Today’s post comes from my friends IRL WafflesOnWednesday. They are a married couple in their 30’s and have been on the path to FIRE for a few years. They decided to start a blog to share their journey and their two cents. The blog is the story about their quest for a life that allows a nice relaxing family breakfast in the middle of the week, every week.
While both of them post on their blog, Mr. Wow discusses how setting yourself up to take unexpected detours our our path to FI can lead to great things.
I’ll begin by telling you a story. It was before we fully went down the FIRE rabbit hole. At this time we were still somewhat thrifty and attempted to keep costs down, but I digress:
For our honeymoon, we spent 6 weeks backpacking around Europe (I know… I know… very lucky). We were en route to Munich from Salzburg in our rental car when Mrs. Wow saw something of interest in our handy-dandy travel book: Eisriesenwelt (or Giant Ice Cave). Being that we had some time to spare, we made a brief detour to see what it was all about.
Driving down a smallish freeway in Austria, we came around the bend and saw a little town. The sign said “Werfen”.
“That’s our exit,” Mrs. Wow exclaims.
It was late in the afternoon so we had to find a place to stay. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a sign at the end of the town square saying, “Zimmer Frei” (Room Free). In what amounts to a residential neighborhood, we pulled up to a house with a matching sign. We knocked to no avail, so we proceeded to walk around the back of the house. An old woman and a younger man (her son? I hope) were playing Chinese checkers. We agreed on a price and she walked us into her house, then up the stairs to our room. The room was quaint, but the view from the balcony was spectacular.
To this day we reminisce about this town (and not because the castle is Hitler’s house in “The Man in High Castle”, although that’s pretty funny in it’s own right).
What does this have to do with f-you money, early retirement, frugality, etc?
It’s all about flexibility, and not the yoga kind, although that helps when living in a smaller space.
Flexibility allows you take to advantage of opportunities
What if an opportunity comes up that would make you happier, or a chance to do something you never imagined? You need to be able to take advantage of opportunities presented to you. It might set you back a little, but it might pay off huge. There is always that future FI goal, but detours aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
How do we allow ourselves the luxury of taking these chances?
We’ve developed a couple rules to live by:
1) Leave some slack in your life.
If everything is planned out to a “T”, you can’t take a side street. In the case of our trip, had we planned every night, we would have never made it to Werfen. We would have been on a schedule, needing to get to our next destination at a set time. We would have never found that hidden gem.
2) Don’t be afraid to take a chance.
Leaving the time open to wander only works if you’re willing to stray. Allow yourself the chance to see what’s around the next corner. There’s some risk involved here, but that’s not to say it’s dangerous. There’s a base level of risk in everything we do, so embrace it.
3) Make sure you’re making a smart decision.
Given the fact I’ve gone sky diving once, doesn’t mean I’m going to jump out of a plane with no parachute or jump out of a satellite. It does mean when looking at an opportunity, we try to take a calculated risk. When Mrs. Wow started her own company, we talked long and hard about the outcome. We discussed what could potentially go wrong and if we could live with the worst case. Would it be easy? No. But would it be worth it in the end? Completely!
Following these steps allows us to take advantage of opportunities that have presented themselves. This really is a beautiful part of this whole path to FIRE.
A few years ago I was offered an opportunity to join a start-up company. Ultimately it was a pay cut, but it had the potential of a large payout. Well, three years later the payout happened!
Definitely yes, but it never would have happened if I had not taken the opportunity when it presented itself.
While we’re not fully FI yet, we’ve gotten far enough that we can take some risks. With a nice cushion, you can make smart, informed decisions and take calculated risks.
Besides who knows, you might end up staring at a beautiful view you never could have imagined.
How have you set yourself up to take a chance? How did it work out?