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.”

Or…

“What would you do with all your time? You can only watch television for so long before you go crazy.”

And…

“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.

Wrong!

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.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

    • says

      The Executioner,

      I think most people simply don’t think about it because for whatever reason it’s not possible for them. To think about what one would do all day with free time in the prime of your life is depressing if you know that you’ll likely never have the change. In that way, it’s much easier to simply cast it aside with the “boredom” argument. That just inspired me to write a blog post!

      I love the video! 2 chicks, same time man. Funny stuff! That’s one of my all-time favorite movies, hands-down. My desire to never do another TPS report is driving me all the way down to my core right now.

      Thanks for the video. Made my day!

      Best wishes.

  1. says

    Amen to this post.

    Retire early? Now I can be involved in a real hobby or get involved with the local community/charities… I plan on spending time with my kids as they hit their teen years and help out their sports teams as a coach etc since I don’t plan on working by 40.

    I can tell you DM, I will simply build small manageable rental properties that are full of value to the renter’s – when I retire. It will be a lot of fun because I plan on getting my kids involved in the business~ no free handouts for them.

    • says

      Investing Early,

      That sounds great. It sounds like you’re really doing excellent with the rental properties. I understand that real estate can be a phenomenal asset class and tool to build wealth.

      Great job on not giving your children handouts. I think I pointed out the pitfalls of such things in my last post. Even as a fairly intelligent 21-year old man I completely wasted over $60k in two years by not understanding the true value of time and money. Unfortunate.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Take care!

  2. Anonymous says

    For the past six months I have been living without working at a paying job. For the first few months, I kept a daily log of what I did. I did this because I did not want to fall victim to “doing nothing all day” – I feared this might happen because I had heard so many people say they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves, or that they would be bored. The log came in handy for times when people (working people) would ask what I did all day. I would let them read my log. In my 4th or 5th month I stopped making entries in the log for some reason. But I still needed a response for those who asked what I did all day.

    • Anonymous says

      At first I would try to list a few things that I had done recently. But that never seemed to make a good point. Then, I decided to respond by saying “whatever I want”. After reading this post, I think I will modify my response somewhat. My new response will be ” whatever I choose”

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Great idea on keeping a log of the activities of what you were doing. Not only does that show others what they’re missing out on, but it also gives you a sense of direction and can serve as a great way to keep track of uncompleted projects, unfinished thoughts and the like. This blog is my version of that.

      I like your new response! “Whatever I choose” is definitely more accurate. Good stuff!

      Stay in touch.

  3. says

    Mantra, Bingo!! :) This is why I’m building the Ninja Web Empire one site at a time, simply because I would rather be working for myself (or not) than somebody else. :)

    I can tell you, working in healthcare is tough work as well. I certainly don’t want to be doing that when I’m 55 or 60! I’l get my Defined Benefit Pension Plan (DBP) when I’m 55, income from dividends and bonds if I need it, and then some website income as well. I’m looking forward to my reitrement. :)

    Having the choice is indeed what financial freedom is all about!

    Cheers
    The Dividend Ninja

    • says

      Ninja,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      You’re building one hell of an empire there. Great job. You’re going to have so many income sources you’re not going to know what to do with yourself! :)

      I imagine the healthcare industry is pretty rough too. I envision long days and lots of running around. Sounds brutal.

      Having choice is definitely what financial independence is all about. I couldn’t agree more!

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Gen Y,

      Just checked out your blog. It looks like you’re doing great. Good job on the dividend income and building up the portfolio. One day at a time…

      I agree with you. If you don’t know what to do with yourself with free time and no employer telling you what to do, then I truly feel sorry for you.

      Take care!

  4. says

    DM, thanks for sharing details of your work and the frustrations that you feel while there. It sounds like a demanding job and I can see why you would want to leave it as soon as possible. I read your post at work and thought about it on the drive home. I must say that it has made me evaluate some recent spending decisions. Nothing major mind you, just a few meals out with friends but it does delay my early retirement goal that much more.

