Any day now. It’s coming up.
The annual wintertime vacation to someplace WARM. And this ritual has me pondering how to not worry about spending money and just have FUN. Time to tuck the budget away and unwind…
In two weeks, the Cubert family will be getting on a plane (you know how I love air travel) and zooming off to the desert southwest. It’s time for a little vacation, thanks to a steady stream of credit card bonus miles. I’m still wondering how to not worry about spending money, even with free flights.
The “getting there” part is quite cheap. Accommodations and getting around are very reasonable too. Yep. We’re staying with the in-laws.
Don’t hate me – my in-laws are fun to hang out with. And thanks to Mrs. Cubert’s parents residing just outside Vegas, we’ll have a place to stay and a car to use, as needed. Ching!
All this anticipation to escape the Minnesota deep freeze (it’s zero degrees outside) has me feeling less frugal of late. I think it’s an annual cycle I go through. Right around raise and bonus time, vacation hits, and I’m loosening the purse strings.
While on Vacation, Put Worry Behind You!
“Wanna go play some blackjack?”
“Are you sure?!?”
“Why not? We’ll hang out at the $5 table and blow before the cigarette smoke gets too bad.”
“What. Play for five minutes?”
And so it goes. We’ll hit the tables maybe three or four times during that week-and-a-half in the sunny warmth of Nevada. That’s right. Who needs great weather and fresh air when you have cards to play? All those bells and whistles and lights from the incessant casino slot machines… Bring it!
Don’t get me wrong, we milk our time out there in the “warm sunny” with hiking, golf, or just chilling on the back patio with a book. We’ll go for walks with the kids and check out model homes at the Del Webb office.
(Some old people have all the fun.)
Anyhow, there are all sorts of activities that don’t require hats, mittens, and boots but do require sunglasses and sunscreen.
How did we end up in Minnesota again?!? I know, I know, schools in nice places suck. Schools in the deep freeze are good.
Give Yourself a Break From Worrying About MONEY
I have to remind myself of this from time to time. We optimize so much of the financial side of the equation that it’s easy to fall into a trap of “well, what do we do now?!?” And because I’m a non-stop thinker and have a tendency to get absorbed in random thoughts (ADHD perhaps?) the big picture often escapes me.
We’re doing all this financial wizardry because… Oh, right, because we want early retirement. Because then all our problems are solved and manna will fall from Heaven. Something like that. Or so the early prophets say so. I’ll check the stone tablets later…
Sometimes you just need to put that brain on pause and HAVE FUN. We’re pretty good at keeping some reasonable limits on our fun. For instance, we use those handy credit card points for all our travel needs. Mrs. Cubert and I have a two-night stay at a spa resort in the middle of our trip, paid for, you guessed it, by bonus points.
When we go on our hikes under the always sunny skies of Nevada or Utah, my mind often drifts to money and early retirement. I’ll dwell for a bit on thoughts like, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great to just say ‘toss this!’ and move out here NOW?”
And then I’ll catch myself not living in the moment and refocus on BEING HERE NOW. David Cain is a good source for folks like me, who need to get their life-perspective realigned.
The trick of all this is to remember that extreme frugality can be an easy trap to fall into. Sometimes we become so flippin’ frugal, that friends and neighbors start to whisper about us behind our backs. It starts to feel like a contest.
“Man. That Cubert sure is a cheapskate. He makes good money and still drives around in a tiny, used Honda Fit and makes his kids share a bedroom?!?”
Of course, those are the same people who don’t witness me on vacation, losing $100 at the Crazy Aces within a half-hour; courtesy of poorly executed double-downs and split 8s.
Scratch further beneath the surface, and you’ll find a family that loves to plop down $100 on the occasional (weekly?) dinner out, and even buy popcorn at the movie theater.
Heck, we even occasionally purchase new clothes for the twins. Those darn kids grow too fast!
And then there are the vacations that will be forthcoming, especially as the kids get older. We simply choose not to imprison ourselves with big-ticket luxury crap, so we can instead do what the beef we want when we want. Thank you, Mr. Maslow.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy?
If you’re like me and you have the occasional tug-of-war with spending, try not to beat yourself up too much. There are seasons for blowing money like a dope, and seasons for saving like a coupon-clipping maniac.
Finding your balance is key. Again, so long as you’re avoiding house envy, car envy, and Disney Cruise envy, you’re probably doing just fine.
There are plenty of hard-working readers out there who are scraping by, looking for answers. In my 20s and 30s, it was a lot harder to keep up with monthly bills that included student loans, car loans, and higher mortgage payments. I wasn’t as savvy back then, subscribing to a gym membership, cable TV, and landline phone service.
In certain instances, where you have debt up to your eyeballs and either circumstance or bad decisions led you to that point, you may not qualify to “not give a crap.” In these cases, you need to double down on your debt payments, instead of those split aces.
How to Not Worry About Spending Money and LIVE!
What I think I’m realizing at this stage of life, with a year-and-a-half before FIRE, is that you can safely ease up on the gas, enjoy life NOW, and not be wound up around the axle so much about money.
I’ll probably continue, as usual, to find the creases and margins in our spending and investing opportunities. But it’s oddly somewhat more of a sport to me than anything these days.
After a while, after you’ve put many years into setting up a strong financial foundation, you can afford to obsess less about money. At this point, it becomes nothing more than a means to an end, and you can redouble your focus on a life with few regrets.
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Oh, Man. I worry about sh*t all the time. I worried about saying “sh*t” right there. But you say “sh*t” on your blog, so it’s cool!
