029 - The Aspiring Minimalist vs the Reluctant Frugalist

Please note

These transcripts are a work in progress and the initial transcription occurred via automation, so transcription errors are not just possible but likely. Please report transcription errors by clicking the icon at the end of the stanza containing the error.


Time Speaker Text Tags
2 - 81 Jonathan Mendonsa Hey Guys Today I have Brad here with me in the studio and we're going to be discussing the intricacies of how people find this concept of financial independence what draws them. And I think there's two distinct groups of people that fall in love with this idea and there's a lot of overlap between the two but they are very distinct and it's important to take the time to discuss it. And one of those is the aspiring minimalist. And we're going explore this more with the person that just wants simplicity and efficiency in their life. And if you haven't figured that out already That's Brad. He'll be representing that spectrum for you guys today. The other half of that is the reluctant frugalist the person that realizes that in this world you only get so many choices before your time runs out. And if you make the wrong choices you get trapped on a hamster wheel. And so by choosing the slightly more optimized path by being frugal even if reluctantly you get to recapture the most important thing, your time. This is ultimately what you're running out of. And so if you are willing to be even reluctantly frugal you can get more of your time back. You can get your independence back. So I am thrilled to have this conversation. I think more importantly this conversation is going to be a way to help you figure out what the conversation needs to look like so you can get your spouse partner or significant other on board.
81 - 245 Brad Barrett Yeah I agree and that was a good set up certainly and I think it's important that we're not just talking about the reluctant frugalist versus the aspiring minimalist but actually how to get your spouse or significant other on board with this concept and and how you can discuss it. So we we've had a lot of people get in touch with us with questions and voicemails and we are going to play one shortly about about just that. How do you talk to your spouse or significant other about this concept. Because a lot of us just don't talk about finances in general. So you have this potentially combustible situation where one of the people will just say spouse just for ease of this podcast so one person in the couple is all about this. Maybe they found Mr. Money Mustache. Maybe they're getting hardcore into that and reading hundreds of articles and hearing about face punches and riding bicycles 10 miles across town and they're into it. Right. That's just the way it works. And then they try to sit down over dinner and talk to their spouse about it. And holy cow is it met by just stone faced silence. And you can picture that because it sounds nuts. So I think one of the things that we need to do as a community is trying to figure out a way to bridge that gap and try to make this relatable. I think what Jonathan and I have tried to do just with choose if I in general is make this entire concept seem a little less scary because honestly it's not that crazy. We're not doing anything. I sound like a broken record. I say this almost every single episode. We are not doing anything crazy. Jonathan and I and our families are just regular middle class people even upper middle class people and in our seeming outward spending because we're just normal suburban guys but yet we're on this FI path and on a very abbreviated path and we're saving boatloads of money. So we've obviously figured out how to do this and adapt it to a quote unquote regular lifestyle. Now that's not to in any way shape or form denigrate people who are more on the extreme end of FI or even the people who are following Mr. Money Mustache to a T. I mean that's fantastic clearly but it's a little extreme for most people especially when they're just learning about this concept so I think that's the the needle we're trying to thread here is figure out how to make this just straightforward and normal to explain to your spouse or significant other. And then we clearly do want to talk about those different mindsets that Jonathan and I represent the exact opposite sides. I am definitely more on the minimalist side or pretty extreme on there in my in my head at least. And Jonathan as he has documented many times is a very reluctant frugalist but he understands the power of it. So yeah I think this should shape up to be a very good episode.
frugalist, mindset, savings
245 - 250 Jonathan Mendonsa Ok so to start this conversation off we want to play a voicemail that we got from Royce.
250 - 295 Royce - (voicemail contributor) Hey. Hello. My name is Royce. Big fan of your guys. You give a lot of good information. My question is how do you get your spouse to get on to choosing FI. I'm definitely on board and beginning my journey. I'm entry level for sure but definitely working towards getting on my way and my wife. She's frugal but, I guess my past is I haven't been good with money. And when I bring information to her it's probably seen through that lens more than just the good information that I'm looking at online through the different blogs and forums. So how do you recommend getting your spouse on board to choosing FI. All right thanks a lot. Keep doing what you guys are doing. Huge fan of the show.
295 - 327 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright first of all Roy. Thank you for the question. It's well-timed and you're not alone. We have received at least 20 requests to talk about how to broach this topic in a way that makes sense that's logical and is compelling and it's one that requires some thought it requires some delicacy. There's not necessarily a single answer for this but I think it is a discussion that just by having you're going to get to come away with one or two tips that you can use as you start this journey with your spouse or significant other.
327 - 431 Brad Barrett I think this conversation is really important to have with your spouse so it's about what you want out of life. If you approach it just as a ok. I've been reading Mr. Money Mustache and I know all these things and I want to just lecture to you or at you instead of it being a conversation and being hey where are we. Not just with our finances but our life. And where do we want to go. What do we want to get out of life what do we want our life to look like when you're in a relationship. You're a team and instead of it being two individuals if you're starting to think as that team you can really just get so much more out of life and you can just be a lot happier. I know we've we've spoken with at least two couples that just have the top of my head have have done exactly that. So we spoke with Joel and Alexis from FI 180. And we also spoke with Jay from slowly sipping coffee who spoke in glowing terms about Mrs. SSC and they both described very similar things where they made a game out of their finances. Now this is a little bit down the road but just just bear with me here. They made a game out of their finances about saving money and trying to get to financial independence quicker and it brought them closer together as a couple. So just putting that fun little aspect into it it wasn't just this horrible hedonic treadmill of let's go buy something and we made some more money this year. So let's buy a more expensive car. Those things are fleeting and they really just don't bring you satisfaction. But when you can get together with your spouse or significant other and be a team a true team there is real power in that. So I think that would be my first my first thought.
relationships, savings
431 - 431 Jonathan Mendonsa That's great.
