A Not so Frugal Opportunity

When you look through FI and PF blogs, various reasons cited by people on why they pursue financial independence or want to retire early include:
  • Want to spend quality time with the family, in particular children
  • Want to be able to do things they’ve never done before or never had a chance to do before
  • Want to learn new skills
  • Want to visit places they’ve never been to before
Often, people express how it’s perhaps more important to enrich their life with ‘experiences’ rather than ‘things’ – collect great memories, not stuff.
Anyway, the fact is, I have been given the opportunity NOW (not right this minute but within the next 5 months) to achieve all the above points, but it will hit my savings rate, such that I will absolutely not hit my 50% savings rate goal and will not achieve my Future Fund target of Β£50k, although the markets have pretty much knocked that goal out of the window anyway!
So What’s Happening?
My sisters have invited me to join them on a family holiday.

When the subject was first brought up, I think I pulled a face, as I immediately thought of the costs and what it would do to my savings rate and my FI plan.

But when I thought about it again, I realised that not only was it an opportunity that I may not get again but that I could actually afford it, without dipping into my Future Fund and without going into debt.

The only ‘loser’ would be my savings rate, as I would not be saving (as much) money, since a chunk of it will be going towards the holiday.

Choices

As I have been pretty much living on just over 50% of my salary this past year, I’m in a position where I can choose what I want to do with the other half of my salary.

I have been choosing to save/invest it for this past year, as evidenced on this blog.

Now, I choose to spend some (not all) of it.

So I said “Yes!”

What’s the Holiday?

Next year, when I go on my usual trip to Hong Kong to visit the family, I will be there a week, where I will spend some time with my parents and my grandmother and catch up with friends out there.

I will then head out to Japan on a family skiing holiday with my sisters! Or rather snowboarding in my case!

Let me refer back to the above list:

  • Want to spend quality time with the family, in particular children
As well as spending time with my sisters, I will be spending some quality time with my niece and nephews. They’re aged between 6 and 8 and there will come a time when they will be far more interested in hanging out with their friends, rather than with their daft Aunt Weenie from the UK! This will be a great opportunity for me to create some great memories with them while I can.
  • Want to be able to do things they’ve never done before or never had a chance to do before
I’ve never been on an actual ski slope before, only ever had a few tries at snowboarding on the indoor snow slope at the Chill Factore a couple of years ago. If I were to wait til I retire, even if I were to retire early (in 10 years), I may feel that I’m too old to try this out for the first time! 
  • Want to learn new skills
I will learn how to snowboard properly! Oh and learn some Japanese words!
  • Want to visit places they’ve never been to before
I have never been to Japan!

Two boxes will be ticked off my ‘bucket list’!

When I embarked on my plan to achieve FI/RE, I realised very quickly that I couldn’t do it in the same way as Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme. That way was far too extreme, too frugal – I still want to live and enjoy my life, still be seen as vaguely ‘normal’ by my colleagues and friends.  I know this shouldn’t matter but it makes my life easier. I have enough personality quirks as it is, without displaying more!

With a decent plan and by cutting down on unnecessary expenses, I have made a relatively good start with my savings and investments, with very little impact on how I live and enjoy my life.
I was always going to continue travelling abroad for my holidays, especially as pretty much my entire family live on the other side of the world. My holidays are not extravagant – when I go to Hong Kong, I’m not staying in fancy-shmancy hotels, I’m staying with family so have no accommodation costs, (it’s a good job I can sleep anywhere as sometimes I’m on a sofa, occasionally on a camp-bed, depending on who I stay with!). When I go on short trips to Europe to get my sunshine fix, it’s to somewhere cheap and cheerful like Greece, spending as little money as possible – yes, even travelling with my own beach mat so I don’t have to pay 5 Euros for a sun-lounger!

This holiday within a holiday however will be my most expensive ever (I of course will be travelling economy class as always!).

Savings Rate
So, I will be unable to achieve my 50% average savings rate by the end of the year. Having just paid off my car loan, my savings rate was actually about to consistently start hitting above the 50% mark …until I decided to go on this holiday!

Based on what I’ve been told about the cost of the holiday, I reckon I will still be able to maintain a savings rate of around 30%, although this could be a challenge as it gets closer to Christmas…we’ll see.

30% is a still good rate compared to some, just not so good compared to what I’ve been able to achieve and rather rubbish against the goal I’ve set myself.

This should only be for the next four or five months, after which ‘normal’ savings rates should be resumed.
I know this holiday flies in the face of being frugal and striving for FI but I just feel that it’s an opportunity that I can’t let pass, not while I’m fit and healthy enough to go on such an activity holiday.

All the more reason for me to save/invest that much harder in 2016!

Incidentally, this is my 100th blog post! Yay! πŸ™‚

27 thoughts on “A Not so Frugal Opportunity

  1. The opportunity to spend some quality time with close family is not to be missed so good choice and I am sure you will come back refreshed to continue with your FI journey.

