The Road Less Traveled Challenge

I haven’t been online much the past few weeks. Thanks to var­i­ous trips and trav­els (and actu­al­ly hav­ing things to do at work dur­ing the day whaaaaaaaaaattttt), I made it a point to put my phone down and focus on what was hap­pen­ing in the “Meat­space” around me. Meat­space refers to the phys­i­cal world around us instead of the dig­i­tal world cyber­space.

3 week­ends ago I went to St. Louis to hang out with my col­lege friend. We hadn’t phys­i­cal­ly seen each oth­er in almost 2 years! Tech­nol­o­gy is a won­der­ful thing that’s let us keep in touch so much it’s like we were just across the hall from each oth­er again, instead of hours of trav­el time away. I real­ly want­ed to enjoy our time togeth­er and so my phone was spar­ing­ly used. Unless it was to take momen­to pho­tos to doc­u­ment the week­end, of course. What kind of mil­len­ni­al would I be if we didn’t take self­ies or check in on Face­book every­where we went??

2 weeks ago we start­ed a new phase at work and I was out of the blue slammed with work. It was a very nice change of pace to spend a good chunk of each day actu­al­ly being pro­duc­tive and work­ing!

Over Memo­r­i­al Day week­end I flew to Seat­tle for Camp Mus­tache (you can read my post here if you missed it). I had rough­ly 45 new friends to make and not near­ly enough time to do it in, so time on my phone was again lim­it­ed. If I had been on my phone to wind down before bed, I would’ve missed find­ing out the 300+ things I had in com­mon with my room­mate who is close to being old enough to be my moth­er. Those late night chats we had in the dark are in my top 3 trea­sured moments of the entire week­end.

The hike was worth it.
The hike was worth it.

Futz­ing around with my phone dur­ing a break­out ses­sion would’ve meant miss­ing out on some con­ver­sa­tion, many of which have stirred me up and made me write a fren­zy of blog posts. Ok, more real­is­ti­cal­ly, I have an exten­sive list of arti­cles to write soon that are cur­rent­ly per­co­lat­ing in my brain.

Then I had one busy day at work, a vol­un­teer day which I spent paint­ing out­build­ings at the local East­er Seals camp, two busy days at work and then.… I drove to beau­ti­ful Min­neapo­lis to hang out with more friends. I want­ed to live in the moment and focus on what was going on around me. Find all the land­marks as we walked all over down­town so I could (try my best and fail mis­er­ably) guide us back to the hotel. Lift my eyes up to the end­less blue sky and feel the sun warm my face as a light breeze whis­pered around us.  I would’ve been igno­rant to all that beau­ty if I’d had my nose buried my in my phone all week­end. 


All of this is a some­what long-wind­ed expla­na­tion as to why I haven’t been online much the last few weeks. How­ev­er, I’m back in my nor­mal envi­ron­ment and that means I’m resum­ing my nor­mal habits and rou­tines. 

One of the first things I do in the morn­ing after being wok­en up by the cat is check my phone for the time. Usu­al­ly, he wakes me up ear­li­er than my alarm, so after drowsi­ly pet­ting him for a sec­ond I fall back asleep until my alarm on my phone goes off. I hit snooze a few times and then check the noti­fi­ca­tions that came in while I was off in dream­land. Then I do the rounds on my social media accounts.

Today, I includ­ed Twit­ter in the mix, and I’m glad I did. Our Next Life is a blog I recent­ly dis­cov­ered and start­ed fol­low­ing. They’re a cou­ple on the brink of Ear­ly Retire­ment who enjoy being out­doors, so of course I’m inter­est­ed in all their pret­ty pic­tures what they have to say.  Mrs. ONL is the main writer and she has a lot of real­ly great orig­i­nal thoughts and ideas.

Today’s post is The Road Less Trav­eled Chal­lenge. In it, she tongue-in-cheek lists sev­er­al com­mand­ments for FI, and then goes on to say how it’s ok not to fol­low them. She want­ed to know how every­one else is diverg­ing in their lifestyles. I read that and imme­di­ate­ly knew I had to write a post about it.

So here it goes: How I’m tak­ing the road less trav­eled!

Let’s hit the low-hang­ing fruit– I’m a 25-year-old, sin­gle female striv­ing for Finan­cial Inde­pen­dence. Not only that, but I was lucky enough to start this jour­ney back in col­lege before I even had a real “big kid” job. I’m told the leg up I have on every­one else is sub­stan­tial. The impact from the extra time my mon­ey has to com­pound is sig­nif­i­cant, AND, to me more impor­tant­ly, I’ve made rel­a­tive­ly minor mis­takes. I get to live vic­ar­i­ous­ly through every­one else and avoid their mis­takes (new car straight out of col­lege, new motor­cy­cle, buy­ing a huge house in the sub­urbs and hav­ing a ridicu­lous com­mute.…. to name a few). My biggest mis­take so far was adding my employ­er match in my 401k con­tri­bu­tions the first year and miss­ing out on putting that $5k in the tax advan­taged space. In the grand scheme of every­thing, it’s real­ly not that bad. 

