A fun night in!

A FIREstarter style enjoyable and inexpensive night in (jooooke!)

As it so often happens in the blogging world (this could simply be due to the huge number of blogs out there and probability, or perhaps due to posters influencing other posters) there has been a trend this past week of a certain topic appearing on the blogs I have been reading. This week the trend seems to be on how to enjoy your journey to financial independence without feeling deprived or making sacrifices – a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with.
Life should and can be fun while you are saving up your nest egg, and even more so once you are free to spend your time exactly as you wish, post-employment.
I’ll add some additional thoughts post-haste, but first of all let’s dish out the link love:

FI Fighter writes a guest post at Retire by 40 on Saving for a Better Future Doesn’t Mean Having to Sacrifice Today – Here we have some great tips on Travel hacking (getting free flights and hotels), making smart choices when eating out, and finding cheap yet rewarding hobbies.

Martin from Studenomics also writes a guest post (another trend?!) at Root of Good on The fun part of trying to hit financial freedom – The main themes here are finding friends who have similar views and goals, concentrating your efforts in particular areas, always keeping your main goal in mind, and making health a priority as both a motivator and a cheap hobby.
As usual there are some very good points made in both the main articles and in the comments, one of which was bandied around quite a bit was about finding (new?) friends with similar goals to your own.

Finding friends with similar goals

Whilst this is great advice, I have some great reservations about actually being able to find anyone within my area who is actually trying to acheive financial independence in the same way we are, and if there are then would we actually like them? I’ll use Mr Money Mustache’s seethestats.com statistics to do some rough estimation of the numbers. With around 30,000 UK readers of that site, let’s say that there are at least double and then some of 100,000 UK peoples that are interested in reaching Financial Independence mainly through the use of frugality, investing, and generally bossing all areas of your life through continuous self-improvement and learning. That works out at 0.15% of the population. So in my town of around 100,000 we are looking at a 150 people.

Woaaaah hang on a minute!

That’s actually pretty cool.

There are possibly 150 other FIREstarters running around my town, but the problem is I have no idea who they might be!

There are a few ways I can think of to find these people:

  1. Set up a Facebook group
  2. Post something on the MMM or similar forum to see if there is anyone out there
  3. Local ad in the paper or online classifieds

Now, I can’t do 1: If I started joining or creating Facebook groups about early retirement my work friends will surely have questions. theFIREstarter is purely an incognito project. I really doubt the efficacy of making a post on forums but I guess it’s worth a go, and I am almost certain classifieds would yield even less of a chance of response.

I guess the best I can hope for is that this website shoots into the upper echelons of blog rockstar-dom and I can just arrange my own meet-ups through here, in a similar fashion to which the great moustachioed one himself does?

Keeping friends with dissimilar goals

The obvious alternative is just to keep your existing friends.

This seems like just as good an option to me… I like my friends, this is probably the main reason why we are friends in the first place in fact.

I wrote a fairly lengthy comment at Root of Good post which pretty much sums up my thoughts about this, so here it is in a slightly edited form:

As many have pointed out it makes perfect sense to choose the cheaper of two options if they will both produce the same amount of enjoyment.

I have very close friends that have almost completely the opposite mind-set, i.e. they will deliberately pick the more expensive option due to it’s perceived greater value. It’s the definition of crazy to me. Sometimes the only perceived extra enjoyment I can tell they are getting out it is bragging to us about how much it cost.

It does make things awkward sometimes when we try to arrange things but we have taken the initiative to organise cheaper activities first and straight out spurning anything that is silly expensive that they organise. I think they perceive we are poor because of this but this is fine with me, I can almost assure you our net worth is greater (not that I’m getting into a d**k measuring competition!).

I agree that you have to pick your battles; even though I personally completely disagree with the majority of their lifestyle choices, and drop the odd comment (usually in a “gentle ribbing” jovial sense, they do the same to us about ours of course!) I respect their choices, I would not seriously challenge them on anything (it would be pointless anyway) and I genuinely think we’ll remain good friends for a long time because of this mutual respect.

So to summarize, my simple advice to keep your existing friends who may be a bit looser in the wallet department is:

  • Be the initiators of social gatherings – Once a precedent of low cost socializing is set, you will often find that your example is followed!
  • Politely avoid high cost events – It helps if you are generally busy people as we are, as you usually already have something potentially booked in. If not, you can always just use the old “we can’t afford it” line, which can annoy some people but there is no real come back (unless you are going out and buying a brand new Beemer the following week, which I am assuming you are not)
  • Attend the odd medium cost event every so often – If you spurn every single event someone organises, they will quickly realise that your friendship is a bit of a one way street. People don’t like this (with good reason). Make a real effort that you attend every one of their low cost events (dinner round theirs) and also roll out the barrel and go to a “medium cost” event every so often. This should keep most reasonable people happy.
  • Don’t ever question their way of life in a serious manner. In my experience this will only lead to an argument, which really is unnecessary and unproductive! If you want to “help them out” the best thing to do is to set the example, and occasionally drop a few hints ‘n’ tips – if the situation arises of course.

One final note: there is obviously a limit to this. I have plenty of friends who are still going out 3 times a week getting smashed up and these friendships have faded over time as my goal to FI has become a stronger desire. No bad terms or anything like that and I still see them every so often for the odd blow out, but to continue to see someone who is only ever seen down the pub regularly becomes untenable (for me at least) if I am trying not to p*ss all of my money up against the wall 🙂

Have I missed any obvious tips out?

How do you go about keeping your spendy friends?

Or have you just cut them out of your life and found new friends with similar goals?



Further related reading:

Enjoying the process @ Simple Economist

Protecting your Money Mustache from Spendy Friends @ Mr Money Mustache