Road Less Travelled Challenge – Apathy Ends

By | 2016-07-05

Inspired by a post on Our Next Life, I am going to partake in the Road Less Travelled challenge.

The challenge: Instead of talking about what we’re all doing that’s the same (saving at a high rate, optimizing our budgets, etc.), let’s celebrate what we’re each doing that’s unique.

If you are not a reader of Our Next Life you should head over there and check it out – the site is consistently awesome!

Lets start out with the easy things that separate the A.E. household from the Early Retirement Commandments (promise you will come back after reading these)

  • We do not own a bike
  • We still have Cable TV
  • We built a brand new house last year
  • We have 2 cars (one with a loan)
  • Crappy beer does not enter this household
  • We don’t have a budget

After reading that, you could say we are a pretty AVERAGE American household (minus the crappy beer part, to many people drink it)

Realistically, we are anything but. Even with all the luxuries above, we still rock a 36% savings rate while paying off $1,000 every month on my remaining student loans. I hope you are wondering “how do we do it?” – continue reading to find out.


Public Transportation

Even though we own 2 vehicles, they do not leave the house that often. Our new house is conveniently located by a park and ride (within walking distance) that takes us within 4 blocks of work downtown. For $90 a month, my wife and I get to and from work. A single parking spot in Minneapolis cost twice that every month.

We are also conveniently located next to a grocery store, between the 2 cars we fill up once every 2 weeks.


Killed lifestyle inflation

When we first started our careers we were not making great money. As our salaries grew we spent any extra money we earned. About 2 years ago I started reading personal finance books and blogs and decided that our lifestyle had inflated enough. By taking advantage of salary increases since then, we have built an impressive savings rate while paying off a ton of debt.

Even though our jobs are a means to an end (meaning we don’t particularly like them) we grind to make as much as possible and have doubled our combined salary in 5 years.


DIY Habits

We do not pay people for something we can do ourselves. The only fixes that are “off limits” are electrical and behind the wall plumbing. If the problem is going to cause more damage before I can get to it, we will bring in a pro – everything else is done by us or a family member, including:

  • Landscaping
  • Tiling
  • Tables
  • Shelving
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Gardens
  • Fences

See these posts for pictures of our completed projects: Easy Weekend DIY Projects and DIY Money Saving Tips

Frugal Friends/Family

We are thankful to have friends and family that prefer to grill at someones house over expensive dinners at a restaurant. Puppy play dates are frequent, the beer is a buck a piece and grilled salmon is $7 a pound.



We don’t get caught up in new expensive hobbies, we stick to what we know we will enjoy. If we want to try something new we buy used or borrow. If it turns into something we love, we will make quality purchases after research and searching for deals. I have been burned to many times on buying cheap gear.


We Steal Stuff

You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to steal things and sell them on EBay – head over to your neighbors shed and steal that annoying leaf blower that wakes you up at 7:30 AM, its worth at least $25.

Obviously we don’t steal things, just want to make sure you are still paying attention


Some of the shit people by these days, I just can’t relate to. I buy a new pair of pants once a year….maybe. I wear the same pair of shoes to work*. When I do buy clothes, it is quality stuff that will last.

Your image should be defined by what is between your ears, if you think otherwise then you aren’t reading this site so I don’t need to address it.

*Mrs. A.E. makes sure I don’t look like a jackass every morning but the bar is pretty low

A few other random things that separate us:

  • Financial Independence/Early Retirement doesn’t mean I will not be earning anymore – it will just be on my terms (AKA no boss/timelines/commitments)
  • If I didn’t have to go to work ever again starting tomorrow, I don’t know what I would do – we don’t have a master plan yet, we just know what we are doing today isn’t it.

How we are the similar to the wonderful Our Next Life blog

  • Our dog is a first class citizen, here he is while I am writing this post


  • We are goofy as hell, and have so many inside jokes that we could go a full day around people and laugh without anyone knowing why

How do you separate yourself?

22 thoughts on “Road Less Travelled Challenge – Apathy Ends

  1. The Green Swan

    I’m with you on the beer, since college I’ve become a bit of a beer-snob.

    I like how you take personal finance and make it work for you, well done. Thanks for sharing your road less traveled.

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Life is to short to drink crappy beer (I probably should make that into a bumper sticker)

  2. [email protected]

    Interesting to read all the differences between folks as they follow their own paths to FI. We are totally with you on the DIY and Frugal Family/Friends. Those are two areas where we have saved a ton of money over the years. We will be going down to one car when our oldest one can’t be repaired again – so that will save us too! Nice work!

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      We just spent 4 days up north without eating out at a single restaurant or going to a single bar! That is how you vacation frugally!’