431 - 504 Brad Barrett And then on one of our Friday roundups previously we also mentioned we had a question from one of the audience members who asked something similar which was his wife was as he put it came from a very rich family background and had Ruth's Chris taste and wanted to spend a lot of money on restaurants. And my challenge to him was sit down with your wife and talk about what brings her happiness and why she's making those purchases why she wants to go to these expensive restaurants all the time. And he had the courage to sit down and have that difficult conversation and it wound up that she just wanted to spend more time with him where he wasn't checking his phone or reading a book or on the computer or whatever it may be that he just wasn't giving her full attention. So sometimes there are these deep rooted issues that that we just don't address. And they are so fundamental not only to a successful relationship but to a happy life. So I think while this conversation might not be easy it's something that you can frame it in the right way that hey I'm looking to not only make us wealthier but happier as well then how can you lose with a conversation like that. So that's really my advice of how to start this conversation.
families, relationships
504 - 541 Jonathan Mendonsa And I think it's also important to just point out the stage is a partnership between you and your significant other. And basically you're trying to address where you both are financially because there's a big difference between being fully committed to this FI path and just not really being into it but being kind of frugal as opposed to someone that is just blowing through money. 100 percent living for the now. Could care less about anything to do with your financial success. And so identifying or knowing where you are on that spectrum or where your partner is on that spectrum to some degree is going to have to dictate where this conversation begins.
541 - 588 Brad Barrett So Jonathan what I'm actually curious as I know I've spoken a lot about myself and my wife Laura and how she is if anything more frugal than I am. So I know I have had a pretty easy path to explaining this but I haven't heard you mention all that much about your wife and the conversations that you guys had. So if you're up for it I think it would be really interesting for the audience so I mean just paint the picture for us so you graduated from pharmacy school about three and a half four years ago at this point I'm not sure the exact the exact amount and you had $160000 in debt. Did you guys have a conversation about a FI path. How did you come across this. Talk us through how that works and what your wife is as far as the spectrum goes. of FI I mean is she totally onboard. Are you kind of dragging her long as is she more frugal than you are. I'd love to hear about it.
588 - 745 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah. I love the in some way to some degree I've become a spokesperson for FI because in a not too distant past I was an excessive spender I was like Joel I was the guy that had the Amazon packages raining down on me. And then one very low moment in my life I remember that my wife then at that point my fiance for a very short period of time before I got my first job we were essentially living off her income and I had seen a pair of shoes that I really wanted and they were on sale like this you know Nike limited edition pair of shoes and I ended up ordering like two to three pairs of them something like that because I didn't think I was going to find them later on. And I did it with her income just and I was so embarrassed by that decision that I ended up hiding them in the attic for like three months before I ended up bringing down and I think that she's discovering this and was just furious with me about how I was just throwing our financial future away. And I mean the point there is like I actually get it. I understand the addictive nature of purchasing stuff even when it doesn't make sense. I couldn't identify with that path more. But on the other side of that I understand math. I understand logic. I can I can be convinced but only if I see a better way and I desperately want to win. Right. I almost have a neurotic need to win. That's why I chose pharmacy I saw it as a path to win a guaranteed path. I saw pharmacy as an opening there and I was the guy that spent years looking at these little life hacks how to shave seconds off by using little hacks on a computer or how to purchase little things that would in some way buy me seconds back or make my life easier in some small way. But when I went down the rabbit hole of financial independence I discovered the ultimate life hack and it stopped me in my tracks once I realized that I could achieve it within a five to 10 year window. If I put my mind to it changed everything for me and I would from the guy that literally to my shame and embarrassment purchased three pairs of shoes on my wifes income without telling her and hid them in a closet for four months to the guy that turned all my energies and all my activities into how to make FI a reality for me and my family. So my wife has always been this underlying stable frugal person but just saving money for money sake not spending money that you don't need to spend and that's an amazing baseline. But there was nothing else there. There was no higher picture I had to know what the other side looked like. And then once I saw it I couldn't pivot from the guy that was I was getting my quick fix by purchasing stuff on Amazon to the guy that was getting my quick fix by bumping my FI date down from 40 years to 20 years to 15 to attend to 5.
families, lifeoptimization, savings
745 - 777 Brad Barrett Wow Jonathan that's really powerful and I had no idea of any of that. And I can imagine the feelings of shame when when you do something like that in just the amazing turnaround you've had. I mean really nothing short of remarkable and you should be really really proud of yourself. And I'd love to hear. I mean like has your wife. What were her thoughts about your turnaround. Did you guys ever have like an actual overheard conversation about it. Did she ever give you feedback. Or was it just kind of like an underlying. OK this is our life now we're on this path to FI.