Sometimes I worry about derailing our whole FI journey with a $200 spending spree. Then I remember a lot of the savings and compounding is on autopilot now. And the only thing that can really derail it is worrying about it too much.
We’re not so close to FI as you are, but can definitely already feel the dramatic benefits of this great journey. December and January, our savings tend to take a dip, so it’s a timely reminder for me.
Soak up some sun for me!
Well, sh*t, Adam! I’m glad you found a place to let it fly! 😉 I may get more uptight about my swearing once the kids start reading this pile of garbage, if they ever get THAT bored…
You make a great point. So long as you have your autopilot set, you should feel freer to spend when the season or mood strikes you.
Agree with your point on hiking Mr. Cubert. It some of the best mental release from worry. Just plodding along through natural beauty letting your mind wander is so nice. Tom
Shouldn’t come as a surprise that I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Also, no frugal life is worth living if you have to give up the movie theater popcorn.
Hey Angela – I’m happy to hear that! You know, it wasn’t long ago that even movie popcorn was out of the question. Not anymore. Course, those danged Star Wars movies I so love are long as hell. You get hungry…
Work hard, play hard. Worrying is usually worst than the real thing. Life is all about balance. Enjoy your money, your travels and your dear family. It’s all about building memories.
Thanks, JP! I appreciate that. Nailed it with respect to memories. That’s the treasure that matters.
You have to live your life as it doesn’t begin at retirement. Always worrying about it would not be living it. I always read you only live once in justification for spending in abandon. While it doesn’t justify not saving for the future as you do need to plan, it’s so effective because it has a grain of truth.
Right on, FTF! I had a friend once who often resorted to the idea that you only live once, so why not splurge on toy X Y or Z? I guess if that’s what makes you tick? For me, it isn’t so much about splurging on things as it is being looser with spending on experiences.
Miguel (The Rich Miser) says
I agree with you; extreme frugality can, if not controlled, turn into misery. I also like gambling, drinking, etc., but controlled (like with a pre-set budget).
I think it’s awesome that you take these outdoors vacations, since I’ve found that they’re the best at taking your mind off everyday worries.
Have an amazing trip!
One could say, extreme frugality if not controlled turns to Rich Miser-y? 😉 Sorry couldn’t resist.
Couldn’t agree more with the moderation on drinking and gambling. I’m proud to say that anymore, we spend a grand total of 1.5 hours at the tables during a 10 day stretch. The rest of the time is often spent hiking, exploring, or just relaxing with a dang good book.
Mr Defined Sight says
Hey buddy, glad to hear you are going to use the jaws of life on your wallet soon! Gotta live a little once in awhile. Jealous of the warm weather you are about to get into. We are trying to figure out where to go next month, AZ or FL. Win win either way IMO. Take care dude!
LOL. Jaws of Life? Sounds terrifying when you put it THAT way!
Yes, you’ll enjoy either destination. Keep me posted where you wind up.
Hey, it is all about balance. Here are some thoughts looking back on seven decades on the planet:
–Be sure to smell the roses along the way.
— Enjoy your children — they grow up way too fast (so do grandchildren.)
— And who wants to be the richest resident in the graveyard?
We did winter vacations when our kids were growing up in MN. Now we reside in AZ (where there is no snow) but spend summers in MN (where there are grandchildren.) And still only semi-retired, because keeping busy is still fun.
Have a great time on your vacation! Will be in the 80s today in Phoenix.
Uncle Daryl! Great to hear from you, as always!
Wonderful tips there – all three are amazingly profound and speak to the life of no regrets I so often preach about here.
One day soon we’ll have to arrange a meetup in Phoenix. Best, good sir!
It’s the best time to go to the desert southwest since you won’t feel like your being baked from the inside. Let’s face it, they may think you’re crazy to endure -15 in Minnesota, but they have to endure 118 in July!
You’re right about that, AF! We’ve visited in the summer and it gets pretty godawful. I will say this though, those swimming pools are really nice on those days. And you can justify longer squats at the casino when it’s like an oven outside.
Ms FIREdup says
I needed this reminder today. Thanks!
I’m here for you, Ms. FIREdup! Love the name, btw. 🙂
Great point! I think we all could enjoy the ride a little more, regardless of where we are in our money journeys. We’re still digging ourselves out of debt, but I’m still prioritizing living well on my own terms.
Thanks, Mrs. Pincher! *oh snap!*
Keep on digging – you’ve got plenty of runway and you’ll be debt free in what’ll seem the blink of an eye. Especially with your amazing frugal lifestyle!
Dang Millennial says
Don’t think there is anything wrong with the splurges you describe. My life is way better when I don’t over stress every dollar. I set ambitious savings goals and do my best to achieve them. I refuse to stress every day about each nickle that comes into and out of my life though. That would not make for a fulfilling journey for me!
Enjoy the tables and take down the casino.
An un-frugal example of what I just did was put $200 on the super bowl! Have to have fun along the way…luckily the Eagles pulled it off.
Congrats on those dirty birds, DM! Haha – I never would have pegged you for one to put money on a sports bet. Of course, many of my readers wouldn’t have guessed I enjoy a little blackjack here and there… 🙂
I tend to worry about s**t too much sometimes but I am working on it:) I was even thinking of booking a last minute trip and forget about frugality for a week!…or not! Maybe I will just go hike in the woods behind my house instead:))
A hike in the woods is always a safe bet! Especially if the weather is pleasant enough. Today was another in a string of single digits with wind. BRRRR!!!
I wish more people in DC area read this!!! hahaha
By the way my code just now was pns2w…. hahah
Hope all is well!
Ha! That is a GREAT code, Josh! LOL…