The FIRE Movement Wasn’t for Me

It’s about time I introduced myself.

Mr SavingNinja has mentioned that I was going to do an introductory post and maybe some further posting, so here I am, Mrs SavingNinja.

I have been with my husband since the beginning of his financial journey, and I’ll admit that sometimes I have been hard to convince and sometimes (in the beginning) I wasn’t fully onboard.

Hey, Big Spender

My mum is a ‘SpendyPants,’ a great big giant one. My dad has always worked super hard, too hard sometimes! He worked his way up through a company before eventually becoming the joint owner when I was 14, whilst doing this he also worked on other projects for people well into the night and started his own business with my mum. 

Whilst he was doing this my mum would spend. I’m assuming they had savings, as my dad isn’t stupid, but my mum didn’t work and had access to the accounts. When I was really young there wasn’t as much money to spend, but as my dad started earning more my mum liked to buy more. 

Sometimes it was only little things; whenever she stopped for petrol she would always get us a chocolate bar, whenever she went and did a big shop she’d often get us a treat each (mine was frequently a Beanie Baby,) and we’d regularly get new clothes. She also went CRAZY at Christmas.

Now this sounds a lot like me moaning about having things being bought for me, but bare with me, it’s the preface to my spending habits. 

When my dad became the owner of his company, my mum ramped up the spending. Nowadays she’s ridiculous and it’s just kind of accepted. Their house is full of expensive crap, she regularly gets a fancy new car, likes to do the food shopping in M&S, and she probably has about 10 times the amount of clothes that Mr SavingNinja and I have combined.

Read more about my families spending habits here.

I would probably be a bit of a SpendyPants myself if I had married someone else. 

Independent Woman

When I was a teenager I worked three jobs and spent all of my money. I would rarely ask my parents for money (unlike my brothers) and would spend all of my hard-earned cash on petrol, junk food, new outfits from Topshop every Friday, and fun nights out. 

Going to Uni made a bit of a difference; I was unable to get a maintenance loan as my dad earned too much money, so I had to rely on weekly money from him for food, rent and anything else. I learned to budget a bit more but Mr SavingNinja still had to save me from my unofficial overdraft a couple of times a year.

Fast-forward to now and it makes me so happy that I have an emergency fund and am even putting money into a Vanguard account! 

It’s taken me a lot longer due to a minimum wage job in a nursery, teacher training and then working my way up the teacher payscale, but I got there. 

My Favourite Things

It was a struggle; I like nice things.

I like a variety of clothing, I’m a girl, I have the option of dresses, skirts, trousers and shorts. I like plain clothes, patterned clothes, pretty clothes, casual clothes, fancy clothes, rugged clothes, all the clothes! I was never a girly girl; I own about 1 handbag but a fair few rucksacks, I own one fancy pair of heels (my wedding shoes!) and 4 different pairs of boots, so I don’t want a wardrobe displaying all my pretty shoes and jewelry, I just like to have options. Some days I want to be girly, some days I want to be sporty and some days I like to wear my lumberjack shirt!

I also love buying candles and bath bombs and blankets and face masks and all that girly crap. But I’ve managed to rein it in, even though it can be a struggle. I will only ever get a Lush bath bomb if it’s a special occasion but even now their appeal is starting to wear off. I only ever buy my face masks or candles from places like Home Bargains or The Range and only if I don’t have any at home already. 

This all sounds really petty but I was spending way too much money on this stuff. And I didn’t need to. 

Now, I love being frugal. I love coming up with ways to save money and finding the best bargains on things we need, sometimes still on things we don’t need, but nobody’s perfect. 

A lot of the time my love of being frugal goes hand in hand with my love of being eco-friendly and low waste. Sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes the frugal option is not eco-friendly and I have to decide what I feel more strongly about in that situation.

Road Less Traveled

Mr Saving Ninja finally got me fully on board with Financial Independence…it just took some pitching. When he first started talking about FI, I thought it would just be a ‘phase’ and he’d forget about it within a few months and move on, he had done this with other things before! But this was obviously not the case.

