Catching up the last couple of months: Business class and using money to improve your experiences

Boy...a crazy few months. Blogging has had to be put on the back burner for a bit. The following post was actually drafted a couple of months ago. I'll post it now, and then update where we're at now in a future post.

We’re currently in the motherland. Flying business was an interesting experience. Was it worth the money? Yes and no.

Charging the same for two very different experiences. Sneaky British Airways…Sneaky

Shortbread’s flight was, by all accounts, great. We’re flying British Airways and her flight was on the newer A350. She had almost a cabin to squeeze her and shortbread Jnr into. Flying with a baby is clearly always massively stressful and challenging, but there was space to lay down comfortably (just). There was space for him to move about and he was pretty chill throughout. It was, all in all, a good flight and an ok experience.

My flight was…underwhelming. I found I was on the older 777. I was in a corner. It was extremely loud. I had to step over another passenger to get to the toilet when their bed was horizontal. Anyone with a physical difficulty would have had it even worse than me. There was no shoulder room in the seat when reclined which made for an uncomfortable experience. I am irritated that both flights cost the same and I think that BA are taking the piss.

Unfortunately our return flight is on a 777. I’ve been working myself up about repeating my crap experience but with Shortbread and Jnr onboard too. It’s going to be so difficult! Additionally we are seeing a typhoon developing and hitting right as we fly home.

It struck me, however, that we could just change flights. We could even just book different flights. It’s a lot of money, but we have a cash reserve that would barely be dented by either decision. A month or two of not investing would cover the cost (or just over).

The stressful decision

For many in the FIRE community it would be nuts to even think like this. I point to the recent Ramit Sethi episode interviewing Doug and Mindy who, despite being by all objective measures extremely wealthy, chose to put themselves through a ridiculous flight schedule to save a few dollars. That’s not celebrating intentionality or frugality, it’s choosing to not use your money effectively for comfort and happiness. Obviously there’s a line here.

The thing is that I have been up for hours at night looking at guides for flying with a baby getting myself stressed. If I just used money to solve this problem I wouldn’t even miss the expense in a couple of months.

Some of this is reminiscent of how an addict is advised to approach conquering their addiction- you go 100% or you fail. Spending is a wasteful relapse. You’re becoming sucked into consumerist spending addictions. The thing is, neither Shortbread or I have a spending addiction. We discovered FIRE partly because we felt so uncomfortable spending the money we were being paid! We haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet, but guilty feelings about spending the money should not play a part at this stage. We need to trust that we can make good decisions with how we spend our money as much as how we save it. We need to trust ourselves to do that.

Other people’s reactions might also be playing a part in our reticence to just pick the best solution regardless of cost. Shortbread was probed on why she flew Business class recently by an old friend she met up with. The subtext of the question was that it’s too much money. Without wishing to be overly bitchy, this friends financial situation is so out of The Millionaire Next Door that we would be unlikely to ever take any kind of financial advice. They are a classic keeping up with the Jones’ type. However, it’s still hard to not be swayed by this and to remember that our decisions should be for us and us alone. It doesn’t matter what someone who doesn’t understand what we’re doing thinks or judges. This might seem obvious on a conscious level, but it’s still takes work to internalise completely.

The guilt and reticence to pay the extra to make my considerable stress go away is interesting. On discussion, I think we’re just going to do it. What’s the point in putting ourselves in a good financial position if we can’t take advantage of it when we need to? We need to trust that this isn’t opening the door to frivolous spending, it’s important to us.

Perhaps we have swayed too far in equating frugality with just not spending rather than just avoiding waste. It’s something we will have to bear in mind in the future.