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LBYM = Nothing to show

June 29th, 2014 at 06:50 pm

Yes living below your means often means you have nothing material to show for it. Often times it means passing on a fancy car, cool vacation, eating out, fancy groceries, branded clothes, or even furniture. It is hard and in some ways I think it gets harder as you get older.

When I was in my 20s with DH none of our friends had money or things. They weren't buying houses, they weren't driving luxury cars yet, they were getting of school, getting careers started, paying back loans, etc. Most people were young and broke and starting out. But then the 30s/40s hit and people began starting families and making a real salary instead of entry level earnings.

I recently turned 35 and started blogging again and began reading posts about getting out of debt and turning over a new leaf and LBYM. There are many posts about the monotony and struggle of savings.

I'm about to admit it's HARD. Right now and probably for the past 4 years we've been on cruise control. We've been cruising along saving at the same rate and pace actually putting more aside in our taxable savings, but accruing some debt (car loans I want gone this year). But this year a couple of things happened. I realized that we are potentially early retirees or financially independent couple. But at the same time I realized we also haven't upsized our lifestyle at all in a LONG time.

We bought our townhouse with plans for having kids and we had them. We have the same furniture pretty much we bought in our 1 bd condo, $100 dinner table, $20 coffee table, $50 desk from IKEA, $40 dressers from IKEA. We haven't bought any really adult furniture, except our foam mattress from costco 5 years ago. We did upgrade our cars to 4 family sedans instead of compact cars we had, but base model and used for the other. So in little ways our life has improved but nothing noticeably drastic.

So I'm going to buck the "mustachian" trend and ADMIT that I do find it hard. I find it hard to stay the course and LBYM. I find it hard to not compare and wonder what it would be like to buy a couch that cost 4 figures or a dinner table that seats more than 4 people. Or lusting after a mininvan but hesitating because even used it's a lot.

So no it doesn't get easier after getting out of debt. According to Mr Money Mustache saving 15% of your income only gets you to retirement in 43 years, saving 50% = 17 years. I can agree because I recently calculated our savings rate at around 50% of "net" = 17 years and that's about dead on for when I project we'll hit "Financial Independence" at age 45, perhaps sooner.

It's hard to save monthly without seeing any returns. To look online at other people's posted budgets even and realize that people "take home" more than we do but also feel like they have nothing to show for it. I feel like we live a very frugal middle class lifestyle because our money is siphoned away into savings before I even see it. Yet I also know mentally truly "middle" class aren't able to save anything.

So no it doesn't get easier. To quote Dave Ramsey "you should be debt free in 7 years is Bull SHIT!" Saving 15% puts you on the path to retire in 40 years. You still have other expenses to save for. You are living like no one else because you are living with a safety net. But to be truly financially free takes a lot more time and sacrifice.

What keeps me moving forward even when it sucks? That I'd rather be where I am today in less debt than I was yesterday. Everyday and choice moves me closer to the goal and though it feels like I'm treading water, I'm still ahead than digging myself into more debt.

So have a little faith fellow LBYM. It's not easy and we often lack material goods or experiences. But would you rather be here or where you were 3 months ago?

10 Responses to “LBYM = Nothing to show”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    You know, if you really want to upgrade your furniture, its OK to do it. Smile Decide how much per month you want to set aside for this goal, and while you are saving, choose a piece of furniture to replace, or even a new piece you don't already own.

    You have to balance your future with your present. From your recent posts, I am left with the impression you are feeling a bit deprived. If that is true, loosen the purse strings a bit. Life is short. Smile

  2. rob62521 Says:

    Nothing good is ever easy, and living below your means is difficult. But far better to have money saved and good retirement so you don't have to worry when things crops up. Things are just that, things. A new car doesn't stay new long. Things go wrong with big fancy houses just like they do our moderately priced ones. I'd rather have security.

