Three people – two of them teenagers – sharing a moderately sized hotel room for two weeks. It’s a challenge, but I’m pleased to report we are surviving admirably so far.
Just one day has been marred by the appearance of “the face”- that uniquely teenage expression of boredom and disdain that leaves even the most devoted parent wondering if you can simultaneously love your offspring whilst not liking them very much.
It’s at times like these that you become truly thankful for certain things that might normally be taken for granted. Headphones. Spotify “Chill Vibes” playlists. Balconies. Vodka (I’m on holiday after all).
It’s OK to Spend Sometimes
We are currently “on a break”. Not to be all Ross Geller about things, but we are taking a well earned holiday in wonderful sunny Florida. Hotel, flights and theme park tickets paid for in advance and within my 63% savings rate so far this year; food and miscellaneous spends going on a card to be paid off at the end of the month. (And in true Ross spirit I’ll be returning with a case full of hotel shampoo, lotion and soap 😊).
More than being a break from work and school (which let’s face it, is all upside), we are taking a time-out from the obsessive pursuit of FIRE and actually spending money rather than saving it.
My savings rate is testament to the fact that there’s not much by way of frivolous spending in our house – so this break represents a rare departure from form.
I can’t and won’t change the habits of a lifetime, so there’s no lingering in the strategically placed shops as you exit every ride. Not for us a suitcase full of branded key-rings, t-shirts or mugs. The boys are so used to this, it doesn’t occur to them to even ask. But the hotel is room-only with no cooking facilities and a tiny fridge, so I’m buying three meals a day, plus snacks and drinks, tips, lockers at the parks and Uber rides. And although they are already paid for, the cost of the park tickets is high.
But is it worth it? I have friends who recoil in horror at the mere mention of this type of holiday but we love it. Adrenaline junkies all, we giggle and scream our way around the parks, meandering through fast-pass queues, taking our favourite rides over and over again. It’s the one holiday where we spend almost all of our time together – compared to a beach trip where we all like different things and re-group only at mealtimes.
So yes, for us it is worth every penny. It’s a healthy reminder how great life is right now, in this moment. The stress has melted away and it is impossible to worry about work when you’re 200 feet high on a rollercoaster travelling at 70mph, laughing so hard your jaw aches. For once I am not wishing my days away yearning for the future and instead want time to slow down or stand still so I can take all this in and remember it properly.
It’s a stark contrast to my day to day which seems to be mostly about survival, counting down hours to the end of the workday and living for weekends. That’s a terrible way to live when there is so much fun to be had and I hope to return with a better attitude and my work put firmly back in its box.
FIRE as an Obsession
If truth be told, we booked this holiday a year ago. Back then, things were fine at work. I wouldn’t ever say I loved it, but I was coping with it perfectly well. My FIRE date was a few years out and I was fine with that too – I wanted it to come as soon as possible of course and thought about it every day, but in a back of the mind fleeting thought sort of way. A complete contrast to the mental state I find myself in now where reaching financial independence and leaving work has become an obsession and is at the forefront of my mind almost ALL OF THE TIME.
If I knew back then that things would deteriorate so much at work and I would become so miserable I would never have booked such an extravagant holiday. I would have invested that money and be a few months closer to being able to walk away for good.
But what a mistake that would have been. I have an obsessive nature – and it is so easy to go all-in when there is something I want and not stop until I get it. The bigger challenge for me is to stop sometimes and smell the roses along the way. The boys are hurtling headlong into adulthood and in the blink of an eye they will be off living their own lives. If I put off all the fun things we could be doing together now, I risk missing the window altogether.
A Change of Pace
We’re mixing it up today and instead of our usual routine of getting to the park first thing in the morning to avoid the queues, we’ve had a leisurely day around the hotel and are heading in to Hollywood Studios for the evening.
The ferocity of the sun will have calmed and the evening atmosphere is altogether more laid back and relaxed as many of those with younger families have gone home.
It’s a different experience, but no less rewarding. And that’s how I’m thinking of the next few years of spending. I’m surviving at work but likely to be leaving sooner than planned. The bigger holidays will have to be scrapped but we will replace them with something different but no less rewarding. We can always top them up with a day at Alton Towers 😊.
We will adjust to the change of pace and cope admirably, I’m sure.
Join the Discussion
Do you find it difficult to spend on the “extras” and want to save all your money? How do you find balance between spending and saving or the balance between wanting to reach FIRE as fast as possible without letting life pass you by as you do?