I think people often get the wrong idea about what FI is and why people seek to achieve it.
What FI is Not
It might be easy to assume, for example, that people who seek FI are greedy, money-hungry, people who value money above all else or just want to be rich.
These biases and assumptions often come from deep-seated, maybe subconscious outdated beliefs (sometimes religious) about money… and the root of all evil. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of examples of people who value money or power over others above positive contributions to society.
And while the FI movement has grown significantly over the years and has attracted people of all types (investors, traders, real estate investors, minimalist, frugalists, money nerds, savers, etc.) with different values and motivations, at its core, I believe, FI is about just the opposite of greed.
For me, FI is not about valuing the money above all else. It is not about getting rich.
Why FI?… Because Values
FI is about prioritizing your time, your energy, and your values.
FI can gift you the freedom, choice and the opportunity to invest your energy into the things that matter to you.
If you value family, great, then FI might allow you to be with family and/or friends where and when needed without regard to whether or not you can take time off work or how much a flight will cost. At the drop of a hat, you could grab a flight and stay for 5 months with a friend having their first baby.
If you value travel, then FI might allow you to go when and where you want without being restricted by 7 days holiday per year during the slow periods. Or, traveling just until the money you have saved runs out, then back to a job and saving for another round of travel.
FI allowed us to retire early, live in Europe, spend a month on a Croatian island and it allowed me the opportunity to take 4 weeks to travel solo even when the response from the boss was “typically the company allows 2 weeks max.”
Valuing Freedom, Choice, and Opportunity
If you value freedom, choice, and opportunity, then FI might be about empowering yourself to escape a career path, role or employer that no longer fulfills you without having to worry about whether you will find another job quickly. Or, the ability to take a calculated risk and try a new side hustle, invest in a new business, get a new degree, take your career in a different direction.
What Do You Value?
Obviously, the choices are not limited to family, friends, travel, freedom, choice, and opportunity. The choices are endless… and you get to decide.
FI is not about money or wealth. The money is just a tool… it is a means to an end.
FI is about the agency that money affords you.
It is about self-empowerment and taking control over your life such that you can do things that make you happy.
Your FI journey allows you incrementally to put your most precious resources (your time and energy) into the things that matter to you, whatever they are.
Are You Truly Able to Value the Things that Matter to You?
When people say, “that is great but the most important thing to me is my family.” I think they often miss the bigger point…
- Can you truly be there for your family & friends if work takes 10 hours (getting ready + lunch + commute) out of your day and sleep takes anther 8? 24 hours – 10 hours – 8 hours = 6 hours and someone still has to buy groceries and clean house!
- Can you be there for your family & friends if you are living paycheck to paycheck?
- Can you be there for your family & friends if they need help for more than your allotted 10 annual vacation days?
- How much more could you be there for your family & friends (or anything else that really matters to you) if you didn’t have these limitations?
- Or if these limitations were greatly reduced because you invested just 30 minutes early in your life to create an investment account and set up automatic contributions?
- Making small adjustments to your life now (early) will have a huge positive impact on the quality of your lifestyle later.
It is not rocket science…
But it is life-changing.
There are some common themes to responses I get when I reach back to offer help to someone taking those critical first steps. Typical responses like…
- Money is really tight right now
- I don’t have access to a 401k
- I haven’t started my career yet
- I don’t earn a lot of money
- I don’t have a job right now
- I need to put my kids through college before I can think about my retirement
These are not valid reasons to put off your FI journey, they are, in fact, the exact reason you NEED TO BE ON YOUR FI JOURNEY NOW!
If you have debt, fine, that is the first part of your FI journey. If you don’t make a lot of money, FI can help with that! Don’t have a 401k… no problem!
The only real problem is not taking action, or not valuing yourself and those you love enough to accept and embrace responsibility for the direction of your own life.
The FI community is generous, non-judgemental and stands ready to help.
But the first step has to come from you.
Ready to Take Action?
–> Read “Start Your FIRE Journey – Step 4: Invest” and take action today
–> Join a ChooseFI local group to find your tribe