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Big spending in early retirement


Last week, I read Michelle at Fire and Wide's post about the transition from life as a saver to life as a spender that comes with retirement. Spending might sound easy, but the saving habit built up in the years to financial independence can be difficult to break.


I asked Sally about my transition to spender - what's my relationship with money now, am I happy to be a spender or am I in a "protect our money" mode, conscious that our finances might have to last another fifty years? The verdict is that I confuse her by doing some of both, and not always in a consistent way. But overall, she sees some new interests which I happily spend on, while simultaneously being value conscious on smaller day to day items.


Our big spend items

Looking back through our costs showed that we've actually spent big less than I expected. But on some of those things it's been a lot. Travel has been a significantly bigger spend than I imagined pre early-retirement, and having a second home is a spend that wasn't envisaged at all.


This is okay because our financial situation can support it. But our resources aren't never ending.


My concern now isn't that transitioning from saver to spender is a challenge, it's that big spending could become a habit that's hard to break.

On that topic, we recently decided to say: let's ignore that it might not make sense, let's get a campervan. We've been looking, and found that the ones we like cost much more than we thought. Our reaction has been, oh, that's not want we wanted to hear, but we have money so what's the problem. If it costs more to get the extra bells and whistles, let's do it.


We'll have to see how the planned camper purchase turns out, but once that's done, maybe it's time to take a breath and apply the brakes for a while - spending big is perhaps becoming a little too easy. Financially we're fine, but with potentially fifty more years of retirement life ahead of us, maybe we need to moderate the really big spends for a while. We'll see how easy or difficult that proves to be, but an upside for Sally is that it may curtail some of my bright, but more expensive, ideas for a while, the ones that make Sally roll her eyes...well, I already have some ideas, but I'll keep them on the back burner for now!

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jefferson michelle
jefferson michelle
Mar 25, 2021

I worried a lot about my mom when she retired and spent a great deal of money right away. But she eventually settled down and adopted a frugal lifestyle (thankfully). I know that a lot of people do a lot of traveling during retirement, which obviously is very expensive. I'm hoping to get most of that out of my system before I have to adopt to a smaller budget.

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Travel has been a big cost for us, something that was planned although it's still a bit of a shock to actually see how much we've spent. The second home wasn't in the plan though, and the cost of the campers we're looking at are through the roof. Hopefully we'll be like your Mom and calm down a bit after the camper is bought. I'm good at tracking our costs, but it's these big ones that have caught me by surprise, especially how easy it's been to get into the habit of saying "it's OK, we can spend because we're OK financially". I think that's true, but that would change if we keep spending on these big items as regularly…

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Some frugal habits are hard to break, and its not desirable (for us anyway) to change them, because we wouldn't get value out of it. New adventures though, that's worth splurging on. I hope you'll post about shopping for camper vans!

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Yes, "value" is the magic word, not whether something costs a lot or a little. Shopping for campers has been mostly a non event, used ones seem to be almost as much as new ones and the new ones seem to be crazily expensive. Many also seem quite bland with a lot of plastic which doesn't look as good as I hoped. But I think we're close to making a decision!

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We follow your blog and have done some similar things on the travel side. After about 3 years of discussion we have also decided to buy a camper. Part of our logic is that we probably won’t be able to do long haul exotic travel for a year or two so we’re going to save that money and might as well spend it on something we will use and enjoy. Also during the lockdown we didn’t spend as much as usual. Our route is to buy a low mileage second hand VW transporter and get it professionally converted to our specification. Its also turning out more expensive than we thought but as you have pointed out YOLO - don’t ha…

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Hi Mark, that's my view too, not to look back and say "I wish...". Unfortunately we don't seem to be blessed with many conversion businesses near us so our choices are mostly second hand already converted or brand new. We've looked at both and have just about made up our mind. I see the van as a vehicle (pun/double meaning intended) to get us out to explore Europe. We'll have to look out for each other on the road...I'll shout the first coffee!

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It's funny that you mention houses and vans, because we actually have some houses in our rental portfolio that cost less than the price that campervans are at the moment. That takes an effort to bend your mind around! It's also weird that the small vans (it has to fit in our underground parking space) are the same price or more expensive that vans two or three times the size, how does that work?


I think we're closing in on a van decision, so hopefully some fun trips coming up. I just hope we like it - our "try it" trip to Germany in 2019 went well, but that was in a bigger van. Maybe we should have settled for…

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michelle
michelle
Mar 20, 2021

Ha - I settled down to read your new post & the first thing I saw was my name! Funny. Glad you enjoyed it. I recognise the van tale. It's a familiar story right, all those little additions seem so reasonable and then suddenly you're in a whole new ball park money-wise! Happened a lot when we were building our house. You get a good sense for what's worth paying for & what really is just a gimmick you won't actually find useful.

I suspect you'll find the big spending naturally drops off. There's a limit to how many things are of interest eventually and you guys don't sound like the kind to spend just because. So I just look…

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