Sacrifice?

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.

In a little over 2 weeks, I’ll be taking part in a Tough Mudder run north of Toronto.  I have been training for this fairly intensely for the past few months and at this point I feel confident that I may not drop dead over the 16 km course and 20 obstacles.  The race cost me about $150 to sign up for in February and I did it mainly as an incentive to get into and stay in shape over the summer.  Most summers, my wife and I travel from cottage to cottage, visiting friends and family; usually these kind of visits lead to overconsumption of both food and drink, which means that most of my work at the gym is negated.

So, on top of the challenge of the actual event, I am using it as a reason to not drink a bunch of beer and fill up on foods that taste good at the time, but make me feel terrible almost right after (well, maybe not the beer, that doesn’t make me feel bad until the next day, if I drink enough of it).  As a result, the 4 or 5 hours of running up and down ski hills may not be so bad, and as a side effect I may not put on the 5-10 lbs I usually do when the weather is nice.

To some, early retirement may be seen as a significant sacrifice.  Saving a significant portion of a paycheque rather than buying “stuff” that may bring enjoyment could be seen as something that isn’t worthwhile.  For me, as I have previously noted – I don’t really see it as a sacrifice as I don’t really have anything else that I want to buy.

In the same way that Tough Mudder is keeping me “honest” in prime beer and funnel-cake season, my early retirement plan is keeping me in line regarding spending decisions.  Although my demand as a consumer is not high, there is always some sort of purchase that at some point may “creep” into my plans.  By having the long-term goal of being financially free in a relatively short period of time, it makes me think twice about purchases that would reduce the probability of this taking place.

What this kind of thing generally boils down to is what a person deems to be a sacrifice.  Most people are unable to picture where the extra savings would come from for early retirement, in the same way that it seems like a tough ordeal to go through not drinking on a long weekend.  I prefer to keep my goals in mind, and the longer term picture rather than the short term enjoyment (even when it means missing out on ice cream cones in the summer for a few weeks).

Do you have a similar style of staying on track with your goals?

3 thoughts on “Sacrifice?”

  1. Dave. You’ve hit the nail on the head, sorta!!! Perhaps its the mindset that we are making a sacrifice for something else that is the problem in the first place. Its funny that people, me included, feel that road to financial independence, good health, a good relationship, etc…. involves sacrifice, when we know in our mind that not achieving those goals is the biggest sacrifice of all. Someone call a psychiatrist, we need help.

    But I do the exact same thing, keep a goal in mind so that it helps me control myself. Make the goal more important than the “sacrifice”. It’s really sad when we have to trick ourselves into doing what we know is right. Is that psychiatrist here yet……

  2. I am not naturally frugal, so I have to constantly remind myself of what I am sacrificing for (long-term financial stability) in order to soften the pain of not being able to buy shiny new things that I want in the moment. I tell myself that XYZ will not make me happy in the long run, even though it seems very appealing from an instant gratification standpoint. I think most humans are just not good at planning years in advance and delaying gratification so much.

  3. That’s very true – in the face of the larger goal, the “sacrifice” suddenly seems less of a big deal and more like a natural progression. I use the same tactic – focusing on the goal keeps me motivated.

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