777 - 840 Jonathan Mendonsa So I'm one of these guys that when I go in I go on 110 percent. It is a 180. It will make your head spin how quickly I get excited about something and then just go for it. That's just my personality it comes across on the show. But she is still the same constant person that she has always been. She's the bedrock of our family. Frugality is built to some degree is into her nature. And so I think in some cases she spends more than me now though she has never spent it on herself. She's just a good person she wants to purchase things for other people. That's amazingly her thing. And sometimes I'm reeling her back in but there is a balance there that wasn't there before and honestly in this framework that we've created over the last four years where I paid off a hundred and sixty eight thousand dollars in debt. And I say I we did that as we did that her trust in me as a person and as me as a husband and now father and where I'm taking our financial future she trusts that the outcome is going to be what I have been telling her it is going to be because of the stability that I've been able to provide by not making all these stupid decisions that I was making just four or five years ago.
families, frugality
840 - 1028 Brad Barrett Yeah that's a fascinating perspective and I wonder I wonder how many people out there who are trying to get their spouses on board are coming from it from the perspective of they were the spender because right I think your perspective is probably maybe rare. You know I could be wrong but that's fascinating. You were the one who was the spender and now a reformed spender and you're trying to convince your wife that FI is the path. So to me that's really cool. And as they say the proof is in the pudding right. You are making these changes and your wife sees that you are all in on this and that has to give her some more trust and faith in you financially. And that has to help your relationship. So to me this comes back to just having a better life overall and FI is the ultimate life hack. Because once you have your financial issues in the past if you had any negative issues and once you have your financial situation solidified and on this path to fight in some X-number of years then all that concern is gone and you can focus on on your life and your life together. So I think a lot of us are concerned about having this conversation with our spouse or significant other and it's just our own trepidation and our own issues I think because if you can't speak to them about it and you can't start this conversation then that that's a problem just for life in general I would say. And also you clearly can't go out it in this adversarial manner if you do that like oh you have to stop your spending or you can't go and buy those Amazon things or you can't buy that set of golf clubs or that new pocketbook or whatever their defenses are going to get up. Right. And you know that conversation is not going to work. It just simply is not. So you as the person trying to convince your spouse of FI and this concept then the power of it. You need to be smart. There needs to be some strategy here. Right. You can't just say oh we're not spending any money we're depriving ourselves and I'm going to be retired in seven years. They're going to they're going to look at you like you have 100 heads. Right. I mean that's that's just crazy talk. So come at it with a strategy of put yourself in the shoes of the other person this is what one of the ways that I approach issues just just in life in general is what is the other person thinking what's their motivation and what are their incentives. So if you can put yourself in the mind of the other person and just picture that conversation because that's a pretty wacky conversation. Hey I read this blog called Mr. Money Mustache and now I want to ride my bike to work every day and spend $20000 a year and retire in seven years. Right. I mean they're going to hear that and they're going to tune you out. But if you came out and said I want to change our financial future I want to spend more time with you. I want to be happier and I want to create wealth. That's going to last for decades. Well OK. That's a conversation we can have. Right. So I think that's the way you want to approach this is put yourself in their shoes and hear what you're telling them because if you're telling them wacky stuff you read on the Internet they are not going to listen. I can guarantee you that. But if you come out with the approach of how can this help you them and your family for decades to come. Well that's a great conversation they'll have any time.
families, relationships
1028 - 1078 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah absolutely. And the one agendum to that that I will say is the one concept that gets my wife more excited about the idea of fi than anything else is the idea of me having the freedom to be a stay at home dad to be a dad at home with her not just from the age of 60 on but to be a part of raising our child or children together through their formative years. To her that is a thrilling concept and it's one that is potentially attainable for the fi community in many cases. You get to be a part of your family's life on a day to day basis. It's incredibly powerful and it's a selling point that after you work through some of these other things for her personally I think that is ultimately what sells her on the reason we should spend time learning all these amazingly awesome Fi concepts.
1078 - 1178 Brad Barrett Yeah I know I can speak from personal experience that being near FI or at FI over the last number of years has transformed my relationship with my daughters in such a positive way that I never could have imagined that there's no way that I could have imagined three years ago when I was sitting in an office from 8:30 to 5:00 every day plus a commute that my life would look like it looks today and that I could be as content and as happy as I am now and that I could be such a part of my girls lives. It's crazy. And I still sometimes have to pinch myself that this is real because this would have been impossible 10 years ago. I couldn't have comprehended it. I mean I knew I was saving money and we were frugal and all this stuff but until I came across this concept of FI this super power I never could have imagined this. And I can tell you and I think Jonathan and his wife see this from how my family lives that this is real. That's one of these things you need to see as Jonathan would say other people model it. And when you do you get a lot of comfort and the impetus to to actually make change just comes almost instantaneously because you see other people modeling it and it's real. So if that brings any benefit to anybody out there this is such a game changer in every way in your life. And I never would have gotten those years back if I had been in an office. You know I never would have had the time to spend with my daughter Molly who is going to kindergarten in the fall. I mean for the last two and a half years I've been home with her every single day. We've had lunch together every single day. We play UNO and Monopoly deal and all sorts of different games every single day. I mean that's just unheard of. And I just I realized how very fortunate I am and it's remarkable. It really is.
relationships, savings
1178 - 1254 Jonathan Mendonsa You know I'm glad you pointed that out because I don't think I've actually talked to you about how powerful that actually is being able to watch you model that with your family. So I'm a guy that's in a transition to FI in the very you know somewhat near future. And when I actually get to see you interacting with your family you're the first real person that I ever saw that was actually post-FI in their early thirties and to see the power of that and how that transforms everything. When I get a chance to see what that interaction actually looks like between you and your children in you and your spouse you are probably at the top of that five people for me everybody else was just a blog somewhere. You are actually doing it and being a part of your life continues to just blow my mind and get me more and more excited every single day about the choices that Danny and I have made to sacrifice the golf club membership to sacrifice the two new cars that we could have had to sacrifice. You know and I've seen sacrifice in quotes too because it really it hasn't affected us at all I could care less. But to make those choices to cut the cable to now use Project FI for our phones because we've made all those choices. I am dangerously close to FI and it is it is exciting. It is really exciting to be there at the edge so yeah. Thank you personally for being an intimate part of my inner circle.
