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I’ve been trying to unplug more this week at the beach. So instead of curling up in bed and watching Netflix for an hour before bed, I headed out for a walk down the beach. On the Washington coast the dense forest pushes right up against the ocean. There was nice path through the towering trees that comes to a bench overlooking the water. I sat and read for about an hour as the sun started to set. I was in awe of the beauty and magic of this place.

And a crazy thought came into my mind. It’s Sunday night! I’ve worked a lot of jobs over the years. At some point, in all of those jobs, a creeping sense of dread seeped into Sunday night. A sinking feeling. A mix of anxiety, stress and overwhelm.

But here I was, in the most beautiful setting, reading this amazing book, SO excited about wanting to “get to work” on all the things I was reading. I marveled at how much had changed over the last 18 month since we left our 9-5 jobs.

pop up camper early retirement

After I got back to our pop up camper, Mr. Montana and I sat outside on the picnic table and watched the last of the sunset over the water. I thought, “I couldn’t imagine being more happy than I am right now.”

Our camping neighbor has a 5th wheel, which, if purchased used, would cost about $65,000. Our pop-up was $4,000.

Nice things are nice. They are convenient and comfortable. But nice things can’t give you something you don’t already posses.

Purchases can only enhance what is already there.

Marketing would like us to believe we can buy the whole package. The stillness, the joy, the happiness in our hearts, a close knit family, a fulfilling marriage, an exciting idea, time away to reflect and dream, work and hobbies that give purpose but, no. You really are only buying an expensive camper, all those essential things, are not included.

And we want to believe it because buying stuff is simply easier. And faster.

It takes time, commitment and LOTS of effort to have those other things.

You can’t call it in.

Being available and attentive to our kids to develop a close, meaningful connection.
A deep, fulfilling marriage.
Moving towards the work you feel most called to do and witnessing the impact it’s making.
Contentment, joy, purpose.
A lifestyle that meets your basic needs while respecting your bigger goals.

There are no short cuts. And you can’t put in on a credit card.

Marketing is trying to sell us a lifestyle.

Buy a great soaking tub, and you will have the time to soak in a hot bubble bath and read books in the evening. 

Renovate your kitchen with a big island, and there will be big dinner parties with everyone gathered in the kitchen, sipping wine and eating good cheese. 

Buy a home with a sun room, and you will finally be able to read the Sunday paper, and drink coffee and have great conversations with your partner. 

But all you get is a bigger tub, shiner kitchen and extra room in your house.

 

Want to hear something really depressing? You do? Oh, good.

Becoming financially independent, only gets you financial independence.

Bummer, right?

The bigger things, the more important things can’t be paid for. And you can’t call them in.

Just like material purchases,

financial freedom only enhances what you already posses. 

 

 

But you can start now. They take time, intention, focus and effort, but not a lot of money.

Financial Independence makes life bigger. Whatever you already posses, you get more of that. Which is great, if we have cultivated a rich and meaningful life. But that takes time and intention.

Health, gratitude, meaningful connections with partners, kids, family and friends, hobbies that provide flow, work that creates impact, and joy.

If you have those, a little financial freedom will go a long way. Even in a pop-up camper.

 

For conversation:

Have you spent time on the Washington or Oregon coast? I don’t know if it’s the towering cedar trees or salty breeze, but it soothes the soul.

Have you know folks who figure out the money piece but not the bigger the life stuff?

Any thoughts on buying an item verses trying to buy the lifestyle promise that marketers sell?