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Enjoying early retirement with Chubby FIRE

Once upon a time, back in 2019, I wondered, was I Mr Fat FIRE? because it seemed we spent more than most of the other FIRE bloggers who post their costs.


After a teeny bit of soul searching, I concluded I was neither Fat nor Thin FIRE, but somewhere in the middle. I was Mr Chubby FIRE. Not that the name mattered, the important thing was that:


  • I could afford it. Although I still had to take care in the spending choices I made. I quite like the quote “You can have anything you want... But not everything you want.”

and

  • I was thoughtful in my spending. I might spend more than some others, but I tend not to waste money. When I buy something, I know I’ll get good use/value from it.

Move the calendar forward almost four years, and not much has changed, I still seem to spend more than many, so I guess I'm still Chubby in my FIRE. And I'm still OK with that.


We spend more than most on groceries, although frustratingly I don't understand how or why and, depending on the year, we can spend some significant sums on travel. As we're talking spending, I probably ought to mention the campervan purchase too - that was a biggie!


But where I think my Chubby FIRE comes into its own is day to day living, for the little extra bits and pieces that can be afforded.

When I choose, Chubby FIRE lets me spend a little more than I need to, without worry or regret

Some examples of what this means to my early retirement life include:


  1. Coffee machine - I treated myself to an espresso machine. I don't know much about coffee, and I'm fairly certain that a barista would rip my coffee making to shreds, but I enjoy making my cappuccinos and lattes and attempting some latte art. I paid £556/€617/$728 for an entry/mid-level machine. It's a slightly Chubby extravagance, but I've already had 2 years of enjoyment from it, and it ought to be good for a number of years yet.

  2. Toothpaste and deodorant - an odd thing to make my Chubby list but, annoyingly, things get pricey when you try to be good and avoid plastic. My deodorant comes in a cardboard tube and costs up to 5 times the supermarket own brand, perhaps 3 times a typical branded deodorant. My toothpaste is a tablet that I crunch, comes packaged in paper and stored in a glass bottle - it's more expensive than "normal" toothpaste, I'm guessing around double the cost. However, it feels good to try to do the right thing, and my Chubby FIRE budget lets me do it without worrying too much about the cost.

  3. Running shoes...and poles - I seem to have a running shoe fetish, having bought 8 pairs in 2021 at a cost of £992/€1,132/$1,349. On the flip side, so far in 2022 I've only bought 1 pair. In my defence, I do run more than most and I will use them all over time. As to trail running poles, I've just bought some fancy new carbon fibre poles for £133//€159/$179. The carbon makes them lightweight, important for a top athlete, but not so much for me. Aluminium would have been fine for me and probably half the cost. So why did I spend the extra money on carbon fibre poles and, as we're talking carbon, why have I got a pair of carbon fibre plated running shoes? Because I wanted them, they make feel good, and Chubby FIRE lets me treat myself to them.

  4. Granola - I could buy granola from the supermarket much cheaper than the granola that I make myself with oats, seeds, lots of nuts, dates, raisons, maple syrup, coconut oil and cinnamon. But I bet my version is healthier and it's super tasty too, so spending a bit of my Chubby FIRE to make my own granola ought help me not be chubby in real life!


I have no doubt that if I was on a slimmer FIRE budget, I would still be enjoying a fantastic early retirement. But I can't deny that having a bit of Chubby in my FIRE is a nice thing to have.

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You may have covered this in a previous post, but can you imagine in the future using geoarbitrage to lower your costs even more and increase your income to Full Fat Fire (is that even a term 😂)?

This would be renting everything out and living for a year or more in low cost jurisdictions like certain countries in south east Asia or south America? I know you're visiting the Philippines shortly and you visited south east Asia for 4 months, but I wondered if you and Sally could live in one of these places for an extended period of time, or slow travel in the region for a year or more? Cheers

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Hi Ian, it's not something in my thoughts at present, for a fee reasons. One is because I'm not sure I really need Full Fat FIRE (if it wasn't a thing/term, it is now!..if we were older, maybe we'd think of Gold Top FIRE from the milkman next!🤣) - after all, life isn't too shabby as it is. Another reason is that I think Sally wants to keep a home that's just hers i.e. not rented out. Perhaps a third reason is that it would take us further from our children, if if they are grown up. It's not a deal breaker, but we like being at least on the same continent as them for now, which we haven't always…

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We're starting to loosen up a bit as we get older. Mrs. RB40 feels fine about spending more money on the things she wants. I'm also going to spend a bit more on nicer stuff. It's nice to have some buffer.

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It is quite a balancing act, and not easy to get comfortable with. I do spend a bit extra at times on things that I value, but the money having to potentially last another 40 or 50 years is not something I take lightly.

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Posting a comment from Lynda - I got an email notification of the comment, but it hasn't appeared on the post for some reason. Here's what Lynda wrote:


Having the proper tools to do something you enjoy just makes it that much more enjoyable and more likely you’ll continue doing it, so enjoy your shoe fetish and enjoy the benefits of staying in shape. And IMHO, good quality food is always worth it. I like to support local farmers and I appreciate knowing who I am supporting and the knowledge that the food they grow is excellent quality.

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I must admit that I do feel a little smug sometimes in that I make an effort to stay in shape and also that I eat fairly well - it's a good feeling and a very worthwhile investment in my view.

Good job for supporting your local farmers, not only do you know that you are receiving excellent quality produce, but your are also avoiding the environmental cost of shipping that applies to much of what we buy. I don't score very highly on this point I suspect, partly because I follow a vegan diet which means that I don't eat what most of our local farms produce, but there is probably still a lot of improvement that I could…

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I agree entirely, I think you get far more pleasure appreciating a few luxuries that you really would like, rather than just acquiring everything that takes your fancy and then possibly regretting it later when you realise you are short of funds, delayed gratification is I think the term, something our late Queen would have practiced, I am sure. The environmentally friendly toothpaste is an interesting option, not something I had considered before.

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I'm certain that the Queen would have been an excellent role model on a number of matters, and I'm sure will continue to be so as part of her legacy.

I agree with your view about appreciating things too. Even ignoring the financial aspect, if we have everything then what do we have for our treats?

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I like the comment about having anything you want but not everything. It applies equally well to the journey towards FIRE as it does to FIRE life. I'm 9 months post retirement now and getting used to the adjustments!

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It's a comment that I've heard a few times recently, and it has resonated with me too. I 100% agree that it applies equally in pre-retirement life too. I hope you're enjoying the adjustments 9 months in to your own retirement - in reality, not every single aspect will be a walk in the park, but I quite enjoy the challenge of trying to solve the little things that I find more challenging in my early retirement - the good news is that there aren't many of them!

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