I thought it’d be interesting to compare our actual moving expenses with our estimated moving expenses. And I believe this will lead into a rant about modern living, early retirement, and education. We’ll see.
Let’s take a peak out the window of our new situation.
Before we moved, I estimated $30,000 in expenses. The big expense was our car, because now we need 2 cars as modern dual income working professionals. We also needed a bunch of furniture because all we owned was a couch, a bed, and an old dresser.
Well, the numbers are in — gaze upon them and be astounded:
I’m not sure what’s astounding about this, I just wanted a dramatic transition.
Mrs. Rich told me my estimates were too low, and she was right. That said, I was expecting it to be worse. Every time we leave the house we spend a few hundred dollars on something. I’m not complaining at all — we knew we’d spend a lot getting a car and getting our apartment set up. $6,000 isn’t nothing, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I decided long ago I don’t want to lose sleep over money.
Here are some observations about minimalism vs. frugality, modern professional living, and FIRE (financial independence / early retirement).
MINIMALISM VS. FRUGALITY
The personal finance blogosphere has already noted this apparent paradox, that minimalism (desiring fewer possessions) is often at odds with frugality (desiring inexpensive possessions). I think we’re a good example of this.
I was telling someone about the furniture we needed, and they commented, “You could find a lot of that on Craigslist.” I can’t remember what I said, but I was thinking, “Do people still buy second-hand merchandise from would be serial killers?”
But seriously, the Rich family doesn’t use Craigslist. Mrs. Rich and I agree that we don’t really want a cheap find; we want a quality piece of furniture that we enjoy and would like to keep. That’s minimalism vs. frugality. So when you look at the line items like Rug, Dressers, End Tables — that’s what you’re seeing.
Even the cat is getting into the act, showing an interest in Crate And Barrel!
MODERN PROFESSIONAL LIVING
I would describe us as modern professionals. We’ve got the dual careers, the dual cars, the school activities, and the Vitamix. This is what we want. But in the midst of this tumultuous transition, I need to say something: I understand.
I understand the desire for simplicity — something you, Penny, have expressed over and over in one way or another. My life right now isn’t difficult, but it isn’t simple either. And this is mostly by choice, and the consequence of a life where one moves around.
We’re busy, juggling school related activities and work related activities. On top of it all, I volunteered to coach Kindergarten soccer. What was I thinking? Yet another activity.
Most of our stuff is still on a boat, so we’re eating take out on paper plates. At night we’re exhausted. It won’t last forever, but it’s been quite week. Or two.
I understand your mixed feelings about education in America. We went from a small cozy international preschool to a huge chaotic urban elementary school. Our boys, so far, don’t like it very much. All the rules, regulations, and impersonal interactions … I understand why you can’t stand it. Part of me wanted to pull them out after the second day, drop everything, and move to Finland.
THE FIRE DESIRE
I understand why people strive for FIRE — Financial Independence and Early Retirement.
Everything we are doing right now relates to our careers in some way. We wouldn’t choose this elementary school if not for where we live. We wouldn’t live where we live if not for our careers. We pay this high rent so we can be close to work. Most other expenses — clothes, cars, conveniences, etc — are related to making life as easy as possible in order to accommodate our careers. Or our cat’s obsession with home decor.
Everything leads back to work. And so, yeah, I get the FIRE desire. Save a ton, live simply, and never plan anything around work again. Sounds nice.
As I pondered all this, I wondered — is this really “the good life” that I’m striving for? Should we make some changes to the way we’re going about this?
THE GOOD LIFE IS NOT ABOUT PERFECT COMFORT
And yet …
I go back to this idea of the good life … was I assuming that living the good life meant no difficult transitions, no busy stretches, no stress? Was I assuming a life of perfect comfort? Of course not. The good life is still life.
We’ll get through this transition in a couple months. The boys will adjust to school, our apartment will start to feel like home, and so on. We will learn things about ourselves that we didn’t know before. We’ll start to enjoy the daily grind more.
Today I sat up in the rooftop lounge of my new building, looking out on the pool and the skyline of our city. I chatted on the phone with a friend and then planned out my soccer practice. Then I used the gym, which felt great.
On the way to soccer, my kids and I passed their Assistant Principal from school (whom we know fairly well already because of the kids’, uh, rambunctious reputations) and they excitedly talked about soccer. At practice, my boys beamed as they got to introduce me as their coach.
Maybe it’s all worth it.
I’m not going to give a happiness score this month, because those reports were getting a bit stale, but I’ll say this: I’m not ready to abandon modern living, to trade minimalism for cheap goods, or to abandon my career for a work free existence. Not yet, anyway.
How’s your month going?