You are on the path to financial independence and so is everyone else. Do not dupe yourself into believing that the goals you set in the previous posts do not matter. They do! Even if you want to retire at 65… they matter! Or retire at 35. Or at any other point in time.
Not only are you on this path, but financial independence will give you two immensely important treasures along the way: optionality and time.
Do a quick google search of studies on workplace happiness and you find:
- Numerous studies identifying anywhere from 50-85% of people don’t like their jobs.
- Another study citing 71% of employees are currently looking for a new job.
- And even another one stating that 58% of people trust strangers more than they do their boss.
I do not know anyone who grew up dreaming of being in an underpaid job working for a company whose culture they do not like under a boss who micromanages them and with no opportunity for advancement.
It looks like a lot of Americans deal with that very situation. I know those 71% of unhappy Americans looking to make a switch would pull the trigger if they lived in financial independence or just on the path to financial independence. I do not want to quit my job, but now that I am out of debt and have 6-8 months of living expenses built into my net worth, I have an amazing safety net.
Even if work seems perfect, one poor decision by management or one poor manager can turn your world upside down. You get a new micromanaging boss… then with financial independence you have the power to work through it or find a new position. Your company downsizes… financial independence gives you the option to find a new position or retire completely. Your friends go on an around-the-world trip… financial independence allows you the bargaining power to take a sabbatical or quit to join them.
I want those options. What about you?
Not only would you achieve optionality, you would also buy time. Every dollar saved today turns into extra time in the future. That one dollar saved can be invested and turn into five dollars in 20 years. If my expenses totaled $500.00 each week, then by saving an extra $100 buys me a week of time… one less week I need to work… and one more week of time I can sip that margarita on the beach or write my fantasy novel or any other life goal I have on my list.
Can you stop buying brand new cars and purchase a three-year-old version of the same style? Can you switch your living situation from a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom apartment with a roommate? Could you stop eating out most nights and start making home cooked meals? These decisions will dictate how much time you have to experience the world… how much time you have to spend with your family… how much time you can take back from work and put toward life.
This does not mean that you cut out every “extravagant” expense and penny pinch. This does not mean “no more lattes” or “no more meals out” or “no more nice cars.” This means that you need to start making those lattes more special by brewing them at home Monday through Thursday and then enjoying your Starbucks on Friday. Same idea works for eating out. On date nights when my girlfriend and I eat out, the experience is more special because we normally cook our dinners at home.
Or you can enjoy the lattes, but you will need to cut back on the clothes shopping each month to offset the lattes. Last year, I made the conscious decision to not buy a new car. My current 2004 Honda Civic still works, satisfying my needs for a vehicle. Instead of making a car payment each month, I stashed that money away for trips to Costa Rica, Denver, and Ireland. I will make that tradeoff any time!
Try to focus on making items special again and/or making tradeoffs to save more for the future. This will help drastically with your level of happiness along the path to financial independence.
Achieving financial independence will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Do not shy away from the challenge of it… accept it, write down your life goals, identify your FIN here, and calculate your net worth here. I will help you build the bridge for your gap with future posts. So choose this moment now to commit to the process… because you will blink and realize you are 65 and one of the 50% of Americans that have nothing saved for retirement, living with minimal options and time. Let’s set a new standard!