Why financial independence?

A couple days ago, I shared a few Mr. Money Mustache(MMM) posts with a friend of mine. On the outside, he is frugal and financially savvy, without being aware of financial independence.

They drive an old, paid off car, have no credit card debt, he enjoys photography, but only buys equipment he wants once it goes on sale, and they bought a house close to his job so he can walk to his well-paying job. He enjoys his job, which I certainly admire, but I still figured he’d be a perfect person to nudge in the direction of financial independence.

But when I tried to share some of my newly discovered, amazing community with him, his reaction was simply “Well, that won’t work if everybody’s doing it.”, and that was that.

This puzzled me greatly, as we already do a lot of things “everybody” don’t do. I respect where he is coming from. I always had the attitude that if you can’t treat/give everybody something, you shouldn’t just give it to some people. Like how a lot of people in “developed” nations yell that less developed nations cannot raise their standard of living as much as we have done, or we’ll kill the planet. Without reducing our own emissions. Uhm, hello? Enormously unfair and elitist. 

Financial independence for everyone?

With his strong sense of fairness then, perhaps it was wrong of me to throw him at MMM first thing. After all, MMM is greatly concerned with the environment and sustainability himself, but that was not the first thing I noticed when I ready his blog for the first time. It took some time to notice.

Is there a model we can use that would make this freedom available to everyone? Not with the current model, for sure.

On the blog, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I never talk about retiring early like you might see on other blogs. That is because neither Mr. Frugasaurus nor myself have any intentions of retiring, in the sense that retiring means “not working”.

What we are working towards is to have enough sidehustle and passive income to live off, without having to show up in an office everyday. We want to be our own boss. Working from home in small, entrepreneurial ways and still paying taxes like contributing members of society. I want to encourage a shift to organic, sustainable consumerism in a small way through my soap, and I want to encourage others to sustainable, frugal living through this blog. We still have all intentions of contributing to the betterment of society all around us. We just want to be free to do it how we see fit.

Seeing daylight and hanging out with friends

I have several friends who, for various reasons, are unable to work traditional jobs. I would love to be able to visit them during the daytime, when everyone else is at work. I know one friend in particular who, while engaged in various activities in the evening, often finds herself lonely and aimless during the day.

I deeply wish to be able to just hang out with her during the day, much more regularly than I am able to now. This might seem surprising, but that was actually one of the prime motivations I had to seek out an alternative lifestyle that didn’t revolve around 9-5 working. To be able to spend more time with her, talking, gardening, upgrading something or just having a cup of tea. What I wouldn’t give to be able to do that. Working towards financial independence is the absolute best vehicle I have found to be able to achieve such a goal.

Secondly, it is winter right now here in Norway. That means it gets dark early, seriously early. One of the things I find the most difficult about working during winter is how it is nothing but darkness when I walk to work, and nothing but darkness when I go home. Having a window office and lighting candles at night and snuggles do help with this, but I can’t help but feel how much more enjoyable life would be during winter if I could go for a walk during daylight hours, not just in the weekend, but the whole week around!

Humans are solar powered, and I am no exception.

Removing employment insecurity

While I was studying, I was continuously told by friends, family and teachers how useful my education was, and how easy it would be for me to get a job.

Well, Murphy struck when I graduated, and Norway was hit by an oil/financial crisis. Thousands of people, many with similar credentials but tons more experience, lost their jobs and flooded the job market. I was lucky to get temp jobs in kindergartens and cafeterias to pay my bills, but it was a rather harsh meeting with reality after having had my head filled with dreams and cloud castles my entire life.

This life of temp jobs and insecurity, sometimes relevant jobs, sometimes not, lasted for three whole years. I dare say it actually traumatised me in ways I had not expected.

For one, I am acutely aware of how perilous your position is when you are dependant on an employer for your paycheck. Even a star performer can find themselves out in the cold if there is another financial crisis or there are some serious job cuts.

Even though I currently enjoy a stable and secure 4 year contract with the government, which is incredibly much better than anything I had before, I do not have confidence that it will be easy to secure another job after this one. Like so many millennials alongside me, I have lost any illusions about lifelong employment, and I have become inherently wary as a consequence of it.

Just looking at the rate with which the government is cutting pensions? There is no doubt in my heart that I should make an effort to secure my own future. Any windfall from the government will be seen as a bonus, it is not something either Mr. Frugasaurus nor I am expecting or including in our calculations.

How about the future? Will we run out of oil? Will we still be able to ship food half-way across the world at affordable places? I want to be able to grow some of my own food to increase our food security.

Looking back

Growing up, we were raised pretty frugal. My father in particular is frugal to a fault. It is quite amusing to look back on it, but growing up, I firmly believed that we were middle class. “Middle” after all was something we learned as being in between. We were no so poor that we couldn’t afford food or one vacation each year, but neither were we so rich that we could get what we wanted in the grocery store every time.

I remember shopping with my mother as a child. We each had a set amount for candy each Saturday. Sometimes I got it as a shiny coin in my hand, sometimes it was just a part of mom’s Saturday haul. No matter how, I knew the monetary value I was allowed, and I knew it meant I had to prioritise. I could get that big, exotic coconut and crack it open in dad’s workshop, or I could have a small bag of candy. But I could not have both the same week.

Similarly, when finances were tight after university, it was painful to not feel certain if we would be able to pay the rent next month or not. It is a horrible feeling that I do not wish upon anyone, and it is in part why financial independence is so attractive to me. I never want to feel that helpless and that close to homelessness ever again. Even if I am so privileged that I would have had the option to move in with either of my parents if I needed to.

How about you?

So, those were some of the reasons why financial independence is so appealing to us, and also some of our definitions and plans within financial independence. What are your reasons for pursuing it? Do you feel differently about employment security and the future? Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear your opinions!


7 Comments on “Why financial independence?

  1. Like you, I don’t necessarily have an interest in “retiring” early, but financial independence gives you so much freedom. Until you have that, your life is really controlled by some degree by outside factors. If I’m working at fifty, let alone sixty, it will be because I care deeply about the job I’m doing, not because I’ll lose my house if I don’t.

    I agree that MMM might not have been the best blog to start out with – maybe Frugalwoods or OurNextLife would be more up their alley. It took me a long time to get past MMM’s language to realize how focused he really was on the environment, etc.

    • Exactly. I fully intend to keep working on various projects, but I’d love to be able to do so without the fear of loosing home and income!

      Yeah, I really hope I haven’t turned them off the idea entirely. I just hoped MMM’s writing style would be fun and engaging, but I might have misjudged them. One for the book of trying to learn to communicate better. ?

  2. Pingback: Is early retirement selfish? - Frugasaurus

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