    Also, congratulations on a century not out! Looking forward to the next 100 posts – well done.

  2. What good is all the money in the world if you're not happy? It's easy to forget that life doesn't start once we've retired, we have the whole "accumulation" phase that we still need to live and enjoy whilst still trying to be frugal where we can.

    Frugality is all about spending money responsibly and on the things that are important rather than wasting it on needless purchases. From the points you've raised about why you are taking this trip I don't think anyone would call it wasteful πŸ™‚

  3. You've totally made the right choice, and you deserve it too – it's your money, hard earned, hard saved. i never regretted spending cash on holidays so go for it. And congrats on 100 postings too, big achievement!

  4. This is awesome! We're also hoping to go to Japan… But not 'til 2020! I totally agree with the sentiment of enjoying your life and not wasting money, but still managing to save a fair bit.

    Go for it!

    Congrats on the 100th post!

    Cheers

  5. There's alot to be said for living for the moment, afterall; what good is your money once you're dead?

    It sounds very much like you've already made the decision in your mind and well done for you! Even with the added expense, you're still maintaining a positive savings rate which puts you far ahead of the majority of people.

    There's not many people who could take a holiday to Japan and still keep up a positive savings rate for the month. Embrace it and have an amazing time!

  6. Brings to mind that quote by Oscar Wilde about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing – congratulations on taking the time to assess value as well as price, and going for it! All the best for a really good time, enjoy yourself!

  7. Go for it Weenie! The future is always nebulous and the opportunity may never come again – who would want to reach FI with regrets about the "sacrifice" of spending time with family? It would sour it I would think…
    I've seen plenty of posts that say that FI is not about leading a "restricted" life during the accumulation phase and there is always the danger that a life of continual self-denial will lead to a rebellion at some point where it could easily *all* be blown – better to let off a bit of spendy steam now and again – you've earned it!

    MikeS

  8. Wow 100 posts, nice one! πŸ™‚

    I agree with you. Life is for living and this sounds like a fantastic opportunity to tick off all those boxes of the good stuff.

    My whole philosophy on all this FI stuff is trying as best as I can to have my cake (living a fun and fulfilled life) and eat it (achieving a high savings rate).

    Good luck to ya weenie πŸ˜‰

  9. Thanks FIb. You're right, life doesn't just start once we've retired, although a different life will start, one without being tied by working hours. The life we're living now still needs to be enjoyed.

  10. Cheers TFS. The big difference is that had this trip opportunity come up before I was on my FI journey, I would have still gone for it but would have put it all on the credit card – makes me shudder just to think of that!

    Yes, I'm all for having my cake and eating it – just need to keep to a happy balance!

    Thanks for your support and kind words.

  11. Haha Mike – yes, letting off a bit of 'spendy steam' is a great way to describe it! I'm fairly certain I'm not going to be doing something like this every year (I certainly didn't last year) so these 'blow outs' will be few and far between and should not make huge differences to my FI journey. Thanks for your support.

  12. Hi Guy
    Well the holiday isn't until Feb/Mar but I need to pay the initial deposit this month, my flight will be on next month's credit card bill and then I will have to pay for the rest of the holiday by the end of the year. Keeping a positive savings will be important as I don't want to fall off the FI wagon totally and undo all my great work.

    Thanks for stopping by and for the words of support.

  13. Cheers M! I've always wanted to go to Japan so this will be a dream come true. I will continue to be frugal and save in between paying for the holiday – must look at Thrifty Lesley's website even more to see where I can cut back on costs!
    Thanks for your continued support and kind words.

  14. Hi Weenie,
    I can only repeat what others have said on here, but go for it and enjoy it! You need to have some fun in life (although not on your credit card, unless you are going to pay it off in full!) and seeing your family and learning a new skill all in one.. more than most do!
    The fact that you can do this, and maintain a positive savings rate, kudos πŸ™‚
    Enjoy it!
    London Rob

  15. I took family vacations with my siblings and their family all the time. It's fun and it can be cost savings. Just allow yourself some "me time" and you'll be fine with out much frictions.

    Savings upward of 50% is great! I try to do that most months, but once in awhile, I have some splurge such as vacations and gift giving. After all, you don't want to reach FI and there isn't anyone to share it with because you've cut everyone out along the way LOL πŸ™‚

    Enjoy your time off!!

  16. Hey Vivianne
    Yep, having fun, socialising and maintaining good relationships with family and friends is just as important as saving – don't want to be FI and a hermit!

    Thanks for reminding me about the 'me time' – I'll find a corner to hide somewhere when I see sibling disputes arising haha!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Hey Weenie, check out GoCurryCracker's blog on traveling with a baby. They went to Japan and looks like they had a great time.

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