Balance Your Lifestyle
Juggling priorities is an unavoidable fact a life. When planning for an early retirement, the same principles for finding balance in your lifestyle also apply to your finances.
Staying hyper-focused on your financial goals as you work toward FIRE can become exhausting without a properly managed sense of balance. It is too easy to spread yourself thin trying to balance work, school, children and the household, along with so many other responsibilities. One minute you will be laser focused on keeping everything in line, and the next you will be falling asleep at the dinner table.
That’s why it is so important to create a proper work-life balance on your journey to financial freedom. You need to remember that it is completely okay to spend somemoney on yourself and still indulge in fun activities. This isn’t all about working hard!
Because saving every penny to contribute to your financial goals can become an obsession, it is essential to step away from it all every once in a while, and enjoy your journey towards FIRE. In the end, it will make your chase to FIRE more manageable, and much more enjoyable.
Do NOT jeopardize your mental health and your physical well-being for your financial health. It is important to learn to balance them all.
FIRE Friendly Ideas for Enjoying Your Journey
Visit family or friends – free food and lodging!
Consider showing your appreciation by helping out during your visit. Volunteer to clear the table and wash the dishes. If you are visiting older relatives and you notice that they could use some help with their yard work or some household maintenance, offer to give them a hand.
Bringing a hostess/host gift is always appreciated as well. This doesn’t need to be extravagant. Are you a crafter? Consider making something special – gifts from the heart are always the sincerest.
Go camping – many campsites offer the option to tent or rent a cabin at a very affordable price!
A lot of campgrounds have access to fun activities like swimming, hiking and special events. Check out Hipcamp for a comprehensive list of campgrounds and state parks across the U.S.A. They even have listings specific for activities and events that you might want to check out.
Something important to keep in mind, even while camping, is to stick to your budget. Research the equipment that you need and make sure that you aren’t needlessly spending money on something that you can find for less at the same quality.
Your food budget works the same way. Going camping doesn’t have to mean eating hot dogs and beans for a week straight (unless you want to eat hot dogs and beans for a week straight – there is no judgement here!). You can easily stick to a camping meal budget by planning ahead and packing food that meets multiple needs. Eureka! offers a great list of budget-friendly camping meals, with great kid-friendly and vegetarian options included.
Book an Airbnb
Many of these private rentals are much less expensive than resorts and hotels. Whether you are taking a trip out of town for a wedding, or if you just need to get away for a few days, Airbnb is the most affordable option available for an overnight stay in a different town or city.
Enjoy a staycation
Have a spa day. Run yourself a luxurious bubble bath with some relaxing essential oils and a homemade facial treatment.
Go camping in your own backyard. Sleep under the stars without having to pack the car. As an added bonus, you are only minutes away from indoor plumbing and shelter, in case the local wildlife gets too close for comfort.
Have a movie night. Set up a projection screen in your backyard, if you have access to one, and enjoy an outdoor theatre experience without the cost of admission. Or, you can have a Netflix night and check out a few classics from the comfort of your couch.
Check out local festivals and fairs. During the summer months, most towns and cities offer a virtual smorgasbord celebrating local culture, music and cuisine. Take it to the next level and pretend that you are a tourist visiting for the first time. You will be amazed by some of the attractions that you forgot exist in your own backyard.
Go geocaching. Tap into your sense of adventure and join in on a real-world treasure hunt. Simply download the app and you’ll be on your way to discovering all kinds of hidden treasure located in your area.
Check out your local library
Reading is a guilt-free pleasure that we hardly have time for anymore. Pull out your TBR list and spend the entire day relaxing and reading surrounded by books. Libraries are a great, free option for those with small children as well. Most libraries often host activities and event days to keep your tiny humans busy while you browse the book shelves. You should be able to find a calendar online or posted at your local library.
We even use Audible to listen to our reading list.
Explore local government buildings
Government buildings are an incredible source of culture and history. Admittance is usually free and they often have activities for children to enjoy. Spend an afternoon soaking up your local history or simply appreciating the architecture of these great monuments. Curbed has put together a list of 15 gorgeous government buildings, take a peek and see if you can check a couple of them out this weekend!
Visit local museums
Museums are another great way to explore the history and culture of your town or city for free or for a low-cost admission. You can get lost in the stories and artifacts that shaped the world as you know it without having to travel for miles or days. Most museums hold special events for children and adults alike. They also host rotating exhibits, giving you something new to look at and learn about every time you go.
Take a trip to your local state parks
Pack a lunch and make an afternoon out of hiking and exploring your state’s backyard. Depending on where you live, you can find yourself surrounded by majestic forestry, vast grasslands, scenic rivers and historic monuments. Get some fresh air and marvel at the local wildlife. If you’re wondering which direction to head in, check out State Parks to learn about which parks are closest to home and what you can expect to find there.
While these weekend getaways can be great either planned ahead of time or thrown together at the last minute, be sure to include any expenses in your monthly budget!
Remember: There is more to life than having a high savings rate. Money isn’t everything. Don’t forget your own well-being on your journey to financial freedom.