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MJ DeMarco

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Ah yes, the "optimizing mediocrity" lifestyle which now gets headline treatment at all financial rags.

When the recession and "reset" hits, these people are in for a rude awakening. This is what happens when a ten-year bull market and rising equity prices lobotomizes Slowlaners.

They swapped one dependence (a job) to another (the stock market). Sorry, but this isn't financial independence any more than living underneath a bridge in a cardboard box while eating freely at the local shelter.

What's worse, is the mainstream media and its media sycophants are delusionally calling this "financial independence" because it creates more "savings rats" for the economic religion known as the rat-race. And now I'm betting they will "sell this lifestyle" as an entrepreneurial venture (blogs, books, speaking engagements) and actually try to make "fastlane" type of returns.

I even discuss this a tiny bit in the sample chapters of The Great Rat-Race Escape .

Here's a question for bystanders...

If the stock market lost 50% of its value and stayed there for the next 3 years, would you need to get a job? If yes, you're not financially independent. If you can't spend more than $50 a month at a nice restaurant because of your radical "budget", you're not financially independent.

Funny how the word "financial independence" has lost its meaning...

With this new definition, every 30 year old college graduate that lives with their parents is also financially independent.
 

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Steve and Courtney retired in 2016 and 2017, respectively, with a combined net worth of $870,000. Despite not adding a penny to their investments in the ensuing half-decade, they are now worth about $1.2 million and don’t plan to head back to the office any time soon.

Thats pretty decent net worth given their set up.

I would have picked a better spot though - a nice little surf town in Mexico with some good waves and cold beers.

mexico-best-surfing-spots-barra-de-la-cruz-oaxaca.jpeg

"Perhaps the most drastic change they made was limiting their restaurant budget to $50 per month, a difficult task for Steve, a restaurant aficionado who says he once made a point to visit an eatery a day for a full year."

Okay they lost me here. Just what is the point - this sounds awful. Just set up a small online business that takes like 10 hours a month, move somewhere which is fun on such a cheap budget, and actually enjoy being frugal.

Saving skills 10/10
Imagination 1/10
 

MJ DeMarco

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W: Let's toast our lifestyle with some champagne!

M: Uh, we don't have any champagne and we can't afford to buy any for this photo-shoot.

W: Damn, you're right. But in a news article about financial independence, shouldn't we splurge and just buy it?

M: No, we didn't budget for champagne -- that's how we're financially free now! We can't break our budget just because a magazine wants us us to.

W: I'll go pump some water from the well -- they'll never know.


M: Yes, great idea!

Woman pumps water and returns filling the champagne flutes with water.

M: Toast darling! Here's to being financially independent!
 

biophase

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I don’t know, I found the article fine. I think the only thing that is different about this couple is that they are in their 30s. Imagine if this article was written about two people who were in their 60s and had saved up $800,000. Would you be saying the same thing about them?

They are pretty much living exactly as a couple in the 60s would be living. They are doing it 30 years early. So what Is wrong with that?

There are many people out there that don’t want to live a life like ours. It doesn’t mean they are living a crappy life. How many people do you know that have a lot of money, and spend less than what this couple spends, and sit at home all day and watch TV. Is their life better because they are older and have a couple million dollars saved up?

Let’s say they decided to work five more years. They would’ve probably saved up another $500,000. So they would be 35 years old with $1.3 million saved. Probably living the same life, except they would be making maybe $55,000 a year. With this be better? Or will we still be making fun of them?
 

MJ DeMarco

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now drives a middle class car.

I drive a $75,000 truck (my daily driver) not a Chevy Malibu.

I just don't agree with your claim that they can't be financially independent in their situation and how harshly your morally judging them for choosing a different lifestyle.

You missed the point.

I don't care about their modern day ascetic lifestyle. Good for them.

However, no matter how you want to slice it, these folks are NOT financially independent.

My issue isn't with how these folks live -- I could give a shit.

My issue is with the media (and them) redefining financial freedom. Well if these are the new rules, guess what?

I'm now identify as a billionaire.

Why?

I have a networth of a billion+ pennies, so now, I'm a billionaire because I say so, and it is my new definition. And everyone needs to respect it.

