When people talk about FIRE, the usual thoughts go straight to topics such as investing and passive income. What about the other incremental changes from following the FIRE lifestyle? Here are 9 surprising lifestyle benefits we’ve found on our own path to FIRE so far.
One thing we’ve realised is just how much our lifestyle has changed since diving deeper into our FIRE journey over time. These lifestyle benefits that have become part of us, are almost like our Guiding Principles going forward. As you read through, know that these benefits are from our own personal journey. Everyone’s path is different, have a think about what areas of your life have changed since you started on your journey.
9 Surprising Lifestyle Benefits from Following the FIRE Lifestyle
Interestingly, it’s not necessarily from a place of wanting to save money, I feel it’s because our focus and values have shifted over time. The definition of frugal is sparing or economical in use when it comes to money and food – I think that mindset starts to spill over into other areas too. We become economical in all aspects of life – whether that’s through transport, the activities we do or even small changes like using homemade hankies instead of tissues (thanks Laura!).
Our friends know we’ve always got a coupon in our wallet or head straight for the specials section at the supermarket. There’s nothing better than rescuing $1 bag of bread rolls or 75% off yoghurt that’s still fresh and in date, and saved from being thrown out. While this does save a lot of money, it’s also good against the war on waste.
Trading skills or time for free tickets to events, restaurants or places is another favourite of ours. One of our best from last year was attending the ballet in almost front row seats in exchange for an article write up to help publicise the show (worth over $400AU if we’d paid!).
We’ve also recently joined our local Buy Nothing group thanks to The Joyful Frugalista‘s recommendation in her book. This has been fantastic for both giving away unwanted items to our community, and also receiving some great things we needed – such as a brand new Christmas tree Laura wanted and a butter dish and pasta drying rack for the kitchen!
There are so many areas you can apply frugality to your life. This is definitely one of our favourite benefits of the FIRE lifestyle.
Minimalism! What an amazing benefit.
Is there anything better than living in a home that has enough?
All of your favourite things, no more and no less. Everything has a place, a home or ‘a spot’ to go to, and nothing is ever lost or simply hanging around.
There’s clarity in living a minimalist lifestyle. I don’t think it’s ever a one off event, like the challenges you see to minimise X number of items in a day, week or month. It’s like your eyes and mind become attuned to everything you’re using, so when it’s been a few months and you’re tidying a particular area, you find that certain items begin to stick out when they haven’t been used. Almost as if they become louder, taking up more of your mental space as it waits for you to pick them up and give them to a new home.
It’s amazing how much our ‘stuff’ has minimised over the years. We thought we didn’t have a lot of stuff, but after travelling around the world for a year and living out of a backpack, seeing all our boxes stacked up on our arrival home seemed too much. It’s easy to think you don’t own a lot when all your items are spread out around a house, but when you pile them up together in boxes it become obvious real quick how much you REALLY have!
The biggest areas we’ve pared down on have been our books and DVDs. Most of our favourite movies are now stored on a single hard drive and books can be borrowed via our library’s app or from the library itself (We’ve still kept hard copies of our absolute favourites!).
Overall, I feel living a minimalist lifestyle adds even more side benefits to your lifestyle. For us it makes us money in the items we sell, saves us time as we don’t need to clean up as regularly (as everything has a home) and is aesthetically pleasing to look at a nice clean and tidy home. Win, win!
Sustainability & Eco-Friendly
I never thought starting on this FIRE journey would lead us so far down the rabbit hole of sustainability. Since starting this journey, we no longer have a rubbish bin and recycle over 95% of the items that come through our kitchen.
It started after a few frugal books had tips about being more sustainable around the house and Laura wanting to leave a more conscious footprint on the earth. After adapting a few easy practises like saying no to plastic where possible and putting our food scraps in the green waste bin, they quickly turned into habits. Over time we added more until one rubbish day our bin was still empty. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been in making a few conscious adjustments to our lifestyle to almost completely eliminate unrecyclable goods.
