There’s a contingent of personal finance obsessives out there who’ve branded themselves as FI/RE, which is short for Financial Independence and Early Retirement. They’ve cut their day-to-day living expenses to the bone, while earning and investing aggressively, all with the intent of retiring well before the average retirement age (which is 55.3 in Australia). For them, saving is more enjoyable and fulfilling than a big house, dinners out and lavish holidays.
It’s a mentality that intrigues me, though it’s not one I share. For me, financial independence means having enough that I’m comfortable walking away from a stable job if I so choose, that my children will live a comfortable life, and that my life (and theirs) won’t depend on some opaque company’s whims.
It also means I won’t rely on a partner to provide for me (if you’re a woman, I highly recommend this piece, which made waves a few years ago and delves into one of the reasons why it’s so important to know what’s going on with your money). The first step, then, is building up my “F**k Off Fund” (a perpetual work in progress), and continuing from there.
Financial independence doesn’t mean that everything will be easy and I’ll never have to worry about money again. But I want to be my own boss, and do things on my own terms. The only way I’m going to be able to do that, short of winning the lottery, is if I focus some energy on saving and investing my money smartly.
It’s why I find things such as attempting a financial detox and setting money goals valuable. To me, not working for someone else my entire life is the encouragement I need to forego some (but obviously not all) spending. Stunts alone won’t make me financially independent, but it’s all a learning process.
I’m not sure it’s possible — stuff happens — but it’s something to strive for nonetheless. Maybe you have your own goal like that — what is it? What does financial freedom mean to you?