If you want to go through life with this delusional definition of "financial freedom" be my guest.

If you want to dumb down "financial independence" into this form of financial fanaticism, be my guest.

And you're at the wrong forum to argue for it.

Want to know what real financial freedom looks like?

It means living your life, every day, without financial restraint. Notice those words, "financial" and "restraint".

Financial = Money.
Freedom = Without restraint.


Do these people live financially without restraint? Nope, not even remotely close. It's like an 400 lb obese person wanting culture to label them "healthy."

When you're truly financially free, YOU KNOW IT.

YOU FEEL IT.

YOU LIVE IT.

NO CALCULATOR IS NEEDED.

NO RESTRAINT IS NEEDED.

When I go to a restaurant, I have no budget. I can eat and drink whatever I want. And every day.

If I want to take a first class flight to Costa Rica and spend two months there, I can.

When I go to a store, I have no budget. I can fill the shopping cart until it holds nothing more -- with whatever I want. That last time I looked at a price at a store was 20 years ago.

When I go to a car dealership, I have no budget -- if like that Lamborghini, I can buy it and three more, and pay cash for it with nothing else changing for me financially.

The word "budget" is not in my daily, weekly, or monthly vocabulary unless it relates to a multi-million-dollar house -- which is not a daily, weekly, or monthly expenditure.

My daily existence is not ruled by an authoritarian dictator known as money.

FREE from money? LOL X 1000 - NO, these poor folks are OWNED by money.


Where are you getting this information? Seems like you setup a weak strawman just to knock it down.

Actually, that comment was based on supposition, not based on some extensive financial calculator.

Nonetheless, you proved my point by posting a calculator.

I don't need a calculator --again, because I live truly financially independent.

Financial independence doesn't need a calculator for daily, weekly, or monthly living.

If these folks can survive a 50% market decline and a 3 year recession it still doesn't change the facts: They do not have financial freedom, they have time freedom.

It's no strawman that the guy admitted he had to give up dining out, his cars, and other passions all for this suck fest.

I get it, he's proud for owning his time and I agree with that foundation.

However there's a big difference between time freedom + time AND financial freedom. The panhandling bum on the street also has time freedom, as does the unemployed college graduate who still lives at home with his parents, but they don't have financial freedom.

In all cases, every penny needs to be religiously monitored and worshiped.

It's a cult and Money is their Jim Jones.

Enjoy the Koolaid...
 

MJ DeMarco

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Things I'll take to my grave...

An abundance of fulfilling memories, rich experiences, a legacy, an impact on the world, real financial freedom for my heirs, and a lifetime of joy knowing I lived life to the fullest and settled for nothing.

Things I won't take to my grave...

Regret
and a forlorn realization that I spent the back half of my life stuck in a trailer micromanaging every dollar in and out of my life.
 

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I know quite a few people in the FIRE community, and I think "retire" is a bit of a misnomer.
Maybe some people literally sit around and do nothing for the next 60 years (I didn't read the article, so I can't comment on this particular couple).

However, most of the people that I talk to treat it as a backstop. If they know they can live on $40k a year, and their investments allow them to pull that much each year without stress, then they have the security to do something with more risk. Most of these people hate going to a job (just like we do), but they don't have the risk appetite that we do. So they save up, make sure they have enough to cover their necessities, then quit the job to do something more exciting.

The media coverage is awful, but the people I know in this community are all either running businesses after they "retire," or they're doing some awesome community work that they couldn't do with a job.
 

MJ DeMarco

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"not needing to have a job to survive".

So the homeless guy and his shopping cart sleeping on the park bench is also financially independent.

Got it.

At least they get to read books

Sure, as long as they get them from the library, buy them at Goodwill, or steal them.

The budget doesn't allow for books. Or any kind of sports that require equipment.

How free are they, really?

A couple of notches above a homeless person living under a bridge.

Both share "freedom" based on having no job and not spending money.

This is his twitter:

Steve | Millionaire Habits (@SteveOnSpeed): https://twitter.com/SteveOnSpeed?s=07

Millionaire Habits?

