I was comforted to recently read this post on Adventure Rich where Ms. Adventure Rich admits that they don’t have a set FI target date or amount. I felt some imposter syndrome setting up a FIRE blog when we don’t have an FI date or number, either.
But in reality, this isn’t a blog about me retiring early. Ideally I am done “working” before 65, but I’m not going to be bowing out of the workforce decades early. What really interested me in the FIRE community is the Financial Independence facet. Money = Financial Freedom. So rather than having a FIRE goal, it is really a Financial Freedom goal, similar to the FFLC (Fully funded lifestyle change) espoused by Slowly Sipping Coffee.
So what does Financial Freedom mean to me?
Most days, I actually don’t mind working; I enjoy the mental challenge and the social interaction. I have worked for my company for a long time and have some great benefits, generous PTO, and a manager that respects me and doesn’t micromanage.
But I also don’t want to be tied to a job because it pays a lot, or have to work on someone else’s schedule for the next 25 years. Companies get acquired, managers move on, job responsibilities shift, and sometimes great jobs become stifling or downright horrific. Financial freedom means that either I or my husband can choose to quit a job if one of us lands in a bad work situation; or that we can weather the storm if one of us gets laid off. Working towards a financial freedom goal also means that we will have the flexibility to shift careers, work part-time, take a sabbatical from paid work, or start a business.
Maggie at Northern Expenditure wrote:
“…it is so unfair that the most important working years coincide with the most important years for our children. Why did parents have to spend so much time trying to build careers at the same time their children were trying to figure out how to walk and talk and learn?”
We had our daughter at the beginning of this year. I don’t want to sacrifice these early years we have with her just to retire a few years before she leaves the nest. For me, saving and investing means we have the financial flexibility to make lifestyle changes that align with our values – spending time with our daughter.
My dad died unexpectedly at 52. My mom is a cancer survivor. I’m 39 now, and even though I work to maintain my health, there are things outside my control that could lead to physical limitations as I age.
On a trip to Italy a few years ago, my friend and I stayed at the property featured in the photo at the top of this post, in one of the towns in the Cinque Terre region.
Our room was at the VERY TOP. So.many.stairs. There is often a level of physical fitness that is required for the type of travel I enjoy, such as sightseeing or hiking through the wilderness. If I postpone all this traveling until I retire, my physical body may not be quite as willing to cooperate.
Do you find meaning in the work you do every day? I’ve spent my career in the corporate world. I care about the overall mission of my company, and believe we are doing good work. But it’s usually hard to find meaning in the day-to-day of the actual job. I think quite a lot of people in large organizations feel this way, especially those who are seeking FIRE. Financial freedom means the option to pursue ‘work’ that provides meaning and fulfillment, rather than just focusing on a paycheck and benefits.
What are your reasons for pursuing Financial Freedom?