Is there a FIRE version of keeping up with the Joneses where we push ourselves to show how we have the best savings rate, the lowest costs or retired the youngest? If there is such a thing, I think I suffer from it. At least with regard to the low cost part.
Each month, I add up my costs and wonder why I'm not doing better. Why aren't they lower, like they seem to be for pretty much every other FIRE blogger who posts their costs? Part of me feels guilty for spending what I do.
That's silly. For a start, we can afford what we spend - our income covers our costs and, so far, we haven't needed to touch the capital. Next, I don't think we're wasteful - yes, we do things that we want to do and, yes, sometimes we treat ourselves, but I'm certain we don't have a lavish lifestyle. And lastly, sometimes our costs are high for good reasons - in November, over a third of our spend was on gifts and charity, if we're going to spend a bit extra, they're not bad things to spend it on.
There are also months, like this one, where I buy three pairs of running shoes which, I accept, might be considered a bit extravagant, but that's coupled with the costs of my French lessons (more painful, and definitely not extravagant) and Sally's passport renewal, certainly not extravagant.
Maybe one of my targets for next year should be to try to stop comparing my costs to others. No, that's wrong, I think the comparison can be good, what I need to do is not think it's some sort of reverse keeping up with the Joneses competition. Lower costs can be good, but there's nothing wrong with spending a little extra on the things that matter to us.
Early retirement targets update
Four weeks left until the end of the year, is that enough time to see progress against my targets? Might some of the items that are currently green fade to orange, or do I have time to improve on some of the items that I haven't yet managed to complete.
The simple answer is no. I don't see much movement, positive or negative before the end of the year. I still like the idea of setting targets, it helps me get things done, stops me being lazy, and I believe it can help me be a little more adventurous than I would otherwise be. It just happens that, this year, I've got as far as I'm going to get in eleven rather than twelve months.
That doesn't mean the targets are redundant though. While visiting our son in Norwich this month, I made sure to go into the city and explore some of the historic areas, the museum and the cathedral - doing so let me tick off the last of my visit four places target, and stopped me spending the day binge watching YouTube while waiting for my son to finish work.
In December, my target tracker will also ensure I stick with my running as the weather deteriorates, and that I keep up with my French lessons, even though I always feel foolish and embarrassed - fortunately I have a very understanding tutor. I'll have to ask her what the French equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses is🤔