GMAFB.

Looks like another FIRE clown that is dumbing down America to associate "success", "getting rich" and "millionaire habits" with mindless frugality, stock market dependence, and lifestyle asceticism.

Bottomline, money religiously regulates these people-- they are slaves to money-- and yet they claim to be free from it. Oh the irony is so rich...

This is why the word "millionaire" in today's culture is about as impressive as a used Toyota Camry.

Imagine if this article was written about two people who were in their 60s and had saved up $800,000. Would you be saying the same thing about them?

No, because they wouldn't have an article. The point is the article, not their lifestyle.

Where's your article on CNBC?

You are TRULY financially free with sports cars, houses around the world, travel, a thriving business, and the ability to truly do whatever you want by most measures. But your article doesn't promote a pro-job, pro-mediocrity, pro-own-nothing, and a pro-WallStreet narrative.

I don't care how people choose to live their lives. If the guy wants to flush his toilet once a week to "save money on water bills!" I don't give a shit as it is none of my business.

But what is my business, is that, once again, the media is giving these clowns a podium and contributing to the dumbification and mediocrization of success, finance, wealth. They are useful idiots for the "you'll own nothing and be happy with it" narrative -- now a new standard in how "millionaires" should live.

So now media is telling us...

This is what success looks like.
This is how millionaires live.
You can be happy owning nothing.


The poor guy hasn't given his wife a gift in years (as if this is something to be proud of?) -- and this insufferable existence is then applauded on major media outlets.

These people haven't escaped the rat-race, they embody a different version of it.

Instead of being a slave to consumption and material goods, they're a slave to money.

I find it no different than a morbidly obese person teaching someone how to be morbidly obese -- and then the media gives them a voice, normalizing the behavior. It normalizes culture into the believing that if you indeed become a millionaire, this is how you should live. This is success!

In other words, buy my bootcamp so we can teach you how to live a life that sucks like ours-- and convince yourself you'll be happy doing it. As the World Economic Forum says, in the future, you'll own nothing-- and be happy with it.

If he wants to stand up on stage and pound his chest as some type of embodiment of "success", then he (and the BS he is promoting) is subject to critique and ridicule.
 

Andy Black

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One of my favourite lines is from MJ:

“Money is proof you helped your fellow man.”

I like earning my money by helping people.
 

Harman

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Saw this news article lauding the success of this couple

This couple retired in their 30s, live off the grid and spend $40,000 a year — CNBC

I know so many people that see this story as the ultimate in success. The headline packs a particularly hollow punch. But the best part, my absolute favorite was this image

1622217165917.png

Talk about living the dream.

I'm trying not to be so much of a naysayer, if this particular lifestyle works for this couple, then power to them.

For me, I think I'd go mad. It looks like they aren't doing ANYTHING but sitting around, patting each other on their backs for 'cutting the cord'. Wouldn't life be so much more meaningful if you were actively providing something, anything, for people whose lives could be marginally improved by your efforts?

Anyways, read this article and noted the reporter gushing over this couples frugality.

"Thanks to their high salaries, Steve and Courtney were able to max out their 401(k) contributions in the years leading up to their retirement. They also slashed their spending, eliminating monthly subscriptions and streamlining their grocery budget. "At one point we were saving 70% of our combined income," Courtney says. They funneled all of the extra savings into a Roth IRA, brokerage account and savings account."
The couple also moved out of their 1,600-square-foot home in Tucson, complete with a swimming pool, and into a 2005 Airstream that they purchased for $42,000 in cash.

Man. Sign me up...
 

MJ DeMarco

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“Before we got married, I spent a lot of money. I had a supercharged Corvette convertible. I had a brand new Cadillac CTS. I had a Yamaha sportbike. I had all the toys,” he says, noting that they have all since been sold. Now, the couple shares one pickup truck, which they use to pull their Airstream when they travel around the country.”

It is financial fanaticism in the name of optimizing mediocrity and calling yourself "financially independent."

If you were truly financially free, you wouldn't need to sell your toys.
If you were truly financially free, you wouldn't need to deny yourself dinners at restaurants.
If you were truly financially free, you wouldn't need to deny yourself of virtually any convenience or luxury.
If you were truly financially free, a "budget" wouldn't be in your vocabulary for daily living necessities.

