Each morning I make a cup of strong black tea and add some milk. And it tastes like freedom. I’ll explain in a minute. But first I want to ask: What do you give up for your 9-5 grind? In what areas of your life has your employment traded you a paycheck for your freedom? Some companies and bosses are better than others. But in each job, there is a trade off. So in February we are doing a little series about Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE.) A dear friend was recently let go. No severance. No bonus that was due to be paid out. No warning. I’m sad and angry. So let’s start this FIRE series about talking about when good work gets wrapped up in a crappy job. 

What we are retiring from?

First let’s be clear that I love work. All sorts of work. And I think that each of us has been gifted with a unique and important contribution we can make.

But does it really have to be a 9-5 grind?

If your greatest passion and most important work lines up perfectly with your 9-5 grind, that is awesome. But keep reading. Just in case.

Back to my tea with milk that tastes like freedom.

If you work long enough, with enough companies, and enough bosses, you will run into some really stupid and crappy things. Sooner or later something will be ridiculous or sucky.

I worked for a company that viewed drinking tea as equivalent to sloth. Coffee was fine. Soda was fine. Drinking tea was viewed as this extravagant exercise in laziness. Now this wasn’t a high paced job. My coworkers generally wasted a few hours a day surfing the web or watching funny You Tube videos. But I still caught a lot of shit about this. You know, this tea drinking habit of mine. It would involve walking to the water/coffee station and adding hot water to my empty cup (just like the water and coffee drinkers). Because I already felt like I was pushing it with my lazy tea drinking ways, I would never walk the extra 30 steps to the break room to add milk to my tea. That could waste an extra 40 seconds easily. (The outrage!) So I drank this cup of sadness for 3 years. Black tea, no cream.

Every morning since I quite, I brew my black tea and add milk. And it tastes like freedom. No snide comments heard. No critical glances. And then I do something really outrageous. I sit in my book room. And I read a book! I look at my planner. I sip my freaking tea like the queen of England would! 

And you know what I do on Saturday mornings after I sip tea and do some reading. I make pancakes for my kids! Pancakes with cherries and chocolate chips. Pancakes with silly faces. Confetti pancakes that I add sprinkles too. And that tastes like freedom too! See, I know what my perfect Saturday looks like. Tea with milk, reading, making pancakes, writing, adventures, maybe the early church service (so I can wear PJ’s all Sunday). Bam! That’s my freedom. That is the reward.

What did my Saturdays formerly entail? A cup of black tea (also known as a cup of sadness) at 8 am with 8 people I would rather not be hanging out with. 8 am on Saturdays used to be reserved for “meetings.” Unpaid, mandatory, constant bickering about what appropriate “business casual” work dress should look like. Not that hearing grown adults refer to each others work attire like “hobos, punks, sluts or fat slobs” isn’t slightly entertaining. But it was a full hour of unpaid time listening to the same stupid topics and insults every week. Then 9 more hours of commission only sales. Topped off with getting home 45 minutes before my kids go to bed.

I enjoyed the work. And HATED the job. Even great work can be wrapped up in a total crap job.

FIRE for me is about separating the great work from the 9-5 grind. I want great work. But I don’t need a crappy job to do that. When you finally get to the point that you don’t need that 9-5 grind to cover your bills, you get to decide if you want to break up with the 9-5 grind. You are free from the need for the paycheck to cover next months bills. Passive income, rental income, investment income, 4% withdrawal, dividends, a side hustle you actually love: however you want to cover it.

FIRE is about choice. It’s about freedom.

Maybe you RE (retire early) from your 9-5 grind, because that was never your most important or exciting work. And maybe you retire to something else entirely. Maybe you will find you love your job even more when you don’t need it to eat or pay your mortgage. 

So we will be talking about FI (Financial Independence) and FIRE. Most importantly we will be talking about how to create more financial freedom. Slowly becoming less and less dependent on our 9-5 paycheck. Building and guarding the financial margin in our lives. Because that is something we all can do.

For conversation:

Would you stay in your current type of work after FI (or same job even?)

Ever worked a crap job?

I’m a sucker for inspirational mugs! That one in the pic is a new fav, pictured in my book room at 6:30 this morning. =)

Is there one area that would make your current 9-5 MUCH better? More time off? More flexible location? More flexible work hours? More choice in projects? Nicer coworkers? 😉