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 FinancialMentor.com. 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?