I find it infuriating that someone who has to religiously count pennies and has to deny themselves from every expenditure has the balls to call themselves financially independent -- and the media empowers them.

Stuff like this makes me vomit, but in today's culture, up is down, and down is up.
 

redshift

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They should rename this movement T.I.R.E - i.e Tired of Living.
 

Antifragile

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I have to admit that living in one of the most expensive cities of the world, it’s crossed my mind to move to a more remote location and just “enjoy life”. Meaning I wouldn’t have to deal with employees, investors, building a business and all the pain that comes with that. But then every time I think it through, it doesn’t add up.
I’m 10 min from downtown with restaurants, humans, life and yet I’m also next to mountains and water. It’s beautiful and sunny, my friends are all here and building a business is a lot of fun (when it freaking works! It can be very frustrating too, I’m sure we all know the feeling). Without challenges, I feel my mind would atrophy. I’d be bored and want to get back “into the game”. In the end, cashing out and moving out feels no different than giving up. Suddenly, it’s depressing to think about it.
@MTF wrote a post about living the hard way. It’s applicable here too.

I went for a bike ride, climbed to the 1st lookout of Cypress mountain and took a photo. All within an hour from leaving my house. Saw lots of people with happy faces along the way. Hard to complain ... pic attached. Thats my dream. I just need to be successful enough to keep it, grow it and help my kid learn the way.

5E42545E-3F4E-47E1-8FC6-963C6B948AFD.jpeg
 
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Kak

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Ya good points on where do you draw a line with being financially free.
To me its if you want to do something "normal" but can't.

Going to a restaurant is normal. Going to the cinema is normal. Paying for gym membership is normal.
If you can do all of these without sweating it then you are financially free at a solid basic level.

So if someone can live like a normal person "forever" off their assets I would call that financially free.

I would also adjust this to a country too. To be financially free in Mexico is going to be easier than NYC.

To buy a McLaren though I wouldn't consider normal. So if you can do that you have a high financial free level.
(of course I mean buying these things and not damaging your long term wealth).

If someone can live forever off their assets but they have to live in a very limited way then to me thats more financially crafty than financially free. Its doable but it comes with higher risk - what if there are hidden expenses or they just want to do more at some point. It is possible but its walking the line.

Again I don't want to judge these guys - they have already done what 99% of people won't. But I just think if they are going to take that much risk (that they could run out of cash in later years) it should be matched with some big life reward (they get to live in Bali and surf/yoga everyday for example).

Personally I think these guys will be fine since they have lots of ways to turn back on the income but as MJ says it gives off a strange message to others as to what to aim for/whats financially free.

----

@biophase I love seeing your thoughts on these topics as you have clearly done super well in life and its cool to see how you often think differently about subjects on here.
 

Kak

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“Before we got married, I spent a lot of money. I had a supercharged Corvette convertible. I had a brand new Cadillac CTS. I had a Yamaha sportbike. I had all the toys,” he says, noting that they have all since been sold. Now, the couple shares one pickup truck, which they use to pull their Airstream when they travel around the country.”

Oh. My. God. If hell was a personalized experience... Their life would be mine.

:rofl:
 

Kak

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Until I can build a 10,000 square foot home on at least 10 acres of a tax efficient island within a 10 minute drive of my Pilatus PC24… I won’t be done.

And that is just from a lifestyle perspective.
 

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I don’t know, I found the article fine. I think the only thing that is different about this couple is that they are in their 30s. Imagine if this article was written about two people who were in their 60s and had saved up $800,000. Would you be saying the same thing about them?

They are pretty much living exactly as a couple in the 60s would be living. They are doing it 30 years early. So what Is wrong with that?

There are many people out there that don’t want to live a life like ours. It doesn’t mean they are living a crappy life. How many people do you know that have a lot of money, and spend less than what this couple spends, and sit at home all day and watch TV. Is their life better because they are older and have a couple million dollars saved up?

