Simplifying the System

“Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.” – author unknown

Barring massive inheritances or creating the next Facebook, reaching financial independence is a process that takes a considerable amount of time for most people – at least five to seven years on high income, longer for us plebs. It also has the potential to be a lot of effort, which can be a problem if you have to maintain that for many years on end. If you naturally have a lot of willpower and determination, you’ll have no trouble! If you’re lazy like us, you’ll need to find workarounds. Here are some of ours, which have allowed us to effortlessly live the FIRE lifestyle that outsiders are convinced takes an iron will and monk-like disposition.

Automation is awesome. Mint has tracked our finances for years, accurately, for free. We don’t budget. If our spending is trending higher than it should, we stop spending until it isn’t anymore. All our spending goes onto credit cards, which we pay off twice a month on payday. All our leftover money (60-70% of our net income) gets dumped into investments. Our frugal friends frequently give us shit for using a low cost robo-advisor rather than going the DIY route, but again, effort level is key for people like us – not having to spend mental energy beyond hitting the “transfer” button is gold to us.

Making the correct choice the easiest one is crucial as well. For example, we have no temptation to drive places, because we don’t have cars or driver’s licences. There’s no temptation to grab takeout coming home from work, because we already have better food made and portioned out waiting for us at home. Same goes for buying stuff – a small apartment means there’s no space to accumulate anything, so we naturally don’t buy things out of sheer self-preservation.

Finally, developing friendships with frugal people and picking up cheap hobbies is a heck of a lot less effort than trying to convince everyone around you to be frugal, or trying to jam a square-peg activity into a round-hole budget.

That’s a pretty good overview of the things we set in place to minimize the ongoing effort required to save 60%+ of our (average) income for several years, without going stir-crazy in the process. It’s surprisingly easy, once you set everything and forget about it – just think like a lazy person.

-Steph

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