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Everyone has their own reasons for Financial Independence. Whether it’s a love for travel, disdain for your job or just trying to live a different life than the humdrum 9-5 with 2 weeks vacation. We all have our own motivators. When I decided to listen to my husband’s radical idea (financial independence) and really start to implement this new strategy it was because it really struck a chord. Here are my reasons for choosing FI:
Working full time and being a parent really means being a part time parent. Yes, my husband and I are our child’s primary caregivers but who is really raising him?
My son is cared for 10 hours a day by others who aren’t my husband or myself. I leave the house at 7am for work every day. For half of the week, I am lucky enough to have my mother-in-law come over to watch him. The other half of the week, I drop my son off at daycare and then pick him up by 5:30pm. I’m also lucky because many parents do the daycare thing 5 days a week.
He goes to bed at 7pm so really think about it, I spend all of an hour and a half with my child. That 90 minutes is filled with tasks and not the fun kind that result in arts and crafts. But the necessities… getting dinner on the table, bath time and then bedtime. I don’t get to play with him much, and if I do, that means he gets less sleep. I don’t get to really teach him or enjoy him as much as I would love to. Every time I discover that he learned something new I become filled with regret, with sadness that I am not the one who taught him or even got to witness it happen.
I am a part time parent. A nights and weekends parent, basically joint custody. This is my primary reason to choose Financial Independence. We aren’t at FI yet. In fact we probably won’t reach financial independence until he’s approaching middle school but at least I will be there to pick him up everyday and I will get to spend summer break with him and every holiday, I will make up for lost time. Financial Independence will allow me to do that.
Own my time
Ever since I can remember I have been running on someone else’s time table. From the time we start school to where we end up in our careers we are abiding by someone’s rules that aren’t our own. Is it the norm? Yes, but it doesn’t always have to be.
I would love to dictate the time I wake up in the morning and guarantee I’ll be home in time for dinner. I look forward to the day that I own my life to the fullest. During maternity leave, I had a glimpse of this, I loved every minute of being home with my little one. I would wake up with him in the morning and my day would revolve around him. It was dream worthy but it was also redundant. Being a stay at home mom was great but I know for myself, I need more structure. I was fortunate enough to have an early retirement experience with my extended maternity leave which taught me what retiring without a plan is not an option. This leads me to my next point…
When I started my career I did not become one of the lucky few that can say that I am following my dreams. That my current career is exactly where I want to be. Don’t get me wrong, overall, I enjoy my job. Is there passion behind it though? No.
When we achieve financial independence I’ll be able to explore and start doing what I want to do with my time even if it doesn’t always make me money. Call me crazy, but I would love to be able to foster animals. I always tell D this and he just looks at me, like “you’re crazy.” He isn’t an animal lover like I am. Unfortunately, I cannot pursue this while working a full-time job. I wouldn’t be able to give it my all. But it’s my goal one day and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will achieve it.
I also want to dabble in photography. I can take a mean picture with a standard point and shoot camera but that is barely scratching the surface. We have an old DSLR that I try to experiment with manual on but I haven’t been able to really delve into it and learn as much as I would love to. Once my time frees up more, I would love to be able to pursue this hobby more.
As mentioned before, I had a lengthy maternity leave, 6 months to be exact. During this time, it was somewhat of an introduction to the FI we started to live. I cooked everyday. I sent D to work with a packed lunch. We saved money on gas & additional work expenses. I made my own baby food. It was a glimpse into what our future was going to turn into. We meal prep like champs now, seldom eat out and took our food bill from over $1K/month to less than $500.
Frugal with a purpose
Spending little amounts of money was always something I was good at. I never had the desire to spend money on expensive brands, cars or anything materialistic for that matter. My goal was always to look for sales and try to find the best deal. I was hesitant to ever click “buy” because seeing the reduction in my bank account hurt.
Although, spending little was always on my mind, I wasn’t necessarily the best saver. I looked at frivolous monthly expenses as necessities instead of luxuries. Eating out or daily coffee runs seemed like normal line items, not expenses that could be cut. I didn’t have a high salary so my frugality came in handy to get through my everyday expenses. I also have a family that needs financial support from time to time so that hurt my savings account.
Once D really started talking to me about financial independence, I learned I could be frugal, save money, invest and there would be something positive from it. I no longer justified my meager savings account with “you can’t take it with you.” There was a goal of Financial Independence.
Extended family time instead of every other weekend
Now we make it a point to have dinner with each side of the family at least once a month. We make time for birthdays and other holidays but we always try to guarantee at least one weekend day per month. Why? Because realistically that’s all we can fit into our schedules. With trying to get our weekly chores done and maintaining a household its difficult to find more time. We also try to still maintain our friendships so, with all of this, our weekends can get pretty busy.
With financial independence, we will no longer have to choose between cleaning the house or spending time with loved ones. We can do both. We can schedule our post-retirement life around what’s most important to us. Family and friends.
Who doesn’t love to travel? If you would have asked me 2 years ago, I would have thought to go to Greece was only going to happen in my dreams. Or exploring Australia would only be something that we can MAYBE save up for once in our lifetime. Joining the FI community and learning about travel hacking and travel rewards now makes it so we can travel to each of those destinations for minimal cost. Read about how we spent $34 to travel to Arizona for a week.
Of course, we will have to save up our points but we can do it with just that, points. The next hurdle is leaving the workforce so we don’t have to worry about our PTO bank. Instead, we can travel whenever we would like to travel. I am sure when we officially retire from the workforce we will still have side hustles. But we will make it so those side hustles can go on the road with us. We will still have to plan around our child’s school schedule but he will have plenty of breaks we can take advantage of.
Enjoy the biggest expense in your budget…your home
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely a homebody. As much as I love to travel to a new destination and go exploring, I enjoy coming home just as much. The feeling of coming home and sleeping in my own bed is something that cannot be replaced, in my opinion. I just love it.
The reality is, we have a wonderful home that we don’t get to enjoy that often. When we reach financial independence we will be able to spend time in the very place that we have invested the most money into. I definitely have an attachment to this home that we have built and those days that I just get to stay home and relax, spend time in the backyard, are priceless to me.
Side hustles & small businesses:
I would love to be able to explore more side businesses. Maybe refinish furniture or create a travel company. Once we are able to hit the point of Financial Independence and early retirement we will be able to explore so many more side hustles. We are beginning to dabble now, with this blog but I’m there is more out there. We just need the time to explore.
When we started this financial independence journey we listened to countless episodes of ChooseFI and read many blog posts and the message was all the same. You can’t retire without a plan because you will just be bored. I got a snippet of that when I took 6 months off of work for my maternity leave. Don’t get me wrong, those 6 months were busy with learning how to be a mom. But I can definitely see how when the kids are older and you have all of this free time, why you need to fill it. You can’t just leave your 9-5 and expect to find happiness without making your own happiness. I’m excited for when we retire early and I get to do everything I outlined here.
This post will help keep me on track and will serve as a reminder of why I’m doing this. We have about another 10 years on our path to Financial Independence. There are many milestones we have to hit before we reach our Fat FI number but we will get there. We are 24% of the way there!