Early financial independence means something different to each and every one of us. For some, it might mean that you’re retired forever after. For others, it might involve kicking back on the beach everyday and sipping on pina coladas. Others just want free time to travel or learn new things. Different strokes for different folks.
There’s no right or wrong answer. The general consensus, though, is that you’ll be able to live your new life without having to be constrained with worrying about money. By definition, if you are financially free, that means you’ll have enough passive (semi-passive) income coming in each month to pay for all of your expenses.
And that’s all that there is to it.
For myself, I yearn to be financially free, and day-by-day, I’m trying to save and invest my way to making it happen. I hope to get to early FI sometime next year (2015), a year in which I’ll still be 30. If I can make it all happen, here’s what I would like to do:
Slow Down Time
I’ve been working since I graduated in 2007, and time has zoomed by at a torrid pace. It’s crazy to think that I’m almost 30 already! When I think back to childhood, I remember long days filled with a lot of fun in the sun. Summer breaks were especially nice because I had so much free time to play sports and learn new things. Life always felt like an adventure, and when I think back to my youth I can’t help but feel nostalgic.
So, these days, I often find myself asking, “Why does adult life have to be so complicated?” In many ways, I’m longing to get to early FI so that I can experience a rebirth… a second childhood.
I really do believe that age ain’t nothing but a number… You are only as old as you feel. Work makes me feel old and decrepit, so I’m desperately hoping that early FI will be my fountain of youth.
Most important of all, I want to SLOW DOWN time. We only get one shot at life, so we must make it count! Your life doesn’t go on forever… At some point, we all have to come to grips with our own mortality. I traded away my 20’s slaving away for The Man… I refuse to also barter away my 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, etc.
Early FI will give me my life back. Life will finally slow down and I will be able to move at a much more relaxed, comfortable pace.
I aspire to be a polymath. So far in my life, I’ve done an exceptionally poor job of accomplishing that. Rather, I’ve spent my days and nights becoming a specialized drone who only knows how to do ONE thing. My employer wouldn’t have it any other way, but after seven years of engineering, I’m ready to move on and do something else.
- I want to dedicate my free time to maximizing health and fitness. I long to be able to work out every single day with passion and vigor. I like to go hiking, and should have the freedom to explore trails early in the morning on the weekdays. Further, I would love to be able to take a nap during the middle of the day, anytime I want… and then lift weights afterwards. Once I get my health back, maybe I’ll even start training to run half-marathons, or full marathons. These days, I’m running on fumes, and just way too burnt out from work to even fathom the thought of trying such things…
- I want to dedicate my free time to traveling the world. The world is so vast and there is so much to see and experience. I honestly don’t feel like I can grow and maximize my potential as a human being if I just stay secluded to living in the U.S. my entire life. No matter how wonderful this country is, I need to know what else is out there. Meeting people, learning new languages, and experiencing different cultures can’t help but enrich me as a person.
- I want to dedicate my free time to learning. There are so many books that I haven’t read! I’ve always said, “I’ll read it when I have some free time…” No more excuses. When I get to early FI, I’m going to dust off my Kindle, and get to it. Outside of reading, I want to learn martial arts, practice guitar, learn piano, learn how to cook, practice photography, and work on millions of other things.
Recharging the Battery
Life can be stressful, and especially so if you are 100% dependent on your employer for making ends meet. Once upon a time I was, and I nearly destroyed my health in the process. Around 2008-2009 timeframe, almost all of my co-workers were scared of being laid off, so everyone worked from dust till dawn. 9-5 wasn’t going to cut it, and working overtime became the new norm… No one wanted to be let go, so we all worked especially hard during those dark times. Even when I felt sick, or over-worked, I continued working. I just sucked it up and continued marching forward… I was young, stubborn, and scared (stupid).
I never want to have to go through that experience again! Thanks to early FI, I won’t have to. In the future, should I ever feel tired or drained, I will have the option of taking it easy and calling timeout. There will be no need to overdo anything, so I should never have to push myself passed the breaking point; maintaining optimum health will always be the most important thing.
When I get to early FI, initially, I want to relax and unwind. After I decompress, I want to travel and explore the world. It’s premature to say for sure at this point, but I’m guessing I’ll want to do this for about a year or two. Once I’ve gotten the travel bug out of my system, I’ll probably start thinking about my next steps in life…
At first glance, I’m thinking that I will want to move back home to the states and attempt real estate investing (REI) full-time. I’ll probably get my license and start trying to buy/sell homes. Depending on how much my network grows, I might even partner up with other investors and try flipping homes.
Wait a second, if I’m going to be financially independent, why am I considering working again!?! Isn’t this a contradiction to everything I’ve been preaching on this site? Doesn’t early FI mean that I’m restricted to nothing more than bumming around on the beach for the rest of my life? What gives???
Hold on for just one second there… Let me explain…
First of all, I believe that life is NOT black and white. Yes, the world is becoming increasingly digital (0’s and 1’s), but we will ALWAYS live and operate in an analog world. And that’s the whole beauty of early FI… you get to do whatever you want!
Yes, I want to relax and recuperate. Yes, I want to travel and explore. Yes, I want to learn new things and grow as a person… But I never said, “I don’t EVER want to work again.”
No. What I meant to say was, “I never want to work for The Man (corporate) again.”
There’s a world of difference there. I don’t actually mind working… This blog is work. But I do mind working for someone else. I do mind not having the freedom to come and go as I choose. I do mind having to be restricted to working in a cubicle or lab all day long. Further, I don’t need a boss… nor do I want one. I dislike being micromanaged, and I especially don’t like playing the game of corporate politics.
Early FI lets me escape all those bad things, but it should have never been implied that only a lifetime of leisure and laziness could exist afterwards… And I’m not so sure why so many people feel like that’s what early FI is supposed to mean! Early FI is about freedom of choice… It can be whatever you want it to be. You’re now financially free; do what your heart desires! You can even work harder and earn more money than you did when you worked for someone else… Or, keep working for someone else if that’s what you want to do.
Early FI is all about having choices and being able to pursue a life filled with unlimited possibilities. That’s music to my ears and I couldn’t possibly ask for anything more than that. Let me be the director of my own life and I promise to give it my best shot!
What does early financial independence mean to you? What are you most looking forward to doing? Do you plan on working post-FI?