We’ve also got a small vegetable and herb garden with everything from tomatoes, corn, kaffir lime and chillies to help cook our favourite recipes in the kitchen.
At work, we’re thankful to have a paperless office, with the websites we build not requiring us to print or use many resources other than our computers!
The benefits here are not just good for the world, but better for our health and our wallets. Our current aim is to cut our petrol usage by half this year. So far, so good. Our petrol is currently down by two thirds, and we’re loving the transition.
Next, we’d love to start making our own household cleaners and bathroom products, but one step at a time! If you have any tips or recipes in this area, we’d love to know! Share them in the comments, pretty please. 🙂
I always used to consider philanthropy as only giving or donating money to causes. I never considered it to be when you gift items, time, skills or advice. Reading Canna’s book on Mindful Money changed the way I thought about the concept of Philanthropy. While we may not donate a lot of money at this stage in our life, we do like to give in all other areas.
In fact, the very definition of Philanthropy according to Merriam-Webster is ‘goodwill to fellow members of the human race’. No mention of money there!
We’ve always donated items to charity and supported women in business through Kiva, but we never stopped to consider those other ways we could help people.
As part of the Buy Nothing group, we often give away anything we can so we know it’s going direct to a new home. This might be giving fresh oregano cuttings from the garden to one lady so she could make fresh pizza or an old Kindle to a girl who was about to move interstate for a new job and couldn’t believe her luck when we gave it away. We’ll happily donate our time helping our best friend with babysitting, putting together furniture or cooking dinner for her to ease just a little strain as a single parent.
I love giving advice when it comes to money, budgeting or running a business. I’m forever chatting with people over coffee, Instagram or a quick phone call. They’ll often joke Laura and I are like their life coaches! 😂
There are so many ways you can donate, volunteer or give back to the community that don’t have to have a dollar amount. Stop to think about all the areas in life and see whether you’re a little more philanthropic than you thought you were too!
This benefit is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling for me. I want to do more here – explore where and how I can be a better human for others. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do!
Creativity & Problem-Solving
If there’s one thing being frugal and minimising does – it’s helping to spark creativity.
From intriguingly awesome masterchef creations out of pantry staples to using left-over wire twisty-ties to help stake your tomatoes.
One of my favourites was just before our wedding. Instead of a first dance, we opted to do a ‘first song’ and surprise our family by playing an acoustic rendition of our favourite song. A couple of nights before the wedding, we went to put a strap on the acoustic guitar and realised there was no attachment knob on the neck. After Googling music stores nearby and parts on eBay, I realised we probably didn’t have time to go get the part.
Then I had an idea.
I had my electric guitar with the part I needed, which I could remove and put on the acoustic. After a 5 minute YouTube video, there I was at 10pm at night with the drill out to install the new knob on the neck. It fit perfectly – problem solved!
Sometimes all it takes is stopping for a minute to think about where you are, what you have and what you can do. Not to mention the pride achieved when you are able to come up with a crafty solution that saves you time and money!
It’s natural for humans to walk around with a big ol’ negativity bias going on in our heads. Everywhere you look, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong, what needs fixing or to be improved. Cultivating daily gratitude in our lives has helped us to flip the switch and start a habit of appreciating and looking for the positives in every situation.
It’s those moments where you sit back in awe at the perfection of a situation that are so important to hold onto and appreciate the joy, happiness and gratitude for what it is. Instead of your mind going straight to a negative thought and waiting for that ‘other shoe to drop’. Brene Brown describes this well.
“If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy. How many of you have ever sat up and thought, ‘Wow, work’s going good, good relationship with my partner, parents seem to be doing okay. Holy crap. Something bad’s going to happen’? You know what that is? When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding: ‘I’m scared it’s going to be taken away. The other shoe’s going to drop…’ What we do in moments of joyfulness is, we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”
Gratitude for the both of us is definitely a work in progress. Each day we try to turn our habits into positive thought and ground ourselves by staying in the moment and not trying to run away with our negative thoughts pulling us the other way. It may be cliche but I’m grateful for our on-going learning of gratitude.
