Archive for July, 2011

Living it up or scaling down?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I recently came across a thought-provoking blog: Early Retirement Extreme written by one Jacob Lund Fisker. It chimed with many thoughts I’ve been having; mostly mid-life crisis ones, around what’s it all about?

His philosophy is essentially Bhuddist in outlook – that happiness does not result from consumerism, but rather from self-actualisation. He is unapologetically frugal, earning far more from investments than he spends, but the early retirement in his title is somewhat of a misnomer – he is not promoting an end, but a shift in expectation & outlook. Following his methods may indeed allow you to “retire” in 5 years, but that’s a side effect of living in balance, not a marathon session of denial ahead of an almighty splurge.

Those methods are the antithesis of the usual run of get-rich-quick schemes. They are focused almost entirely on not spending, as opposed to earning large amounts of money to support an unsustainable lifestyle. Affluenza is indeed the disease of our time. I look at couples who feel the need to live in 4/5 bedroom houses, and wonder why?

I’m probably consuming more housing than I need. The inertia that stops me selling the house to buy a small flat outright sends me to a job that takes all my energy and most of my time and prevents me doing the things I might like to do. As a result, I have no time or energy to do jobs such as washing windows (and I’m teetering on the brink of an ironing service), thereby compounding the need to go to work to pay for the things I only need because I go to work. But what is it all for? You spend all your life working yourself to death to assemble stuff that is skipped when you die. What was the point? Polyp sums it up thus:

The problem with Fisker’s philosophy is moving towards it once you are on the hamster wheel of salary slavery. I could potentially live more frugally – I could rent a room round the corner from where I work, sell the car and pay off the mortgage on the house. But inertia’s the problem, solved by another day of life wasted. Hmm.