was a good month and we made forward progress despite the occasional slip ups. We did something and I call that a win!

“Motivation doesn’t cause action, action causes motivation”

Thanks for reading

Mr Simple Life

13 thoughts on “Change is hard and I worry that I am being a cheapskate

  1. I know exactly how you are feeling. Expenses are always the problem and habits are hard to break. We also struggle with commitments made prior to our decision to pursue FIRE and the financial impact they have. We can’t back out of them so we are trying to minimize the hit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to know that we aren’t alone 🙂 The toughest things have been the shift from an instant gratification mindset and eating out regularly. Definitely feel we are in a transition phase as a family

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  2. Pursuing financial independence through frugality is not the same as “being a cheapskate” as you put it. Nothing you’ve talked about in this post is cheapskate – it’s just common sense to live in the right sized house, pay as little as possible for insurances, and cancel things that you don’t use or make you happier. Your ongoing activities with friends you already have may take hits – but these are opportunities to be proactive and invite friends to your house for meals and other more frugal activities. Your circle of friends may change over time as you develop friendships and communities who prefer to hike than to shop, but your decision to pursue FIRE has already made some of these decisions for you. Do you want your friends to be friends only if you can enjoy shopping together?

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  3. Good post! I’ve been thinking of ways to decrease my expenses as well. I’ve cancelled my Adobe and Prime subscriptions, and even thinking about Netflix. That one might be a tough one, but I’ve realized I don’t use it as much anymore to justify the monthly expense. These subscriptions do add up.

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  4. I feel ya there! I am trying to kick the habit of going out for drinks/dinner as frequently. Something I read recently was an article from The Debtist about JOMO–Joy of Missing Out. Not feeling deprived is key to progress, I think. Finding alternatives and growing habits along the way will make you not feel deprived. And of course allowing yourself some slack here and there, as well as not punishing yourself, will help too. I think it’s probably amplified with a family of four. Good luck!

    https://thedebtist.com/2018/02/16/hashtag-jomo-joy-of-missing-out/

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  5. I’m sorry it’s being so hard – yes, you will have people who won’t necessarily agree with or understand what you’re doing, but it will work out in the long run. And as an added bonus, less shopping and consuming = better for the planet.

    We entertain at home a whole lot because it’s far cheaper than going out and Husband likes it much better (isn’t keen on noisy places and large groups of people). Maybe that could be an option, inviting people home instead? That way you can catch up and see people (and not go shopping!), but without breaking the bank.

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  6. I think it’s important to still enjoy the journey to FIRE, so completely depriving yourself tends to generate resentment after a while. A friend, a few years ago, made a commitment to have one thing to look forward to each month – perhaps that could be something you apply in your own life to things that you love (I’m a lover of eating out, too, and this is going to have to be something I apply in my upcoming savings rate challenge). You can always budget for it, even if it’s a cheap restaurant meal.

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  7. I can relate, especially about the impact on my social life. However, I learnt that if they’re real friends they won’t mind changing activities to spend time together. Alternatively, it may also inspire them to save themselves! It’s tough though, I still question what I’m doing and try to keep an eye on the long term.

    Liked by 1 person

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