Let’s say they decided to work five more years. They would’ve probably saved up another $500,000. So they would be 35 years old with $1.3 million saved. Probably living the same life, except they would be making maybe $55,000 a year. With this be better? Or will we still be making fun of them?

I felt kinda weird reading it. A part of me agrees with you wrote above but another part felt they just missed the point.

You got one life and they were so close to living it on a whole different level. They got over a million plus saved, they are still young, they have a strong relationship... but this just seems so boring.

I don’t mean to judge them but it’s hard to not think if they did just a *little* bit more they could actually enjoy what they have 10 times as much. It’s like they flew the whole way to another country and then got 10 meters outside the airport and said “hey this is nice let’s just stay here”.

To me it just lacks any fun. You’re not free of something if you’re whole existence is defined by it. Him not giving a gift doesn’t seem very free. Him not going out to a restaurant isn’t free. Like I can’t think of when I had to stop and think about giving someone a gift or eating out - if I want to I do and if not it’s not even on my mind.

It just kinda makes me sad that he doesn’t want to experience more when they now have more opportunity than 99.9999% of people who ever lived.
 

MJ DeMarco

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You’re not free of something if you’re whole existence is defined by it.

You win the internet post of the week.
 

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It means living your life, every day, without financial restraint. Notice those words, "financial" and "restraint".

Financial = Money.
Freedom = Without restraint.


Do these people live financially without restraint? Nope, not even remotely close. It's like an 400 lb obese person wanting culture to label them "healthy."

When you're truly financially free, YOU KNOW IT.

YOU FEEL IT.

YOU LIVE IT.

NO CALCULATOR IS NEEDED.

NO RESTRAINT IS NEEDED.

When I go to a restaurant, I have no budget. I can eat and drink whatever I want. And every day.

If I want to take a first class flight to Costa Rica and spend two months there, I can.

When I go to a store, I have no budget. I can fill the shopping cart until it holds nothing more -- with whatever I want. That last time I looked at a price at a store was 20 years ago.

When I go to a car dealership, I have no budget -- if like that Lamborghini, I can buy it and three more, and pay cash for it with nothing else changing for me financially.

The word "budget" is not in my daily, weekly, or monthly vocabulary unless it relates to a multi-million-dollar house -- which is not a daily, weekly, or monthly expenditure.

My daily existence is not ruled by an authoritarian dictator known as money.

FREE from money? LOL X 1000 - NO, these poor folks are OWNED by money.

I think the question is where is the financially free line to each person? Remember it's all relative to the mindset of the person. I think I am financially free, however I can't afford a yacht or a private jet. Someone who is making $100k a year, they would look at me and say that I'm financially free. But someone with $25M probably would not.

We talk about someone sacrificing by not going to restaurants. A billionaire would talk about me sacrificing by not flying private. I think I'm ok at my current net worth level. Someone wealthier may not, they may think I'm taking my foot off the pedal too early.

I think it's all relative, but I also agree that there is a poverty point where I roll my eyes when someone tells me they are financially free. It could be someone living in a tiny home in the middle of nowhere for me, for someone else it could be someone living in a free and clear house, but has only $2k coming in a month to live.

Like MJ, I don't look at restaurant prices. I can buy many things without thinking about it. But I can't get a new Mclaren without really thinking about it.
 

Harman

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1622331910210.png

It's wild. The idea of sacrificing a potential future and re-imagining it as a gain makes my head hurt. At least this is how I'm interpreting this. This couple made a decision and I wish them the very best. There are definitely aspects to their story that I find upsetting but I'm not going to try to justify their decisions in my own head.

I did want to touch on this though:
1622331703356.png

Once again, their choice. Hopefully she's truly happy about this aspect. My wife will always tell me not to spend a lot on her for anniversary/b-day/christmas/etc.. But I do anyways, because I love the way her eyes light up when I nailed the perfect gift for her.

My drive to achieve TRUE financial freedom stems a lot from my desire for the people I love the most to have a better life. I want my wife to not have to stress about things breaking down or budgeting for grocery shopping, I want to be able to afford piano lessons, dance lessons, and any sports my kids want to participate in. My in-laws live with us and I want to be able to bear that burden fully without relying on outside help.

