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Financial Independence Day — What Financial Independence Means to Me

Patrick of Cash Money Life challenged us to declare financial independence and write about what it means to us. I’ve been mulling it over for the last few days and I think I’ve come up with the core of what financial independence means to me.

It means that I won’t worry about where the money is coming from or feel pressure to do something I don’t want to because I need the money.

I’m not talking about not going to work, having the perfect job, or about avoiding all the unpleasant parts of life. Rather, I mean not being in jobs that are wholly miserable or dead-end because I’m afraid of not having money. Ironically, acting on those fears might leave me earning less in the long run because I’d be too worried to hold out for/strive for something better.

I like a certain measure of financial security, feeling insecure gets me worried. My last job wasn’t technically salaried, but I earned a certain amount each hour and had 9-5 hours, so I felt fairly secure in that. But it was miserable on many levels. Now, as a freelancer, I still sometimes take on jobs which are entirely miserable because I like knowing that I will get paid and I start to worry about finding another gig.

Right now, most of those feelings are driven by debt. If we didn’t have to pay that off, we’d have a much lower cost of living. Therefore I’d need to earn less money in a month. And if I earned the same amount I’m earning now, the rest would feel more like icing on a cake and would go towards even more financial security in the future (since we’d save most of it).

Also, I’ve mentioned before, I’m starting to see where I want to be in the future. One of the steps to getting there is getting a master’s degree. I’m feeling ambitious and would really like to do a double master’s.

As long as we’re paying off Micah’s education, we’ll have less money to put towards mine. I’ll probably end up working full-time (or 30-hour weeks if I can swing it) and going to school part-time. I don’t mind that, but again the debt is limiting my choices. It’ll be harder to save up, for example.

I’ll look into other options, some counties will fund your education if you spend a certain amount of time working for them. I wouldn’t want to do that in my current county but perhaps where we live next (or if I get a job for a different local-ish county).

Or if I can do well in the tech field and we live simply, we may be able to pay of Micah’s student loans in the next 4 or 5 years. Maybe less. I don’t want to be too optimistic when nothing’s firm yet, but I do feel cautiously optimistic.

What are my financial goals for the next year? First, to pay off a lot more debt. Second, to save something for retirement to take advantage of compound interest. Those are quite general, so I’ll give you a more specific one:

To more thoroughly map my career plans (and all the possible ways of getting there) and develop my skills/self-presentation so that I find a full-time job in one of the fields I’m looking into (tech or library with the end goal of being a systems librarian, which is both) by this time next year.

It doesn’t have to be an impressive job, just something that advances my career goals in some way and pays enough that I can meet my financial goals as well.

What does financial independence mean to you? What drives you to become financially independent?

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Cath Lawson July 4, 2008 at 5:46 am

Hi Mrs Micah – For me the biggest bonus would definitely be freedom from worrying about money.

My finances have bounced up and down hugely over the last few years – depending on how well or badly I’m doing in business at the time.

I really would like to find more stability. But my life has gone through so many changes – from earning more and working ridiculous hours – to earning less and having a better home life.

Once I’m living the way I want to live, I think it will be much easier to reach financial stability.

vered July 4, 2008 at 8:05 am

You said it perfectly.

“It means that I won’t worry about where the money is coming from or feel pressure to do something I don’t want to because I need the money.”

I don’t think I can say it any better.

mrsmicah July 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

@Cath, I think being a business owner and a freelancer can be quite similar. Like you, I think once I get into the career I want to be in life should be stabler.

Thanks, Vered. I don’t know what I’d do if I were rich beyond my wildest dreams that I can’t do now. But I’d be happy to be free to pursue any profession, education, etc.

heartbeat July 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

i work in a hot warehouse of a building and supply store (lumber, plumbing etc..)part time for slightly above min. wage…why do i do it when i could be making more and not suffering from the summer heat? because i enjoy it…and the freedom of choice. i am almost debt free and what i make in this parttime job is mine to do as i please. i can spend it or save it…my choice. i find that it is totally unrealistic to think that you will never have to worry about money, or anything else in life. worry is a major part of is what you do with the worry that matters.

mrsmicah July 4, 2008 at 9:26 pm

@heartbeat, one of my ideal situations is similar. Working part-time shelving at the library and spending time on web projects. I find shelving a fulfilling and freeing job.

It’s true that we’ll never not worry. And I expect I’ll probably always worry about money in some shape or form. I just want those worries to be as little based in reality as possible so I can talk myself past them more easily.

Frugal Trenches July 6, 2008 at 12:47 pm

What a great post! For me it means having a family and working part time!

Jonathan Chevreau November 14, 2008 at 2:16 pm

You may find my new financial novel of interest: Findependence Day. Set mostly in the U.S. with U.S. and Canadian financial content.

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