1254 - 1257 Brad Barrett Yeah that's awesome. And that really means a lot to me. So thank you.
1257 - 1311 Jonathan Mendonsa OK. So that was really one of these parallel streams of thought which is really important to our community. The other half of this is the F-I community is a very big umbrella term for people that have all sorts of concepts about what the perfect life looks like and that is fine. There's room for that there's not a wrong answer there. FI is the goal its financial independence. It doesn't speak to one income bracket. You can be at $30000 or 20000 or $7000 see Jacob from ERE you can be FI at physician on fire 70 to $100000 levels. It's fine. It's a function of the math. But there is a difference between the approach from the minimalist perspective and the reluctant frugal perspective. So I love that Brad is what we call it's probably the funnier of the two it's the aspiring minimalist. This dude would live out of a hotel if he could and own absolutely nothing but he can't because he's got a wife and kids and they're holding him back from his true minimalist ways.
1311 - 1316 Brad Barrett Ha ha ha. Laura close your ears babe.
1316 - 1326 Jonathan Mendonsa But he is the aspiring minimalist and I am the reluctant frugalist and there's room for both crowds in the F-I community. So let's go and hop right into this Brad and talk about what the differences is.
1326 - 1367 Brad Barrett Nice. First I just want to say that that hotel thing is actually real. Our good buddy Edmund Tee who we talk about many many times. He has millions upon millions of rewards points because he does a bunch of gift card buying and selling actually as a business. So he e-mailed us with this grand plan that he had to sell his house and to live out of category 1 Hyatt hotels for an entire year and just have essentially room service of room cleaning. I mean it just sounds the greatest thing ever as far as I'm concerned. Like sell everything you own have nothing and just live out of a hotel. So I mean that is the most extreme example. But yeah I mean I was. My mouth is watering when I heard about that.
1367 - 1502 Jonathan Mendonsa So I. I love it. So this the second half I'm going to be honest this is going to be inspired by a article that will link to in the show notes from physicians on fire called minimalism versus frugality can they coexist. So a lot of these thoughts he prompted and we just want to riff off that essentially and talk about our own different perspectives because we do so clearly line up with one of those two mentalities. I think there's a lot of value in this conversation but I want to read just one paragraph from the article just to set this thing up. For centuries most people were both minimalist and frugal not necessarily by choice but out of necessity. Go back a century or more and you'll find smaller homes goods that were more expensive to produce and transport and a whole lot of people that couldn't afford to be anything but frugal and minimalist. Today many American families have the luxury of choosing to be frugal minimalist or neither minimalists are a small but growing subset of the population and many families in the middle class and above would not be considered frugal at least not to the extent that previous generations might have been. Nevertheless many of us particularly those with a bent for financial independence strive to be frugal and perhaps minimalist too. Personally I found that the two concepts are often at odds with one another and I appreciate both concepts for the benefits they provide. I love this. I think that that is a great introduction to this concept and to this conversation. I think that right now we have two people that represent both of those sides. And what's interesting is though why our motivations are polar opposites. The space that we inhabit is incredibly similar. So well point number one. Frugality employs a scarcity mentality. A frugal person does not like to waste anything. Wow this is so true in my life when when Danny and I do our grocery shopping it causes us actual physical pain to have to throw away a banana that's gone old or anything like that. We do not waste food. In fact it's one of the things that we get the most joy from is at the end of our two week period. Having finished all of the produce all of the fruits all of the meats anything that we would have purchased that would have gone off within that period of time. I like to come to the end of a two week food shopping segment and have an empty fridge. Brings a lot of satisfaction to my own personal life.
families, frugality
1502 - 1659 Brad Barrett Yeah that's really interesting because I don't think I have that mindset actually even though I generally consider myself a frugal person and certainly a minimalist and we'll talk about that more later. But yeah that kind of stuff never really crosses my mind. I don't think about scarcity or abundance I just feel like like I'm living this life of abundance where I have everything I need and anything that I want to buy or that I that I need to buy. We just purchase. I think a lot of people out there especially people not in the community. Do you think about life in terms of scarcity because there is a cashflow scarcity. They have to be concerned of Oh my goodness is my paycheck coming in on the 15th of the month because I have a bill coming out on the 16th and another check that I have to write on the 18th. And it's this constant worry of am I going to have enough cash flow to cover it and they're going to the gas station and only putting in $7 of gas because they have to think on that level. Whereas when you have an abundance of resources you can think in terms of value. And I think that's that's how Laura and I try to approach our lives and certainly our spending is I'm constantly telling Laura and she is a little bit different. I think she's more of that frugal scarcity mentality a bit where I'll see something that's going to sound like a silly example but just bear with a nonperishable item that's just on an amazing sale or she found some coupon that she can get it for a third of the price. She's an incredible shopper. I would say buy 20 of them buy a year's worth or two years worth whatever it may be because it's not an issue of cash flow. It's an issue of this is something we're clearly going to buy and we get value out of it and we need it. So why not buy and use the resources that we have to save even more money. That's one of the funniest parts of actually having money and having this mindset is you can save dramatically more than people who don't have money because they don't have the options to make those intelligent purchases like that. So I think again from this mindset perspective is we just don't buy that many things but when we do we make decisions fairly rapidly and with certainty because we research we find what we value in a purchase. And we again are decisive about it and that that's how I approach decisions is do I need something it's not. Am I worried about the cash. Am I worried about this am I worried about that because there's none of that scarcity. It's just do I need it. Do I value it. And then I make a purchase. So that really is how I approach life and finances in general.