  3. Another Reader Says:

    I think you have missed the point over at MMM. It's not about living an ascetic, deprived life. It's about consciously allocating your resources, including money, and spending it on the things that are truly important to you. Nicer furniture important to you? Fine, just find a less expensive way than running down to the furniture store and buying it. Want a minivan because it would make your life easier? Do the math and the research, and find an acceptable compromise of utility and cost.

    From reading your posts, it looks like you and your husband do not agree on what you want. He would like to stay where you are and buy a house, even if you can't really afford it on one salary. You have concluded that you want a house, but in some lower cost, slower paced area. You are generally uneasy and dissatisfied with what you have. He comes across as ok with the way things are.

    If your means increased, maybe living below them wouldn't feel like so much of a sacrifice. If you went back to work full-time in your field, how much could you increase your income? Could you get to FI a lot faster? Could you instead buy the house there and be happy with the decision? Going back to work in your field might be a better solution than constantly revisiting the subject of "What Should We Do" with your husband. When you do that, no one is happy.

  4. snafu Says:

    I'm puzzled over whether you're dissatisfied with choices you've made or just bothered by choices that other people you've observed have made. There is no gold star for saving 50% of net if you're miserable and feel deprived. Do you think you're suffering from 'keep up with the Jones' fever? Do you secretly want to know how it feels to pile on the debt or juggle the payments? A lot of people buy items on impulse trying to fill a deep hole in their self esteem.

    We've conscientiously lived below our means for more than 25 years and enjoy the challenges of stretching dollars to live comfortably and had what we believed was truly important. Is the table adequate for the four of you? If you had a bigger table would you invite more people for dinner more often? What are 'fancy groceries'? Do you genuinely think you will gain status with friends or neighbour by wearing a shirt imprinted with a brand name logo? I see the Lincoln Navigator SUV in the traffic line up and wonder what fool bought such a beast that is so expensive to operate. I'd need a ladder to get into the driver's seat. What features of a SUV do you need? How would it make your life easier, more pleasant?

    Has DH managed to convince you that he doesn't want to move across country? It seems he gets a lot of self esteem from the position he holds, the work he does and the salary he earns. I hope you let him know you're proud of him and his accomplishments. I'm happy to cheer on your effort to manage your expenses to get better 'bang bang for the buck.' Saving/investing 50% net is pretty amazing.

  5. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Petunia I do feel deprived but I made a deal with DH when we moved in we'd suffer with our stuff until we bought our next house. We knew this wasn't our forever home and planned on buying stuff that fit and matched in our next house. 9 years later, and a lot longer than we planned on being here, it's harder to buy furniture when we've made a decision to move in no more than 2 years. So it's not financial it's more practical. I've actually set aside some money for furniture and have a list of needs/wants we've talked and agreed to. A post for another day.

    Rob it isn't easy. It's a lifestyle not an overnight solution and after you pay off debt it's in some ways harder when you don't see debt going down but savings going up slowly or the same.

    AnotherReader nope we do agree. We took a long time to get there. I actually am looking at going back to work but I won't stay where we are period. There is no compromise. I've compromised enough and that's it. There isn't any revisiting.

    Snafu, I think I'm suffering not from KUWJ, rather I'm dying for my life to get moving. I feel in stasis. That we are "killing time." It doesn't bother me to live the way we live, but I am worried about where we'll move to, what the schools are like, what the homes are like, how will we manage. Our backup plan isn't the greatest and not exactly the best financially but it will work. It's going to suck being a post-doc but I'll do it. My DH will hate not working, but he'll also do it. No he has not convinced me to not move. We shouldn't have gotten married if this was his plan. He should have been up front before marriage because I certainly WAS. I was up front and honest and BLUNT. I said I would do it for school and have a kid. BUT I was NEVER going to live here long term. I said before we moved I wasn't going and it was over unless he agreed to move back to the west coast. I did not hold punches nor did I want to continue in a relationship without honesty. I was perfectly fine ending our relationship in 2005. I am still perfectly fine.

