What it means to be Financially Independent
Put simply, Financial Independence (FI) is the ability to support one’s lifestyle without recourse to the labour market. This entails having enough passive income to cover one’s day-to-day expenditures.
OK, that’s the technical definition. But what does it mean in reality?
Well, for starters you can say good riddance to all those financial worries that cause so many people so much stress these days.
But let’s be clear about this! I personally don’t intend on becoming rich in the sense that I’ll have a huge income and can chuck cash around willy-nilly. To get to such a state would probably be beyond me and would require infinitely more time and effort.
What I dointend is to become wealthyin the sense that I have enough financial assets to provide a modest level of income. When combined with a relatively frugal lifestyle, this means that financial independence is a realistic goal to aim for.
Enjoy your work?
If the answer’s a resounding negative, then all the more reason to retire early. Some FIs refer to their savings & investments as “f**k you money”. Imagine the feeling of empowerment you’d have knowing that the next time your boss pissed you off you could tell him or her where to get off, without jeopardising your livelihood.
Given that jobs are a major cause of stress and that, collectively at least, we work much longer hours than we really need to, I think most people would benefit from a little less work. But don’t worry, if you enjoy working why not go part-time or even set up your own business? With all the extra time you’ll have on your hands as an FI, the world really does become your oyster.
And this leads me to what is probably the most exciting part of being FI:
MORE FREE TIME!
Not having to spend most of your waking life earning money to pay for all that stuff you don’t need means you now have a hell of lot of free time on your hands. How do you fill it?
Maybe you’ll carry out some voluntary charitable work, read all the classics, learn to play the guitar, learn to speak Japanese, go hiking across the country (taking a tent, of course, in keeping with the frugal lifestyle)… Who knows? That’s the beauty of it! Think of all those things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for. That’s a thousand and one reasons to become FI right there!
You’ll even find that your costs will come down as you’ll have more time to do things for yourself rather than pay the consumer society to do them for you. Personally, what I’m most looking forward to is the fact that every day will be truly different, as opposed to the monotony of the average ‘working week’. They don’t call it the daily grind for nothing!