FIRE.035 Same Spouse, Same House, Same Family Size & Cars

Sameness Stability can lead you to a stronger foundation in many aspects of life, not just financially. Having a strong, stable, consistent foundation is required for long-term anchoring for most items.

Houses have concrete foundations, rather than sand or dirt. Multistory buildings have pillars buried deep into the ground for stabilization. Professionals often have years or training to base their current work activities on.

Swapping to new homes, cars or spouses may cause to you rebuild or adjust your life foundations. Obviously, there may be reasons for changes at times in your life, but I want to encourage and embrace the importance “sameness.”

I truly believe cost controls based around your income—spend less than you earn—steer you towards financial success. I do agree there are many ways to increase your income—hopefully to help increase your saving/investing rate—but controlling costs are the first structural building opportunities.

Spouse: I’m super lucky in finding a wife that shares my values. She has been supportive of my somewhat structured spending for over two decades. We still buy things we want, but we seem to use a delayed gratification window to research and make sure we want these items and possibly see if we can get a better price. This delaying/researching methodology seems to work out great.

Kids: Our personal lifestyle does not include children. It could be that we’re missing out on special life moments, but we also seem to be missing out on some random expenses that the two of us do not generate. I said “some” because we have MANY nieces and nephews that seem to constantly have some gifting event. It’s nice to enjoy the children—and then go back to our quiet stable life. That’s just the way things turned out.  And according to the USDA  children are quite expensive to raise, so planning wisely becomes even more critical.

House: We’ve purposely stayed in our same home for well over two decades. Yes, it’s a 1026 sq ft “starter” home with three little bedrooms, but we love the location—three houses away from a huge park/preserve where we run, bike, hike and just look at the mountains or climb a little and look at the city. Having a small home tends to force you to have less stuff. For instance, we have a small amount of furniture. Over the years I’ve watched ALL of my close colleagues upgrade their homes as their careers grew (hedonic adaptation) or family size grew. So we still live in 30+ year-old architecture. Note: yes we do have a vacation trailer that we visit multiple times per year, but these additional costs are controlled by our years of living in a “below our means” home.

Cars: As mentioned above, we’ve watched many of our colleagues acquire new cars. Many new vehicles turned up in the parking lot after a round of bonuses or salary adjustments. It was totally obvious. That’s fine if people love their new cars. We’ve heard “buy used and drive 5+ years or buy new and drive 10 years” to optimize the depreciation hit. We chose to maximize both ideas and buy our main vehicle 3 years old and drive it 10 years. I’ve always had a quite-used card and we’re only on the 2nd round of the “used + 10” strategy—as it takes a decade per round. As for the other vehicle (mine), it’s always been an older Toyota truck. Currently, I’ve had my 2000 Toyota Tacoma since 2004. I hope that no matter how many “Do you want to sell your truck” notes left under the windshield wipers, that I keep the truck a LONG time. I’d estimate we’ve avoided hundreds of thousands of lost dollars of costs with our buy used +10 plan. Note: some of those savings have gone into a classic mustang. Interestingly it has been a value increasing asset (not investment). Life can be a balance of happiness, lifestyle and net worth.

Our plan doesn’t have to work for everyone—or anyone else—but it has worked for us. We love our life. We try to balance the typical large family costs (home, cars, children, marriage), and just make it a point to enjoy every day. If you can’t enjoy every—or most—days, then it’s time to regroup! Right?

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