This post is part of the series FI 101. Click here to read more.
In the first post of this series we learned about the basics of Financial Independence. If you remember, the essentials of it are living on as little as reasonably possible and investing as much as possible until you can provide for your basic needs out of investment income.
Some of you might be asking “why would I want to do that?” Others of you would never ask that out loud, but (like several of my friends) will think to yourselves “My spouse would never agree to cut our spending now in the hope of expanding our lives later.” Still others will scoff and say “that’s a very self-centered or greedy goal to have in life”.
Well, in this post I hope to explain a few of the finer points of FI, because it’s not all about the money. Financial independence is the byproduct of a different way of thinking about our resources.
Over the course of your life, how much money do you anticipate making? I’m talking about everything, your entire wage-earning career. Ever tried to figure it up?
If you dig into it, you’ll find that you are blessed with enough wealth for everything you need in life. A single person earning $20,000/year USD is among the wealthiest 7.2% of people in the entire world. A family of 4 with an annual household income of $100,000? 99% of the planet earns less than you.
So I ask you, what sense does it make to simply allow that wealth to slip through your fingers? Or to consciously spend it on yourself in the least efficient way possible? Wouldn’t a better way of handling your money be to decide what is enough for yourself first (no matter your income level), and save the rest? Putting that money to work for yourself or others is a way to be a good steward with what you’ve been given.
A Distaste For Waste
High wage earners will often reason that a task not worth their time, or a product not worth repairing because their time is worth more than the cost of replacement or the cost of another person’s time. And while this may be true on the surface, the hidden reality is this: our output of waste is far higher than that of a person with less income.
Is that OK with you?
If we were more concerned with using our time wisely instead of using it valuably we might take an hour here to ride a bike to the office instead of drive, or an hour there to repair a small appliance instead of throw it out and buy a new one.
More To Life Than Earnings
This one may seem more obvious to some than others, but there are plenty of other ways to spend your time besides working. There are also plenty of things in life that need your time more than your money.
Family, for instance.
No one can be a mom or dad of your kids like you can. No one can spend time with your parents or siblings like you can. Becoming financially independent provides us the flexibility with our time that our family desires. And no amount of money can take the place of quality time and attention.
Community and Service
How many times have you felt a desire (or obligation) to serve others but simply haven’t had the time? Americans tend to have busier lives than ever these days with less satisfaction. From community events to serving the needy to volunteering at a local church or school, there are tons of ways to get connected with those around you, if you have the time available.
So as you consider and strive for financial independence in your own life, try to keep the bigger picture in mind. At the core, it’s a financial decision, but it plays out in so many areas beyond money. Your perspective and your motivation will make all the difference in how you map out your own FI journey.