First, a little bit of background. I have spent all of my working life (38 years) in the banking industry so it’s safe to assume that I have a good handle on most things relating to money. I’ve always been a good saver and like most people bought into the idea that the more money I saved for retirement the better my eventual retirement would be. That wasn’t my only mistake.
Bankers love to benchmark things but when you take the time to think about it how can you possibly benchmark retirement happiness? But being a banker and needing some sort of benchmark to gauge my success at saving for retirement I fell into the routine of comparing myself to the family profiles in Money Sense Magazine. If I had more assets than the family profiled and the experts gave that family a passing grade I would feel good for awhile until the next issue came out and I would start the whole process all over again. But really when you think about it how can you possibly compare your future happiness to another family’s in terms of money only. Life doesn’t work that way.
This comparison game went on for a number of years until one day while surfing the net I bumped into the concept of financial independence and that was the day my world changed.
Discovering the concept of financial independence gave me awareness, awareness that I was not satisfied with how I was currently living. It woke me up from the funk that I was in. For years it seemed like I had been living on autopilot, just going through the motions, surviving, everyday seemed like the day before. How much fun is that?
I learned that achieving financial independence or findependence as we like to call it is the point where you no longer need to work in order to survive. The beauty of findependence is that you no longer have to chase after money anymore, if you continue to work, you are working because you want to not because you have to. Any money derived from your work can be safely viewed as your fun money, you have essentially converted your former paycheck into a playcheck that you can use to invest in experiences for you and your family, not as funds to be used to finance your basic needs in retirement.
Everyone likes to talk about the power of compounding but I would have to put the power of financial independence right up there with it. Having financial freedom is what allows you to work and live on your own terms, doing what you want to do with your time and energy, not what someone else on whom you are financially dependent says you have to do in order to fulfill your financial obligations.
Freedom is a wonderful thing but what you do with that freedom is what really counts. We all need to figure out what will make us happy and then do it. At this point you need to figure out what you want out of life and then figure out a way to get there. Findependence opens the door for you. Happiness comes from knowing where you want to go and why and then getting there.
I get scared when I think about what would have happened to me if I had not bumped into the concept of findependence. Odds are that like the majority of people I would have followed the retirement status quo, remaining at a job that I had grown to dislike, killing time, killing myself a little bit each day, until I could maximize my pension so I could enjoy the vision of a retirement created by them?
Mistake # 3.
I was one of the lucky ones. I woke up in time and realized that I now had the power to make positive changes in my life. I had always played by the rules, their rules and after having spent two thirds of my life getting to this point had finally earned the opportunity to follow my own course once again.
Achieving findependence gives us a choice, we can choose to change our lives and implement positive long term change or we can choose to do nothing because doing nothing is always the safe, easy way out.
What will you choose?