It is high Hygge season (“a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being, regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture”) over here, even if I am Polish. We’ve been relaxing, visiting, cooking, reading, and watching things like Playing With FIRE on Netflix.
December is always the month when I review the year’s spending, pay property taxes and renew our homeowner’s insurance, and chase down outstanding payments and reimbursements. I’m glad I did: this year, they amounted to $1,152. A $25 here and a $12 there adds up. I also make time to cancel services we’re not using, ensuring the odd domain name or hosting plan doesn’t auto-renew unnecessarily.
Compound interest continues to amaze me, and never gets old. The Vanguard account alone (mostly invested in preservation-mode bonds and other low-risk things) is trucking along at $1,534,000 and generating over $30,000/year in dividends, which covers our annual expenses. I double check our crossover point (the point at which investment returns provide more money than you spend) each year at this time, even though we are still adding to our savings at this stage of FIRE.
This year, that crossover-point check up renewed my sense of gratitude for the people who coined the term: Vicki Robins and Joe Dominguez, authors of Your Money Or Your Life (YMOYL). It’s been 25 years since I read the first edition of the book (before I could legally buy a drink), and I am grateful that, however I found it, I found it so early in life. I started saving for retirement in earnest at age 19. Whew!
Robins released an updated edition last year, with a forward by Mr. Money Mustache, so I checked out the e-book from the library, it appeared instantly on my Kindle (still big magic to me, when that all works in seconds), and dug in.
Re-reading YMOYL has provided a spiritual reset and energy boost. I did many of Robins’s exercises again, and was struck with more life-energy savings inspiration. Even though we’ve enjoyed the fruits of our labor for more than 4.5 years, YMOYL made me realize that I’m still using, or thinking of using, money (life energy) on things I’d rather not, like a new car, haircuts, and lactose-free milk for my husband.
A new car?
I thought I wanted a new car, I honestly did. Our seven-year-old, bought-in-cash, perfectly-great car is small: easy to park, great on mileage, but small. We have to rent cars when family and friends visit and, just before Thanksgiving, we added a large dog to our lives who occupies the whole backseat. And I hate paying for gas. I got excited about MMM’s video on 6 Cars For Smart People and started paying closer attention to the cars our friends drive: Nissan Leafs, hybrid Pacifica minivans. What was the trunk space like? The handling?
Then I re-read YMOYL and that took care of that problem. Nope! The solution is, as ever, to drive less and rent or car share as necessary, just like Best Husband and I each did for 10, car-free years. I don’t really want to spend more life energy on cars.
Besides, it’s hard to find a car without a screen that does not beep, that does not start talking to my phone, and that does not blast my phone into the car speakers to talk at me. I nearly drove off the road the first time that JUST HAPPENED in a rental car. Who thought that default was a good idea? (Never mind, I used to work in software, I can imagine exactly how that shit decision got made.) I have ASD and am highly sensitive to noises and light flickering, so I’m screwed with all these new future-is-now, full-of-screen cars. After another $150,000 miles, I’ll think about buying a car again. Who knows? Maybe our first car will also be our last car.
DIY Curly Haircut?
I have red, curly hair that’s been hard to handle my whole life. Two or three times a year, I get a good curly haircut for $120 (tip included). $240/year is hardly terrible in this HCOL area, especially for a stylist who makes my hair look good, but…it’s still almost $1,000 every four years. Say I live 40 more years. That’s almost $10,000 on haircuts — but more than that, because the stylist raises her prices each and every January. And that’s not counting the hour in the chair, plus the hour-long roundtrip due to an inconvenient new location, the appointment time finding, etc.
I’ve had a lot of practice cutting the hair of the elderly relative we care for (and getting quite good at layers and shaping, if I do say so) with a pair of scissors from Sally’s, so I’ve got those. I’ve also been inspired by Mrs. Frugalwoods and her home haircuts, as well as Mr. Money Mustache’s video on the same. So I got the Curly Girl Handbook from the library, which has a section on trimming your own hair, and watched some YouTube videos (especially this one). I’m feeling pretty good about it…except for the guilt about not giving my hair stylist business.
I admit it. I was raised in an environment similar to the one described by the author of this piece, about generational people pleasing: “My mother wasn’t into make-up. She usually wore lipstick and concealer, but not much more. She bought the makeup because she couldn’t say no [to the Avon lady].” I don’t want to be that way, but I understand the feeling. If confronted by my (soon to be former) hairdresser, it would be hard for me to say “I felt like cutting my own hair.” I would have to practice that ahead of time.
Yep, we’re going to try making regular milk lactose-free, thanks to the frugal inspiration from Clem Chan in this post. My husband and Clem have a lot in common, it sounds like, and I’m tired of two things: 1) paying $2+ more for a half gallon of lactose-free milk, every time; 2) the excess packaging and thus garbage, because the stores near us only carry half gallons of Lactaid. If we DIY our lactose-free milk, we can buy a gallon of milk in a glass bottle (or from a milkman, which we’re also looking into for packaging reduction – not sure about it yet) and roll our own.
Why do you bother?
“You have so much money, you don’t need to worry about this,” etc. etc. Well, first of all, I don’t worry. And yes, but we got to more-than-enough by having the sort of consciousness that Robins describes in YMOYL. Once that’s a habit, you can’t undo it; I don’t think I could backslide into wasting money if I tried. I don’t want anything. Once you have enough, there is no joy in wasting life energy to get more — only in conserving the most valuable, and diminishing good there is: your time.