Once he’d pitched the idea of us retiring on some far-flung ranch with us at home with our kids and having chickens and cows (these things were important to this Southern girl!) I was convinced. I still struggled (and still do) with some of it; there were habits I had to unlearn and slight sacrifices to be made but it would all be worth it in the end. 

The other thing that motivated me was going to the premiere of ‘Playing With Fire,’ with Mr SavingNinja and theFIREstarter. Seeing the struggles that Taylor went through (especially the want of a nice car) really resonated with me and encouraged me to work harder towards FIRE.

During the viewing, I actually had so many ‘epiphany’ moments that I wanted to talk about and write about, but once at the pub afterwards they just vanished. It’s something I want to revisit; I want to watch the documentary again and maybe write a post about my thoughts and feelings.

I Got Bills, I Gotta Pay

One aspect of our finances that some people struggle to understand and that I had to get used to was splitting our expenses. As I’ve said, my dad worked and my mum didn’t, so the thought of not sharing our income once we were married was a bit weird for me. But why should it be?

Why would being married, or living together mean we have to then pool all of our money together? What’s changed? I still go to work and do my job and he goes to work and does his. The only unfair aspect in my opinion is that I believe I work harder in lots of ways but get paid a fair bit less, this however, is due to the industries each of us work in and that can’t be helped.

I was a bit… disgruntled when Mr SavingNinja first discussed this with me, but now, I don’t see why; why should he have to pay more towards the house than me, or the bills, or food? We are both using equal amounts of house, bills, and food! It makes me feel like I was being an absolute princess when I got a little irked about it, his job is not to ‘keep’ me, as my dad would say. His job is to love me, respect me, and cherish me, not pay for me! 

Another aspect of this is expenses that aren’t essential. I stopped going to the hairdressers, I’m trying to grow my hair long but suffer from really bad split-ends, to combat the expense of going to the hairdressers regularly I bought some professional scissors and researched how to make a decent hair mask. However, Mr Saving Ninja spends money on getting a haircut, I don’t want to pay for half of that! I like to spend a silly amount on Vitamin E oil from The Body Shop for my dry face, I’m sure Mr Saving Ninja doesn’t want to pay for half of that! 

Anyway, I’m rambling. The point is, we are happy splitting our expenses, it works for us. We can’t moan at each other if we spend our own money on things we want. I grew up with my dad moaning at my mum for buying another new microwave or replacing the perfectly great year old curtains with brand new ones. That’s not going to happen in this household as we keep our own money and, thankfully, our financial goals are aligned. 

Just to reassure anyone though; if I were to lose my job or had to stop working, or I were inexplicably drowning in debt, Mr Saving Ninja would obviously support me financially, as I would him.

If I was a Rich Girl…

Wanting to spend money is still a regular struggle. I want to be FI but I also want a big house filled with lovely things, a nice car and a swimming pool. I know that being FI will be so much better for us and more beneficial, but sometimes I waver when I see an amazing house that I know one day we could afford if we didn’t retire early. There are sometimes worries that we’re sacrificing having fun on expensive holidays, eating out at fancy restaurants, etc. and that we will still end up working to retirement age or regretting our decision, but I just need to think about priorities and the future that we want, and to trust that we are making the right decision now. 

The thought of the chickens and the cows helps too.


12 thoughts on “The FIRE Movement Wasn’t for Me

  1. I can totally relate to this! Growing up we never had to worry about money and I didn’t have to work to pay for things like gas, snacks, going to the movies with friends. I even had a clothing allowance. While I’m so grateful for the childhood and never having to worry about money, it definitely failed to teach me proper saving / spending habits, which is probably how I wound up with $10K in credit card debt. But it’s great that you and your spouse are on the same page for the big picture and I think it’s totally okay to have separate accounts where you spend your extra cash on things you value/want. I always say if you’re depriving yourself on your FI journey then you’re doing it wrong. Great post!

    1. Absolutely! I kind of see it like a diet 🙂 If you constantly deprive yourself of the lovely things you want, it’s not sustainable. You need to find ways to fit it into your plan without going crazy.

      Keeping all of our money separate certainly does make it simpler.

