What Can You Give Up for Financial Freedom?

by Alexa Mason · 20 comments

Every now and again, I like to think about the decisions I’ve made and how making sacrifices now will benefit me later. My current living situation is less than fabulous, but I’ve begun to adapt and call a 900 square foot trailer my temporary home.

I remember that by doing what is financially smart now, I’ll be able to reap the benefits later. This brings me to the question: what would I be willing to give up for financial freedom?

How about you? Would you be willing to give up any of these five things for financial freedom?

1. A Nice House

I got divorced a little over a year ago. I moved out of the house owned by my husband and me, bought a trailer, and put it on an extra lot my dad owned. This kept my cost of living down while I was getting used to being on my own. If I hadn’t been forced to find a new living situation, I don’t think I would’ve ever voluntarily moved to a smaller and cheaper place. Though this won’t be my permanent residence, it’s nice to know that I’ll be financially prepared when I do make the move to a nicer home. Luckily I now realize that a nice home is far from being a need. Living in a trailer only sounds bad, because it’s actually plenty nice in practice. Having a smaller place also tempts me to be outside more, which brightens my mood and helps keep me more healthy.

2. New Cars

One of my biggest financial regrets was taking out a loan with a 9.5% interest rate on my last vehicle. I also didn’t do much research before buying the vehicle. My previous car kept breaking down. It turned out to be a real hassle because I also just had a baby and could have used something much more reliable. Those maintenance bills were also killer.

I lucked out on my next purchase because I’ve now owned my vehicle for five years and haven’t had a single problem with it. Interest rates have gone way down in the past decade but my plan is to drive the current car that I own free and clear until it bites the dust.

3. Vacations

I know a woman who once took out a payday loan to go on vacation. Of all the things to take out an incredibly expensive payday loan on – a vacation!?

Vacations are definitely one line item lacking in my budget. Call me odd, but I think I’m just lucky because I’m really not big on traveling. Though they’re important for many people, they’re not a top priority for me.

4. New Clothes

Clothes are my weakness. It takes a lot of willpower for me to not splurge on clothes when I tag alongside a friend at the mall. It’s easier during the pandemic to skip this expense, but I know we will eventually gather again and the urge to spend will come right back. I allow myself a little fun money each month, with the majority being spent on clothes. Even if I don’t use up all my budget for clothes, I’m saving it up now so I can use some of that money when my friends and I inevitably go shopping again. New clothes make me feel good about myself and, therefore, boost my confidence.

Luckily, I’m more of a bargain shopper than a name-brand shopper. Still, I can probably cut down on buying clothes if I really want to push my progress towards financial freedom further.

5. Hobbies

My hobbies don’t cost me much, seeing as my favorite things to do are read and write. However, I know a lot of people who have very expensive hobbies.

My dad is a lover of guns, hunting, and target shooting. I hear prices of all the equipment have gone through the roof in the past few years. Then there are the bullets. The price increase on those is in a league of its own. My dad’s hobby just gets more and more expensive each year. I hope he realizes that he needs to cut it down before it starts affecting his finances. I know others whose hobbies include horseback riding, four-wheeler racing, and fishing. I think David rides a bike for exercise. He told me some of his friends have bikes worth thousands of dollars. He even knows one person who has a $12,000 bike. Did you catch that he is doing it for exercise and therefore I mean bicycle when I say “bike”? $12,000!

Hobbies, or shall we say, toys, can really add up.

Conclusion

You can’t cut all the fun out of your budget, but it’s nice to know you’d be able to give up some of life’s luxuries if you had to. I certainly didn’t know I could cut down 80% of the biggest expense of my life (my house) and still live just fine. If you feel like one of these five things is holding you back from financial freedom, then maybe it’s time to make a change.

Have you given up any of these things? Could you? What else could you give up for financial freedom?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Dividend Power says:

    9.5% on a new car loan is really high. I thin with all the deals around 5% is pretty much max these days.

