Depriving yourself whilst on the journey

When I was working at my previous place, I had a conversation with a work friend of my mine about Financial Independence. This came about because he was talking about how he had just come into a fair sum of money (£10,000) and he was not sure what to spend it on. New car?, Las Vegas? He really didn’t know what to do with it. I chimed in and said well why not invest most of it and treat yourself to something with £1,000 or something.

The conversation progressed and we spoke about it a few other times. Now at this point, I was fairly new to all of this FI business and was hooked on learning more and enjoyed talking about it more openly. I told him that with my current savings rate and a fair wind I could stop working in 23 years time at 50 and all my necessities would be met – £1000 a month with house owned. I didn’t tell him I saved over £1k a month but he could tell it was prob close to that, he was shocked… shocked that I would sacrifice so much fun, joy, entertainment for some future in 23 years time that might not even come and when it did just to live on  basics covered only. He proudly said “Live for now man, spend now while you’re still young and healthy”.

Live for now or later

This idea that I might be depriving myself wasn’t something new to me. I had heard it many times on forums and comments on certain blogs. There was a dichotomy set up of live for now OR live for later. Below are common things I have heard online, in real life and that I have come up with when thinking about it:

  • You’re only young once
  • Stop sacrificing your happiness now for future happiness that might not come or not even be what you thought it would be
  • You could lose all that money, if you spend it on doing things then you will actually get use out of it
  • Stop living your life on fast forward, why do you want to race to being older. It’s like you are racing towards the box.
  • You won’t enjoy your money as much when you’re older
  • You are restricting your life far too much
  • In short – you are depriving yourself

Am I depriving myself? Am I living my life on fast forward desperate to get to future FI. Now I think these are great questions and it’s easy to simply say no, of course not! and be done with it but there often can be some truth in the general view that you could be depriving yourself in the here and now whilst on the journey. I have certainly come to see this with myself. 

Examples of my deprived life

  • I could go on several holidays a year all around the world with many weekends away (Paris & New York even would be on the table every now and then)
  • I could own a Mercedes car, even a Porsche if I wanted instead of regular basic car
  • I could buy £200 jeans and have a full wardrobe of designer clothes but I buy from Sainsbury’s or Tesco instead
  • I could have all sorts of gold chains and expensive watches but I don’t
  • I could have a 70inch TV and buy new technology and stuff for my house almost every month. 
  • I could buy Sainsbury’s tase the difference or Tesco finest selections on all my food. I could eat like a king!

Now… the question is. Am I depriving myself without having the above? Well. The feeling of being deprived is really a personal thing for most people reading this blog. If you weren’t having all your nutritional needs and living in a cold house to save on heating then yes I would say you probably were. But, when all your basic needs are met and then some by default. Is driving a Citroen Saxo to work whilst stuck in traffic depriving yourself when compared with sitting in a Mercedes? Well I would say no and even more so if it means that by having that Mercedes you are ensuring you need to go to that job you hate forever more. I prefer the benefits of FI to those from having a Mercedes.

I eat some food brands that I really enjoy over supermarket own brands but then I have the ASDA own beans because I still enjoy them rather than a premium can that costs twice as much for no benefit as perceived by me, I see this as wasteful. If I wear jeans that look nice and last long that cost £15 instead of buying a £200 pair so I can be cool and another walking advertisement billboard is just silly. There is no REAL deprivation there. I know I could drive to work in a Modern Mercedes E Class, wear gold chains, £3000 watch with a £300 coat, £120 shoes etc and feel like I am the man… it could make me feel very high status etc but… none of this even slightly interests me and I certainly don’t feel deprived by not doing it.

If I was a multi millionaire and money was not a problem then I probably would buy a sports car, go to New York for the weekend but that would be because it wouldn’t mean I’d lose other benefits that I value more if I did so.  There’s enough things for me to do with my life and what I have now that feelings of deprivation don’t appear to me. These extras that cost significant sums of money don’t provide enough extra joy to warrant losing the benefits from working towards being FI.

When deprivation is real

As you might recall, I said earlier I believe there is some truth to this whole deprivation argument. In the early days I did make leaving my job in the far future and really looking forward to this too much of a focus that took me a little bit away from the here and now. I cut my budget a little too close to the bone and I really did hate spending money even if it gave me joy. I also put my monthly required sum when FI too low as to really give me a buffer for the unexpected and larger outgoings that do add to the enjoyment of life.

In summary, I think we can sometimes deprive ourselves when on our journey towards FI. We would do well as I am sure most do, strike a balance as best we can between missing out on some things now that cost money but bring happiness for the joy and benefits that being on the path to FI bring. We can live for now and for later, there need not be a dichotomy. I would love to hear what you all think about this, do you or have you deprived yourself at all? Thanks for reading. 


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6 years ago

Hi Chris I too don’t currently believe I’m sacrificing anything or depriving myself in my pursuit for FIRE. As you mention, striking a balance is key. If it’s skewed one way or the other, one, you won’t reach your goal or two, you risk not being able to sustain that kind of life cos you’d be miserable! That said I’m a lot older, I didn’t get onto the FIRE path until my mid-40s so I did YOLO in my 20s and 30s (on credit card). The things you’ve mentioned that you are being ‘deprived’ of are obviously not important in… Read more »

6 years ago

Hit the nail on the head its all about priorities. Im probably more open with people than i should be about finance’s and people probably think i only save so much because i earn a reasonable sum. But I’lve always done this even when earning 20k a year. I let slip when i heard someone moaning at work about their pension contribution going up to 3% that i put 12% of my salary and with employers i put nearer 20%. They were like well its only cos you earn a lot. But if you’ve always done it you never miss… Read more »

Little Miss Fire
6 years ago

I think the term deprivation is rather misleading in the FI community. If your used to having a steak every day and then suddenly start eating tinned spam then you would clearly feel deprived! If you ate spam everyday then you wouldn’t feel deprived. I’m not sure I’m making sense anymore (Plus no idea where spam came from!) I guess it all comes down to what your used to and how much “keeping up with the Jones” someone is really about. If you don’t feel deprived then by default your not deprived. Fab post as always Chris! I might have… Read more »


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