“…doing without is often thought of as a sacrifice, especially when strongly attached to material comforts. It’s quickly realized (after about a month) that happiness does not stem from being surrounded by possessions, but that being surrounded by them is the result of an addictive habit. Thus, it can be tremendously liberating not to ‘need’ something to be happy.”
-Jacob Lund Fisker, Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence
I finished reading Jacob Lund Fisker’s book over the weekend, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best books on a personal finance philosophy I’ve ever read, right up there with Your Money or Your Life. In fact, Jacob’s thinking on the topic is so in-line with my own and so well-thought-out that I see little need to write much on the topic myself (not that that will keep me from babbling on about personal finance on occasion). Read Jacob’s book, and you’ll see how I feel about personal finance and modern consumerism/materialism. Jacob’s website is also a great resource. I’ve now read through the entire archives. He’s not posting much fresh material on the topic of early retirement, feeling that he’s exhausted the topic, but the archives are still great. Also, he will sometimes post highly entertaining rants or tidbits of fresh ideas.
I’ve found the above quote very true in my own life. Sometimes you feel that you just can’t make it without certain things or luxuries. But what I’ve found is that you can often do quite well with what many would consider bare necessities. My backpack fly fishing trips have taught me this. Also, restricting your access to certain luxuries like expensive food or a hot shower, for example, can increase your enjoyment of those things on the rare occasion when you do indulge. Here’s a suggestion. If you’ve never gone backpacking, in the next year go on at least one extended backpacking trip of four or five days. A trip like that can teach you a lot about what you actually need and how tough you can be. Then you can put those lessons to use in your personal finances.