Dreaming Small

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I have no aspirations of great things in my future.  This statement may seem somewhat negative, as most people have been pushed from a young age to “shoot for the stars”.  In North American culture, the ultimate goal appears to be to own a couple of cars, a house, have a kid (or a few), maybe a pet and a bunch of other “stuff”.  Although I want a few of those things, this comes more out of necessity, rather than a distinctive desire to have this stuff.

I currently own about 60% of my home right now (a 5- year term mortgage that should be paid off in 5 years).  I have a weird kind of relationship with my home.  I don’t really take a lot of pride in it, and generally treat it as an asset, rather than a crowning achievement – for example, my wife and I have lived here for 3 years right now and didn’t have 1 thing up on the walls until 6 weeks ago.  If I had a choice, I would prefer to not own a house (or pay rent for that matter).  The reason why I’m rapidly paying off my mortgage is to simply get rid of this expense, both currently and in the future (essentially “prepaying” housing).

Much like my house, I don’t really want a car, but if I didn’t have one I wouldn’t be able to see my friends or family, which are situated all over the province.

My wife and I don’t want children, but I am of the opinion that kids can cost you as much or as little as you want them to.

So, what are my aspirations in the future?  Generally what my goals boil down to are to just be left alone to my own devices.  I don’t really have any plans to be a world traveler, a charitable hero, or anything that would differentiate me from “the crowd”.

This vague, sort of low-key goal is probably what allows me to strive for early retirement, especially since I don’t make huge amounts of money or have any real intent of attempting to make much more money than I’m currently making.  With low economic needs, my wife and I may be able to live on around $20,000 per year (plus or minus a few thousand dollars) and still be reasonably happy, since we don’t need a lot of stuff.

I can’t really see a significant change to my current level of spending and could actually see it decreasing to a certain extent on retirement as some of my expenses are incurred for work purposes and will no longer have to be paid.

How do you see your retirement?  Do you think you’ll spend more or less once you’ve stopped working?

5 thoughts on “Dreaming Small”

  1. Agree 100% – glad to know there are other people that dream small. I thought I was one few diffrerent people than “normal” people. Real wealth is totally opposite than apparent wealth.

    Great posting

  2. ARGH, my original comment got swallowed up by cyberspace.

    I am a lot like Dave in that I do not live an extravagant lifestyle and have avoided debt for much of it. I paid off my mortgage in 1998 which was a big step towards my ER in 2008.

    I live on $22k a year which includes health insurance (I am in the USA). What I saved in commutation expenses from not working any more, and from not paying any more payroll (FICA) taxes was about the same as my added health insurance premiums. My income taxes dropped a little, too.

    One big requirement of ERing is that my daily lifestyle would NOT change after I stopped working (I was working only 2 days a week so it wasn’t a HUGE change). I can still go out to eat, albeit rarely, whenever I wanted to, for example. I spend a little more on evening dancing but save about the same from not eating those somewhat costly lunches at work.

    I have always been an outlier who is “-free” of many things: child-free, job-free, debt-free, and god-free (atheist).

  3. I’m planning on having a similar life when I stop working to what I have now, but with more time and less pressure.
    I’m looking forward to not feeling hurried to be on someone else’s schedule.
    Although I do plan on traveling more than I do now, I will have time to do it as I want to, unhurried, perhaps staying in clean out of the way places in off season when rates are low, or just being available if a last minute deal deal comes up.
    I will read more, go for more strolls with no destination in mind, and not say no to new plans because I have to get up in the morning.
    There always seem to be more options when you have the time to research and take advantage of them.

  4. I guess I’m in the other camp where personal interests all seem to cost money. So I budget for it and so far am content with working part time in order to continue to fund it.

    ‘Dreaming small’ does have a negative connotation so I would offer the idea of being ‘well suited’ to your chosen path. I wonder sometimes whether it is a matter of luck that ingrained/genetic? personal leanings (like personality) happen to fit well with frugality.

  5. I have the same goal – to live small and tread lightly on the earth. My home is paid off, I sold my car a couple of years ago, and I chose not to have kids. I have already seen all the places I really wanted to see, and can easily live on $20K per year, which is nearly covered by my retirement savings at this point. I plan to go part time next year so I can start enjoying my days more, at the age of 47. I have been saving 50% of my income for years now to get myself to this point and I am really looking forward to it.

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