    The issue isn't buying a new table per se. I have the money set aside, but rather I agreed no new furniture or things until we bought our final home. We planned to be out of where we are by now. We thought we'd have a more settled life and a more "adult" feeling house with furnishings.

    Cars? Well Toyota Highlander is still pricy, Honda Odessey, Toyota Sienna are all pricier but I wouldn't call those people fools. Fancy groceries = 100% organic. We try to shop dirty dozen, but it would be nice to afford perhaps more organic/local groceries. Not worrying about grocery budgets and buying what I would want is a big thing. But I know that's not logical or realistic. I've debated buying my kids higher quality clothes even used (hannah anderson, gap, nartjie), but it's still more than hand me downs or cheap target/carter clothes so I skip it. Furniture I have no idea what it will cost but I have been setting aside money for stuff.

  6. Another Reader Says:

    To me, you are thinking only about yourself and your life. That was fine nine years ago, but things have changed. You have kids to think of and a husband that is happy where he is. There was no nefarious plot for things to happen this way, it's just the way things evolved.

    I'm not sure what you will accomplish by doing a post-doc other than being able to say you did it. You won't get on a tenure track at this point and I'm not sure how it would improve your employability. You are asking your husband to give up all he has accomplished for himself, you, and your children to indulge your dream. I do not think he is going to be happy living the life you want at this point. Nine years ago maybe, but not now. Is disrupting his career and making him unhappy the way to make you happy? I seriously doubt it.

    You could have looked at the opportunities in the DC area to do the post doc or lived the bicoastal married life before the kids, but you chose not to. You sat on your hands and waited so you could have exactly what you wanted. But now you have kids and their needs should be considered as well.

    Are you even sure you could get a post doc position after having been away from your field for nine years? It would not be surprising if you are passed over for younger people that will accomplish so much more in the nine year portion of their lives that you spent in DC. Yes, that's harsh, but age and the freshness of the doctorate are considerations, especially if the new PhD's doctoral research was in the area that the post doc position is in.

    In your shoes, I would look at ALL of the costs of doing the post doc at this point. It also might help to look at what's out there and your chances of getting an offer. Since you are only talking two years, starting to network now would be a good idea anyway. If you discover that the doors are not as wide open as you thought, it would be helpful to know before you pull up stakes and move.

  7. ND CHIC Says:

    I would rather spend some money on things that I want than to have it suck because I was saving all my money. If you think it sucks, you need to loosen the purse strings. Obviously this is not the popular thought on a saving blog but I think its true.

  8. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Another reader, first off I don't expect ever to get on the tenure track. Second yes I can land a post-doc without a problem. I do have children and a husband and I am not selfish. Actually I made a lot of sacrifices along the way. I haven't been away for 9 years it's been 3 'officially'. Doors are always open trust me. I've been in the field years before graduate school as well. We both have. My DH landed his job without his post-doc.

    The post-doc would give us a salary and benefits to move without a job for DH. It is not a long term or permanent solution. I know that. I didn't want to do one before and I don't now. But it's a handle on moving.

    Moving is not selfish. Selfish will be us divorcing due to unhappiness. I was a case study on MMM and more than one person said "unhappiness = not married." So we're fixing a wrong started 9 years ago when we moved. We moved and my DH admitted he thought he'd snap his fingers and we've move back the way we moved out. It hasn't happened.

    And we haven't been sitting on our asses. We've been networking. I helped him land 3 different interviews on the west coast, through my friends and connections.

    The difference? Now he's willing to consider business positions when before he wasn't. Who knows what the future holds, but being unhappy now will not stop by trying to live where I live. So I change the situation. I am not against saving and planning. I am not going to lay down and be unhappy however.

    NDChic, I don't mind spending money, but right now the goal is moving.

  9. Petunia 100 Says:

    LAL, can you provide a link to your MMM case study? Or maybe just the approximate date? Thanks. Smile

  10. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    Petunia for you anything.

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/02/23/reader-case-study-going-west-for-early-retirement/

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