1659 - 1702 Jonathan Mendonsa A minimalist will discard things based on rules and a frugal person scoffs at such rules. This is very interesting. So apparently and I do not know a lot about minimalism outside of the research that we just had for this episode but a minimalist has a couple rules like the 9090 rule if you haven't used it in the past 90 days and you won't use it in the next 90 days. You can let it go and then the 2020 rule don't hold on to just in case items quote unquote. If you can replace them for under $20 without going more than 20 minutes out of your way that is terrifying to me. I have an attic full of things that would not pass the 9090 rule or the 2020 rule I from a frugal perspective. I could not imagine going in replacing those things once I already own it.
1702 - 1898 Brad Barrett Yeah that's interesting. And these do appeal to me though I am not a true minimalist and in any sense I appreciate the mindset and these things do appeal to me. I think I would have a difficult time getting rid of something if I haven't used it just in three months. That seems like a short time span but I would probably add that that I've heard I've heard maybe a year or so certainly with clothes and I know I've been trying to basically cull all the items out of my house. Realistically we don't use so every week. The garbage comes on Tuesday and we try to go through the house or at least in a very quick and rudimentary way just just look for things that we clearly aren't using that are just taking up space because one thing we've found is that our brains are freer when we just don't have clutter. And I know this sounds silly and you might not even appreciate it until you do it. But take a room that you have just a lot of clutter in and really clean it not just tidy not just kind of put things into piles but get rid of everything and just even just move it to different for all I care. I'm not even talking I'm throwing everything out but it feels like an oasis. And that's the term that Laura and I use. And when one of us kind of clutter up the previous Oasis the other one kind of jokes about it because because you walk into the room and it just doesn't feel as nice. And I know this sounds kind of hokey and silly and you know I don't usually get into this kind of stuff but just take my word for it really try and there's some mentally freeing aspect of just not having a lot of clutter. So I definitely can appreciate that. And also what's funny you see the different mindsets when you have kids you see how your kids can be so wildly different. My older daughter is like a hoarder. And she just doesn't notice clutter. She could walk over the same pile of 100 markers that she dumped out four days before she could walk over that pile five hundred times that would never would never crossed her mind to move it. She's going to write her stories and make up new things. And all these other amazingly creative things. Whereas my younger daughter is a neat freak. She's amazing. One of her favorite pastimes. Now her and I are doing together is actually Jonathan since you mentioned the attic is our attic is full of a lot of junk and we literally go up there together. This is my 5 year old daughter. She asked me like Daddy can we go up and clean the attic today and we'll go up for her. I kid you not we go up for a half an hour an hour go through a ton of stuff bring it down and just either give it away to some charity or if it's garbage put it in the garbage and that's something we've done like three times now and she keeps asking me about. So she is a minimalist by nature and it truly is by nature. She's five years old but she loves it and she's constantly cleaning and getting rid of things so it's interesting to see that in your kids. So anyway getting back to these rules that 2020 that's a little harder. It's difficult especially when you have a house and you have enough space. Quote unquote It's hard to throw things out that you're going to use. I can appreciate the mentality of just not having junk. But if you are going to use some gadget in the next six months or a year or even the next year and a half whatever it is it's hard to justify throwing it out just to clear space in a closet so I am of two minds with this and I know I sound a little back and forth but I can appreciate the room but I still have a bit of difficulty following through exactly to the letter on that.
1898 - 1899 Jonathan Mendonsa Well you're aspiring.
1899 - 1900 Brad Barrett I am indeed.
1900 - 1926 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. One thing that I can see myself going in that direction from is all these work clothes that I have all these shirts and ties and khaki pants and everything that you really need for your 9 to 5 in a post FI life. I will gladly clear the closets of that entire spectrum. That entire array of clothing they will all be donated on to other people. I'm fine with it. Take it take it away.
1926 - 2017 Brad Barrett So Jonathan we've talked about your board game obsession a number of times. Right. And I think this kind of touches on like ownership versus the sharing economy and it might be a little bit different with boardgames. But but I always think back to college and a buddy of mine who you know was pretty wealthy. He had hundreds. This sounds antiquated at this point but hundreds of DVDs and it always struck me then that like this guy spent thousands of dollars buying DVDs and for what purpose. Like at that point it was pre Netflix I believe or at least as prevalent as it is now. But but it always struck me that why are you owning something that you just spent 20 bucks on that at most you're going to watch every couple of years. It almost just seemed like like a trophy case. And I see that with libraries as well or people buying people buying books in their house. And believe me I love books more than just about anyone I have a stack here of 15 books that I'm going to read in the next couple of months and I absolutely adore reading it's something I pass on to my kids so it's hugely important. But the concept of owning hundreds or thousands of books in your house it just seems very odd to me because you're just spending such a huge amount of money when you can just go to your local library. So I think the sharing economy has really changed my mindset. I mean you know me Jonathan I don't even want to own cars. I mean my perfect world is when the autonomous vehicle fleet takes over from Uber just calling them and taking me anywhere I need to go. Like I mean that's my perfect world pie in the sky maybe 10 to 50 years from now depending on your point of view.
college, library, mindset
2017 - 2026 Jonathan Mendonsa But hey I actually tried to start selling somebody on that the other day you're doing a number on my whole psyche man. I'm starting to visualize that more and more maybe it's a reality.
