There are different kinds of "conservative" I suppose. Personally I don't think that for example the USA are more open as a society than Germany. I'm really glad that here in G there is not much of an emphasis on religion, with all that it entails (gay marriage, abortion, modes of conduct, ect.) In this regard G is way more open, unless you are dependent on Caritas for a job (a large catholic organisation that runs a lot of facilities for elder and special needs care) no one cares what you believe in or whom you are shacking up with - even in my home county, the excessively catholic Bavaria! Most Germans are however very conservative when it comes to education, careers and investing! Sky has described very well I think!wolf wrote: ↑Thu May 10, 2018 12:20 amI think there is a cultural difference between european/conservative countries (e.g. Germany) and more open societies like USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand... This is I guess about living a lifestyle (in this case frugally and FIRE'd) against the current norm. In Germany it is about work, work, work, earn, earn, spend... And my feeling is that nobody accepts to live against the rules and expectations of the (german) society. Therefore I envy more open and individualistic societies, like the countries I mentioned above.
There was a discussion in another thread about what to say when introducing yourself (do you add your job title or not). This is the norm in G, what you do is usually dealt with in the first 3 minutes of talking to somebody. I'm constantly struggling with this because not only have I two job titles, but I have made a few hobbies into jobs as well. This is highly unusual in G, and it is very confusing to people that I work a few jobs in a parallel and rather fluctuating fashion (while being a qualified, educated person, usually only unskilled persons do this in G. "Normal people" are specialists!)sky wrote: ↑Sun May 27, 2018 4:28 pmIdentity is closely tied to profession in Germany. One's status and place in the hierarchy of German culture was based on one's union or professional organization. Pension and health insurance programs were originally managed by one's union or professional organization, as were one's housing and social opportunities (in many cases).
In this culture of identity by profession, a person that dares to step out of the working world is not only turning his back on the 9 to 5 workday, but also turning his back on membership in the common social groups that make up traditional German culture. The culture has changed and is rapidly changing, but peoples minds are still in the same mindset of looking at a person and defining that person by their profession.
So yes, I absolutely second what sky wrote, profession - and having the accompanying degrees/certificates - is very important in Germany.
I've skimmed most of those articles (google knows after all what I'm up to) you are perfectly right @phil! There was mostly talk of extremes, just to reinforce the stereotype that only crazy people would attempt it. Not very helpful for the cause!phil wrote: ↑Thu May 10, 2018 5:28 amAs for the article, well, it mostly seems to confirm the stereotype that one can only retire early if one takes extreme measures and gives up on 'living'. Hence the example of the man asking his guests not to flush the toilet for too long No mention of not buying new cars, buying second-hand furniture, or other measures that actually make a big difference.
Another point, and I think this has not been mentioned so far in this thread - here in Germany rich people are often looked at either with envy or suspicion. ("Rich" meaning here, does not need to work for a living). Either a rich person is a lazy bum who has inherited all his riches or he is a cut-throat businessman who got rich by exploiting his employees. The only acceptable/guilt-free mode of living seems to be a moderately affluent middle class wage slave (detached house, BMW, 2 seaside holidays a year, riding and piano lessons for the kids, stay-at-home-wife, attained at 60+ hours at a large company). If you are not able to live this way you are either stupid or lazy - Germans are super achievement-oriented, so the thought of deliberately living notably below your means is a little bit alien, I suppose.
It seems the only way people will not begrudge you your affluence is if they see you toiling for it, so that you can not really enjoy it. There is no narrative of the "fast-living self-made millionaire" in Germany, like the culture in silicon valley for example. I know several people who are most likely millionaires but no one would ever admit it or flaunt it, other than a slightly nicer car and a slightly nicer house than most people.
So if you step out of the norm in any direction you will be regarded with suspicion and/or envy. I constantly need to emphasize the "sacrifice" and the "limitations" we "suffer" due to our semi-ERE lifestyle (2 educated adults working less than 1 FT-job), to escape most negative comments. But I have been told countless times that we are strange/extreme/crazy regardless.
So to get back to @wolfs observation that there seems a lot of negativity, I don't think it is necessarily more pronounced in Germany than in other countries. There is probably some confirmation bias at work here - if one spends a lot of time in this forum one might get the feeling that FIRE/ERE is more common/accepted than it actually is in the US or other English speaking countries