    • David@MoneyNing.com says:

      9.5% does sound like a lot, but I imagine that was the norm back in the day.

      I imagine these loans are still out there though. My friend was telling me a few years ago how he had to pay something like 12 or 13% for his Tesla X.

  • Ted C says:

    I read this on the very day I’m leaving for a week vacation.

    • David@MoneyNing.com says:

      Heh, nothing wrong with that Ted!

      There’s no right or wrong. You can go on vacations all the time and still do great financially. You’ve heard of the saying “It’s not how much you make but how much you keep that counts.”

      Similarly, it’s not how much you spend but how much you keep that counts!

  • steveark says:

    My wife and I are fairly well off now, but we started with nothing and the first home we bought was a used mobile home for $5,000. Full of green appliances, linoleum flooring and naugahyde covered furniture. For those of you sprouts not old enough to know linoleum was the cheapest tackiest floor covering ever made and naugahyde was a horrible plasticky synthetic leather that looked about as much like real leather as duct tape does. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through a divorce, but it is obvious you have your head on straight and the will to master your own impulses. You write like a hero and a winner. I’m betting on you!

    • David@MoneyNing.com says:

      Thanks for sharing Steve. It is often stories like yours that encourage us younger folks to stay the course.

      Cheers!

  • Lisa R says:

    My husband I rented our 4 bedroom, 2 bath home and moved into a one bedroom, one bath home in order to make our financial plan work. It has been more difficult than I expected. We sold or gave away 3/4 our belongings, but found we still had too much. I feel like a hoarder trying to keep enough living space around our things. I will be doing a third purge this spring. I am so glad we did this. We had way too many things we don’t need, or even want, anymore. My car was purchased used and I am not a car person anyway. I have cheap hobbies. I wish I could travel more, but can wait until our financial plans allow for it.

    • David@MoneyNing.com says:

      With the type of commitment that you and your husband are willing to make, the days of more traveling are closer than you think!

      Congrats on making the commitment to be flexible!

  • Kate says:

    I can’t drive (due to medical reasons) and I live in subsidized Senior Housing; I buy my clothes, (such as I needed because I am retired now and my wardrobe needs are quite different from the days when I worked at large law firms) at a very good consignment shop and, for everyday items, the Rescue Mission — I got a good winter parka for $10 and a fine assortment of jeans and sweaters for $40. I was brought up in a family that took many vacations together, and have learned to be frugal when travelling (I once came home from England with 12 cents in my pocket!) so I will not give up vacations. Actually, I don’t have a lot of expensive habits, but am putting my spare money into paying off my credit cards at present.

  • Arminius Aurelius says:

    After I got out of the Navy [ 4 years ] , I went to the Culinary Institute of America to learn the proper way to cook , not the Navy way. While going to school I decided it was time to buy a sport coat for occasions when a Jacket is required . There was a used clothing store in town and found a herringbone jacket that looked like NEW . It probably cost me 1/4 of what a new one would cost .
    After school, once I moved into an apartment and needed furniture I found that used furniture stores or even yard sales offer great deals for little money . There is nothing to be ashamed of , when young you have a choice of buying NEW cheap furniture or slightly used quality furniture and save a hell of a lot of money. I am now older and financially well off , have some quality new furniture and quite a bit of ” used ” furniture ………..but my used furniture are antiques such as a 110 year old Edwardian dining table , 8 carved chairs and a side board [ chest ] for Silverware and china. …… Also have used [ antique ] oil paintings and an old 1939 Juke Box . They may be antiques but no matter what , it is still USED furniture . As I mentioned in other posts , to this day I still buy low mileage USED cars . Bought my last car in 2008 , a 2008 Lincoln Town Car with 13,900 miles on it . Instead of paying $ 45,000.00 for it …..NEW ….it only cost me $ 22,900.00 , saved $ 20,000.00 . When the stock market crashed in September and October 2008 , I jumped in and bought stocks DIRT CHEAP with the money I saved and doubled the $ 20,000.00 within a year.
    Money makes money .

