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?