Financial Independence: Freedom or Boredom?

So you like the idea of financial independence and are on the way to getting FIREd? Good for you! But what are you going to do next? Aren’t you going to be a just little bit…bored?

That’s the question that German blogger Der Privatier is asking this month in his blogging carnival.

Short answer: We’re financially independent and guess what…we are soooo not bored!

In fact we were a lot more bored when we still had full-time jobs and were sitting in the office waiting for 5 o’clock to roll around so we could finally go home.

One of the first posts Mr W wrote was about his definition of financial independence where he already mentioned some ideas about what he (sort of) planned on doing when he stopped working. Since then we have a clearer idea of how things are shaping up and we started thinking in more detail about what’s important to us and started doing things we never thought we would. Let’s see…

What do we do with all our “free time”?

With two small kids, we just don’t expect to be sitting on a beach all day drinking cocktails and staring into space wondering how to fill in our time. Haha… sooo forget that.

Work: Technically the numbers show that we could just stop working and earning money right now. In practice, we know that there are some risks that come along with our investments and we’d like to have a more substantial buffer. So we work. We work for money. The good thing about FU money though is that we can choose what work to do. We really don’t want to waste our time doing things we don’t like doing. Mr W is not 100% there yet but he’s getting better at saying no to customers.

Why the buffer? Well, there are some personal reasons for that as well, but one major reason is that we just recently started investing in ETFs and we’re having fun learning about them and building up that 4th pillar of our financial independence strategy. We don’t want to be dependent on only one form of investment. Plus, it’s like a game.

How much work? Right now Mr W works about 4-5 hours a week for other people but he wants to reduce that as much as possible. Mrs W’s work is far more sporadic but that’s fine too.

Our own projects: The online businesses Mr W started also take up a lot of his time. He doesn’t put this under “work” because it’s not really work for him. He likes working on them and watching them grow. It’s not just about money. They are also communities that need some attention. The actual customers of these businesses don’t take up more than two hours of his time a week.

Mrs W also manages our rental properties. Sometimes there can be practically nothing to do for months, then the yearly accounts come in and things get a bit crazy. One of her major projects at the moment is optimising and automating things as much as possible so that everything practically runs on autopilot.

We might also start other projects. Any dream that comes to mind and makes sense…if it’s doable…we will (hopefully) have the time do it! There’s no shortage of ideas here, but not all of them deserve our time. Mr W is a dreamer. He dreams big and has big ideas. Then it’s up to Mrs W to make them a reality. Not that Mrs W doesn’t have ideas and dreams too; it’sjust that recently she’s been so busy working Mr W’s ideas that hers have taken a back seat. That’s going to change pretty soon though, since Mrs W also has a dream and we’re getting closer to making a big decision about it. We’ll keep you posted.

Raising kids: No need to go into details here…all the parents out there know what that means. However, the kids are soon going to be at nursery for six or seven hours every weekday. That’s important for them and for us. So the time when they’re at home and not sleeping is time when we entertain them, feed them, teach them, love them. This takes up a lot of our time. And hey…this is life time! Working for others is mostly not life time. At least not your life! How much of your life is actually yours?

Sport: Planning sport into the week is important. We strongly believe that if we don’t take care of our bodies now, the future us will hate the current us. We want to be able to play and run around with our grandchildren! Plus, Mr W just feels so much better if he does those gym workouts three times a week. It’s good shit! Mrs W is less enthusiastic…

Managing and living our social life: Wherever we are, we want to be an active part of our community. That’s really important for us. Helping to organise events, managing community websites, taking the kids to all sorts of events, going to Hungarian community events, having friends and family around, visiting them, hosting couch surfers and and and…that’s also life, people. These are the things that we call “living“. Going to an office 9to5 is not “living” as far as we’re concerned.

FIWE: Organising FIWE has recently become really important to us. Meeting like-minded people is a pretty cool thing. Hopefully we’ll be able to take it to another level and spread the word of FIRE to a wider audience, showing them that there are options out there that lead to a happier life. It makes a lot of sense. It feels like we’re changing the world a bit. Just a tiny bit.

Making a difference: When you’re not trading 45-50 hours of your week for money, you have time to think about things that might actually make a difference to those around you. That’s what happened to Mr W. He came up with the idea of collecting old PCs, laptops and monitors from Germany, shipping them to his home town in Romania and donating them to kids who can’t afford them but need them for school to learn software programming. It costs him practically no money (but some time) and he feels like he’s making a difference. Here’s the post he wrote about it.

The other thing we’re doing is teaching German at a children’s home in Mr W’s home town. Initially he offered to teach some basic Excel to the kids but the carers said that it would be more useful for them to learn German at the moment. His next goal is to teach them Excel because he thinks it will be really useful for most of them, whatever they end up doing in life. Teaching is a really interesting experience. We don’t have any experience in teaching but it just makes so much sense! It feels right! The first couple of classes were scary but we got used to it and once Mrs W prepared the lesson plans and homework sheets things went pretty well.

Travel: It’s quite a cool feeling to just book a one-way plane ticket without having to ask permission from anybody. No boss around to say “eh…you can’t do that”. The trips we’re making at the moment are mostly to visit our respective parents since the kids are still too small for a trek to Machu Picchu. But man…the kids will grow. And we’re going to do some big time travelling…watch out world!

Learning new skills: This is mostly Mrs W’s baby. As she recently wrote, she realised how few practical skills she and most people around her have and she’s slowly but determinedly trying to put things right. Stay tuned for tales of cut fingers, wonky sewing projects and maybe, just maybe, some videos of her playing the tin whistle very badly. She’s not making any promises…

Well, I guess you got the idea. No room for boredom here…

All these things take time, but they are also a major source of happiness. And this is what we’re all after, isn’t it? The good thing about not having to work is that you have time to think about what makes sense, what makes you happy, what makes a difference to other people’s lives. Sometimes you find things that cover all these criteria at the same time…

What do you plan to do after reaching financial independence? We would be happy to hear your plans and if you blog, why not write a post for the blogging carnival?

 

  • Amazing and inspiring article! I loved your “Making a difference” section. I see you’re actually DOING things and not just “thinking about doing” things.

    In my “self improvement epiphany” years (2008-2010) among tons of other things I liked the idea of happiness coming from Pleasures, Passions and Purposes in ascending order. Pleasures are short term and usually people follow them with no long lasting benefits. Passions are way more fulfilling but they lack something. Purposes leads to true long lasting happiness. I see Purpose in your “Making a Difference” plan.

    • exactly! My goal or “purpose” is not to have reached financially indepencence and showing off with it. In fact FIRE cannot be the final goal in life that will make you happy. Once you reached it you need other goalds that provide you with happiness. The key is to find those goals and see which are the ones that provide you with long lasting happiness.

  • Great post! Keeping busy after you stop “working” is critical to be happy, so it is encouraging to read that you are doing such a great job! Good luck from Mrs W’s dream and a BIG WELL DONE re your giving back to society 🙂 We are very lucky and we should never forget it – so it’s important to share our luck with people who might not have had the same opportunities we did. Bravo!

    • Thanks Mrs Smelling Freedom, it’s great knowing we’re doing something worthwhile with our time rather than just sitting about. Now that we’re not working for money we use totally different criteria to decide what to spend time on. It’s refreshing when money is taken out the equation, it means we only work on projects we feel are worthwhile and actually bring some benefit to the world, however small. A big change from the office job!

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