So we’re taking Our Next Life’s challenge. When I read their post “The Road Less Traveled” a week or so ago, I got excited. Why would I get excited about an early retirement blog post? Well, I guess because we’ve always felt different from our contemporaries from a money perspective. From how we save to what we spend our money on, it never seems to jive with what we see in society.
NO DOUGH, MO’ SHOW
This is how my friend described one of their couple friends recently. We’re now using this catchphrase in place of the more famous “All hat, no cattle” idiom popular here in Texas. No dough, mo’ show basically describes this couple’s house hunt when the wife prodded her husband with “we have to spend x amount on a house so I can fit in with the other mom’s in the area.” No folks, this is not a joke. I know this couple and it fits their mantra of present your self as successful at all costs. However, the notion of buying a house over your budget so you can fit in even threw me for a loop. Ugh, this makes my brain hurt.
I have always been a saver. As a kid I always had more money saved than my older brother. I would save up to buy higher priced toys and gadgets and not waste my time on trivial purchases. I’ve had a savings account since before I can remember.
After graduation from college, the first thing I did with my new salary was #1 invest 6% into my 401k (to get my 3% match) and #2 pay off my credit card debt. Whether by osmosis or not, Mrs. HackNow made it her goal to pay off all of her student loans before we tied the knot. With this philosophy we were able to enter our 17 years of wedded bliss with no debt. Now that’s how you supercharge your #FIRE dreams!
Why were we so money conscious at such an early age? Well I did it because I wanted to retire early before I knew that #FIRE was a thing. In our early days my goal was to save 50% of our income just to see if we could. As we got older and had 2 beautiful daughters we’ve had to knock that down a bit, but it’s still over 30%. That is until the Mrs. turns in her notice this summer to spend more time with the kids and a focus on a couple of side hustles.
So all that to say this, our outlook on life is a little different than our contemporaries. We have never looked at a retirement post 50. Ever.
In order to achieve our early retirement goal we’ve implemented a few practices that many of you have implemented and maybe a few you haven’t yet considered. Here they are, submitted for your consideration:
Treat your car as transportation, not a status symbol
We’ve kept each of our vehicles for 10+ years so that we never have 2 car payments. What is the consideration here? Well, you can’t treat your car as a status symbol. You must consider it an efficient mode of transportation. Now that doesn’t mean we haven’t had nice cars, we have. But we haven’t paid premium for a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, etc., we purchase their economy sisters and we buy 1-2 years used as well.
Embrace the auto-draft
What? We’re supposed to let all the credit companies auto-draft our accounts? No! Keep control of your money and where it’s going. What I want you to do is auto-draft YOUR OWN money into YOUR OWN investments. Our HackNow RetireEarly mantra is #PayYourselfFirst. This is the big secret. Figure out how much you want to save per month, then set the auto-draft from your paycheck or bank account to invest that money automatically. This organically forces you into a smaller budget. You can’t spend the money you don’t see right? It’s foolproof and a huge secret that people just don’t get.
Low cost ETFs
This one is simple and is no secret around here. Auto invest the money into low-cost ETFs. Don’t waste time and maintenance fees on actively managed mutual funds. You’re just throwing your money away as the vast majority of funds do not beat their benchmarks. Duh.
Save 20% at every meal!
Ok, this is more of a personal choice on how you like to dine. But I love to save 15-20% on every meal by dining at order-at-the-counter restaurants. This is so easy. You’re still getting good food, you just have to pick it up when your name is called and refill your own drink. Don’t be lazy, save the tip and serve yourself! Do this 5 times and you’ve earned a free meal. Seriously, I did the math – it checks out. No calculator needed!
So there is our secret sauce. We’re a family of 4. Parents both in our early forties, kids in their early to almost teens. We don’t feel different in our minds but when we talk to the soccer mom crowd, we hear about other people’s spending habits and are flabbergasted at how they spend, spend, spend. We’re just a different breed I guess. The “mo’ dough, no show” breed and I gotta tell ya’, I like it. Because finally there is a name for it, #FIRE!