This new lifestyle we’ve been living since March 2016 isn’t about deprivation. It’s not about saving as much money as you can at the expense of your happiness or sanity. Yes, it’s about breaking old spendthrift habits, forming new frugal habits and adapting your lifestyle to maximise your savings rate whilst still enjoying the things you define as an acceptable expense.
Let’s face it. We’re trying to save a significant amount of money that we could not do with our spending pre FIRE plan. But that’s not say we can’t ever spend one more penny on a discretionary expense. It’s about assessing every potential future purchase and determining it’s value to us.
I still get my eyebrows waxed, I use $45 face cream and we still eat out at restaurants. Whilst we have optimised where we can, each of the three things listed above are things we’re comfortable spending money on. They hold value to us.
A good case to illustrate this point is our bed.
When we moved to America, we left all our savings in the UK and so came with nothing. We were given a moving allowance from Mr. LLC’s company to help with furnishing our new apartment. All we had brought with us was clothes and a few household items we could fit in our suitcases; we shipped none of our furniture. So, we needed everything for our new place. The allowance we were given was generous but we still had to be careful with it to ensure we got everything we needed, especially as we had no savings In America.
At this point, we were not in the mindset of optimising our savings rate, so we bought everything new. Given our time again, with our current mindset, we would also search the second hand market.
We bought our living room furniture and bedroom furniture from Ikea, including the bed frame and mattress. It was nice, it all came from the same range and so matched and it was reasonably priced.
We didn’t really think too much about having an Ikea mattress and bed frame. It wasn’t as comfortable as our old bed but it was fine, wasn’t it? After all, we were still young, our bodies could cope! And we wouldn’t be here forever, it’d only be 5 years tops of having to sleep in it.
It was not fine.
I mean, at first, it was OK. But as the months and inevitably years passed, it became apparent we were struggling. If one of us needed to get up in the night, the wood slats creaked and woke the other up. We couldn’t even roll over without the frame creaking. The mattress had no give and caused achy joints and ill-rested bodies. Mr. LLC couldn’t get a full night’s sleep and developed terrible backaches. In summer 2016, I strained my shoulder joint and suffered horrendous pain and limited movement. Our bed offered no support and made the problem worse.
We’ve made no secret about the fact we’ll be returning to the UK and by summer 2016, we had more time in America under our belt than ahead of us. Therefore, we had a difficult decision on our hands. It was apparent we needed a new bed but we battled with the decision to spend hundreds of dollars on something we’d only be using for a very short period of time before we’d have to give up.
We’re not at the point yet where we’re comfortable getting a second-hand mattress on Craigslist. Maybe one day we will be.
Ultimately, we bought a new mattress and bed frame (bought on sale, of course). And it was 100% the right decision to make. From night one, we had more rested sleep, with more support and zero noise when one of us either moves or gets out of bed. It was wonderful!
Our bed woes may be a strange story to share with you all but it clearly illustrates my point. Yes, we spent $600 on a new sleeping arrangement for a very short period of time. But it’s a perfect example of when it’s right to spend money and not save it.
Yes, it’s $600 less in our savings that could have just sat there in our investment pot instead. If we took that $600 and put it into the an investment account, in 30 years with a 7% annual return, it would be worth $4,567.35.
That’s a lot of money. But, our health is more important and valuable to us. I still have internal battles when I buy something, thinking I should be saving it instead. And spending a lot of money on something for a very short period of time adds another decision making dimension into the mix. Were this going to be our bed for the next 20 years say, the decision would be a moot point. We’d get a valuable return on our investment.
But ultimately, well rested and healthy bodies are more important to us than $4,567 in the bank in 30 years. Why have that money in the bank if your body is so screwed up from a crappy bed that you can’t properly enjoy it. Sometimes, it’s worth spending the $$$.
Oh, and don’t buy an Ikea bed frame/mattress if you can help it.