One of the things I've learned by reading several books and blogs on financial independence is that I need to keep track of my spending. When you make a monthly detailed list of all your spending you will become more aware and in control of your spending behaviour and your money. In the pursuit of financial freedom it is imperative to know what you're spending you hard earned cash on.
It's 6:45 Monday morning and I'm woken up by my alarm clock. Time to get up and get ready for work. Yet another work-day, yet another work-week. It is still dark outside and temperatures are barely above freezing point. While thinking about all the good times I had in tropical, far-away places the thought off having to go to work fills me with a great sense of gloom.
According to the Roman Catholic church there are seven deadly sins that form the ground on which many other sins are based. The seven sins are quite obvious and self explanatory. They are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. These sins are basically the excessive versions of our natural desires and behaviours. I'm not a horrible person, but I do have to admit that some of these sins do apply to me. Being a sinner and a non-believer will probably guarantee me I will someday find myself at the closed gates of heaven. If such a place exists.
I've been investing my money in ETF's for well over 5 years now and during that time I saw a couple of big 'dips' in the value of my portfolio. In most cases corrections on the stock market caused this sudden drop in the value of my investments. Each time I saw my portfolio drop by 4-5% and the value lowered by approximately €15.000. A pretty big chunk of money.
I have to say that when I first heard that some one was saving money to retire early I was very sceptical. My first responds was that it was silly. To be able to retire early you would need a lot of money and it would be impossible to save that much money in such a short time. However, I didn' t know much about early retirement so I didn't express any strong opinions at the time. Which is very un-Dutch of me. Us Dutch are well know for being direct and straight forward (or downright blunt and rude if you ask me), but I just expressed mild scepticism.
To become financially independent your savings need to generate enough money to pay for your monthly expenses. But what is "enough"? How can you tell how much money you need to save in order to become financially independent? How do you calculate something like that? This, of course, differs from person to person. What level of comfort do you need or want? How much money do you need on a yearly basis to sustain your preferred way of living? I can't really answer that, that's up to you! But to give you an idea, if you want to be on the absolute safe side think about the 4% rule*.
When you search the internet for a definition of frugality most say it means "the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance". For me frugality stands for freedom and independence. A more down to earth way of explaining frugality is "to create or fix things yourself, don't waste anything and do not buy any stupid crap you don't really want or need".
I always had a pretty normal and standard life. As a teenager I rode mopeds, I had friends and I went to school to create a more secure future for myself. After school I went to college to study Applied Mathematics, I moved out and indulged myself in the fun and exciting life of college. During high school I worked at a supermarket re-stocking the shelves. I didn't earn much, but it was enough to pay for clothing and drinks on the weekends. It also relieved some of my mother's monetary stress, since we didn't have a lot of money. Our furniture mainly consisted of old discarded giveaways.