The other day I read a blog post where the author described why aiming for FI is an illusion and he chose not to aim for it.
Since we achieved FI a couple of years ago (and we’re pretty happy we did so), the title of that blogpost caught my attention.
The author named four reasons why he thinks striving for FI is basically horsshit. I’ve tried to sum them up:
1. he doesn’t want to live a frugal lifestyle for years. He doesn’t want to carefully look at every penny he can save in the supermarket.
2. he wants to fully live and enjoy the present. He wants to enjoy his life now! Not in the future! His work-life balance is amazing already. Why change this situation?
3. nobody is ever completely financially independent…
4. He would chose to work anyway, even if he would be financially independent…so why bother reaching it?
Right. So what do I make of that?
The funny thing is: I basically agree with all 4 headlines.
The devil lies in the details though.
So, let’s analyse this bit by bit:
1. I don’t want to look at every penny I can save in the supermarket either.
During our years before reaching FI we lived a pretty frugal lifestyle. It wasn’t frugal in a way that we had to make a sacrifice and say NO to thinks we would have liked to get. It was naturally frugal. Because that’s how we like it!
We didn’t even plan on becoming FI until just before we reached it…
Let me give you just a few examples of this “extremely” frugal lifestyle: saw several mediterranean cities during a cruise, we flew to US, we had an amazing holiday in Thailand. We did a long trip to South America, we traveled 1700 kilometers in Turkey and visited amazing places. In fact, we flew back and fort between our home Germany and Romania, Scotland, Ireland, Hungary several times a year to visit family and friends.
Add to that several “frugal” ski trips in the Austrian Alps almost every year.
This are just holidays. Not to mention all the money we spent on furniture, gadgets and all that.
I am frugal. But I don’t want to save money on things that make me or my family happy. As it happens though…things that really make me happy don’t cost much money. Best holiday example: couchsurfing. I absolutely love it and we used it (both: as travelers and hosts) a lot. Every hour of it provided us with great, unforgettable memories. For nearly no cost.
The point is: striving for FI doesn’t have to mean that you’re saving every penny and you only spend your money on rent and buy only basic food living in a dark room for 10 years or so…
2. I want to fully live and enjoy the present.
“My work life balance is amazing, why should I change?”
Many people have a job they genuinely love. This is a great situation and I wish more people would choose a job they love. The reality is though, that most people are miserable at work. Even if they don’t admit.
During my time as an employee, literally all my colleagues were complaning about something in their job. Most of them (including the boss) really hated it and hated a bunch of their direct colleagues.
I never absolutely loved my job, but it wasn’t stressful and I was OK with it. Still: I’m out of it. They are not. They are dependent of it.
There are so many jobs that make sense. Where your work makes a change in somebody’s life. I deeply respect all theose people who chose to be a doctor, a nurse or a teacher because they love what they’re doing.
If you really like what you’re working and it makes you happy don’t stop! Do it! It makes a lot of sense for you and your community!
At the end of the day, what truly makes you happy is making a positive change and helping others in one way or another.
BUT, that doesn’t mean that striving for FI makes no sense!
Why? Because being financially independent simply makes your work a lot better!
Did you see Pete Adeney’s WDS talk? NO? Then please take a break and watch it! Please!
Do you want some examples?
If a teacher is FI and loves what he’s doing, he can fully focus on making his job better, finding out ways to inspire those kids and change their lifes for the better.
The problem with the education nowadays is exactly that: having too many teachers who don’t do their job with passion. Who don’t understand the impact of their work and work only for the money or only because they made a wrong choice and they’re to lazy to start again…
If a doctor does his job for the money, and not because he wants to help, we’re in a big mess! And this is what’s happening so often here in Romania: if you don’t bribe the doctor, you might not get the right treatment. You might die because your doctor didn’t get the concept of financial independence.
Is your work life balance amazing? Then ask yourself: Who’s life do you live when you’re working?
If the answer is: your own. It’s great! Don’t stop doing it.
But if you work for Mercedes Benz designing the new S-Klass super luxury car, then don’t tell me you live YOUR life during work. That new S-Klass won’t make the world any better. It’s a product that makes no fucking sense at all. The time you spend at work is not yours! You get paid but the time is lost!
So many creative, talented people waste 8-10 hours a day solving fake problems and literally wasting their life while making investors happy.
These brilliant minds could just as well solve real problems, changing lives!
3. nobody is ever completely financially independent.
Yeap! I agree. But you can be more, or less FI. The more FI you are, the easier you can say NO to bullshit. The more choices you have. The more time you have to live YOUR life the way you want it.
I am not fully independent either even though I consider myself FI.
One depends on sooo many things in life: train schedules, banks, mario draghi or even mothers-in-law… but being independent of a job, or, to put it in a different way: to be in the position to quit any time is f.a.n.t.a.s.t.i.c in sooo many ways.
4. I would chose to work anyway, even if he would be FI…so why bother reaching FI?
FI is not about doing nothing. Look arund, most of the people who reached FI actually continue working. Working on things they love, things that make sense! So do we. But is that a reason to stop aiming for FI?
Being FI allows me to work for free for my community. That’s what really makes me happy while having a positive impact (even if small) on the world around me.
It’s obvious, that if I had a 9to5 job I wouldn’t have the time to do that.
Being FI also makes this blog free of shitty popups and ads sliding up or down the page making you buy eBooks or other annoying things.
Working after reaching FI is something that one can even factor in the long therm planing: if you know that you would really like to work part time after reaching FI, then you might need many years less in the job you don’t like that much.
This, I think is a great idea for so many people who are in a situation where reachig full FI would mean too much time or too many restrictions.
So, as a conclusion: while I fully agree with those 4 points, I came to the exact opposite conclusions on whether or not one should aim for FI.
Everybody defines Fi in a different way. Our lives can be so different. Our ideal lives can be so different but FI is not a bullshit idea.
One thing is for sure though: FI should NEVER be the end goal. What really matters is what are your plans for the time after!
And the most important conclusion for me is that FI helps me be more genuine! And that fucking rocks!
What are your conclusions? I’d love to hear them!