  2. It’s a tricky one with expenses and income. I guess it depends how much the difference is. I earn 3 x what my partner does. It would be ridiculous to split costs 50 50. Also she’s on maternity leave atm m v . I’ve made sure she carries on contributing to her pension and she gives me bits and bobs towards the house bills but really what she has left is just spending money. She’s never been a kept woman and has always paid her way.
    The other thing is if you view your earnings as a pot the sum is greater than the parts. You can direct it to your priorities and work as a team to get there quicker

    1. I earn almost 4 x what Mrs SavingNinja earns, but we still see the benefit of splitting equally. Instead of inflating our lifestyle to match with my earings, we keep our lifestyle at the lowest earning persons, and even more ahead of that (as she can still save 50% of her salary).

      At this split, I’m encouraged to earn more, and so is she (as explained in the other article that I know you read 😀 )

      But yeah, if she wasn’t to earn enough to cover expenses, I’d obviously cover it, same the other way around!

  3. Eg my partner is a saver but has never really got investing. Instead of fighting it I just use her savings pot as part of my emergency fund. If needed I can ‘borrow’ the money and pay it back. It means I can stay fully invested and handle all of that though I do keep her involved as to what I’m doing

  4. Nice post! Glad you are managing things re finances, as it’s important to be on the same page. My hubby not into FI either, but he’s naturally frugal, so it’s mostly easy. We also split costs.

    I used to love buying clothes!! I mean, I still do but a partial cure was getting older lol, and I’ve now implemented a policy of giving an item of clothing to charity if I want a new one.

    I also struggle in working out what to pick when the frugal option isn’t the eco one! I probably apply quite arbitrary rules when deciding! I go for free range but not organic eggs. Fairtrade bananas but not fairtrade tea. Eesh! Definitely a feel good when you can have both.

    1. I would love to try and only buy clothes from charity shops but the ones near me are not good. When we went to California I was overwhelmed by their amazing thrift shops!Maybe it’s something I can give a go if we move to a different area. I agree that as you get older it’s easier to control clothes shopping as you have a better idea of your own style and fit, and you know what you like.

      I think that balance between being frugal and eco-friendly is good to have. You’re taking care of the environment but also yourself.

  5. Hey Mrs SN

    Thanks for sharing this – it was good to finally ‘meet’ you and it’s fascinating to read about your background and how you’ve been turned towards the FIRE movement.

    My SpendyPants days were during my mid-20s to mid-30s and I wasn’t careful with my money, which was contra to my upbringing as my parents were big savers and were able to retire early. I have to say that the only noteworthy thing I did in my 20s was join the company pension scheme and in my 30s, buy a house. Aside from that, financially, I was a disaster, with credit card bills up to my eyeballs!

    For me, shopping became a habit – it wasn’t even something I was particularly fond of doing, I just spent money on things because it was something to do, because I wasn’t organised, because I was lazy. My holidays went on credit cards which I couldn’t pay off in full…

    I had sorted out my debts by the time I discovered FIRE – my ephiphany moment was stumbling across Mr Money Mustache’s site.

    I’ve watched ‘Playing With Fire’ and thought it was a very powerful piece of filming and hoped that it’s somewhat extremeness didn’t put people off (it didn’t put you off!).

    Anyway, all the best with the exciting changes to come in the SN household! 🙂

    1. Shopping used to be a problem! I went from obsessing over Primark in my teenage years, to H&M as I got a bit older and then more pricey shops. Once I decided to become frugal I still had the bad habit but it was more for bargain shops 🙂

      ‘PLaying With Fire’ definitely didn’t put me off, I found it so inspiring and kind of reassuring.

  6. How to split bills ‘fairly’ within a relationship is quite a contentious subject so thank you for being so open and honest. Mrs SN’s reasoning for splitting everything 50-50 is totally valid and it’s great that your financial goals are aligned. I do, however, completely understand why she might feel a bit miffed by the vast difference in your salaries… hopefully she’ll get paid a lot more as a teacher in Sweden. I earned 3x as much when I taught at an international school. Good luck with the move! 🙂

    p.s. thanks for making me aware of ‘Playing with FIRE’ – I watched it and enjoyed it.

  7. Nice read. I’ve just found the SN site and was actually quite surprised by this entry to find that Mr SN was male! All the best with the new location.

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