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 uber 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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