The Real Goal . . . Happiness

You wouldn’t think I’d need a reminder of this but I did. I was listening to the Choose FI Podcast this weekend. They were interviewing Todd Tresidder who writes at He was talking about different paths to financial independence and said something like “really it’s all about happiness, what makes you happy”.

People achieve Financial Independence (FI) in many ways. The loudest message is that reaching financial independence takes frugality, and in many cases fairly extreme frugality. Every decision is weighed against the financial impact. All spending must be a hack of some sort.

Some of us are hard wired to be optimizers and hackers. We love finding the best deal, spending hours to save tens or hundreds of dollars. And if this describes you, all I can say is bless you. I have a few of you on my speed dial. If I need to know where to get the best deal on a [fill in the blank], I call you.

And I’ve written about my frugality and some of my hacks. Because I reached financial independence by keeping my spending low in spite of increases in my salary. Growing that gap between what you earn and what you spend is essential if you want to hit your ambitious financial goals.

But I’m not hard wired to optimize every spending decision. I spend a bit of time making sure I’m not getting ripped off then I move on. Hacking every spending decision sounds a lot like work to me. And I like not working.

We spend quite a bit of time on our big $ decisions. Mr. Ms. Liz says we beat those decisions to death, and he’s right. Sometimes it is to our detriment in that we never pull the trigger.

As I write this, I’m sitting in the kitchen of our desert home. I LOVE this place. I love the orange tree in the back yard, the Pickleball court across the street and the neighbors who surround us. I love that when we go to get the mail we often end up with a social invitation.

But I cannot believe we bought this place. How we ever decided that buying a second home was the right decision for us. That we committed to monthly homeowners dues, utility bills, air conditioning replacements and so on is truly a Ms. Liz family miracle.

It turned out that buying this place helped us achieve financial independence. Not because it was a great financial move but because it changed me.

We owned a home that we could afford even if we never worked another day in our lives. My life on the hamster wheel of work-eat-sleep-repeat could be over.

Now, I knew we wouldn’t move our 4,600 square foot life into this little 1,100 square foot place. But if we had to, we could.

The thought of getting off of that hamster wheel still makes me exhale a deep breath  today. I wanted that feeling, that sense of freedom. But I also didn’t really want to move into this little place full time. So I focused on my savings with the goal of having 25 times all of my expenses. Six years later, we had enough and I leaped off of that hamster wheel (on leap day 2016!).

When we bought our desert home, we thought it would make us happy. We just had no idea how happy. It put us on the path to this happy life.

What does happy look like for you? What are you doing to get to that happy place in your life?

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Author: Ms. Liz

A CPA, I retired at 51 and I am helping people create their fantastic futures!

8 thoughts on “The Real Goal . . . Happiness”

  1. Thank you for the reminder. I live in a house that will be paid off in 7 years, but it’s in a neighborhood that is getting worse not better. Taxes are going up, and home repairs are starting to accumulate. My husband and I are getting it ready to put on the market so that we can “buy” our freedom by paying a bit more to live in an apartment. Most people think we’re nuts, but we hate home ownership. We’re tired of spending our money and weekends fixing things or looking for someone who can and then paying them. Our reasons for the move are solely based on happiness. I have to remember that when I start to wonder if I’m crazy for not paying the house off and staying put.

    1. Oh Katheryn our home has such a huge impact on our happiness. I can feel the weight this home brings to you in your words so I believe you are pursuing the path that will bring you happiness. Many people look at smaller homes and only see small–they don’t see the community that is created by living a bit closer to your neighbors.

      My best to you as you transition to this new, lighter life. Thank you for stopping by and for your nice comment!

  2. Right now, all I want to do is leave this job. I don’t know if I will actually last the planned 2000 days.

    Reading that post was helpful. It reminds me that I made that 2000 day decision with a lot of thought. And that I should stick to it. Or I wouldn’t have the kind of like you described.

    1. I found myself up and down about my job during the last years in spite of it being a really good job for me. I worked to find a focus that helped me be excited about the work but also provide more meaningful benefits. For me, it was mentoring my staff and my eventual replacement. i worked hard those last six years to make sure I would leave my company in great hands. It was a win-win because I could feel good about helping my staff grow their talents while making my job easier because they were able to take on parts of the job that I did not enjoy.

      I wonder if you could find a focus that would be more fulfilling to you in your current role? I’d hate for you to just be crossing days of the calendar as 2000 days is too long to be unhappy.

      Thanks for your comment and for your support Busy Mom!

  3. It’s nice to have more money than I need because it allows me to winter in the South, buy annual golf memberships and take interesting trips. But the most important thing is it reduces life’s hassles. The old stove breaks, I buy a new one. I don’t even think about alternatives.

  4. Our definition of happiness is “financial peace”. (Thank you Dave Ramsey.) Not too little, not too much either. But it’s not all about money. Financially it would make sense for us to sell our 6,000 sq ft home in the mountains and move into something smaller but, with a large family close by, including a gaggle of grandkids, this is where life happens. And that makes us happy. Guess we’ll just have to pass on that second home at the beach 🙂

    1. I like to have enough money that money doesn’t drive these big decisions. Where to live can be based on where you can be happiest–and you guys have this figured out! Peace is such a great term to describe it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Jenny!

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