There are a lot of misconceptions about striving for Financial Independence or even trying to create more financial freedom. I can often see the confusion or hesitation when I mention it. Here are some of the arguments against it:
Your giving up and opting out
You can’t produce
You will no longer add value
Our worth is defined by our job, ergo no job, no worth
The reasons people will seek financial independence are as varied. And each reason has a unique benefit.
Here are the most compelling 16 reasons to seek Financial Independence:
1. You choose where you live
Our jobs often determine our location. Maybe we really want to live closer to family or in the mountains or off the grid, but it’s not in close proximity to our current job, so we give up that dream. With FI, you get to live where you want to live. Even if the pay is lower, or non existent.
2. You choose your most meaningful work
I think we all have important, meaningful work in us. Work that matters to you. When you are FI, you get to figure that out, and pursue it. Even if the pay is lower. Even if you need to go back to school to do it. You can find the kind of work you are most passionate about, and the area where you add the most value.
3. If you are still at your old J-O-B, you can set boundaries
When you are “offered” that extra project, unpaid overtime, a work trip over your anniversary, you can say “Thanks, but no thanks.” You need to leave by 6, you get to make that call. What’s the worst that will happen? They could fire you. But you don’t NEED that job. And if they are unreasonable with your schedule, maybe you don’t want that job.
3. If you are still at your old J-O-B, everything you make is “extra”
With all that extra income, you can do amazing things. You could travel more. You could buy a vacation home. You can make bigger charitable donations. Or bankroll a new animal shelter. What would you do if all the income you earned was “extra”? It’s kind of exciting, right? When what we earn doesn’t have to go to buying food and paying bills, but can be the honest reflection of our biggest passions.
4. If you are at your old J-O-B, you might like it more!
You are there by choice. Because you want to be. The paycheck isn’t the biggest factor anymore. You really feel like this is the best use of your time, skill and passion. Sure, there are still stressful days, but you know that being there is your choice, not coercion by paycheck.
5. Your job can never love you back
No matter how much you love your job, it can’t love you back. No matter how much your boss or coworkers love you, you are only there because 1. They can afford to pay you, and 2. You fulfill a need. And if either of those change, often without warning, you no longer have a job. Being FI means that you can love your work, but you don’t really NEED the job. If the pay stops without warning, you are already prepared.
6. You can take on more risk
Let’s say your old J-O-B wasn’t your true calling. You can take some risks and venture into new things. You can test out new businesses, or try new skills. In my first 9 months of blogging, I made $9. I tested out this passion of writing because I didn’t need this new project to be profitable the first year. Without needing a large income (or any income) at all, what kinds of things would you try?
7. Your physical health
What if we had the time to get enough sleep, exercise and eat real food? Crazy idea, right? Mr. Mt had been trying to get to the gym more as well as eat and sleep better while still working 40+ hours a week. But in this year, since he left his old job, he lost an extra 30 lbs. He is quickly approaching 40, in the best shape of his life and at his high school weight.
8. Your mental heath
You don’t have to work a job that is so stressful to your mental health. If you have overwhelming demands, difficult relationships with coworkers or customers, or just the administration nightmare, you get to find something better. Or back to #3, set some boundaries.
9. Space for your biggest life dreams
What is that one thing you would love to do if you could take a year off? Travel, create something, do a physical challenge? When you are FI, you can take a year off. You can make space for your biggest dreams. If you want to build a home, volunteer overseas, or sail around the world, you can do that. Plus you don’t have to stress about finding a high paying job right after your time off, because your bills are covered.
10. Spend more time with people that matter the most
Typically we spend 40-50 hours a week with our coworkers. They aren’t really friends, they aren’t family or our kids. But do we give our best hours to the people least significant to us. For a long time, I only had 45 minutes after a 9 hour day to spend with my son. 45 minutes when I was my most tired. I worked every weekend, so I had to turn down every request to see friends and family at weekend get-togethers. I spent my best time with people I don’t even talk to anymore. Now the people most important to me get my best time. Now I get to pick who my “coworkers” are. Other bloggers, writers, freelancers, creators or builders of wonderful things. I get to make time to Skype, text, email or go out to coffee with them.
11. You can pick the amount of work you do
Maybe you want to pour 60 hours a week into your work. Maybe 30 would be better in this season. Maybe you have a newborn at home and 10 is all you can give. How much is right for you, right now? When you are FI, you get to pick. If a traditional employer won’t accommodate part time work, you can do work that matters to you on your own terms.
12. You can decide how long you travel
Maybe you really need this week off, but someone else already claimed it. Mr. Mt missed his little sisters wedding, because his boss at the time just decided to say “no.” There was no explanation or reason. He had 60+ vacation days, but his boss decided to be a jerk.
We took a 6 week road trip this summer. No employer would have given us that time, even unpaid. FI means we get to decide. We weigh the pro’s and con’s ourselves, and decide what’s right for us. Maybe you want to travel for a year, or 5. Maybe you just want a month for a nice road trip with your family, with out constant emails and phone calls.
13. If things suck, you can quit
Now, if you work enough jobs for long enough, at some point things will suck. You’ll get a new boss, a mean coworker, a horrible customer, or go through restructuring. When you are FI, you don’t need the paycheck, so you get to honestly evaluate if this job is the best use of your precious life. If your time, passion, work, is best used here. And if not… you get to quit. Just like that.
I had a work environment turn hostile once. A coworker went all “mean girls” on me. Daily she would call me things like: slut, prostitute, accuse me of being bulimic, throw paper at me, or refuse to speak or look at me (which was kind of awkward but somewhat a relief). It sucked for me, but was also really awkward for everyone else. After a few talks with the management, they made it very clear that she mostly likely wouldn’t adjust her behavior and they wouldn’t fire her. So I could get use to this constant abuse or quit.
Life is short. I have meaningful and important work to do. Because we didn’t need my income anymore, guess which I picked! =) And imagine how much more that would have sucked if I desperately needed that paycheck to pay a mortgage.
14. Time for other important areas
What other areas of your life are important? Do you have enough hours left in the day for those other things? FI means you get to decide how many hours are dedicated to each thing that matters. To your family, to relationships, to hobbies, to art, to volunteering, to community. As life changes, you can adjust the number of hours allotted to each.
15. Work without pay
Sometimes the work we really want to do, the thing that is most important to us, doesn’t come with a paycheck. Staying home to raise our kids. Coaching our kids little league team. Watching our grandkids on the weekend. Blogging (cough, cough). I like to be able to speak for different local organizations. I can add a lot of value, and it’s a great way to leverage my message to have a bigger impact. In return, I often get a gift card, candle or simple thank you card. And that is OK. Because I don’t need the paycheck. I can choose to use 15-20 hours to prepare a great talk when the monetary benefit is a candle.
16. Comfortably Retire when you need/want to
Honestly, when we first started talking about FI ideas, this was my number one motivator. I had seen friends and family forced to retire because of health concerns even though they weren’t financially ready. Our health and able bodies can go out long before our income needs are met. And at that point, it’s a dire situation to repair. So I want to be able to retire comfortably on our own terms. I didn’t want to be in a spot where we NEEDED to work until 70, just in case we weren’t physically able to do so.
We all can strive to build more financial freedom. If I’m still working 40+ hours a week when I am 70, I don’t want it to be because I need that paycheck to pay next months rent, but because I have work I am passionate about. Financial Independence isn’t about opting out of a meaningful, productive life. Instead it’s about having the freedom to make the choices that are right for us.
Any reasons appealing/motivating for you?
Any other reasons that are a driving force for you?
Do you think most people “get” these reasons, or still just view it as opting out?