      Thanks for stopping out and reading/commenting!

  3. L
    [email protected] Turtle

    We have two cars as well. It’s pretty much required where we live, which is in rural MN. No access to public transportation. Maybe when we retire we can move down to one car.

    Good job on the excellent savings rate!

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Whoop! Another MN blogger!

      We wouldn’t be able to get by with one if it wasn’t for public transportation

      Thank you!

  4. Our Next Life

    Thanks for taking the challenge! And for the shout-outs! I love this post — you guys definitely don’t fit the FIRE mold, and that’s awesome. I’m sure your savings rate will keep rising, too, as you get raises and pay off your loans. So you guys are on a great path! 🙂

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      For sure! Its a great challenge and I hope more bloggers take it, the stories are so interesting

      As soon as those student loans are gone, our rate should kick up nicely.

      Thank you!

  5. Thias @It Pays Dividends

    I’m a bit of a beer snob but I don’t drink it that often so it helps keep the costs in line!

    I am also with you on not having a budget. We are pretty consistent from month to month and if something big come sup, we adjust but overall, no set budget. I think that for some people, a budget can be de-motivating and I fall in that camp. We still keep our savings rate up over 50% and should increase that when my wife goes back to work part-time in the fall!

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Thats an awesome savings rate and if you can boost it further you will be reaching FI rapidly.

      The summer has been crazy expensive so far and doesn’t look to be slowing down – our savings rate is going to be tough to maintain for a few months and we will definetely feel the burn

  6. Stefan - The Millennial Budget

    I never really enjoyed beer, in the Caribbean we drink liquor mainly rum! If I do drink beer it has to be craft beer otherwise everything taste awful to me.

    I like your unique approach to FIRE but I have to wonder, if you use your cars as little as you say why do you own two rather than one? I understand there is a convenience factor to it of course and I would rather two cars myself just curious.

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      It seems like beer is not as common in a lot of the Caribbean locations, whenever we go on vacation in that area there is 1-2 choices to drink.

      Its a great question and something we have discussed a few times, we plan on having kids one day and at that time two may be more of a necessity with all the errands that come along. If the insurance wasn’t so cheap now it may be a different decision.

  7. Dividendsdownunder

    Hey AE,

    Nice points to differentiate yourself! Each to their own, there isn’t any rules on how we live our financial lives 🙂

    I think we’ll do a topic on this, it’s a nice idea.


    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      It is a great idea – I hope you do!

  8. Brian Lund at Measured Money

    Very nice. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in trying to do things fast we forget to actually live and enjoy life. Great reminder to take things one step at a time and enjoy the ride.

    Great to be here btw. I’m Brian Lund from Measured Money. I came over from budgetsaresexy. Looking forward to reading more and connecting!

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Absolutely, just because we aren’t FI yet doesn’t mean we should skip whats happening today.

      Thanks for reading/commenting! I will check out your site!

  9. FinanceSuperhero

    Fellow beer snob here. If it has the word “lite” in it, I won’t touch it unless I have to be polite.

    Like you, I strive to do as much DIY as possible, despite my limited skills.

    For a personal finance blogger, I think the biggest thing that separates me is my love for restaurant dining. I know it is not the best use of my finances, but I enjoy a delicious meal and having someone else to do the dishes from time to time.

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Glad to see there are a lot of beer snobs! Down with the mass produced beer!

      I love trying new restaurants, there are a ton of them around us and a lot actually have decent prices for really good food (along with local brewery pairings)

  10. Z
    ZJ Thorne

    I don’t drink crappy beer. I’m of Irish descent and just think that things that go in my body have to be wonderful.

    I’m not planning on having any kids. Ever. I’m a lesbian and the cost of sperm is just too much morally and financially for me to be comfortable acquiring it. Living without children saves a ton of money and future expenses. I’m an excellent aunt.

    I’m with Finance Superhero, I’m not the best cook and love great food. I don’t have a car and pay roughly $120/m for public transportation.

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      Whooop! Another Public Transportation user!

      Does Jameson make the cut? It does at our place!

  11. Financial Slacker

    I love hearing how others spend money. Sometimes when you read enough PF blogs, you start to wonder, am I the only one who spends any money? We don’t go crazy spending, but we’re not extemely frugal either. We strike a balance.

    Life is too short to spend the whole time working for someone else, but it’s also too short to never enjoy a few luxuries. And definitely too short to drink crap beer. Although, since I hit 40, I’ve started drinking more bourbon than beer.

    1. Apathy Ends Post author

      We definetely enjoy a few luxuries and don’t go crazy on the frugal side

      100% agreed – I need to get the passive income streams rocking so I don’t have to work for someone else forever


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