I REGULARLY READ blogs written by those who retired early to a life of ultra-frugality. Do you consider yourself careful with money? Even so, I doubt you’d enjoy the frugal lifestyle of many followers of the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) movement. I certainly wouldn’t.
If I go on another cruise, I won’t be booking an inside cabin. I can’t imagine my wife buying clothes from a thrift store and wearing them for the next 10 years.
Things that strike me as too frugal: Never going out to eat. Never traveling. Not owning a car. Living on a remote piece of land and chopping firewood for heat. Picking up toys from the curbside for the kids. Moving to Mexico for the low cost of living. And, no, I’m not trusting my eyeglasses to an online service to save money.
Don’t get me wrong: I shun designer frames and designer everything else. I lean toward frugality. I avoid impulse shopping, buying the latest trendy thing and accumulating unnecessary stuff. Still, you usually get what you pay for. Have you ever read about the things you should never buy from a dollar store? But it isn’t just the extreme frugality of the FIRE folks that bothers me. Rather, it’s also the related claim that they’re financial independent.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not mocking these frugal folks, nor am I being a snob. But it’s important to understand the lifestyle necessary to be financial independent if you’re living on a tiny budget. To be sure, these folks seem happy with their choices. Many are actually income-earning bloggers, authors and podcasters who are sought out by the media. In that regard, I’m jealous. Nobody seeks me out. Being an old school dinosaur is not news.
One blogger claims to have lived on $7,000 a year or less for a decade. Another says his family of five lives on $40,000 a year and spent just $296 on groceries in March. The U.S. Department of Agriculture puts a low-cost grocery plan for a family of four at $892.90 per month. Even a thrifty food plan is estimated at $676.80 per month.
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Source: Too Frugal for Me – HumbleDollar
” One More Year-ism”
From your related link “You might be saving too much for retirement”
According to Gallup: The average retirement age has been 61 since 2011, Gallup found. Before that, the average retirement age in the U.S. hovered around 60 from 2004 to 2010.
Like most, apparently, I planned on retiring later, at 67, so my wife could retire with me at 62. It would have made a huge difference in retirement income. Kidney cancer at 62 changed all that. So we are living more frugally than we planned. Like Quinn, though, we are still adding to our savings. Here is why…
Often, a retired couple can live comfortably on two SS checks and savings. (In our case, a pension) But what happens when one dies? The smallest SS check stops. In our case, $1,400/mo. So I have insisted (lol) that we invest at least $1,400/mo. That should make the transition less painful.
Then there’s the “widows tax”. Please look it up on Google. Going from married filing together, to single puts you in a higher tax bracket. Along with lower income. A double whammy.
I have four sisters living on Social Security alone. A lot of people do. All widows, they didn’t make much more than that while working, so they are used to frugal living. At least three of them have houses paid for (I think. Dad always trained us it’s not polite to be nosy about someone’s finances.)
They didn’t retire early though. One just “quit working” in her early eighties. I assume she has also been drawing full SS for the last dozen years or so.
Pretty sure they often shop Goodwill, for clothes and other things.
Lots of people do it.
(They all have grown children who probably help out. That’s what we did with Dad.)