Lavish Luxury & Lean Times

I noticed something this weekend. Even though we are on the road mostly not taken to early retirement, we do not want for anything. At the beginning of the month we sit down to make a map for our money. I use the term, map, because it’s a loosey-goosey budget. We certainly don’t take the Dave Ramsey approach of every dollar, on paper, on purpose-although we think it’s great for the people who can make it work. It’s way too restrictive for us and, inevitably, we can never foresee every little expense that will come our way in any given month (think: a doctor’s visit and medication, ugh). Instead, we choose certain items and events that we want to purchase or attend at the beginning of each month. After allocating cash for our fixed bills and investments, we devote a certain amount of money to be used for entertainment. After that, we analyze Each. And. Every. Purchase. Any leftover Benjamins get shuffled into our taxable investment account in preparation for our next buy-and-hold real estate purchase. Yes! I swear this gets me more excited than buying a new pair of shoes!

Peer Pressure

In the past, Mr. MMM and I bought into the consumerist ways of our peers, and most of America. We thought we needed a big house, a fast car, and the best threads lining our closets. After all, isn’t that how we valuate ourselves? We compare ourselves to our peers to gauge where we fall on the socioeconomic success scale. If you haven’t noticed, that’s why we ask each other, “What do you do?



Bucking the CONSUME-CONSUME-CONSUME-MACHINE is not very popular. We’re seen as outcasts among our peers that are still in the rat race. When we tell other people our plans, we’re met with smirks, negative remarks, and disbelief. Oftentimes, followed by exclamations of how the other person could never even consider retiring decades before the SYSTEM tells them to. Why? Because they haven’t resolved to be different and stop consuming. Resisting peer pressure and bucking the system is the key to breaking free. Thinking for ourselves and actively deciding what was best for us, despite what others are doing or thinking, was the key to our financial freedom aspirations.

Lean Times & Lavish Luxury

Every day is a lean day for us, at least in comparison to most people. Interestingly, we live every day in lavish luxury. Read that again. That’s right. We live a life of lavish luxury even though we watch every purchase. Each passing day gets us closer to our FIRE goal. Knowing that each day we don’t blow money foolishly gets us closer to financial freedom and peace of mind is what has us living in luxury. Freedom is attained through baby steps.

We also don’t deprive ourselves as much as you might think. For Valentine’s Day, Mr. MMM aren’t planning on staring at each other over a bowl of Cheerios. Although have vowed to not give each other gifts, we are still going to celebrate-give us a small break, we did just get married 🙂 In honor of the nonsensical holiday, we earmarked some cash to hit a local, eclectic venue featuring bacon & beer and chocolate & wine for Valentine’s Weekend. Yum. Yum. Yum. No tickets or reservations required. Yes, we’re spending money (we also saw Star Wars in December), but the money we’re spending is part of our monthly plan, not money that should be devoted to debt repayment, retirement funds or other investments. We have everything else covered. We have a solid plan and resist spending on a whim. Always.

In our minds, we have a lavish, luxurious life. It’s a great feeling.

How do you handle entertainment and special occasions? Also, if you’re on FIRE, do you feel deprived or relief? 

Bailey Gato BW

MMC – Minimal Style

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  • Mortimer Feb 10, 2016, 1:15 am

    Great post! Focusing on what you are gaining instead of not having is one of the best ways to feel lavish when others would see only deprivation. And it gets easier and more fun the longer you do it!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 10, 2016, 11:54 am

      It truly is a great feeling to be on FIRE and knowing you have an awesome reward waiting at the end.

  • Generation YRA Feb 9, 2016, 12:37 am

    We definitely do not deprive ourselves either! We are working on that balance of saving for the future & enjoying the present too. Your valentines plans sound right up our alley! For special occasions, we opt out of gifts and pick an experience instead. This year, we got tickets to the Newport Seafood & Wine Festival happening the weekend after valentines. Oftentimes entertainment lands into the experience category as well, memories that’ll last an incredible amount of time. These align with our valleys, so long as we’ve paid our future selves first. 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 9, 2016, 12:44 pm

      Love it! Yeah, who says you have to go out for a high-priced dinner to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, who says you have to celebrate it at all? 🙂 Doing what feels right for us is the key to long-term success. Enjoy the seafood and wine fest!

