I consider that I am enjoying life when I explore the planet. For me, this means going on an expedition to Antarctica, visiting the 7 Wonders of the World, staying in a villa on stilts in the Maldives or sleeping in a suite 40,000 feet in the air with my little family.
For another person, enjoying life may be defined as going to the best restaurants every weekend or retreating to the family cottage.
Each individual has their own priorities and their own definition of carpe diem.
Save more and find other sources of income
These are the first tips for everyone aiming for the FIRE movement.
In general, it is much easier to reduce expenses than to increase income.
Then, if possible, find other ways to increase your income to save more.
However, since we have to spend money to live the life we want, we must try tomaximize the return on our spending. In fact, according to my definition of enjoying life, it’s very expensive (plus we’re aiming for financial freedom with the FIRE movement).
This is where credit cards and points come into play.
The credit cards rewards help
When our expenses subsidize some or all of our dreams, it’s a big help to save money.
The more credit cards rewards the individual collects, the more money they have to invest to aspire to FIRE.
Saving the equivalent of our rewards
Indeed, it is often said that you travel for free (or almost free) with points, but you could also see it this way: you save money on something you would otherwise pay for. As a result, there is more cash left in the account for other projects or for the quest for FIRE.
Use rewards in an optimized way
When we could still redeem AIR MILES miles for gift cards at Jean Coutu, I filled my drawer with gift cards.
However, I used this money, which I got almost for free, in the same way as if I had earned it in wages.
Indeed, I wasn’t buying an overpriced sweater at GAP, telling myself it was “free”, since I’m using my gift cards to pay the bill.
I shop for what I need, at the cost that suits me, and then I simply pay with cash or a gift card.
It’s also thanks to a good credit card strategy that allows us to travel as a family, several times a year, without undermining the wealth accumulation we need to be financially free while our children are still in elementary school.
The concept is to take advantage of a location with a lower cost of living and higher income.
The principle of geographic arbitrage can be as important in the present as it is in our retirement.
In my early travels, I spent a lot of time in South East Asia. As a university student, I had several months’ vacation and a round-trip plane ticket paid for entirely with Aeroplan points. While there, I was able to get by on less than $40-50 a day; with the hotel room, my meals and my activities!
So taking the less expensive trips at that point in my life allowed me to save more money in my early 20s.
My portfolio has grown over the years and I have started to feel thesnowball effect.
My passion is travelling. Period. It doesn’t matter in what order I go, I know that I will eventually set foot wherever I want.
Credit card rewards points have been a great help in offsetting the cost of these more expensive trips. Travel hacking is a marathon; the more I mastered the points programs, the easier it was to earn them!
There is also geographical arbitration here!
As a result of the pandemic, many jobs have migrated to telework and some will continue to do so in whole or in part.
It is therefore also possible to move to a place with cheaper properties or rents in order to achieve financial independence.
Is it still necessary to live downtown? Updating your needs from time to time can greatly reduce your budget.
Finally, upon retirement, whether standard or early, you can relocate to the suburbs, to a different region or even to another country!
I know people with very high incomes who have difficulty putting money into their RRSPs.
I also know people with salaries under $35,000 who have been around the world and are on the right path to a traditional FIRE.
Enjoying life while aiming FIREit’s possible, but it’s going to require an effort;no matter what your income, credit cards and rewards points can help you live the life we want or even get richer using points for investing or for optimizing our tax return and government subsidies!