DIY & Self-Reliance
It’s so convenient being able to fix things yourself. Even as I’m writing this, today I watched a couple of videos to refresh myself on fixing a flat bike tyre. I also learnt to adjust the disk brakes so they don’t squeak. My e-bike was fixed within half an hour – the same time it would’ve taken just to drive to the closest bike shop to pay for it to be repaired.
We find DIY projects usually end up being a great activity to do together as a couple, whether Laura is sanding while I paint or putting our heads together to problem solve a tricky upholster job. It also saves us a lot of money and we learn valuable life skills we can utilise again and again. A bonus from having these skills also means we can help friends and family in need with gained knowledge.
I never used to consider self-care. I’m someone who is just go, go, go all the time. My mind never stops…or at least I thought it didn’t.
Laura has been training me well to take downtime, to journal, read and meditate and give my mind a rest. I’ve learned to adapt and slow down when I know I’m pushing myself too far. I find I usually end up being able to achieve much more with breaks in between work time than just slogging along.
We’ve also brought self-care into our daily routine. Our mornings are for us, they are slow and they are so nourishing. From the ritual of making a fresh coffee or tea (or Milo!), to hopping on the couch with a good book and a tasty banana oat smoothie. We try not to check emails or start work first thing, so we look forward to the start of everyday.
Looking forward to seeing the progress I’ve made here in another year’s time. Good thing we have this blog to track our journey! 😉
Present/Living in the Now
Time is something so valuable, each moment so precious and passing in an instant. Over these last few years we’ve really grown appreciation for every second, hour and day we have.
Whether it’s curling up with a good book for four hours straight or getting out on the water and paddleboarding with dolphins, we’re so grateful for the time we’ve made to be able to do these things.
The biggest change that’s made a difference to living in the now is giving away our TV. We haven’t had one since October last year, and the amount of time that’s opened up in our life has been incredible. The big black box in the middle of the lounge room has been replaced with our favourite indoor plants, wedding photos and Laura’s yoga mat proudly laid out in front of the former TV now decorative cabinet.
What’s crazy is we don’t even miss it.
Removing the TV (thanks to Modern FImily for the idea) has been incredible. Nights seem to go forever as we spend more time in conversation, reading, walking or catching up with family and friends. By not having a TV in the room you’re constantly looking at, it’s removed the easy habit of ‘just seeing what’s on Netflix’ rather than considering what you truly feel like doing for the evening.
Riding our e-bikes to the shops and to work meetings has been such an interesting change. Instead of being in the car with music on, we’ve got the breeze blowing in our hair zooming along in the sunshine and talking about new ideas or the scenery so we arrive at our destination refreshed and energised. Riding a bike keeps your awareness heightened of everything around you, helping to keep you in the now rather than stuck in your head.
Consciously making the effort to be more present is so rewarding.
The slower life just becoming more and more appealing with time.
FIRE here we come!
The best thing about all the above is how they all start to intertwine.
From being more frugal, we start to become more sustainable – reducing our footprint on the world.
While being sustainable, we might minimise the things we use and need. Each item holding more value and feeling like we have enough.
Minimal items require us to get creative and problem solve, so next thing we know we’re DIYing our self-care creams and diffusers.
Then from our self-care routines, we begin to live much more in the moment, thinking deeply and leading us to new ideas and ways to give more to others.
What. A. Cycle.
To think it all started from the choice to lead us into a life in the hope of a financially free future.
That’s some pretty surprising side benefits right there, don’t you agree?
We’d love to get the conversation going on your discoveries over time. What areas have you seen the most changes in your life and what side-benefits have you uncovered on your journey to FIRE?