The other night I (Mister here for this post) was hanging out with some friends, nerding it up, when the topic of dinner came up. I had come prepared with snacks (more on packing snacks in a future post). After some discussion (“we had pizza last night,” “I’ve eaten Chinese three times this week”), they eventually settled on ordering Indian food.
That’s when things got weird. Suddenly the group was embroiled in a game of hot potato: who could afford to throw the group order on their credit card? “Not me!” “No way.”
Finally, one brave soul consented: “As long as we keep it under $100.”
I watched it all go down in disbelief. Sure, it was near the end of the month, and I know it’s not a competition, but I could cover 10 times that amount on my card if I needed to and still have money left over for some palak paneer.
I know $100 may seem like a lot to my fellow frugalites but it’s really not. What if your cat gets sick? Or your phone gets stolen? Or you need to do some emergency home renovating?
More to the point, what else are you buying that you’ve exhausted all but $100 of your credit limit?! Sure, credit limits vary, but any card worth its salt should allow at least several hundred dollars of purchases, if not thousands. And keeping $100 of that available is just good common sense. Imagine being stuck with a broken-down car and not being able to pay for a new battery or tire on the fly. Scary! And this is credit we were talking about, not even actual money.
The Indian food situation highlighted for me one of the greatest benefits of pursuing financial independence: no longer having to worry about money.
It may seem counterintuitive, but despite being frugal people, Miss and I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about money. We’re never juggling credit cards or counting the days until the next paycheck so that we can make rent. We just enjoy our lives (most of the good stuff is free or cheap anyway). When something comes up that we need (or just want, though those purchases usually come after some consideration), we don’t agonize over the decision or check our balance before purchasing it. We just do it.
I know financial independence feels like (and likely is!) years away, but remember, savings aren’t a binary thing. It’s a spectrum. Of course the goal is to reach the point where you can subsist entirely off your savings without having to work, but simply the pursuit of financial independence can have significant benefits. We get a real kick out of watching our retirement accounts grow. We love knowing that we have a plan and that are using it to take control of our lives and our future.
Mister chopping onions for our homemade curry stir-fry
Also, we make a mean Indian curry dish.