The Power of 300

According to History:  Born in 530 B.C., Leonidas ascended to the Spartan throne around 490 B.C., where he would remain until his death about ten years later.  Leading an army of 300 Spartans, allied with another 6,000-7,000 Greeks from the neighboring region, Leonidas went up against the invading Persian army, led my Xerxes I.  The Battle of Thermopylae took place at what was known as the “Hot Gates,” named for the sulfur springs in the area, and consisted of Leonidas and his men taking advantage of the narrow passage in order to funnel the approaching enemy, who far outnumbered them, to a more manageable number to fight at one time.

Spartan males were trained from childhood in the ways of the hoplite warrior, learning to fight with a spear, short sword, and a round shield.  In battle, they would stand near one another and overlap their shields, protecting one another from a frontal attack.

Unfortunately for Leonidas and his 300 Spartans, they were betrayed by a Greek citizen, who had informed Xerxes’ army of another passage, allowing them to surround the Spartan army and overtake them.  Leonidas’ stand against the Persian army and ultimate death was an inspiration, demonstrating Sparta’s commitment to the Greek region.

Now, how am I relating this history lesson to personal finance?  Please proceed…

Financial Independence = your monthly expenses x 300

This isn’t a new concept; I just wanted to put my own spin on it while talking about some history and an awesome movie.  🙂

For every dollar you want and/or “need” to spend each month in retirement, you need to have $300 invested in order to apply the 4% “safe withdrawal rate” principle.  Rather than multiplying your yearly expenses by 25, this is simply looking at it from the perspective of monthly expenses (25 x 12.)  I like to look at our retirement number in this way because it allows for a more detailed understanding of the fact that every.single.dollar. counts.

For instance, if you’re spending $150/month on satellite TV and want to continue your service after retiring, you need $45,000 in your retirement portfolio just for that one monthly expense…for friggin’ cable!  We cancelled cable months ago, saving us $90/month – that equates to $27,000 we no longer need to save in order to reach our financial independence number.  Once our Jeep is paid off and we are no longer shelling out $500/month for that, there goes another $150,000 dollars we won’t need in retirement.  I need $9,000 invested just to cover my $30/month soda habit – that expense will definitely have to go bye-bye.  The list goes on and will no doubt continue to dwindle as we inch closer to FIRE.

Like Leonidas’ Spartan army, our dollars have the capability of standing strong, protecting one other, multiplying their strengths, and kicking serious ass…but only when we don’t sabotage them.  We must, instead, make purposeful decisions regarding how they will be put to use, thereby maximizing their value and simultaneously minimizing the number of soldiers we need fighting for us in retirement.

It’s too late for Leonidas…but will your Spartans be victorious?  What costs have you already slashed to decrease your FI number?  Any more cuts coming?  If you haven’t already calculated, how much are these changes decreasing the amount you need to retire?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

– Nurse on Fire

P.S. – If you haven’t seen the movie 300, watch it!  Guys, fair warning, your lady friend will likely not share in the love (other than for a half-naked / booty shot of Gerard Butler.)  The first time I watched it, my wife (then girlfriend) FELL ASLEEP and I’ve never been able to convince her to watch it with me again.  #FrownyFace

13 thoughts on “The Power of 300

  1. In the past couple of months, my wife and I have slashed a ton of expenses. First, we slashed our grocery budget from $400/month to $250/month. Come spring, we will be able to cut it down a little bit more because we will be planting our own vegetables. Second, I slashed my transportation budget from $60/month to $45/month.

    Not trying to be so cheapo, I started taking a shower at my work’s gym. This has saved us in water and sewer bill, though not a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m looking forward to our garden soon, as well. Funny you should mention it because I actually ran the tiller through it earlier. We’ve still got about 5-6 weeks before we can safely plant but we took advantage of nice weather to get a jump on things. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  2. Great analogy. We’ve cut: grocery bill (from $220 to $180 a week), magazines (use the library), gym membership (instead I run and set up a gym in the garage which I used this morning), a lot of eating out, technology upgrades and a 2nd car. I think we are at the right balance now, there are some things I’ve considered cutting out but won’t eg hairdresser, quality clothes for work, travel, good quality food to cook at home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First off, thank you! I completely agree that there are areas we don’t cut on too much, as well. “Balance” is definitely the key word and, in fact, was the highlight of my recent post, Guiltless Pleasures (part 2.) We eat 95+% of our meals at home so excellent, quality did is, without a doubt, worth the cost.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much and thanks for checking or my blog! I will definitely head over to yours, as well.

      You’re completely right, cutting costs has many positive benefits and is certainly easier than constantly striving to increase income to cover increasing costs. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think for the most part we’ve done a good job cutting expenses. We have no cable, cheap cell phone plans, no gym membership, and don’t really buy too many extra stuff. Any extra money that’s not part of our paychecks gets immediately dumped into savings/retirement. It’s a crazy big dream, but I don’t want to work til I’m 65 like everyone else!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s awesome, Vic; I couldn’t agree with you more. Assuming we keep up our current pace, my estimates put us at FIRE by the time I’m 45…plus or minus maybe 5 years. Of course, there are a million-and-a-half variable that will affect that. Even on the plus side of that equation, we’re still coming out ahead of the norm so I’ll roll with it. My scheduled post for Friday talks about this, along with an embedded Excel sheet (just learned how to do that :-D) of the FIRE calculator I’ve been using…a slightly modified version of J$’s over at Budgets Are Sexy. It’s a lot of fun playing with the numbers and allows for ongoing updates as we adjust our anticipated retirement budget numbers.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: FIRE Calculator | Nurse on Fire

  5. This is such a refreshing look at the expenses X time calculation. The analogy works perfectly in that money does better when you have more of it as well. Maybe my new image of Financial Independence will be that last shot of Faramir…I mean David Wenham’s character’s Dilios, leading the massive army of Spartans.

    The message of how cutting expenses relates to a lower threshold for early retirement or financial independence is one that can never be understated. Similarly, I quit my soda/pop habit a few years back and it is actually my favorite example to bring up in terms of compound interest and how it brings me closer to being free to leave my 9 to 5 job. Grabbing that drink instead of water during a meal is one of those small expenses that a large portion of the population happily goes along with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol….I love it! That’s an extremely powerful scene; just pulled it up on YouTube and it really amps me up!

      I’m still drinking soda at home but we NEVER pay for it if we go out to eat…at roughly $2.50 each, soda really adds up quickly. It’s always driven me crazy, even before learning about PF and the idea of FIRE, when we would go out to eat with family and I’d watch someone get a soda and then drink half a glass! Such waste…especially if someone else was picking up the check!

      Now that I’m off my soapbox…lol…thanks for commenting; really glad you liked the post!


  6. I really like this post. I think that the multiply by 300 method definitely gives you a new perspective on your expenses. It’s a lot more tangible than the 4% rule or multiplying by 25. I’m always working to reduce expenses but mine are always changing depending on where I am in the country at that time. For example, a campground in Virginia for three months only charged $400 a month for rent, electricity, water, cable, and internet. That means that I was only paying $200 a month for my part of all of that. That led to significant savings, I was only spending about $800 a month at that time. In the northeast, it’s a different story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow that seems like a really good deal for all utilities included. The nice thing is that with ongoing experience, you guys will get a feel for what you’re averaging and also where you might want to avoid due to the higher costs. You’ll have to do some review-type posts of the various campgrounds and RV parks that you guys stay in for us future travelers! Glad you enjoyed the post, man…thanks for checking it out.

      Liked by 1 person

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