As I was talking recently to a potential client, the term ‘financial freedom” has been mentioned a few times. I heard the term plenty of times before; I know there are many online communities built around it. It has traction so it must be at least semi-legit and yet, I really, really don’t like what it represents. It’s not really the term, I guess. It is the concept behind it.
The whole thing assumes that we cannot live the life that we want to live now. Instead of waking up in the morning and doing the things that we want to do, we need to go to a job that we don’t really like, earn a paycheck, hoard all that cash for the future and live with a countdown to something that is supposed to exhilarate us at some future date.
There are plenty of blogs describing the bliss of retiring from your engineering job because this is the path to happiness. Live on 30% of your income, focus on the future, imagine what you will do one day… I don’t know about you, but all this talk about the future makes me kind of depressed. Because you know what? I do not want to count every penny and think about the affordability of everything today in the hope that one day, I can sit at home, do “whatever I want to do” and not worry about money. I got a few problems with this concept. Specifically:
- I really like what I already do now. I like going to work. I love both of my jobs and I do not want to stop doing them so I can lounge on the couch and eat bonbons, save the seals or engage in some grass roots political campaign. I am already happy with what I am doing and this is by design. Don’t get me wrong, I did not just try a job and fall in love with it. There were plenty of excel spreadsheets I had to go through to figure out what I wanted my career to look like, what I want to spend my working time on and how not to feel like the next 20 years is a long stretch of time I want to just skip over.
- I like to spend money on things I like, and I don’t need a voice in my head to tell me that my cappuccino, recent trip to Cartagena or the new rug I just bought are derailing my future. I am a responsible adult. I can max out my 401(k) and buy things. The happiness I derive from spending money now on things that make my life comfortable is what I want to experience and I want that feeling today and not in 10 years, when I am supposed to start my life because I am finally financially independent.
- I want to live life and I want to enjoy life without stress from now to the end and not just on some arbitrary segment of my existence. Nothing to remind me of this like a friend who gets cancer at gets divorced at 40.
I understand that the FIRE movement is about pursuing your dreams and ambitions and not about retiring earl (or, at least this is what I am told) but I am going to try to convince you that you can pursue whatever you want whenever you want if you sit down, think about it and make it happen. There is no need to delay living your life for 15 years. The arbitrary multipliers that define financial independence seem pointless to me. Why not build a life that makes you happy now?