2026 - 2045 Brad Barrett Yeah it's coming. I think it's coming sooner than we think. But but anyway that's that's a digression but board games talk about like you know you were not just board games but buying things. I mean you get value as a reluctant frugalist like. Do You still get value out of buying things like is it. Does it make you happy and some of it is in that dopamine hit you you talked about earlier.
2045 - 2143 Jonathan Mendonsa Do I still get happy buying boardgames. Oh yeah man it's definitely still there. But I'm so close to the finish line now that it's kind of a diminished thing. The other half of that is I actually never did get caught up in the DVD craze. I never really got caught up in the video game craze and never got bought CDs. I've purchased one CD in my entire life I've purchased maybe one DVD in my entire life. I think I knew that there was no long term value there so I mean maybe that's just me and my own brain. Ijust I visualized the death of the tape deck the death of vinyl and I just saw all these things as just clutter. So there's something there. I never got excited about that but boardgames to me were different boardgames games to me were I'm putting my focus into purchasing things that will then allow me to spend time with other people. That was for me that was the pull of board games. If I get to a situation where I have all this free time because I'm at FI what am I going to do with this FREE time. My idea of the perfect week is one where there's a barbecue on Tuesday night and a board game night on Thursday night. That to me even now I get super excited about that. The reality is while I'm working my 9:00 to 5:00 and then doing this side hustle another 40 hours a week there is no time for board games. So as I move into this transition many of those board games are unopened on my shelf and I am just waiting for a near future in which I am scheduling these regular events. And yeah I get super excited about it still but I think there is a difference there between a board game and a DVD which is at a one time disposable item that even in a scenario where you're bringing people in to watch it with you you're not communicating with each other right. You're in a perfect world you're being quiet and being able to watch the movie. So I don't know. Is there a difference there.
2143 - 2159 Brad Barrett Yeah. No there definitely is. I fully appreciate that. And I love your perfect life there that you mentioned the board game night and a barbecue with friends. I mean that's probably what your FI life looks like. Right. So. I mean maybe you were you were buying without even knowing knowing about FI but somewhere in the back of your head.
2159 - 2214 Jonathan Mendonsa It's really sad how many an open board names I have on my wall is really an embarrassment. But yeah absolutely I get a huge kick out of it. Let's go and talk about spending money on items so a minimalist will pay top dollar for high quality items that serve multiple purposes and a frugal person will own multiple items that each serve an individual purpose. There is definitely a distinction there you know. If I were to add something to this to fill this out a little bit I remember reading early retirement extreme by Jacob Blon Fisker and I remember reading how he would literally own one plate one set of utensils one cup things like that and then right smack dab in the middle that he would own a $500 Vita Mix and I would be thinking to myself How do you put those two together. How does that happen. And it's because I didn't understand this this idea of purchasing an extremely high quality item that does multiple things the value of that for someone that values less is more.
2214 - 2356 Brad Barrett Yeah that certainly makes sense from this perspective and I had never fully contemplated this before just reading this now. I love the idea of buying an item with multiple purposes. That makes sense to me intuitively. I'm not sure that I've ever paid top dollar for anything. And that sounds a little weird. I am not a cheap person. I don't I don't think anybody would would refer to me as a cheap person. I'm not looking to save a buck at the expense of a value. I always have some sense of value in my head and it's sometimes it's we heard frankly like where I come up with these concepts and I can't really verbalize that which is a little odd on a podcast obviously but to me it's about the value of an item and what it's going to bring to me so I'll go into a store and will be researching blenders and some of the blenders have these crazy little gadgets and gizmos that were simply never going to use and they cost twice as much as just a standard blender so that instantly throws out all the gadgets and gizmos. Options for me. But we look at the standard blenders. I'm never going to purchase the cheapest one because almost invariably it's going to break or there's something wrong with that. Like that's where the value proposition comes in to me. So I'm looking for good reliable brands. I'm looking for the options that I actually need and will use like this is how I approach a buying decision. So hopefully this is helpful for someone out there that thinks similarly or or dissimilar as it may be and also name brands don't necessarily do anything for me like I think Jonathan you're probably experiencing this when it comes to buying items for your child. A lot of people buy these crazy expensive strollers that are five seven hundred dollars. Who knows even more than that. And in most cases it's just a brand name. So it's everything that I think is wrong with the world of buying an expensive car essentially that just for the name or the little logo we're buying an expensive pocketbook for hundreds and hundreds of dollars when a $50 one will serve you just as well. It's buying for name brand so I always have an issue with that and I find that it's the typical keeping up with the Joneses and unfortunately many parents in middle and upper middle class neighborhoods do that kind of stuff and there's no function there's no additional function. In most cases you're just paying for a brand and that kind of stuff I don't get. So I'm willing to pay top dollar for value that I consider.
