“The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finish line.”
The Goal: Financial Independence
One of my long-term goals is Financial Independence (FI). This goal is born out of several things. On a more superficial level, I have a naturally defiant or at least contrary personality. It motivates me when I’m told ‘it can’t be done’.
The other two influences are my kids and my father. The experience of being a father and the experience of having been a son continue to drive this goal.
Let’s start with what I watched with my own father. My father had a great work ethic. This is something I not only watched growing up, but also adopted in my adult life. However, as is true with all things moderation is key.
My father demonstrated this moderation during the later part of his career. However he worked in an industry that didn’t reward this value. Without boring you with the details, he worked in the corporate world and was quite successful. We as a family enjoyed the perks; a comfortable salary, a company car, and he did plenty of traveling. For us this meant reward miles paid for every family vacation.
His travel had a downside. He spent many nights in a lonely hotel room thousands of miles away from his family as his kids grew up. Some trips had him gone for over a month at a time. These trips alone would have represented over 8% of the year.
All told, he traveled over 25% of any given year (although this decreased as I got older). We spoke on the phone most nights. And he was diligent about never missing our birthdays. I remember on at least a couple of occasions, he turned down promotions because it would require him to travel more and be away from his family.
His absence never struck me as unusual; it was simply my experience growing up. I didn’t know any different. For all I knew every family functioned this way. I didn’t even really recognize the sacrifice he had made until I had kids of my own. If my kids do an overnight at grandma’s house, I miss them. I can’t image what it’d be like to be away from them for days or weeks on end.
Throughout my childhood I watched my father dedicate so much of his time and energy to his professional life . Eventually, his company of nearly 20 years moved in a direction he didn’t agree with. They offered him a new position in the restructuring, but financially he didn’t need to take it. So he resigned.
He died less than a year after leaving his job. After dedicating the best years of his life to someone else’s bottom line. Don’t get me wrong, he had a great life, and this had a lot to do with the company he worked for. But he lost out on a lot as well, which also had a lot to do with the company he worked for.
After watching his career unfold I knew I didn’t want to follow the same path. When I had kids, I planned to spend as much time with them as possible. I wanted to be a part of their routines and daily experiences. And thus far, I have been.
I also didn’t want to die months after leaving full time (or more accurately mandatory) employment. I figure the best way to achieve this is to leave mandatory employment as young as possible.
The second major motivator for FI is my kids. One of the enduring memories I have of my childhood is the travel that we did. I was fortunate in that my parents prioritized travel and experiences over material possessions.
I want my kids to have similar experiences and gain the same value I gained from seeing different part of the world. While we will prioritize travel throughout our kid’s lives, we’ll be able to do so differently when we achieve FI.
My goal as of today is to achieve some degree of FI when they are in middle school. Not complete financial independence, but comfortable walking away from our jobs for an extended period of time. (What I think Ms. Montana would call Work Optional.) Then use this financial confidence to negotiate 6-10 weeks off during the summers to travel for extended periods of time with our kids.
I look forward to a truly immersive experience in a new living environment, not just the 1-2 weeks we’re able to take off now. I think there is something incredibly valuable about experiencing other cultures and lifestyles. It is a part of their life education and I see it as my responsibility to provide it.
After they’ve graduated high school, I’d love to be able to travel with my wife. It is my goal to reach complete financial independence at this point. Not to stop working altogether, but rather to work when and how we want to.
So there you have it. In a nutshell why I’ve chosen to pursue financial independence and what I hope it looks like for our family.
I’d love to hear from you! Are you seeking Financial Independence as well? What will change for you when you reach this goal?