Over the past several years, there has been a tremendous shake-up in the way that people are going about saving for retirement. Traditional thinking says that you will need to work for about 40 or so years before you will have enough money saved to retire (at around age 65). 

However, many Millenials have been taking a different approach and embracing the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement. Instead of working for most of your life and then rushing to enjoy the fruits of your labor towards the end of your life, what if you could retire in your thirties? 

This is exactly what Vancouver-based Stephanie Williams and Celestian Rince are planning to do. 

Stephanie Williams and Celestian Rince are regular people

Stephanie Williams (32) and Celestian Rince (30) can best be described as standard Canadians. Stephanie is a receptionist and Celestian is a freelance editor and they both enjoy traveling in their spare time. However, there is one small exception that sets this couple apart from most others. Stephanie and Celestian are on pace to retire in just 3 more years at the young age of 35. This is no easy feat anywhere, let alone in the expensive city of Vancouver.

If they reach this benchmark then they will be about 20 years ahead of most of their peers. This fact alone will probably make them the most envious couple at any dinner party.

We know what you are thinking…they probably have wealthy parents who supplement their lifestyle and passed down hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment accounts to them? Wrong!

Before taking on their current jobs, the couple worked what they described as “horrible” jobs at a grocery store and in a warehouse. After especially long shifts, they found themselves looking around and asking “Is this what our lives are going to be like?” 

After uncovering a passion for financial independence and lots of research, they stumbled on a blog titled Early Retirement Extreme. This blog focuses on, you guessed it, retiring early. The main writer of Early Retirement Extreme claims that he will give you the tools to become financially independent in just five years and also documents his own journey on achieving financial freedom.

This blog insists that a mentality shift is necessary to help you reach your financial goals years ahead of schedule. To do this, you begin to should view your personal expenses as business expenses. You should always be trying to optimize your revenue, cut costs, and maximize your profit. Once you have some money in your savings account, you should be evaluating the best ways to invest this capital through an online brokerage or a robo-advisor

Stephanie and Celestian took this advice and ran with it.

 

How did they manage to save so much ?

To reach their goal of retiring by 35, Stephanie and Celestian have transitioned to an extremely low-cost lifestyle. They barely eat out, do not own a car, and claim to only spend $250 each month at the grocery store. The only exception for their spending is when they want to travel. This level of frugality might sound extreme but it has also allowed them to accumulate $400,000 in retirement savings over a relatively short period of time. Over the next three years, they hope to reach $700,000, which will allow them to officially retire. 

Despite the perceived difficulty of maintaining this type of lifestyle, Stephanie and Celestian have claimed that it is not all that difficult. They were never big spenders anyway and, once they became passionate about retiring early, it became much easier to save money instead of spending it. This simple switch in their mentality is what will allow them to officially retire at 35 instead of 65, 30 years ahead of schedule. You can read more on their blog here.

 

Is frugality worth it?

The goal when reading stories like this should not be to try and copy other people’s strategies exactly. In Stephanie and Celestian’s case, they wanted to retire early so that they could stop working jobs that they hated (at a grocery store and warehouse). To achieve this, they had no problem cutting their expenses to the bare essentials. However, this is not everyone’s idea of a perfect lifestyle.

However, despite Stephanie and Celestian being totally fine with living a frugal lifestyle, they also received tons of criticism from people who have read their story. Their critics will argue that not everyone can just cut their expenses because they might have kids to feed or other obligations. Other people get upset because they simply can’t imagine cutting some aspects of their lifestyle. Regardless of your financial situation and what your goals are, we think that there is something to be learned from living a frugal lifestyle.

When you put yourself into a mindset of being satisfied with less, you will start to find that you become much happier. In an age fueled by social media it can be incredibly easy to constantly compare yourself to others. However, when are constantly comparing yourself or striving to be seen as “cooler” than others, you miss out on the beauty and enjoyment of your own life.

Even if you are not necessary interested in FIRE you can still learn a lot from practicing minimalism and frugality. This is because adopting a minimalist mindset will eventually program you to be satisfied with what you have as opposed to constantly wanting more. When you are genuinely satisfied with what you have then you will start to experience bliss in your life.

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