I want to provide the best that I can for my family and not have to sacrifice b/c we couldn't afford it.

I dunno. I seek a rich life for myself and for my loved ones. I've identified those things that will get me there.

I understand that different people want different things.

I'm with MJ on this, let the couple do their thing, but man, the way the media is playing their story is the true crime.
 

Kak

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It is done and heading to all of the podcast apps... LOL

 

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Perhaps the most drastic change they made was limiting their restaurant budget to $50 per month, a difficult task for Steve, a restaurant aficionado who says he once made a point to visit an eatery a day for a full year.
Yes, they set their restaurant budget to $50 per month, you wanna know why?

BECAUSE

brass-balls-gggr1.jpg

THEY HAVE NO BALLS!

That's WHY!


You know, when I was younger, I thought I was a strong lad because I never drank.

And then I grew up and figured out that I didn't drink because I had no BALLS.

That's why I was avoiding all the "difficult" things too.

"Oh I don't like this, let's not do it!"

And as I grew a bit more, I realised that actually...

Avoiding these stressors... whether it's drink, emotional stress, and so on...

Is actually making you weak. Controlled stress is good, and it actually makes you stronger and more resilient.

What these FIRE mindset guys don't get is that they're making themselves satisfied with LITTLE, because they're AFRAID they can't have more. They're AFRAID they'll be poor - that's why they don't spend. They're AFRAID they cannot create BILLIONS in wealth. That's why they save so much...
 

MJ DeMarco

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They stopped poking a while ago. Not in the budget.
Hahaha.

Let's try to be nice.

I don't want to judge people's decisions/lifestyles -- I know a lot of people who don't want children -- I'm judging/critiquing their delusion that they are financially free.

Of course, the real travesty would be wanting children, but resigning, "We can't have kids because it's not in the budget."

Which is my entire point.

You're not free of fiscal constraints, you are handcuffed by them.
 

MJ DeMarco

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It is done and heading to all of the podcast apps... LOL


Great analysis of what few people refuse to say...

This might be "time freedom", but it's not "financial freedom."

And to call it so is lie, and a lie to yourself just to check a box for a narrative.

Just because CNBC says this kind of financial fanaticism is financial freedom, doesn't make it true.

My next video on YouTube will be on this, which anyway, is long overdue.
 

Kak

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I know people that are not ambitious and just don't care for material things or extravagant experiences. What are they supposed to do, consume just to impress the rest of us?
But the article paints a picture where they actually clearly do care about such things...

He had a supercharged corvette, Yamaha sport bike, a Cadillac CTS, that “indulgent” 1600 square foot home with a pool, daily meals out...

He clearly DOES like that shit, but decided not to have any of it and to be self righteous about not having it.

Desiring to go out for a meal every day and then preceding to budget $50 per month for it is not financial independence. They are very dependent on a budget. It’s literally wasting life.

If you’re not doing what you want, you should be figuring out how to do what you want. They, instead, are ignoring what they actually want out of life.

I understand there are minimalists. I understand that there are people that don’t give a damn, but they aren’t those people.
 

The-J

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How free are they, really?

Nothing wrong with doing this, but aside from saving nearly $1m (which is unusual and they can be justified in being proud of that), they haven't really done anything. You don't need money to live the way they do. You can do what they do and be broke. There are teenagers on YouTube doing the "van life" thing and they have nothing except a van.

I don't judge them for choosing that life, but don't call it an accomplishment.
 
Last edited:

redshift

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The biggest problem with this frugal type of lifestyle is you end up programming yourself into a scarcity mindset without realizing it. You'll always be closed and not receptive to what life has to offer even if a better quality of life becomes attainable.

Eg: If they try and piggy back off the exposure from this to sell slowlane guru type courses (which you can see on the twitter page already), what are they going to do with the extra income they generate ? Most likely put it into their retirement accounts and continue to penny pinch because the identity is so strong and will only get further re-enforced.

In the end, when time is up, you'll end up not having used any of that extra cash for anything productive or useful, which ironically, would be the biggest waste of money even from a slowlaner point of view.
 

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