Today, I’ll let you in on a self-invented concept: lifestyle testing!
It’s something my wife and I have practiced for some time and it works perfectly with financial independence/FIRE.
What is lifestyle testing?
Lifestyle testing is the concept of testing different lifestyle choices to see what fits you best.
Before you rush out and spend time and money on certain things, why not test it or its alternatives first?
Often, we believe a fancy car, an exotic vacation, or even FIRE is something we need in our lives. Often, we are right, but sometimes we are wrong.
When we are wrong, it is often costly in terms of time and money. This is where you should test your lifestyle choice before making them over and over.
Companies do this all the time. They sometimes call it a minimum viable product or something similar. The concept is the same. You shouldn’t waste resources on wrong decisions. You test fast without spending too much time and money, and then change course accordingly. The same goes for your lifestyle!
An example of lifestyle testing
Let me give you an example:
You believe moving out of your city apartment to a house in a small town will be right for your family. You romanticize about opening the door to the garden. The children running around and playing. The garden filled with fresh vegetables you cook for dinner… you get the point.
However, you forget that you have to clean your new, large house. You probably forget that you have to spend hours keeping your garden. You probably forget that your children need to travel long distances to play sports (and you probably have to take them there).
How do you know whether moving out of the city to a small town is right for you? You guessed it: lifestyle testing!
Instead of hiring a real estate agent to sell your apartment, spending time finding a new house, packing all your stuff, moving all your stuff, unpacking all your stuff, changing jobs, changing your kids’ institutions, etc., why not test it out first?
Why not just rent a house in a small town and test it out for a few months? This way you will be able to see whether it is truly something for you or not, but you will not waste unnecessary time and money if you end up not liking it. That is the point of lifestyle testing!
How have we tested different lifestyle choices?
Lifestyle testing doesn’t only apply for housing.
My wife and I have tested different lifestyle choices multiple times. We perform simple tests and then choose which path is right for us.
These are probably the best, recent examples:
- Testing post-FI life: We wanted to see whether FI/FIRE was truly something for us, and instead of waiting 5-15 years, we decided to go on a mini-retirement. We found out that being FI is truly something for us, but we will never retire fully from working. How cool is that to know 6 years before you actually are financially independent? It’s easier to plan post-FI life now.
- Testing owning a car: We rented a car for a month to see whether we actually needed it in our lives. We used it twice. It would be much cheaper to take public transportation or even a taxi the times we need it. If we had gone out a bought a car, we would have spent a significant amount of money and it would have lost value the moment we left the shop. The alternative was to go into a 36-month lease that would also have been costly. Conclusion: we don’t need to own a car at this point in our lives. Result: lots of money saved.
- Testing going on a local vacation: We have had a habit of going on quite expensive vacations throughout the year historically. For the past four summers, we have decided to stay in Denmark and enjoy our vacation instead. We tried testing it one summer, and we actually found out we preferred being here compared to going abroad. This has saved us a ton of money and hassle compared to going abroad every summer.
These are three examples of lifestyle testing. I’m sure you can come up with many more ways of testing your own lifestyle choices.
What if you do lifestyle testing and end up preferring the less frugal option? Well, I guess you have found something that makes you happy, which is always good. Then you simply need to figure out whether it is worth the cost.
Your turn: Have you ever done lifestyle testing? Would you?