I was excited to see that so many people were interested to hear about the term “financial flexibility.” I think people perhaps find this more attainable then FiRe (Financial Independence, Retire Early).
But first I have to give credit to Pretend to be Poor, who first wrote about it (but I had forgotten) and that may be where the whole seed was planted. In any case, it’s good to see many perspectives on the subject methinks.
There were a lot of things I could not talk about when I was freelancing. Obviously, clients and projects (that I couldn’t paint in the best light). I could only talk offline to some of you about various situations.
And while I don’t want to burn bridges, I can be a little more open. You see, for the good part of seven years I worked “for” someone who was incredibly difficult. I say “for” because many people mistakenly think that when you’re a freelancer, you are suddenly free from working for “the man.”
Part of me has residual anger I’m still working through. I vacillate between being mad at myself, and still wanting to pick up the phone and tell him off…but thankfully the semi-adulting Tonya knows that the blame is 100% on me, because no one in their right mind (aka, financial state) would continue to put up with what I did.
And I did it because I was financially in a bad place…and I’m the one who put myself there (and my guess is he knew that too).
Because I had blown through almost all of my short-term savings after I got laid off, I was kind of living paycheck to paycheck for seven years (I still had money in investments and not-easy-to-access cash, so I wasn’t technically one disaster away from living on the street, but I was also terrified to touch that money).
Because I was practically living paycheck to paycheck, I got stuck in a cycle of feeling trapped. I couldn’t just walk away from this client because I was desperate for the paycheck that some of the projects brought.
The lowest point came just after Fincon this past year, when I received some nasty texts and emails from him that hit way below the belt. I called my friends in tears and I was literally at my breaking point. And that’s when the ball got rolling for my current job.
Fast forward to almost six months later, and things are going great. But, the mistakes of the past still guide me hardcore in my financial decisions, and that’s where FiFlex was born.
After doing some retirement calculators and seeing that FiRe is virtually impossible (mainly because I’m just about passed “Re” in my life anyway-lol!), being FiFlex is not.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I NEVER, EVER want to put myself in a situation where I have to be in any toxic situation ever again that I can’t leave because of my financial situation.
This is why I advocate so strongly that people wanting to jump into freelancing should set themselves up for a soft place to land if all doesn’t go well, by paying off their non-secure debts and building up a huge financial cushion BEFORE they take the leap.
Most who don’t heed this advice will tell me: “But Tonya, I just could not take one more day working full time in my own toxic situation.” I TOTALLY get that, which is why everyone needs to have FiFlex BEFORE things get bad.
Imagine if you are at a job you kind of like, but you start to get a sense that things are changing…and not for the better. Maybe management is changing, or there will be a corporate restructure, or you can start to feel a sense of burning out or boredom…that’s almost getting to the point where it’s too late to really hit the ground running to save.
Because how many times have you been in a bad situation, and you find yourself spending more money to compensate? Maybe you start to take more vacations, buy more clothes, or take more classes as a way to cope.
I’m definitely not saying don’t have fun along the way in life, but imagine if something went terribly wrong in whatever situation you’re in, but you’ve got a good solid 20k in your emergency fund? That’s a whole lot of dough, giving you the flexibility to make decisions without feeling completely panicked.
For me, that could have meant walking away from that client and giving me time to look for a better one…without going into debt.
There is something to be said about being in any situation because you want to be, not because you HAVE to be, even if that situation is good. It just elevates your working conditions that much more because YOU know that you’ve got your own back if the s hits the f.
So take my advice with a grain of salt. But having been through many different financial states, I can guarantee that being in a good place financially and moving like a tree in the wind, is a hell of a lot better than wondering if the next strong gust will break you in half.
Are you in a place where you have achieved FiFlex?