Last week, I discussed the idea of financial independence and the doors of opportunity that are opened when it is embraced.
My journey towards financial independence hasn’t been long to this point (relatively speaking), but the feelings of empowerment and the ability to embrace significant change are already making regular appearances in my life. It is crazy to think how quickly these tangible impacts came about in my life.
When I changed jobs a few years ago, I made a conscious decision to save the difference of my new salary. At first, I had to fight the natural emotional responses that arose to this decision. I knew it was best for my long-term goals, but it went against everything I was conditioned to believe.
Here we are a few years later, and I’m glad to report that any internal resistance I experienced was short lived. Once I put my initial plan into place, I never looked back. The only thing that has happened is that my plan has been refined and expanded upon.
Saving half of your income is no small feat, and I’ve not really been open about it to this point. Since I’ve decided to start openly discussing it on this blog, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the most key realizations I’ve made thus far.
Saving is sexy when compared to the alternative
The common point of view is that people don’t pay much attention to saving because it isn’t sexy, it isn’t exciting, and it isn’t cool. Anything that is exciting, sexy, and cool tends to fall under the bucket of instant thrills. The delayed gratification of saving definitely is the opposite of an instant thrill.
But what’s the alternative? Being able to quit my job to travel indefinitely is pretty cool, for example. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t save…and save hard.
You don’t have to love your job, but your feelings towards it should have no bearing on the quality of your work
I don’t love my job, but I work extremely hard at it. I put lots of pressure on myself and (at times) experience significant amounts of anxiety because I want to do my best. In the end, doing my job to the best of my ability has everyone’s interests in mind. It has my interest in mind because I only want my name to be attached to a quality product, I want to exhibit strong work ethic, and I want to constantly improve myself. It has my employer’s best interest in mind for obvious reasons.
I’ve come to the decision for myself that feeling a little bit of anxiety at my job is worth it, if it helps me to succeed. Keeping this perspective has helped as I advance my career to the point that I can leverage financial freedom. The impending freedom, it turns out, makes it much easier to stomach doing a job I don’t love and some of the aforementioned pressure and anxieties.
Investing isn’t hard
This is the most significant realization I’ve had when it comes to building financial freedom. Putting your money to work for you in an optimal way is shockingly simple.
Ignore the constant fear perpetuated by the media, put your money in index funds, and reap the rewards of dividends. There’s no need to pay someone to try (and likely fail) to beat the performance of those index funs. There’s no need to put off investing because it’s too complex.
None of this is new advice, but it’s key to understand just how simple it is in order to take steps in the right direction. You can read up on lazy portfolios, open a Vanguard account, and be up in running in under an hour. Do I recommend taking such an abrupt approach? No, but the fact that you can do it makes the point.
Conventional possessions cost more than an unconventional life
Everyone is always shocked when they hear of someone quitting their job to travel the world or to live their own personal version of independence. But no one is ever shocked when their coworker buys a $30,000 car or a 2,500 square foot house in suburbia. Instead, they are congratulated and told they deserve it.
What if I told you that traveling the world can be done for a fraction of the cost of a conventional life at home? Maybe it wouldn’t seem so unfathomable. And it’s true.
It all comes down to choices. We can’t have everything, but we can have anything (as Paula at Afford Anything would say). What do you want to have? Go get it.
Just be sure the decisions you make today play nice with the person you want to be tomorrow.
If you aren’t advancing your own goals, you are advancing someone else’s
You can work a job for a big corporation, be completely stressed and burned out, and live for the weekends. Or maybe live for watching TV to forget the stresses of a long day at the office. But the more you live off of passive entertainment, and the less you question, the more you are promised of never living your own version of greatness.
Question everything – your interests, your desires, your goals, and the things that you willingly bring into your life. How do they tie together? If there is no intertwined relationship between the first three and the latter, you aren’t taking your life into your own hands.
Questioning everything is what lead me to where I am, and I won’t ever stop doing it.
These are some key realizations that motivated me to get on (and stay on) the path to financial independence. The journey towards financial independence is different for everyone. The meaning of it, or your goals, might even change along the way. That’s what has happened to me.
I’m still learning new things about myself as a direct result of this journey. That makes it worthwhile all by itself.