The road to financial independence

By Slow Dad - December 07, 2016

The financial independence journey is an interesting ride. However there is a life to be lived beyond FI. Why wait until then? Find the happy today!

There has to be more to life than this!

The journey towards financial independence is an interesting ride.

It starts out as a feeling that there has to be more to life than this.

Maybe you’re working an uninspiring job. One too many life-sapping “status update meeting”. Hassled by a pointy headed boss to document your unattainable performance objectives. Possibly it was being on the receiving end of a bullshit performance appraisal… honestly if you were any good you would have gotten promoted regardless of your objectives, and if you were really that bad you’d have been fired, the rest is just meaningless paper shuffling designed to keep middle managers busy between meetings.

Perhaps it was the commute. Sardining yourself into an overcrowded commuter train, where hundreds of your similarly miserable neighbours studiously avoid eye contact while silently smear their body odour and sweat on your nice clean suit. Spending endless hours choking down exhaust fumes while stuck in traffic as talk-back radio shock jocks whip up their gormless audiences with carefully crafted blend of baseless vitriol and murky political agendas.

Alternatively it might have been the realisation that the suburban McMansion you so diligently pour vast proportions of every pay packet into is actually growing in value at pretty much exactly the same rate as your neighbours, meaning the only way you’ll ever get ahead is to downsizing or moving somewhere with a significantly lower buy in price like the outer suburbs… or a third world country.

Perhaps it was reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad’s take on owner occupier mortgages.

Maybe a friend sent you a link to Mr Money Moustache or Millennial Revolution.

Possibly you unwittingly ventured into the troll invested wilds of the financialindependence subreddit.

Enough complaining, do something about it

Whatever the trigger you reached a point where you couldn’t face the idea of spending your remaining healthy active years doing more of the same. Instead of hearing the familiar sobs of quiet desperation, the little voice inside your head shouted “ENOUGH!”, and you listened.

So you hatched a cunning plan to step off the treadmill and escape the rat race.

Early on you identify your goal posts, a target dimly visible way out in the distance. It is hard to make out, hazy, possibly even a mirage.
The road to financial independence leads us to unexpected destinations.
The road to financial independence leads us to unexpected destinations.

You learn spending money today is robbing your future self, and stop buying crap you don’t need.

You try frugality on for size. Then decide that sucks, nobody ever saved their way to being rich! The road to financial independence is a long one, you’ll need more sustenance than your student diet of pot noodles, breakfast cereal and peanut butter sandwiches alone could provide.

So you trade your expensive car for a bus pass, but keep your Netflix subscription because nights at home are cheaper than spending them in the pub. You travel less, but travel smarter by planning ahead and avoiding peak season.

Small actions produce big results

Your net worth ticks upwards more months than not, a snowball slowly building into an avalanche. You’re spending less than you earn, it feels good.

The finishing line draws nearer, and it occurs to you that achieving financial independence is just the first part of the journey.

Before you know it your net worth has jumped above whatever magic number you have been chasing. Congratulations, you are financially independent. Yay for you!
The finishing line

You now don’t have any reasons not do the things that you always claimed you wanted to do, that would make you happy, but could never find the time or money to actually do. You’ll start asking yourself “if not now, then when?” frequently.

You go on the trip that you always wanted to. You run the marathon. You learn how to scuba dive. You parachute out of a plane.

Then you get home.

What about life after Financial Independence?

There is a life beyond that point, one where most of your bullshit excuses and self-justifications will no longer fly.

You can no longer blame your work, or boss, or mortgage for that familiar empty feeling.

The little voice in your head says “there has to be more than this”.

Now what?

You’ve worked hard and saved hard to reach this point. Many people would kill for the opportunity you now have.

What are you going to do with it?

Once you figure that out, ask yourself this: Did it really have to wait until you reached financial independence? Or could you have made yourself happier by doing those things in some form right from the beginning?

Happiness and contentment may be closer than you think.

So what?

Money isn’t a goal, it is a means of exchange. Wealth should be measured in time.

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