I’m, quite frankly, obsessed with reaching financial independence.
What does that mean to me?
It means knowing I never have to worry about ever working again. It’s not that I won’t work or don’t like work (in case someone from my office is reading this-“hi!”), but that I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
I wouldn’t have to worry about:
- Taking that dream trip if the opportunity came up.
- Getting laid off.
- Wanting to work from home, part-time, or whatever location I choose.
- Being in a toxic situation.
- Taking time to care or spend time with a sick friend or relative.
You get the picture.
But the one dagger that always pierces my 46-year-old heart, is hearing how someone was able to reach FI or RE at the age of 33, or even 45 for that matter. I feel like I missed the “early” retirement boat, and unless I win the lotto or come into some unknown huge inheritance (Mom, Dad, are you secret billionaires?), that ship has sailed…without me (insert impaling oneself here). So long my FI friends…
I’ve thought about what this means…and there have been times where I’ve thought to myself, “WTF…just live it up now because you’re already close to middle age (I’m still in denial), so you might as well have some fun and just retire later and eat cheese with the other members of the rat race.”
Of course I realize this is a completely defeatist attitude…an attitude I do not encompass one darn bit by golly (that’s what middle age people say, yes?). 🙂
So I have to find a new motivation for saving like a mad woman, that doesn’t necessarily involve the word “early” as a way to stay motivated. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
50-something is the new 20s
Thankfully I’m (knock on wood) healthy. There’s no reason that if I somehow work my butt off and do become FI somewhere in my 50s, or even early 60s, that I can’t reinvent myself then, or live a totally kick-ass life. I mean, check out this dude for pumpkin’s sake:
Even if I’m not FI, I’ll still be FiFlex
Let’s say I’m trucking along and have a net worth of 500k. Suddenly one of those aforementioned reasons to be financially independent comes up, and I’m no longer working full time. Being FiFlex, I still have a huge cushion to ease my financial concerns.
Now imagine if I lived it up now and something happens? A completely different scenario of anxiety will certainly ensue.
I should know, that happened to me when I was laid off from my eight-year job. Suddenly shit got real…like real real. No thanks. Never again.
I’m still building my frugal muscle (insert grunt)
Nothing is worse than being forced into frugality by some unforeseen circumstance like a job loss or illness. For those who are not natural savers (like me), frugality is a muscle that must be strengthened by the things you do on a daily basis.
Being frugal now means I will probably always be frugal in one way or another.
Truth be told, I could upgrade my life in a massive way. I was thinking about this today as I made my bed and threw on one of my old quilts (my normal one is in need of a wash), and it has some minor tears in it (see figure 5.7)
Gasp! What would Martha Stewart say about that? Well I don’t give a donkey’s fart what that bitchy hag thinks. My quilt keeps me as warm as her fancy quilt. Boom!
The thing about not upgrading my lifestyle (and I talked about that last week), is that I don’t know any better. For the better part of my life past moving out of my childhood home, I’ve always lived in apartments that give me just enough amenities to make my life pretty darn comfortable.
The only time I notice it is when I go to a fancy house and I kind of ooh and ahhh over granite counter tops and awesome refrigerators that practically make you dinner, give you a massage and tell you bedtime stories.
I go home and kind of get sad about my dumpy little Frib that’s held together by duct tape and candles (see Figure 7.3), but then I quickly regroup and learn to appreciate the comfort, warmth, and more importantly, price, of my dumpy little Frib (not to mention the friggen awesome location).
Wow that was a long section!
There is no one path to financial independence
Just like anything else, comparing my situation to those that were able to retire or reach FI in their early 30s is a waste of time.
No two people or situations are ever alike, and even though I do wish I was financially wiser at a younger age, I can’t look back in regret. Not at all.
My life is rich in so many wonderful and unique experiences (and yes, sometimes dumb purchases), that it makes me who I am today.
And since no one can predict the future (if you can, call me maybe?), there are 101 different scenarios that could change my future for the positive or negative that I couldn’t possibly foresee.
The best anyone can do is be prepared. Open, of course, but prepared.
How do you stay motivated to save?