what is financial independence to me

What Is Financial Independence To Me?

My Strategic Dollar Financial Freedom, M$D Wisdom 22 Comments

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My First Job – The Start Of My Financial Independence Journey

I started working when I was 15. And even though I was mowing lawns and called it a “business” I was just pushing my lawn mower around the neighborhood looking for a few bucks. My motivation was simple – I wanted to buy new roller skates or a bike, or something like that. I didn’t care about saving money or retirement. I only wanted to look cool as I played with the other kids on my street.

When I turned 16, I started working for Alberton’s (before it closed). I was SO proud to be earning $5.15 per hour just to bag groceries. I mean, it was a simple task that I’d be getting paid for! #winning

Little did I know that the allure of having a job didn’t last all that long. But, they promoted me within a few months to cashier and soon enough I was happy again. I mean, I got a 50% raise and was making $7.75 per hour! WHAT?! Again, that pride soon vanished. But hey, I got promoted a third time and was now cashier/front-end manager! Now, I was really raking in the dough. I was making somewhere around $9 per hour and LIFE WAS SAWEEEET.

Just kidding. Then they decided to close the store. We started prepping for a store closing sale. I worked almost around the clock for a few days to setup the end caps, hanging store closing signs and prepping everything in the store with new/lower prices. Talk about a fun time and a lot of work.

We repeated this work every 4 or so days. Each time increase the percentage off the store closure signs. We started at 35% and ended at 90%. By the time we reached 90% there was hardly anyone coming into the store and us employees had a lot of free time to hang out.

By the time the store closed, I was 17 heading into my junior year of high school. It was then I realized that working to make someone else wealthy is not for me. Is it really for anyone? Not sure the shareholders of Albertson’s were making any money at that point at my store, but it still felt like they were.

Flash Forward To 1 Year After College

I graduated college with $90K in student loan debt, was driving a BMW, in the process of buying my first home and thought everything was fine. I felt NORMAL – like I was making NORMAL progress and would have a NORMAL life. WTF is normal? It was then I realized that I didn’t want to be normal and live like most people who are stuck at a job they don’t love to buy things they don’t need.

Related: 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Taking Out Student Loans

I Love To Travel

I try to take a big trip every year. In the past 5 years since I graduated – I’ve been to India, Greece, London/Paris and I’m going to Madrid/Barcelona/Mallorca Spain in September 2017. In addition to those places, I like to take a few smaller domestic trips each year as well. During 2017, I’ve been – NYC, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Portland (Oregon not Maine) and took a road trip from Dallas to Salt Lake City including a stop in Denver. Ideally, I’ll go on one more trip during 2017. Not sure where not sure when. I generally have the flexibility to take spontaneous time off work so I take advantage of last minute travel deals (keep those prices low 😊).

I Hate Time Punching

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to time punch at work. In fact, I haven’t done that since I worked at H-E-B after Alberton’s closed. Flexibility in my schedule is the most important aspect of any job in my opinion. I’ve worked for the same company for over the past 4 years and I have no plans of leaving anytime soon. They provide generous PTO & uber flexible schedules.

When Did I Know I Wanted Financial Independence?

I can’t pinpoint a specific time in my life where I threw my hands in the air and proclaimed that I want to retire early. But throughout my short life (27 years) and my own work experience, I’ve learned that some things are more important than money and if I don’t have them then I won’t be happy.

  • I won’t ONLY work to make someone else money
  • I NEED to travel frequently or I’ll lose my mind
  • I MUST HAVE flexibility to be happy

what is financial independence to me

Each of what I just listed are the things that drive me to financial independence. If I had the choice, I would do nothing but travel and spend time with my family and friends. This is financial independence to me.

These may seem simple to most people, heck they seem simple to me, but they tell me I need to be doing the following:

  1. Keeping my expenses low
  2. Investing/Saving as much as possible
  3. Preparing to eventually leave W2 work altogether
  4. Start a business to supplement my income
  5. Live for me and not for my job
Keep expenses low & Invest aggressively. Supplement your income. Leave your w2 job. Live for yourself not your job.Click To Tweet

-My Strategic Dollar

Comments 22

  1. The flexibility is a huge driving factor for us right now. I’m also 27 and I don’t want to spend my next 40 years asking for time off and scheduling 7am doctor’s appointments to avoid messing with my work schedule!

