“What if everyone in the Personal Finance community could write about how they found their goals? Maybe newcomers would relate to one of these stories and decide to make these goals their own? What if that could help someone FIRE?”
Since this blog has been around for a while now and we may have newcomers that haven’t read some of our initial stories, here’s our version of how we got “FIRE’d Up.”
We met as interns and hit it off. When we started our careers, we both had just gotten out of school, moved across the country (me from Denver, Mrs. SSC from Chicago), bought a house, got married, and started our life together. It was a whirlwind!
Fast forward a few years and we noticed our spending had been getting higher than we wanted. We figured there had to be a way to reduce it, so we tried a challenge to reduce it 10% the next month, and lo and behold, without really trying it dropped almost 25%!!
Is it a Want or a Need
This revelation also led us to tracking our spending to see what else we could cut back on, and this is when we employed our mantra, “Is this a want or a need?” before making purchases.
That phrase alone led to another 25% drop in spending and by reviewing our spending tracking we saw we spent a lot at Target, Costco and restaurants.
So, we moved restaurants into our “allowance” funds meaning if we went out to eat, one of us is paying with our personal money. We also dropped our Costco membership, because for us, the savings weren’t worth it, and we tended to overspend. Finally, we limited Target trips to once a month, and only bought what was on our list. No more impulse buys for us!
The Catalyst for Change
Our catalyst to find a better way came about like most people, from dissatisfaction at work. I had gone from spending 2 miserable years in a group I wasn’t happy in, to one that I could thrive, have fun, and drill wells, woohoo!! Mrs. SSC had the opposite happen and was transferred into a position where she wasn’t challenged, happy, or appreciated. Wanting something more and knowing there had to be something better, she started looking for resources on early retirement. Surely, we should be able to retire before 45, since that was SO far away and she was SO miserable.
Enter Mister Money Moustache
Mrs. SSC had been looking for outlets and resources to discover a better way to live life and get purpose back. She had also been trying to convince me that we could retire early, and I sort of agreed, but didn’t actually think it was possible. According to Mrs. SSC, “I’ll listen to almost anyone’s advice but hers” (Mr. SSC sidenote – that’s not actually true) so she decided she would find some other opinions on the matter.
After some searching she found the champion of FIRE, Mister Money Moustache. Now, a quick disclaimer – if you’re new to this realm, please, go read some MMM, HOWEVER, I would recommend you start at the beginning when his posts were relatable, and he wasn’t just recommending high priced investment companies, reviewing Teslas, and the like. That early writing was what got most people sparked with the idea that they too could buck the trend of “normal” and retire early!
She had been reading his blog for a bit and telling me about it, but I wasn’t a fan. I mean, why live on $25k/year when I got a degree to not live like that anymore?! No thanks! I wasn’t on board and was now staunchly against this radical lifestyle change.
Frankly, it was having the kids that changed everything for me. They really do grow up quickly and I was missing a lot of it due to work. Couple that with a move to Houston where our commute changed, our schedules changed, and life got even busier. We were on an unsustainable path and I realized that I too didn’t want to do this forever.
I still wasn’t convinced we could do it until Mrs. SSC showed me our last few years our spending. That was when I had my “lightbulb moment” (our back and forth email exchange where I finally “got it”) and realized we could Early Retire and not drastically change anything because we had already been living comfortably well below our means!
Not Early Retirement but instead a Lifestyle Change
After we were both on board with our plan, I realized all this time Mrs. SSC had already been executing it, just not telling me. Okay, she told me, but it never really sunk in how well she had been at keeping up our savings, investing the extra and more. Way to go Mrs. SSC!! Early on we realized that it wasn’t the Early Retirement we wanted, it was just a Lifestyle Change, which led us to come up with our FFLC acronym which stands for our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change.
Since then, we’ve been doing what we can to get there, and making drastic changes in a lot of places. Mrs. SSC left her corporate gig and took a 6 figure pay cut to teach and follow that dream. We realized we may move out West for a bit and just rent, we re-evaluated our risk profile and got our FFLC date moved up even sooner, and we keep tracking it all in our spreadsheet to see how we’re doing.
That is the abridged version of how we got to where we are and what got us FIRE’d Up.
It would be awesome to read more stories!