Mr. Groovy and I currently save over fifty percent of our gross income. One reason we’re able to save so much is because we have no friends. Well, let me qualify that. We have no friends that live near us.
Nine years ago we moved from Long Island to Charlotte, North Carolina, and yet after all this time we haven’t forged any new friendships. Why? Are we social misfits? No, we’re actually awesome and people love us. We’re just homebodies. And we’re perfectly content with having acquaintances here in Charlotte, while seeing our lifelong New York friends a few times a year.
Another reason we’re able to save so much is because we both work from home. That means no commuting costs. My round-trip train fare in New York was over $2,000 a year and I’m sure the cost has gone way up. We spend maybe $30 a month on gas for errands around the neighborhood, and even car insurance is less when you’re not using your vehicle regularly for job commuting.
Without physically reporting to an office, we have no peer pressure to join in on activities that cost money. There’s no going out with the gang for lunch or happy hour, and no need to ante up cash for girl scout cookies, wedding gifts, fantasy football, the boss’s favorite charity, or going away parties. The one exception is when Mr. Groovy meets up for lunch with a few office buddies who also work from home. But that’s maybe once every other month and according to our groovy expense tracker, he has never spent more than $10.
My work pals are in New York and I see them for a holiday lunch once a year, covered by my boss. My only other opportunity for catching up is by phone. There’s no stepping out to Starbucks on a break or shopping at Macy’s, a favorite past-time for several of my co-workers. There’s also no quick jaunt for a newspaper and candy bar and no vending machine with M&Ms calling to me by name.
Our clothing costs are minimal since we have no office dress code to obey. Mr. Groovy trims his own hair, while I go to a salon, but schedule my appointments 8-10 weeks apart and keep the cost under $50. I hardly buy makeup since I don’t wear it during the week, although when I first began working remotely I got all dolled up. Every day I’d wash and blow my hair, put on makeup, and don business casual clothing before hunkering down in front of my computer. It would crack Mr. Groovy up. That lasted only a few months but it helped set me on the path of committing totally to my job during working hours.
I mentioned the little money we spend on gas, and having no friends plays a part in that as well since we’d be driving much more if we had others to socialize with. We live in the country so the mileage would add up. Then we’d be frequenting movies, bars or restaurants where we would spend at a level we’re not comfortable with. For us, a $6 matinee is fine a few times a year; 12 bucks for Chinese food is an occasional treat, and a nice meal on occasion usually costs under $40. Who can go out with friends for an evening and spend as little as that?
When we sit down to dinner at home we’re usually joined by our closest companion, Groovy Cat, who loves being near us. He’s the baby of the house, but he’s certainly cheaper than a child! His expenses are on track to reach around $900 for 2015, including food, vet, cat sitter during vacations, and his litter, which I now buy at the Tractor Supply Store. It’s better than the dust-free clumping kind from PetsMart and costs one third the price.
You can be like us if you want to supercharge your quest for financial independence. Just have no friends, work from home, forego children and have no dogs (groovy cats are OK). If you read Mr. Money Mustache you’ll know that he took some heat for his post about dog ownership, but he’s right. Dogs are expensive and they are optional. By all means, if you can afford them, the love they bring to a home is priceless. But please go to a animal shelter or rescue agency if you decide to get a dog or cat.
I’m not saying this lifestyle is for everyone. It works for Mr. Groovy and me especially since we’re late-bloomers. By the time we married, having children wasn’t part of the equation, and in hindsight, that was a lucky break. Because when times were lean, additional mouths to feed would have been tough.
I have no doubt we would have managed if we had children, but I also have no doubt we’d both be working until at least Social Security retirement age. In the midst of many bloggers writing about financial independence, we’re old farts. But to the baby-boomer friends we grew up with, and our families, retiring in our mid-50s is almost unthinkable.
What do you think? Do you feel pressured to spend more money when with friends? Maybe the pressure doesn’t even come from them, but you just want to fit in and not feel like the odd person out?
I’d love to see your replies telling me about your experiences.