    Looks like you have an awesome trip planned in September… have a blast! I can’t wait to hear about it 🙂

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  2. The biggest point I agree on is the flexibility. I don’t mind my W2 job sometimes. Heck, sometimes I downright love doing it and being there. But the bad far outweighs the good, and I want the flexibility to leave and find a better balance, should I so desire.

    It’s likely that as side income grows I’ll pursue other opportunities not necessarily in line with what I’m doing now, that would pay less.

    The ultimate goal is to not have to work though at all, and when that happens I’ll probably consult a little bit and just run the blog. 🙂

    Have fun in Europe this month!

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      Agreed! I too like my job but mainly because of the flexibility. If it weren’t there, I’m not sure I’d still be working at the same place.

  3. I actually loved my corporate job. Some of my life’s biggest victories and achievements were at work, nothing that compared to my kids and wife but still they were significant milestones to me. I think if you are one of the few, as I was, to find a job that completely matches, appreciates and rewards your skills and talents then working a 9 to 5 can be an amazing ride. But I know that of all my friends nobody else felt the same as I. Most tolerated to hated their jobs so I think hunting the job experience I had would be hunting unicorns for most people. But either way, achieving FI and developing side gigs for entertainment and profit are great ideas for everyone and allowed me to early retire to an even better life.

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  4. MSD –

    Love it. Finding what it means to you is key and structuring your life to either be that or close to that is key. I think you’ve found it and are well on your way to being even more there. I am hopeful that as the Diplomats continue to blog, side hustles work well and my dividend income grows – that I can reduce the W2 income to $0… pumped.


  5. Love reading these types of posts on what FI means to different people. Travel and more time together as a family are our two main motivators for pursuing FI. There’s so much of the world to see and it’s tough working a desk job for 35 years to get the time to see it all!

  6. Traveling is important to us, too, and it’s something we’ve been thinking about quite a bit as we plan out our debt repayment. My son is 10. I want to be able to travel with him and share those experiences with him. But… I also want to get out of debt. My current plan is to allocate a good chunk of our side hustle money (which we do not incorporate into our budget – it’s totally extra) for a yearly trip to somewhere we all want to go. Yes, that money *could* help us get out of debt more quickly, but that’s not the only factor at play here. (Let me know if you have any advice on that strategy.)

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      Glad you have a plan! When I’m planning on taking a trip, I take a specific amount of cash out each paycheck so when the trip comes around I don’t really feel it.

  7. This was actually the first post on my blog and can totally relate with many of the things you’ve mentioned. For me FI is centered around happiness and having options to do things I’m passionate about. The two at the top of my list are traveling and just spending time with my family. Great post!

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  8. Nice one, I enjoyed that. I recently wrote about something similar (the non-financial aspects of living simply) and agree that having the goal is central. The WHY not just the WHAT. I started my blogging journey with around the benefits simple living has given me and more and more see that the financial aspects are huge, and also that I seem to have a lot in common with FI bloggers! It’s one in the same really. Nice post ill be back

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  9. That is fantastic that you have figured this out. Do you have a particular number in mind? (e.g. 1 million). A specific time frame? If only the personal finance blogosphere was around when I graduated from college. Congrats on your realizing you want FI and here’s to you getting it as soon as possible.

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      Originally, like most bloggers I would imagine, I set my number at $1M, but I don’t think that will be enough. I don’t necessarily want to stop working right away, so I don’t have a defined timeline either. Still working that out!

  10. Travel, family, and friends, sounds like a great combination! It’s so great to know what you need to do to achieve what you want. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of FI. And that trip you are embarking on this month sounds wonderful, enjoy!

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  11. Pingback: Journal Club 9-8-17 | Passive Income M.D. | Passive Income for Physicians

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