There seems to be a general feeling on a lot of FIRE sites and forums that people who don’t commit to saving and achieving FI are suckers for not ducking out of the rat race as soon as possible. Sometimes the attitude is almost vicious, like they want to point and say “Look at those idiots!” when talking about people who buy big houses, fancy cars, or anything else that the FIRE community disapproves of.
I was thinking about this the other day when I was talking with an older manager at my job. He had just bought a sailboat, which had been a lifelong dream for him. His face absolutely lit up while talking about taking it out on the lake over the weekend. It may have been a major purchase that set back his retirement by a few years, but there’s no way he minded that at all.
I know other people who will be paying off mortgages for decades to come. By some standards, they bought houses that they shouldn’t have. However, if they honestly love their houses and find joy in filling the rooms and showing it off, what harm is it? There’s no shame in working your whole life in order to afford the things that you prioritize in life.
Personally, there isn’t a lot that I value more than the idea of more free time. I’ve been looking at everything on past credit card statements and asking myself if I would rather do that again or retire a day earlier, and in almost all cases, those purchases don’t mean as much to me. I do have my favourites, though, that I’m likely to keep getting. Even though it means that each purchase means that our FI date gets pushed out a little, I value those little luxuries in my day-to-day life that make it worth it. I’m certainly not in any position to judge people who have more of those, whether it’s shoes, furnishings, cars, food, drink, or anything else. If you are honestly getting pleasure from those purchases, and you like your life with them more than you like the idea of not working without them, then your life is rich and full as anyone else’s. We all have our different priorities. I know people who would view a life without a full time job or kids as shallow and empty as I view a life working for 30 years to pay for a big house, and I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge either lifestyle.