2356 - 2465 Jonathan Mendonsa You know I don't necessarily need the brand name item. Having said that I often end up with a brand name. I spend all of my time looking at reviews of products that's kind of where I start. And then before I make a decision to purchase an expensive item I am looking at the math essentially down the road not always that it needs to even out you know how you looked at the value of purchasing that last gadget that you talked about very recently. I did the same thing on a much higher level like for instance I purchased this a little attachment for a blender a kitchen mixer I had it was a grinder you could put on the end of it and the math that I used to get there was that when I purchased ground chicken or ground turkey I would be spending four ninety nine or five ninety nine a pound to get it lean. Already purchased at if I purchased this grinder I couldn't purchase the whole breast for one ninety nine a pound and I could instantly turn it over and then I could make my own turkey burgers my own turkey meat that sort of thing. That is the sort of value choice that I made in my mind and we have the Vita Mix. That was a big purchase the way I sold that to myself. And again I'm not telling you that this is the right choice was that a lot of money absolutely did knowing that Jacob ERI purchased one influence my decision absolutely right this is a guy that lives on $7000 a year and if he's willing to set aside part of his kitchen for a Vita Mix was I thinking to myself was that all the justification I needed. Yes absolutely. But the way I had to justify it when I'm making this 300 or 350 or I think they go all the way up to 500 when you're making that expensive decision for my own frugal brain. I had to use some sort of math to justify that. And for me I was thinking all right well if we get this we have to swear that we're cutting down on the tropical smoothie because we can make these now at home and then I had to create a list of meals that I knew I would make on a regular basis and how often I would make it and then turn that into some sort of savings rate and just my quote unquote reluctantly frugal mind. That was what I needed or wanted in order to justify that purchase.
savings, testimonial
2465 - 2518 Brad Barrett Yeah that's a cool way of approaching a purchasing decision. And I think most people just don't do that in a gadget that you're talking about I bought this Egg cooker which sounds bizarre but I actually while it pained me greatly frankly to bring a new gadget into the house and into the kitchen it was a no brainer because it's going to actually save me money. There's like a break even point of one month on this item and we're very rapidly approaching it where I said I'm not eating Quest protein bars at $2 a pop for breakfast and instead having two hard boiled eggs that are perfectly cooked easily in this little egg cooker and that cost me 10 cents so there's a very quick break even point on this purchase. And even though it did pain me to bringing this item into the house it was an absolute no brainer. So I am not a minimalist in that sense that that I just won't buy anything. I'm intentional about my purchasing decisions and I think there's a huge distinction there.
2518 - 2587 Jonathan Mendonsa A minimalist has a small wardrobe quite possibly brand name and purchased new a frugal person has an expansive wardrobe quite possibly purchased used. This is one I was really excited to to talk about so again going back to ERE which I was reading again this past week as I was kind of preparing for this in that particular book he mentions purchasing a pair of hiking boots for roughly five hundred dollars who spends $500 on a pair of hiking boots that is living off of $7000 a year. That just doesn't that doesn't translate for me it doesn't compute. But in his mind this was the world's absolute perfect pair of shoes and it was one that he was going to use for the next 20 years and he justified it by saying instead of someone owning 10 to 15 pairs of shoes he would just have this one. And when the Sole ran out with this particular type he would have it resoled. I mean he made the compelling case for it instead of him having 10 pairs of shoes for different scenarios. He essentially had this one pair of shoes which to me I can't even comprehend that. But I got to say I am on the other side of that I have the expansive wardrobe. Much of it purchased on sale or on clearance. And so yeah that that for me that's a very different line. And I fall into one of those categories very very completely.
2587 - 2660 Brad Barrett Yes somewhat unsurprisingly here in this conversation I'm kind of in the middle again. Right now I'm I'm learning something about myself here by reading this major bullet point so I certainly do not have an expansive wardrobe. I try to cull as much as I possibly can and I've done a pretty darn good job of that recently of going through my closet especially since I'm not going to work any more. And just getting rid of just about everything donating it to charity and because simply I'm not going to wear that stuff. So that aspect I'm definitely on the minimalist side but I'm not going out and buying $500 or hiking but certainly Jonathon's seen seen my wardrobe and most of it consists of three T-shirts that I've gotten from fin con that are comfortable T-shirts and now my new ChooseFI T-shirts. We just recently purchased so I'm not buying expensive stuff but I try to keep my wardrobe lean and mean because realistically I don't go out that many places at this point and I probably need five or 10 tee shirts and couple of pairs of shorts and a couple of pair jeans and some exercise clothes. I mean that is pretty much if I just had those items especially since it doesn't get that cold here in Richmond in the winter you don't need sweaters or anything crazy like that I would pretty much get me through a year. I mean if I just wanted to put it into one suitcase. So in that respect I'm definitely more on the minimalist side.
2660 - 2703 Jonathan Mendonsa But this is the crazy part and this is why I got so excited about this particular bullet point is that I'm moving more and more in that direction. Like for instance if I were to think about without my clothes for work attire without the clothing that I have to wear to work if I were to say I'm done I'm setting that aside if I were to think about what I wear my free time. Yeah right now where I am I choose FI gear love in this and then I have like two pairs of shorts that I love. I have my Birkenstocks which is now embarrassing to say this on live. And I have a pair of sandals and frankly nine months out of the year that's what I can get away with. And it is amazing how when you simplify your life and you simplify the amount of scenarios that you're putting yourself in and you're spending more time with family get to a Steve Jobs place where one outfit will basically cut it for everything right.
