I'm sure I'm around the point of diminishing returns on the process of reducing the expenses. I always prefered to focus on reducing expenses as much as I could, instead of trying to improve income, because it has a exponential effect in reducing the time to ERE. But now even that changed, and I'm thinking about side incomes next year. Like the idea to start charging something on the jiu jitsu classes, even if I still allow some people to go to the classes without paying anything.
I thought that once I get over 80 or 85%+, it would make no more sense to keep thinking about lowering expenses. But the thing gets in your system, and talking to you all everyday, I just can't stop thinking about ways to save additional money. Of course it is not my main focus anymore. But there ARE things to be improved and it will take not much effort to improve them. I get such a high savings rate (remembering that I still spend outside my "ideal" budget above), not so much because I'm frugal, but also because I have a somewhat high income for Brazil and even higher for the standards of the region I live in. It's not being a sacrifice. There are some poor people around here supporting a family bigger than mine on minimum wage or less, and being more frugal than I: growing as much food as their backyards allow, raising some chicken. That's one nice consequence of choosing to live in a poor place. You have some really good examples to learn with.
I agree with the idea of having some food ready to go. We are doing it to some extent. We could buy some crackers, some whole wheat bread, and some things to spread over. But instead, my wife makes some very good bread with wheat and brown rice (a quality we won't find anywhere near here), sometimes she makes some crackers from whole wheat. She makes some kinds of tofu cheese of some flavors, for us to use instead of butter or something. She makes tahine (a kind of sesame butter) out of sesame seed, using a hand-powered mill. It tastes very good with misso and lemon. And there are other less-known lunchs we make. She makes tofu out of soybeans (we have no place to buy tofu here in my city even if we want). She makes my lunch early in the morning so I can take it fresh to my job. When there are that days when she misses the ring of the alarm, or forget to set up the alarm, there are some quicker foods that we can make. We have white rice (quicker to cook) that we use in the pets food preparation, but that we
can use in emergencies. We always have some whole wheat pasta, that's a quick dish to make. Some cans with corn, others with green peas, and some cans of tuna. Most of the time we have around some eggs from free-roaming chickens. That's our emergency dishes and they work quite well. She is still failing sometimes on planning on having the quicker foods available, like the bread, crackers and some other lunchs we make from brown rice. Overall we are doing very well, and it will take very little to go from our present situation to not eating out at all. We just need some planning. That thing about missing some social meetings everytime we don't have food ready, is more of a motivational thing. It will happen only once or twice in a long while that we are really gonna miss to meet people. But as it happens, we will take care much more closely of the planning in the future. It's not that hard, it's not sacrifice. Not long ago, there were not all those places for people to eat out. It would just natural to pack a
lunch everytime. It is not impossible and not even hard to do it again. We just need a good strategy to get the habit again. Once you are conditioned to do something, once you have a habit strong enough, it's just not a sacrifice anymore.
Also, the not eating out part is not as much a economic decision as it is a health decision. We are struggling on it since we met, and we are making progress. I know that I can't control 100% of what we eat, I know that sometimes I will really decide to eat out of home, like when someone invites me to a dinner or something. I agree with you that it's not what you do one day that will change everything. It rather the average of your way of life that will shape your health. As I know that I can't avoid some lack of control unless I'm planning to live in a cave, then I'm gonna control better the part that I can control, so I can have room to spare. It's like oversaving money so that even when something completely unexpected happens, it doesn't change the course of your finances. The philosophy is the same. Also remembering that even when you loose control, you still have some degree of choice. When eating at a friend's house, I still don't need to eat everything at hand, and most of the time I can choose what
how much I will eat. For example, most people are quite used to having some friends that just don't drink alcohol.
I also splurge both on food and on finances. It's only that I prefer to have it under better control as much as possible. I prefer to have a huge dinner made at home, even inviting some friends over, even eating things I shouldn't eat often, then going to eat out. But there is a large difference in doing it because you chose to and doing it because your emotions are telling you to. Loosing control sometimes is part of life; but if everytime you "splurge" you see that it is because you have lost control, and not because of a rational decision, then that's a problem. You should listen to the heart, but the head should be above the heart.