  • The Personal Economist Feb 9, 2016, 12:23 am

    Agree with you, thanks for the reminder that we have fulfilling lives.
    I saw a bike shop with a sign out the front: this Valentine’s Day, give pedals instead of petals (and a drawing of a dead plant). Had a chuckle at that one. My husband bought me a BMX bike and I love it.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 9, 2016, 12:41 pm

      That’s awesome! I love BMX bikes! I used to be a skater 😉

  • Mrs Groovy Feb 8, 2016, 8:05 pm

    We’re like you. We don’t feel deprived in the least but we don’t need to spend a lot to be happy. The most humorous comment so far about our plan to retire early is “Well if I have to live like THAT what’s the point of retiring?” I say to myself, be my guest. Go ahead and eat your high priced restaurant dinners and work until you’re 65.

  • Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor Feb 8, 2016, 4:01 pm

    I believe the only way to pursue FIRE is to make sure you aren’t feeling deprived. You’ll burn out too quickly if you do. I agree with you–though we aren’t pursuing many of the “extra’s” common in our culture, we don’t miss them or feel that we lack for anything. Our lives are quite luxurious from a global or historical perspective, even if we are considered thrifty nerds by some.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 8, 2016, 6:27 pm

      I like being a thrifty nerd 🙂 Yeah, you’re right about feeling deprived. If we felt deprived, we would certainly inflate our lifestyle. For now, we’ll continue to deflate unless we start feeling the pinch 🙂

  • MrFireStation Feb 8, 2016, 10:59 am

    We don’t live an especially frugal lifestyle, but we absolutely live within our means. When you take a worldview, we all have much more than we NEED. Most of us have much more than we would have ever EXPECTED. In the end, we have to decide what we WANT – more stuff, or to buy ourselves TIME and independence. I think the latter is really the ultimate luxury, isn’t it?

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 8, 2016, 6:20 pm

      Time and independence is definitely more valued in our household over stuff. Even though we live frugally in comparison to our peers, we don’t feel like it at all. To us, we are living in the lap of luxury. We don’t go cheap for everything. When we buy, we buy good things. I prefer spending a little more money for quality items or events. Quality always beats quantity. 🙂

      • MrFireStation Feb 8, 2016, 7:07 pm

        Yes – buy for the long term. I’m always surprised by how long ago we bought most of the stuff we use everyday. We’ve been married 25 years and a lot of our everyday stuff were wedding gifts.

  • Ms. FireDink Feb 8, 2016, 7:35 am

    I’ve been thinking about Valentine’s Day too. Mr. FireDink and I talked about making a reservation at our favorite restaurant, but knowing how busy they’ll be made me hesitate. Mostly because I know I’ll feel bad for our server if we pull our usual tricks of splitting one appetizer and one entree and not ordering drinks. Smaller bill = smaller tip, and I feel worse about that when people are lined up out the door to get a table. So we finally settled on skipping the Valentine rush, but going out for an early-ish Monday dinner instead. The restaurant will be mostly empty and we’ll probably sit at the bar, making small-check guilt less of an issue.

    • Shannon Feb 8, 2016, 9:55 am

      I appreciate your thoughtfulness towards people that earn most of their living based on the how much food/drink other people consume. Tipping is such a weird system in my opinion and an odd spot to figure out how to be frugal without sort of hurting someone else’s ability to earn their living.

      I really think that going out on what would otherwise be a slow night for a server is probably a good sweet spot for being frugal without overly impacting servers. 🙂

      • Mad Money Monster Feb 8, 2016, 6:12 pm

        I agree! Being mindful of the server and their potential to earn their wages is huge and deserves a virtual high-five 🙂

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 8, 2016, 6:11 pm

      That’s an awesome compromise. And, I think you’re doing the right thing for the server. Kudos. I also don’t like the fact that most nice restaurants have a limited menu for the holiday, meaning you might not be able to get your favorite dish anyway. Enjoy your dinner together on Monday!

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