2703 - 2764 Brad Barrett Yeah and that's a cool point that getting rid of that decision making point or the cognitive load. Just make your brain operate more efficiently. I'm trying to take a lot of these decision points out of my life because psychologists talk about decision fatigue and it sounds kind of a kind of weird if you've never heard about this concept so I'm not going to go too far into it. But the fewer decisions you have to make in a day the more optimally your brain works essentially and the less fatigue you have at the end of the day when you've had to make only let's say 20 decisions as opposed to 100. So if you can get rid of a lot of this stuff like on simple things like what clothes you're going to wear or what breakfast you're going to eat or what once you're going to have as opposed to agonizing over a menu at the Cheesecake Factory where there are five hundred decisions and you have to decide what to eat. I like that is very taxing mentally. So this ties into the happiness and just having a better life aspect is try to take decisions out of your life if you possibly can. So this is a nice easy way to do so.
2764 - 2808 Jonathan Mendonsa A minimalist is less likely to have a large lawn and more likely to hire it's maintenance. A frugal person does all the yard work owns a full complement of lawn garden tools and quite possibly stores them in a shed. So this is perfect I'm excited to hear Brad's thoughts on this. I have this shed it's full of all the lawn equipment. I get a kick out of actually doing it for the most part as long as there is time available of mowing the lawn and have the riding lawnmower and putting the mulch out and to some degree weeding doing the weed whacking. I mean I want all the tools. I enjoy the tools. It's part of the life that I want to build. I try to get a very good deal on those when I'm purchasing and that's my thing. I like to get them on sale. I look for the best deal I scour and scrounge around until I can get a good value on those. But ultimately I like to have that stuff.
2808 - 2882 Brad Barrett Yeah I'm the exact polar opposite. I do happen to have a lawn because you know we live in a suburban part of town. But man if I could do it all over again I would have no interest in a lawn. I get no value whatsoever from doing any of this stuff. I wish that I didn't own a lawnmower or didn't own any of these tools. And we don't have a big collection by any means but for me I personally get no value whatsoever out of it. I try to do a little yard work because I can I basically mow the lawn and we weed every now and again as minimally as we can without getting overrun here. But yeah this just doesn't do it for me. I think just because I do have the time I think it's difficult for me to justify at this point hiring a maintenance company to come and mow the lawn every week for whatever it is $40. I mean that adds up pretty quickly and I think I have a really difficult time justifying spending a couple of thousand dollars a year when I am perfectly healthy and capable of mowing the lawn for 40 minutes. You know once every six to eight days so I think that's really the hold up for me. But I would have no issue if money wasn't a problem. I would have no issue whatsoever hiring a maintenance company because I get no personal satisfaction out of out of the lawn in general or from doing any of the work.
2882 - 2887 Jonathan Mendonsa Which maybe translates more into the rent versus buy conversation that we'll have down the road.
2887 - 2900 Brad Barrett And that is very very true. Or even the type of home you buy. Some people just love having a big suburban home with a lawn. And for me yeah that that just doesn't necessarily do it for me though that is that is my life obviously.
2900 - 2986 Jonathan Mendonsa So let's go ahead and just take a second and talk about our overlap. Obviously these two concepts do not exist in a vacuum. There is so much overlap there and there's room for you to start in one camp as you introduce your spouse to a topic and then realize that as you get closer to FI you may find yourself pivoting as you add some of these other ideas in to the other side of the framework which maybe is minimalism. Let's say you started reluctant frugal ism as a vehicle to get the ultimate life hack financial independence under your belt. Let's say that you start there. That's essentially where I was. You will inevitably find yourself to some degree moving to this other end because it just makes sense but you can't start with minimalism for the outsider you you just you're not I just don't see that working unless that is your nature unless you're Molly a five year old natural minimalist that's just not going to work for you to try to convince your 35 37 year old spouse that hasn't been digging this concept. You're not going to convince her to start biking to work. It's just not going to happen. But you should be able to have that conversation about reluctant frugalism as as a vehicle to get your freedom because that can sell. And then once you're there this is what the step wise process looks like. You don't have to I'm very happy where I am at as a reluctant frugalist. But I will tell you that inevitably the appeal is there more and more because you are freed from the attraction and the addiction to stuff. That's just what happens. And you realize that the ultimate goal is your time and your freedom.
2986 - 3074 Brad Barrett Yeah that makes perfect sense to me. And like we always talk about here. ChooseFI is about making this approachable for regular families out there. And it's not an all or nothing thing. I think that's really important here. Like we talked about at the beginning of the episode you need to find out what motivates you your spouse your happiness all these kind of things like that's the starting point and then even if your nature is not frugal or minimalists or whatever even if you're a spender Well you can take inspiration from Joel and Alexis at FI 180 and make a game out of it and realize that this is a path to a better life. So I think that is clearly the background. And once you get like Jonathan's head once you get beyond that addiction once you get beyond the Dopamine hit you realize that you don't need all that stuff that you were buying previously to just fill some satisfaction because that doesn't make you happy anymore. At this point in my life we have everything that we want and if something arises that we determine has value or that we need or even we want we buy it. And it's not this deprivation mindset it's not waiting for Valentine's Day to come around to spend $300 on my wife on useless garbage. We don't think like that we think in terms of what will make us happier and we buy it if if need be. So there's no deprivation. It's just figuring out what makes sense for your life and what you derive happiness from.
families, mindset
3074 - 3079 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright My friends the fire is spreading and we'll see you next time as we continue to go down the road less traveled.

Stay Connected