    I feel more committed after reading your post. In fact I asked myself out loud while driving “How bad do you want this?”. I want it bad, so bad that I’m thinking of selling some of my firearms/ammo just so I can make that snowball a little bit bigger. Anyway, thanks for the kick in the butt. Good luck man. Keep those stories coming!

    • says

      wes,

      My job can be quite demanding. I suppose it’s a blessing in disguise as that pressure has served as a great motivational tool!

      I’m glad that this post inspired you to make some concrete changes. It’s not difficult to make small changes in your lifestyle. After a short period of time, those small changes really add up and can make a major impact on your overall goal. I hope the new changes work for the best. Good luck!

      Best wishes!

    • Anonymous says

      Hey guys; lets not get carried away with savings. A few nights out with friends is much more important that saving another $50. Good friends are very important, there are other ways to save money. Just my opinion.

      Bill from Wmsport

  5. says

    I don’t know Mantra, I’ve always been a fan of cars since I was a kid. Your job doesn’t sound so bad, you presumably get to check out all the new cars and evaluate and test drive them.

    I worked at an auto manufacturer when I was in college. I got to drive special cars and take them out for the weekend.

    • says

      SFI,

      I’m a fan of cars as well. However, I don’t work for the manufacturer. I work for an independently owned dealership. Although we are franchised by the manufacturer, I have no direct relationship with them.

      My job requires many more hours than I’d like, first. If it was a 40-hour work week it might not be so bad. The other issue is that I’m consistently dealing with auto technicians, of which can be particularly fickle, moody and difficult. The other side of my job is with the clients, who are usually unhappy about having car troubles in the first place.

      So, while my job isn’t horrible it is certainly not desirable either. It’s almost certainly the income level that is keeping me there right now. One day, that will change and I’ll be freer to pursue other opportunities.

      Best wishes!

  6. says

    DM,

    You are not alone. I get the same questions asked all the time from friends and Family, whenever it sparsely comes up. It’s almost like you have to persuade their mindsets, but only they can chose to persue, else they mock you, make up excuses, say it’s can’t be done (Just like Cars can’t run off of Wireless Electricity, proven in 1906 by Nichola Tesla).

    Then one day you suddenly and unexpectantly to them Retire at 40 (or 35).

    They then really get on your case about how you will become lazy if you don’t work for someone else ( the Lords of Money); as envy sets in and they zip away in their SUVs. To go back to work the next day.

    You are not alone. The FI community is getting more popular, especially in this hidden Great Depression.

    They never wonder how 6 Billion other people Survive on less then $19k/year. (and save more ;)

    Even my own father gets a pension from being Retired Air Force (>$22k/year) works a full 50 hours a week, lives in a paid off Mcmansion, and continues to spend his Lifetime at Work, never the wiser about FI, because it is ingrained into his Psyche to work til Age 65. (He is in his late 40′s…)

    When i become FI and continually invite him to socialize with me and go Fishing, then maybe he will learn about FI too.

  7. says

    Once faster then light travel is accomplished with a vehicle and/if ever made available to the Public,

    A lot of people will awaken to the FACT that there are enough Galaxies within Reach that every person on Earth can have 3+ of them.

    Though the Government and Big Corporations will gladly keep the masses working for 30 oz of Gold/ year. Wage Slaves may never awaken to their potentials beyond true Freedom.

    • says

      FreeYourChains,

      Powerful stuff there. I really don’t mind when people don’t “get” the concept of early retirement or financial independence. If they’re okay working for most of their years, then I’m okay with that too. It’s just unfortunate (for them) that they can’t see another way.

      I think that it takes all kinds. FI/early retirement isn’t for all. I think some people just wouldn’t be happy with all their time to themselves. For whatever reason they’re just not built that way. More time for me, I say.

      Best wishes!

  8. says

    FREEDOM! That is what it will mean to me. Freedom to choose. Maybe I want to sit in the house all day for a week to watch a show I heard about? Maybe I want to go to the community college and learn a new language. Maybe I want to travel to another country and stay a month, or two or three. Guess what? I can because I will be financially independent and my dividend account will be throwing off a monthly paycheck.
    I’ve never known anyone to say on their death bed, “Boy I wish I had spent more time at work!”

    PS Glad to have you back.

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