I’ve wanted to be financially independent starting about 2-3 years ago.
I’ve been out of school and in the work force for 6 years. The first few years out of school, I think I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to help the world. I started out at a fuel cell company because I thought fuel cells would be beneficial in helping wane the US off of oil. Now I work in a lab playing with carbon nanotubes which have their own set of “green” possibilities not limited to being the best material for electrical conductivity. Working on the cutting edge of technology is very cool, but both scenarios have me working until I’m 65 or longer and that doesn’t sit well with me.
My idea of financial independence is a situation where one is in a financial position to work or not and still enjoy the necessities of life plus a few luxuries without relying on government assistance.
I want you to be financially independent. Heck, I want to be financially independent as well, but we’re focusing on you, not me.
Can you imagine what the US would be like if more people were financially independent?
Some questions I’d like you to ponder:
1. Would the US be happier?
2. Would there be a shift towards people studying the arts?
3. What would the stock market be like?
4. Would professional sports be as popular as they are today? Do people need this distraction if they are no longer going to jobs that they may not enjoy?
5. What about movie stars/celebrities? Would they be as popular as they are today?
6. Would we see a huge spike or slow-down in innovation?
7. What about professions such as psychology? How would it affect them?
8. If more Americans were financially independent, would we produce as much waste as we do? If we have more time, there is potentially less hustle and bustle and perhaps people would be able to fix household items that break instead of tossing it and going to Walmart to buy another.
I want you to be financially independent, and here’s why:
1. Stay in your relationship
Relationships are important. Life and business is all about relationships. One of the most important relationships you can have is with your wife, husband, or significant other. It is disputed whether financial issues are the major cause of divorce (see artcle by Liz @ MSN Money), but not worrying about money, I’m certain, would have a positive impact on your relationships. I’m not sure about you, but in my opinion, during a divorce, the only person that really wins is the attorney. In addition to not having disputes over finances, if you are financially independent, you don’t need to work. If you don’t need to work, you have a lot more time to spend on developing and nurturing those relationships. I know I would love to spend more time with my wife, family, and friends because time is our most precious commodity. You can never get it back unless you are Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. It’s these strong bonds that I believe to be one of the most important ingredients to a “good” life and being happy.
If you are financially independent and not working, you need to be doing something productive. Why not volunteer for a local organization or habitat for humanity. Here is a list of possible reasons you may want to volunteer per Susan J. Ellis of Energize, Inc (find the original post here)
- to feel needed
- to share a skill
- to get to know a community
- to demonstrate commitment to a cause/belief
- to gain leadership skills
- to act out a fantasy
- to do your civic duty
- because of pressure from a friend or relative
- satisfaction from accomplishment
- to keep busy
- for recognition
- to repay a debt
- to donate your professional skills
- because there is no one else to do it
- to have an impact
- to learn something new
- for freedom of schedule
- to help a friend or relative
- for escape
- to become an “insider”
- to be challenged
- to be a watchdog
- to feel proud
- to make new friends
- to explore a career
- to help someone
- as therapy
- to do something different from your job
- for fun!
- for religious reasons
- to earn academic credit
- to keep skills alive
- because an agency is geographically close
- to have an excuse to do what you love
- to be able to criticize
- to assure progress
- to feel good
- to be part of a team
- to gain status
- because you were asked
- to test yourself
- to build your resume
- to be an agent of change
- because of personal experience with the problem, illness, or cause
- to stand up and be counted
3. Increased Mental Health
If you aren’t worrying about money, you probably aren’t as stressed out. Stress kills. Have you ever snapped at your kids or significant other after a long day at work? Gone. Traffic to work and the mental strain that is puts you through. Gone. All of that sounds pretty sweet to me. I try VERY hard to make sure I don’t bring work or traffic stress home, but sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. I’m not trying to say that if you are financially independent stress will permanently go away, but I’m sure your stress level will decrease significantly.
4. Increased Physical Health
You aren’t in the office 40 plus hours per week. You aren’t in the car for upto 8 hours per week (16 hours if you live in Los Angeles). That’s a lot of time that is now available to you to take care of you and your body. There are a ton of benefits that you would see in your physical health without worrying about money. Without a job, you would be able to dedicate more of your time to working out.
5. Time with Friends and Family
I often feel badly that I don’t spend time with my little brother or that I don’t make it down to Austin to hang out with old friends. There is no good excuse, but unfortunately there are only some many hours in a day.
I hope this is never a scenario that anyone has to go through, but if you are financially independent and a family member falls ill, you would be more able to help out. I know quite a few people who tend to their friends or family at the detriment of their own financial well being. Financial independence would put you in a position to help if needed.
I feel greed fueled a lot of the foreclosures we are seeing today. If you were financially independent, you more than likely wouldn’t have a mortgage much less have the need to borrow 106% to purchase a house.
I truly hope that you enjoy what you do 8+ hours per day and 40+ hours per week. The unfortunate situation is that most people do not like their jobs. Financial independence could put an end to your ball and chain routine and enable you to find something that will make you happy. Life is way too short so you should focus on being happy during the time you are here.
8. Pass the Knowledge of Financial Independence to Family and Friends
Pay it Forward. You could help your friends and family achieve financial independence. This would not only help them financially, mentally, etc, but you’d be able to spend more time with them since they are no longer working the long hours required by their jobs.
Teaching your kids to be financially independent will give them the flexibility to choose the major they desire as opposed to choosing the major that pays well in order to pay back student loans (I’m not speaking from experience ).
It’s tough to keep up with any hobbies. My wife and I have a tough time keeping up with hobbies and we don’t have any kids so I can only imagine how hectic it gets with a full house. Well, if you just added 40+ hours to your week, you’ll have time for some hobbies. You could finally learn how to paint, write the great American novel, or take up yoga. I’ve always wanted to take up some sort of martial arts. I think that the discipline would be good for me, but it would also help me stay flexible, meet other people with similar interests, and I’m sure I would become stronger.
You should go back to school. Because you would have 40+ hours of extra time every week, you could go get that art history degree! I know I would like to learn a foreign language or take a carpentry class.
Do you want to be financially independent? If so, let me know how I can help. If we are able to gather a lot of support for this goal, perhaps we can all help each other achieve it. Are you already financially independent? If so, send me an e-mail and I’d love to interview you about your adventure.
happinessisbetter [at] gmail.com (sorry, spam likes me )
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