Overspending, Goals, and The Dream of Retirement

February 14, 2019

I hate to start with a cliche “I’m going on a no-spend diet, you guys!” but…I’m going on a no-spend diet, you guys.

We just returned from Cancun for our 9 year anniversary (more on that later) and my anxiety at looking at my American Express bill was very high.

In addition, I’ve really been thinking about my life goals and what I want to be when I grow up (note: I’m 35). I try so very hard to embrace the conveniences of corporate life: subsidized health care, 401k matches, steady pay, shutting off at 5 pm, and yet I still have the itch to hate-quit every day. Not that I even hate my job, far from it, but it’s not what I really want for a longterm strategy. I am, for better or for worse, a creative and someone who cringes at the “ass in the seat from 8 am – 5 pm no matter if you have work to do or not.” Consequently, I’m usually in trouble for being away from my desk, and yet somehow my work is done on time…but perceptions are perceptions I guess.

With the addition of this most recent trip way from all of this, I’ve now realized that I need to embrace who I am and lean into my previous goals for early retirement/self-employment again. The problem is, of course, that I have way more skin in the game this time. Being the breadwinner and homeowner means new responsibilities, having to practice better patience, and bide my time. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start a trickle effect into our ultimate goal: Retire completely in 10 years and buy a house in Mexico to spend the winters at, AirBnB-ing it while we’re away (and maybe our current house, too, though I can’t imagine there’s a serious demand for suburbian living in the dead of winter in Upstate NY).

The problem, however, is the lifestyle creep I’ve afforded myself thanks to credit card churning and the perks it offers. We’ve planned and taken very lavish vacations thanks to credit card points, and with my increased salary means a feeling of finally being able to afford ourselves little luxuries. Consequently, my spending has been adding up. Luckily, it’s not to the point where I’ve committed the ultimate sin, paying credit card interest, but has left me with very little to work with in terms of saving and investing. And it’s not even like I’m heading to Givenchy or something, the majority of my purchases come from thrift stores. But the amount of trips adds up, and $30 – $100 several weeks in a row adds up.

Now that we’re home, it’s time for me to clean house, so to speak and go on a spending diet. Ideally, I want to make it till the end of April, but if I can go until Alt.¬†(last week of March) without spending, I’ll be happy. Hell, my original goal was the end of February!

My Rules:

  • Spending on normal bills and groceries is a-okay. Let’s keep it real, my utility companies give 0 fucks about my spending habits, they just want their money.
  • Monthly expenses are okay: Namely, my kickboxing membership and my gym membership
  • Medical expenses¬†are okay: Dr appts are already scheduled
  • Absolutely necessary business expenses are okay: Gotta pay to ship stuff

Cutting Out:

  • Thrift store runs + online thrift shops
  • Amazon (I love you, Amazon)
  • Starbucks
  • Restaurants

End Goals:

  • Knock out at least $7k of debt
  • Have $1k in a separate savings account
  • Invest in 50 more shares of my high-dividend stocks

All in all that’s like $10k of work hence the “end of April” part. More as we go…stay tuned.

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