Monday, August 20, 2012
The Best Thing About Financial Independence: Choice
I Work Much Harder Than I'd Like
I don't know about you, but I work a lot. I get up at 6:15 a.m. every weekday morning and I typically arrive at the office just before 7:30. That's early! I then proceed to create value for my employer by busting my butt throughout the workday and "getting things done". I work in the automotive industry, specifically in an automotive dealership. My job primarily consists of checking in cars for repairs, documenting the VIN and mileage of every vehicle along with the repair concern, compiling estimates and acting as a liaison between the client and the technician fixing the vehicle. You could say I "sell repairs", but really repairs sell themselves. I simply present the repair to the client and hopefully they accept. If you want to drive your car all around town, you're going to need brakes, tires and oil changes. I do this until 6:00 every evening and I also work at least one Saturday a month, sometimes two. Would I do this if I had the choice? Would I work 50 hours per week, often getting screamed at by unhappy victims of aging vehicles if I didn't have to? Absolutely not. And that's where the real beauty of financial independence comes into view...the ultimate luxury in life: choice!
When curious people hear of my plan to retire by 40 years old, they invariably ask the same question: what will I do all day with my time? Usually the conversations go as such:
"I couldn't imagine just sitting around the house all day. What will you do with all your time? If you're living frugally and not working, you won't be able to do anything."
"What would you do with all your time? You can only watch television for so long before you go crazy."
"I'll never stop working. I'd need at least $2 million to retire, and besides I'd be bored."
It's unfortunate when I hear the above recited to me over and over again, without fail. A lack of imagination, financial savvy and true understanding of the value of time leads people to come to the same conclusion: that retirement so early in life is impossible, and even if it were possible there is nothing to do with all that time.
The key to the whole equation is choice. Once you achieve financial independence you have complete choice and freedom over how you spend your time. You really love your job? Then fine, go to work. You don't have to quit and your employer will surely love to have you. You hate your job and can't wait to quit? Quit. You want to take a jog at 2:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday? Get your jog on. Hitting the beach during a mid-week afternoon when you know everyone else is at work sound great? You can do that. That's the ultimate gift with financial independence; once you no longer HAVE to exchange your time for money you are free to spend your time as you wish.
Personally, I can't wait to have my time to myself. To completely be the master of my body, soul and mind. Once I'm no longer a wage slave, trading away finite and dwindling hours of my life for currency I'll no longer want or need, I'll have complete choice over how I live my life. People like to ask me: "What would you do if you won $10 million dollars?" And, I always respond: "I don't know, but I'd sure like to find out!" That is now my response to the question: "What will you do with all your time if you don't work anymore?" I don't exactly know, but I'd sure love to find out!
Freedom = Happiness
I believe the freedom of that choice is the key to happiness in life. I've personally experienced a greater sense of satisfaction at work, now knowing that if I were to lose my job tomorrow I wouldn't be financially ruined. It's an interesting conundrum; the closer I get to financial independence and the more money I save, the easier work gets and the more carefree I am about getting tasks completed. That's just yet another benefit of seeking financial independence! The journey to financial independence gets easier and easier until you reach your destination. Compare that to forgoing saving for the future, spending every dime you get because you'd be "bored anyway" and being stressed out at work because you'd be in dire straits if you were to lose your job.
You Can Choose To Keep Working. But That Is Still A Choice.
Remember, even if you love your job you should still seek financial independence. The freedom of choice, in my opinion, is worth it. Perhaps one day you'll change your mind and no longer love your job as much. Maybe a new manager will come around and ruin your life. You could engage in life-changing events like having a family which would make long 50-hour work weeks grueling and miserable time away from loved ones. Or maybe you won't. Maybe you found a source of employment you truly love and makes the world a better place. That doesn't mean you shouldn't allow yourself the choice to explore other options. Life is short and you don't want to regret anything later in life. You don't want to be 50 and realize that although you love your job, you'd love to take a few years off and travel the world but lack the funds and flexibility to do so.
Choice is priceless. It's the ultimate gift and it's simply the best thing about financial independence. It's what I'm chasing and what I'm looking most forward to as I live frugally and invest for the future.
What about you? Do you crave choice?
Thanks for reading.
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