Posted by Tim Stobbs on September 15, 2008
I’m a unconventional person. Despite the typical wife, two kids, pet fish and a nice house exterior of my life I really don’t particularly care what other people think of me most of the time. I eat what I like, save more money than I spend on junk and don’t care all that much when gas goes up $0.13/L from some storm in Texas because I take the bus to work.
Early retirement is not conventional. Really when you think about it, the entire act isn’t something people normally do. Hence being unconventional to get there is really just a basic requirement. So why do we still stumble over conventional thinking at times during our journey? Because like many things in life, it isn’t a black or white issue, but rather a sea of shades of grey.
For example, people don’t mind if you take a lunch to work if you eat out with them once in a while. I actually do eat out once in a while, but not because I feel I have to, but rather I just like eating out once in a while. So am I conventional for doing this or unconventional because I do it for a different reason than social acceptance?
I don’t spend money on haircuts (I cut my own), I rarely spend money on prepackaged food (I buy fresh instead and make my own), I don’t watch much TV (I instead watch movies) and I only own one car which we leave sitting in the garage for over half the week. For all of these items I really don’t care that much what other people do or think about me for doing them.
Yet at the same time I dress like most other people at my office. I like a beer or a drink of wine when I’m out once in a while (despite the fact I know the mark up is huge). I also like to live in a nicely decorated house. So am I conventional for these acts?
In the end, it is a personal choice. The key is you must choose yourself. Don’t accept what you are supposed to do as the correct option when in doubt. That is where most people get into trouble. They accept conventional ideas because they are easier to gain acceptance with. They don’t realize that being unconventional can often be more comfortable on a personal level and easier in the long run. It just takes a bit more effort to decide what really matters to you first.