I read inspiring and motivating articles like this one from Dividend Mantra about people like Jason sacrificing short-term luxuries for long-term gain, such as not buying a car and taking public transit instead or deciding to forgo buying a home and renting in the meantime..
….but the ONE thing that I cannot stand and that irks me the most about this “early retirement” mantra is when people eat badly in an effort to save money and say it was worth it.
Note: I am not trying to pick on Jason in particular because I very much enjoy his blog and he is an excellent, honest example of someone who doesn’t make a 6-figure salary but has saved a lot of money. He’s an great financial role model.
I just don’t like this ONE aspect of his devotion to saving money because I think it sends the wrong message to readers who want to follow in his footsteps.
HOW WOULD YOU RANK THIS?
- Health — without your health, no amount of time or money in the world will save / cure you
- Time — without time, you can’t enjoy what you’ve saved and we don’t know when we’ll die
- Wealth — without money you can’t have health or time, but money is an easily renewable resource*
*Unlike time. Or health, because you need to have long-term/good habits to keep fit and healthy.
See, I won’t lie to you and tell you I haven’t sacrificed over the years to get to where I’m at.
I ate ramen noodles for a year straight for lunch at work.
..and his current daily eating habits which he calls “frugally fit” are equally as bad in my eyes:
You see, when I first started this journey I decided to get pretty extreme with many of my expenses, and my food budget was one of the earliest victims. I temporarily sacrificed health for cost savings, and it’s a decision I actually don’t regret.
Two packets of Quaker Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal with water: 320 calories, $0.50.
One Lean Cuisine box (Chicken Parmesan): 310 calories, $2.25
One bottle of Propel water (Black Cherry): 0 calories, $0.58
Two roast chicken and cheddar sandwiches, topped with Miracle Whip: 1,146 calories, $2.41
One bottle of Propel water (Black Cherry): 0 calories, $0.58
CALORIES AREN’T EVERYTHING
For one thing, I am not seeing any vegetables or fruit making it on his list even as snacks in between meals.
It’s just grains, starch, sugar, processed crap, fake sodas, and meat.
I think it’s pretty much a given that eating more fruits/veggies than meat is better for you.
For another, yes he is eating less in terms of calories but the quality of said calories ingested are not good calories.
Also, as a side note why buy Quaker oatmeal loaded with sugar for $0.50 when you can buy Quaker 1-minute quick oats in bulk for $2, add your own damn brown sugar or cut bananas and eat it for pennies?
The quality of the food you eat, and the quality of the calories you eat matter.
Think about it — you can eat 2 McDonald’s meals for let’s say 2000 calories a day, but is that healthier than eating a homemade meal for the same 2000 calories?
Do you get the same nutrients for the calories you’ve ingested?
Don’t try and tell me “Yes you do”, because it’s a load of crock.
The short-term effects of eating badly are not immediately evident but they are still there:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain / Obesity
- Malnutrition (don’t think that taking vitamin pills cuts it; nothing replaces eating good food)
- Eating modified foods pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and having it absorb/stay in your body
The long-term effects are will what kill you or shorten your life.
It may be cheap to eat from the $1 fast food menu, or to eat ramen noodles every day like Jason did but is it really worth it?
In the long-run, all of this bad eating catches up with you in the form of increased risks of having diseases, heart attacks, your bones deteriorating from not having sufficient nutrition.
I get not buying a new wardrobe, having a car or any of these THINGS that we enjoy consuming and using in the name of being able to travel and feel free, but to say that having lots of money and time is worth your health is a silly thing to me.
You may not have any problems at all in the future depending on how far you’ve gone in terms of eating cheaply, but chances are, you may not live as long as you would have, had you paid for actual food.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF WAYS TO EAT ON THE CHEAP & STILL BE HEALTHY
Buying frozen dinners on sale at $3 apiece, eating off the dollar menu at McDonald’s or eating $0.50 ramen noodles daily is a cheap way to go, but I daresay that buying actual food and cooking it in bulk is a lot cheaper.
You can buy a whole chicken for cheap, cut it up and the chicken slowly in portions during the week for one meal, rather than having meat for all 3 meals. Then you just add some vegetables to the mix, some starch like a rice or bread and you’re good to go.
I also don’t buy the argument that buying frozen lunches is cheaper. It’s more convenient to be sure, but you can easily spend a Sunday making your lunches and even your dinners for the week by cooking it, and placing them into portioned out Tupperware containers.
I’ve been doing this for years! All I do in the morning is grab my lunch and go. At night, I come home and re-heat what I already made on Sunday.
You don’t even need to eat the same thing all the time — you can buy the same protein and vegetables, and make different meals with it by cooking it differently or adding different spices / sauces.
OTHER WAYS TO SAVE:
Cutting out meat, poultry and seafood and going vegetarian is cheaper and eating beans for protein instead, is cheaper.
Eating oatmeal in the morning is cheap (and it sticks to your ribs to keep you full longer), but not by buying those instant packets for $0.50 each. Just buy a bulk bag of oats and spend 3 minutes cooking it on the stove!
Drink water instead of fake sodas or pop.
WHAT’S THE POINT OF ALL THIS MONEY AND TIME IF YOUR HEALTH SUCKS?
You could die earlier, be sicker longer, contract a disease… it’s all stuff you can control early on, but is difficult to cure once you’ve gone off the deep end.