What is your WHY of FI?
Or in other words, WHY are you pursuing Financial Independence?
It takes a lot of energy and determination to achieve the goal of being financially independent.
Building your wealth so that you no longer have to depend on working for money can take years. And most certainly require some sacrifice such as delaying spending on things today in order to have more freedom later.
If you don’t know your WHY, pursuing FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) will seem like an endless slog, a difficult race to the end.
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My Original WHY
I confess that my WHY, my original reason for pursuing FIRE as a 47 year old was FEAR.
Pure and simple.
So. Many. Fears.
I was terrified that I had to work another 20 years in a demanding and stressful job. I knew I didn’t have it in me. In fact, I was already burnt out.
And I knew deep in my guts that I hadn’t saved enough for retirement – traditional retirement, let alone early retirement.
I didn’t know how much I needed to retire – calculating this elusive number caused so much anxiety in me. How could I know how much I needed to retire when I didn’t even know how much I spent now?
But I was also fearful of retirement itself – what would I do if I didn’t have to work so hard at my job?
And I was afraid of not having a back up plan as a single person. I have only myself to rely on. I have neither a partner for another source of income nor children who can provide for me later in life. (Not that I’d want to rely on a partner or children, mind you but that they don’t exist to rely on is sobering at times) I must provide for myself.
Then I was scared that I may develop dementia like my Mum – and if I didn’t retire early, I would miss out on doing stuff on my bucket list. This fear of not having enough time is the worst fear of all.
But how could I retire early if I didn’t have enough saved already?
And on and on it goes – round and round in my head.
It was exhausting.
But Fear can be Motivating
That, I can confirm.
I felt I had no choice but to take action.
As I began to track my expenses, I felt more in control of my money. I now had a better understanding of what I was spending my money on. And crucially, I started to examine why I was spending.
And as I started to free up money to invest – firstly in my retirement account (superannuation) and secondly in a shares portfolio outside of superannuation, I was reassured by the slow incremental gains.
When my emergency fund was fully funded with 6 months of living expenses, I was so relieved.
Eighteen months after I discovered FIRE, my 3 phase plan to retire at 55 was hatched. That was when my anxiety evaporated. I now had a plan to work towards – there was finally light at the end of the tunnel.
And when I reached Coast FI in April this year, it was liberating. I now do not need to contribute a single cent to my superannuation and it should reach the amount I need in 10 years, when I can access it at 60.
This means that all I have to do now is focus on building my ‘bridge the gap’ fund so I can survive for the 5 years before I can access superannuation.
So now my WHY of FI has changed
Because the original fears pertaining to money are gone. They have been allayed.
I have a plan to execute and so far, the plan is working.
I am heading in the right direction.
Of coure, the plan can be delayed or derailed. After all, it depends on the stock market performing well which I have no control over.
But I also know if I do my part in saving and investing, eventually it will be all right.
I have confidence in ME.
Confidence in my abilities to adapt and change and take action.
After 3+ years on my FIRE journey, I now know that I am capable of finding the solution, come what may.
And therefore my WHY of FI has changed.
What is my WHY of FI now?
I am pursuing FIRE now because I long for freedom.
The freedom to do what I want when I want, without being worried about the monetary cost or the time involved.
I can’t wait for the day when I no longer need to consult with colleagues’ holiday schedules before I can decide when to slot in my holidays.
Living through my sixth lockdown has given me an appreciation of spontaneity – I long to be able to leave home for a new adventure at the drop of a hat; to cross borders the minute they open; to be okay with being stuck on the other side of a border should it shut suddenly.
I dream of waking up without the blare of my alarm clock. Of reading until all hours of the night with no regard to being alert for work the next day in case I kill someone with my drowsiness.
It would be so good to spend time with family and friends and be fully present in the moment, without thinking about chores that must be done before Monday.
I can’t wait to have ample time and freedom to learn new skills, pick up new hobbies, explore new passions and interests, slow travel to new destinations and just do whatever I want whenever I want.
Ah, the bliss of it all.
My WHY of FI has changed or evolved the further I progress along the path to FIRE.
Because I am no longer fearful or anxious about money and retirement. Because that fear has turned to hope.
How bloody marvellous is that?