Financial Independence

“The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finish line.”

– Unknown

The Goal: Financial Independence

Lego sons, Financial IndependenceOne 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.

My Father

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.

His Sacrifice

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.

My Kids

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?

11 Comments

  1. Awesome post! My father was much like yours in the way that he has a great work ethic that I too have taken.

    On the flip side just like you he traveled a lot and had to put countless hours into working hard. Which meant time away from family.

    My goal for FI is that I won’t retire but can stay home with my son and be able to help my wife when she needs. I want to be able to travel where and when we want too.

    I currently already own two company’s but they have been going on for almost 10 years and have employees so they don’t always feel like independence!

    Continue to work hard on your journey!

    1. Absolutely! Having a great work ethic can be a double edged sword. The trick is learning how to wield it properly so that it enhances your life rather than prevents you from living the life you want. I really appreciate you reading and commenting!

  2. Spending time with family and kids is something that is important. That’s time you can’t get back. Keep up the good work.

  3. Very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your story. I share the same sentiments, although I didn’t learn the lesson the same way. I’ve seen so many in my current company constantly traveling while they have young kids, working insane hours, for what? They are missing all the fun parts of their families lives to work their way up in the company. For me, I realized that this is the last thing I want when my wife and I start our family.

    Stories like these always motivate me and remind me about why I strive for financial freedom. Thank you so for sharing your story and I cannot wait to follow your journey towards achieving Fire, work optional, or whatever path you choose one day.

    Bert

    1. Thanks Bert! I think the biggest challenge young professionals face is getting on the corporate treadmill when they are ambitious and professionally driven. Then they get married and have kids and their priorities change. Unfortunately there lifestyle has adjusted to a certain standard of living, so they are stuck on the corporate treadmill even though they’d rather be spending time with their families. I’ve seen this with friends and gently try to point out that family is more important than lifestyle. But it’s hard to break free from this thinking when it’s guided your life for so many years. Insightful comment, I appreciate you checking in!

  4. Thanks for sharing this post MSF,

    It is crazy how our perspective on life changes once we have a child. Before kids, I knew I wanted to not take on any more debt and work on paying all of mine off and one day becoming independent and retiring early.

    After our son was born, I wanted to spend all the time with him and be able to share life experience with him. It accelerated our plans, making us shift more money into debts and creating a ‘retire as soon as possible’ goal. We are currently working on my wife going part time so she can spend more days with our boy.

    Really great post!

    1. Thanks Cameron. I totally agree, I kind of meandered around some good money choices before I had kids, but kicked it up a few notches ones my boys were born. Great news that you wife is able to go to part time, its amazing the freedoms we begin to gain when we start making smart money decisions. Thanks for checking in!

  5. I totally agree with spending as much time with your kids as possible. We do not have kids yet, but if/when, this is the mentality that we with have. We also have a passion for traveling the world and really immersing ourselves in our cultures. I do not think that Mr.Wow and I will ever stop working altogether, but we will definitely quit the confines of boring, traditional 9-5 work. Being FI will allow us the flexibility to work if we want and not work if we don’t want to.

    1. FI is such a great addition to family life. I’m fortunate now that I have a flexible enough job to spend more time with my kids, but it’ll be nice to get to a point where I don’t have to consider a job with all of my decisions.

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