I've come across pretty heavy the last few posts, talking about the struggles of dating and dealing with the guilt of having life be so easy, so I thought I'd lighten it up with this post!
Some people are prone to jumping to conclusions; so when I say I watch what I spend and save a lot of my income, they automatically assume I live in a one room shack with a dirt floor and amuse myself by counting sticks. I might be exaggerating slightly. Might.
Just because one is interested in FI doesn't mean we live a life of deprivation and angst. Far from it. I actually consider my life to be one of relative comfort, if not down right opulent at times. Being on the path to Financial Independence is more about being cognizant of what you spend your money on and adjusting your priorities as such.
This post isn't meant to brag. Farrrrr from it. I just want to show you I am a relatively normal Millennial. I like to take nice trips. I like to play video games. I have a lot of hobbies. In order to do these things, I occasionally save up and splurge on a big purchase. The difference is, I will be using this purchase for a very long time, so the overall cost is minimal, and I research extensively before I finally pull the trigger to buy whatever it is I'm getting.
I absolutely love my apartment. 1100 square feet of living space all to myself. I've got vaulted ceilings, a fireplace, full-size energy efficient washer and dryer, a dishwasher and a walk-in pantry. It's a newer building so the gas and electric bills are pretty low, and the water bill is included in my rent.
The space is set up so the 2 bedrooms flank the main living space. The master has sliding doors onto the deck and a master bath suite which includes a massive walk in closet.
The other bedroom is dedicated to all my books, my computer stuff, and my numerous hobbies (more on that in a second). It also has a big walk in closet that I currently use to store stuff I don't want the cat to get into. You know, things like empty moving boxes, skis, and my Christmas wrapping supplies.
Not only am I paying for a super nice, private, mostly quiet living space, but I'm also paying for complex amenities. We get free fruit at the front office, a decently equipped gym, a nice pool, and a big party space we can reserve.
Maybe the most attractive feature is my proximity to work. I live 1.5 miles from the office! On nice days I ride my bike to work to get some fresh air, exercise, lessen pollution, and not use up my gas. I could also walk or run, but let's be real, that's probably never going to happen. My commute time is next to nothing, which is very nice right now as construction traffic is snarling everything up around me. It's a bit of a negative in the winter for a few reasons though- it takes longer to warm my car up than it does to drive, and I don't really have a good excuse to stay home when the weather is bad. Unless my car gets plowed under a bunch of snow in my apartment complex before I can leave, which I've never done. Ever. cough
My Sewing Machine
Meet Catharina, my Babylock Crescendo sewing machine. I hesitate to call her my sewing machine because that begets an image of an old, black, metal treadle Singer machine. This beaut sews and so much more. A big touch screen, bright LED lights, tons of throat space, A LASER!!!!, and more stitches than I will ever need.
At just under $4000, this machine is the second most expensive thing I've ever bought (after my car), and is now the most valuable. I've had her for almost 2 years now and I still get a bit of a thrill every time I sit down in front of her. So far, I've sewn 3 baby quilts on her and it is SO MUCH better to use than the machine my mom very graciously let me borrow. With a simple tune up and blast of canned air, this baby will be used for the next 15+ years! (and hopefully many more!)
My sewing hobby means I also buy fabric and tools to help me cut the fabric more accurately. It's not cheap, but I like getting to use my brain for something to help me feel good. I also like the feeling I get when I give people something I've made with my own hands!
Let me introduce you to my lovely bicycle, Jaqueline. She is a 2 year old Cannondale Quick. I call her Jack because Jack be nimble, Jack be quick. I really like to name my inanimate possessions, if you can't tell. I'm guilty not using her quite as much as I intended, but I still consider the ~$800 I spent to be well worth it. The rack on the back and the splash guards were especially great buys! They've come in handy for things like riding to work and back, and for things like the 25 mile charity bike ride I did. It's nice to come into work after it's rained and NOT have a huge wet stripe on your back from the puddles.
I'm a really big fan of coming home, making some food and then vegging out on the couch in front of the TV if I don't have anything else going on that night. My computer is a vital part of my entertainment library. I stream Cardinals games to my TV from my computer, and use it to get almost all my other media. (Movies, music, etc).
I was perfectly content with my 2009 MacBook Pro, but the hard drive died, so I expanded my skill sets and built my own desktop from scratch. One frustrating search for capacitor caps later, I had a running computer! I loaded it with Linux (Ubuntu) since I didn't feel like dealing with a Hackintosh nor did I want to run Windows. As you can see, I have yet to spring for a proper computer chair to complete my computer setup. I'll get there one day!
Not pictured is my TV setup, but rest assured it's awesome. I got a 42″ flat screen shortly after graduating from college, and gave my old one to my sister (where they're still using it!). I love to play all sorts of video games, so I have a collection of consoles to include, but not limited to, a Playstation 3, Wii, Wii U, and an Xbox 360. So far, I haven't found a reason to upgrade to a PS4 or XBONE, especially as I rarely play video games now. I just don't have the oomph or brain power after I get off work, so I limit my video gaming to the weekends for now.
One of the biggest splurges in my budget comes from spending money on alcohol. It doesn't really matter if it's from a restaurant, a bar, or the grocery store. I am unfortunately gluten intolerant, so I am forced to pass on the free beer people offer me. This means I usually have to spring for my own beverages, and since I can't drink beer that means I'm limited to wine, cider, mixed drinks or moonshine. Just kidding on the last one. Moonshine is gross and I don't want to go blind. I'm not a big fan of wine, so I usually drink some form of cider or a mixed drink. All of which are more expensive than beer (unless I'm at one of the numerous breweries my town is home to).
I've recently discovered the deliciousness that is mead. Let me tell you, it can get pricey FAST. I balk at spending $20 for a bottle of regular wine, but was seriously considering buying a bottle of mead that cost close to $60. I went with the bottle that was “only” $38 (pictured to the left) and I'm glad I did. It's delicious!
[PS if anyone lives close to Prescott, Arizona and wants to send me some more mead from Superstition Meadery, I'll love you forever!)
I'm well aware of the financial and health repercussions of alcohol, so I tend to limit how much I buy and consume. I thought this post by Cait Flanders was sobering (pun not intended) on just how quickly the costs from going out can add up. I'm currently struggling with my work situation, and it's a daily struggle for me to avoid washing away my feelings by downing some alcohol. I also find it rather depressing to drink alone, so I tend to only drink in social situations nowadays.
So, as you can see, just because I'm focused on maxing out my 401(k) and Roth IRA, doesn't mean I live a boring or super cheap lifestyle. I'm comfortable with this level of spending, and quite honestly enjoy the distractions my more expensive additions bring me. If in the end it takes me another 6 months or a year to achieve FI, so be it. I'd rather be happy when I retire than have more money and no hobbies or friends.
What do you splurge on? Do you have any “guilty pleasures”?