  • Levi Blackman says:

    I could give up everything except the vacation. My main motivation for financial freedom is the ability to travel. That is what I want to do with my wealth even if it means having to work more during my lifetime.

  • Eileen says:

    I think this article would be much more useful if the question is framed as “What 5 things can you give up for personal growth and financial freedom?”.

    Everyone have their own priorities. For me, a new car is not as important as traveling. Life is short. To not see the world and experience first hand how others live make my life feeling meaningless. For my husband, it’s much more important that he drives a quality car brand that he feels a personal connection to.

    I think if everyone can make a list of things that enrich their lives and give meaning to their existence. It’s much easier to discover the less meaningful things.

    As an example, I felt TV watching is a mindless one way communication that we can do less with. So I cancelled cable as an experiment (to the howling protest of my husband). Three years later, we became avid readers. My husband also picked up a very intricate hobby that gives him much joy (building bamboo fly-fishing rods). He found a whole new community of friends and created connections he did not expect. We also have one less bill to contend with.

    As an unexpected side effect, without a TV we became much less material oriented as a family. The lack of ads flashing constantly has dried up our consumer desires and forced ourselves to re-evaluate what we really wanted in terms of material consumption. Now we only invest in things that will last and is well designed.

    In the end our financial saving is perhaps not as significant as the time and insights that we recovered to allow for more meaningful personal expansion. That, we feel is our real profit.

  • jennydecki says:

    I have given up or am about to give up all those things. We’re pretty sparse around here, but it’s all geared toward a successful future. I haven’t taken a vacation in so long, I forget what it feels like so I don’t miss it. I’m okay with sacrifice since it’s part of a larger plan and totally temporary. Sure, five years is a pretty long temporary, but I really believe it will be worth it. My Excel spreadsheet told me so! 😉

  • fiona888 says:

    A nice home is one thing I will not give up. I live there everyday and it is my sanctuary and I enjoy staying home admiring and improving my home and doing gardening.

  • Michelle says:

    I couldn’t give up travel for financial freedom, but I guess it does also depend on what financial freedom means to each person. I still want to enjoy life!

    • Ruth says:

      I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive! Our top priority IS traveling. So we live in a house smaller than Alexa’s trailer and generally don’t spend money we don’t need to. We don’t watch tv. Our cars are paid off (selling mine this month). I could go on, but I’ll spare you. We just spend 3.5 months traveling northern Europe. We’ll be home to recoup the money we spent and head out again next summer. We also traveled for well under the expected cost (thanks to couchsurfing and friends abroad).

  • Joel says:

    I could give up almost all of those. The one thing I would fight tooth and nail to keep around is the vacation. But I would also NEVER take out a payday loan to travel – or to do anything else for that matter!

  • David@MoneyNing.com says:

    I can give up almost anything because I know any amount of money saved just means more for me later. It’s really a “delayed with interests” instead of “deprived with no benefit”, so it’s easy to justify giving something up.

    On the other hand, I have a much tougher time telling my family the same thing. This turned into a blessing in disguise though, since they help keep my life in balance as I tend to go overboard with my savings.

  • KM says:

    I don’t like spending a lot of time and money on maintenance, so my definition of “nice” and “new” are reliable, clean, and simple. I don’t need a big house, but I couldn’t live in a trailer.

    My car is new, but cheap and reliable.

    I love traveling, but it’s so expensive and other things have been a higher priority for a while.

    New clothes aren’t a big deal for me and I don’t even like shopping.

    My hobbies aren’t expensive and often get cut out when the budget is tight. My husband and I love computer games, so we have been finding free alternatives to monthly subscriptions so we don’t have that expense to deal with.

  • John S says:

    I think I’d be willing to give up most of these things, and have done with a few in the past, but I think vacation would be the toughest for me to give up. I did it for about five years when I was paying off debt and it sucked, but it was needed. Though it wasn’t bad enough to take a PayDay loan out for. 😉

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