Most of my friends my age are pay­ing off stu­dent loans, buy­ing nice clothes and acces­sories, going to tons of con­certs, tak­ing vaca­tions to Flori­da with their boyfriends and going out drink­ing every week­end. I’m not doing much of those, or if I am I’m doing it on the cheap like the trav­el­ing I’m doing. No cruis­es or all-inclu­sive Caribbean resorts for me! I’m per­fect­ly con­tent fly­ing or dri­ving to see fam­i­ly or friends. Even my trip to Europe this fall will be to vis­it peo­ple my sis­ter and I know. 

Most peo­ple my age are bare­ly even think­ing about retir­ing, much less retir­ing in their prime work­ing age of 35. It def­i­nite­ly makes me more than a bit of an out­lier, which is why build­ing a com­mu­ni­ty of Mil­len­ni­als with a com­mon goal is so impor­tant to me. Who else will cel­e­brate my seem­ing­ly small mile­stones like hit­ting the min­i­mum spend and get­ting the bonus on my new cred­it card?? 

I’m also some­what of an anom­aly here in the FI world because I’m not par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned with being ultra Fru­gal. I do my best to keep my spend­ing low, but I don’t sweat the small stuff like eat­ing out with friends, trav­el­ing, or hav­ing room­mates. If I cut out eat­ing and drink­ing out with friends, all my trips and got a room­mate my sav­ings rate would shoot through the roof, but I wouldn’t be hap­py. I don’t want to get to FI by being mis­er­able. If it takes me a bit more than 10 years, I won’t die or start over from zero. I’ll just work a bit longer. NBD. (That’s No Big Deal for all my non-with-it read­ers :P)

Basi­cal­ly the path I’m forg­ing on my jour­ney to FI is incred­i­bly unique from every aspect and I’m per­fect­ly ok with that!

What paths are you diverg­ing from? 

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8 thoughts on “The Road Less Traveled Challenge

    • I think I found MMM through a Yahoo Finance post or some oth­er more main stream media arti­cle. I’ve nev­er been a typ­i­cal kid though- I read the news­pa­per every day before school start­ing in 5th grade lol

  1. Thanks for tak­ing the chal­lenge! I loved see­ing the MANY ways that your path is unique — the ear­ly start, the clear focus! It’s all so impres­sive, and I’m sure plen­ty of us Gen Xers wish we’d had the good sense to do what you’re doing when we were in our ear­ly 20s! My favorite part is that you still allow your­self to enjoy today, and you spend some mon­ey on fun expe­ri­ences and trav­el, even if you aren’t extrav­a­gant. That’s one thing I don’t regret ever, the mon­ey spent on trav­el and great expe­ri­ences with friends and fam­i­ly. I regret plen­ty of Tar­get trips and Banana Repub­lic shop­ping sprees, but I nev­er regret the spend­ing that makes life­long mem­o­ries. 🙂

  2. Hiya! I don’t think I’ve ever com­ment­ed, just silent­ly read and fol­lowed 0.0 (That sounds way weird­er in com­ment form than it did in my head.) I’m also 25, and while I am pay­ing off stu­dent loan debt and some ear­li­er-20s hic­cups, my tar­get is also set on finan­cial inde­pen­dence. So between you, Julie, and I, there are at least 3 mil­len­ni­als pur­su­ing FI. We should start a club!

      • One of my favorite trips was fly­ing to Salt Lake City to hang out with an inter­net friend (who I orig­i­nal­ly met at an inter­net meet­up in per­son). I’ve been to Europe, Australia…even those Caribbean cruis­es you blast­ed (thanks to parental gen­eros­i­ty when I was a child), all great expe­ri­ences where I made some fun tem­po­rary friend­ships, but it’s all about the last­ing human con­nec­tions we make, which is to say, I think your road less trav­eled with regards to how you view trav­el and what you want to do is an amaz­ing thing, and prob­a­bly a road that should be more trav­eled by peo­ple in gen­er­al.

        I’m right there with you on über fru­gal­i­ty too. My method has always been to try to min­i­mize when it’s just me but to not be so anal about not spend­ing when I’m with oth­ers, though it’s always evolv­ing. That unhealthy part is not mak­ing the effort to meet new peo­ple “when I can enter­tain myself”…Working on it…it’s not going to kill me if my sav­ing rate drops for the sake of a more ful­fill­ing social life.…

  3. My life would be very dif­fer­ent if I had dis­cov­ered FI in col­lege. For one thing, I’d be a heck of a lot clos­er to my FIRE date. It took me until I had every­thing (the cars, the house, the big pay­check and the friv­o­lous things) to real­ize none of it real­ly mat­tered and it cer­tain­ly didn’t improve my hap­pi­ness. I often wish there was a non-patron­iz­ing way to explain this to those who are younger than me but I think my best bet is to point them to the pio­neers (MMM, jcollins) and hope for the best.

    I, too, strug­gle with the fru­gal com­po­nent of the FI/RE com­mand­ments. It’s the fastest way to get there but not always the most enjoy­able — I believe in bal­anc­ing being fru­gal about the friv­o­lous things and being will­ing to spend when it con­tributes to my present hap­pi­ness (like pay­ing a clean­er because I would rather spend that time with my fam­i­ly).

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