My WHY of FI has Changed

Diverse Hands Holding The Word Why?

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.

I worked on reducing my expenses, especially my recurring expenses. I switched insurance companies, installed solar panels, changed my behaviour.

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.

Bird cage silhouette

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.

Final Thoughts

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?

What is your WHY of FI? Has it changed from when you first started pursuing FIRE?

18 Replies to “My WHY of FI has Changed”

  1. yes to all of this! My why is because I’ve seen too many people I know die (or have near death experiences) well before retirement age. I don’t want to work super hard for that future retirement goal that I may never reach! I want to work part time for decent pay doing things I enjoy and keep expenses down so I can both enjoy life now and retire early! Is it too much to ask for? I don’t think so. Not if I prioritize it and stay off the autopilot life train and take a slow/coast/barista FI path!

    1. “Autopilot life train” – love it! I was on it for ages 🙂

      Cheers to you for realising what works and doesn’t work for you and to align that with your slow/coast/barista FI lifestyle 🎉

  2. I’m 100% with you! My fire goals have completely changed as well. I’m now “fire-eligible” but after 2 years of being suck at home with nothing to do, I realize how important it is to keep my brain active. I also learned I have ADHD, so work provides structure and purpose.

    The difference is that the anxiety and fear is gone. That’s huge. Now I can choose how and what I want to do for work. I think at the end of the day, that’s true freedom.

    This was my experience with quitting fire:

    1. Thanks for sharing your ADHD experience with FIRE, Caren!

      The RE (retire early) part of FIRE is totally optional – so wonderful that you’ve discovered you need structure and purpose in your life and that being financially independent means you can enthusiastically pursue any interests that come up – what a great position to be in

  3. It’s my payday today so investing the usual amount again. The grind continues but ultimately it’s another 2 weeks closer to the end goal. Quickly thought about cutting myself some slack and have a mini splurge but quickly changed my mind again. At the moment every week worked and then investing the money saved (regardless of my FI number) is another week I don’t have to work in the future so I’ll keep banking those weeks!

    1. You have such a positive way of looking at things, Vinnie – thank you for sharing that. It’s been a very busy season at my day job – I went to work yesterday thinking another day worked is another day closer to my retirement aka Vinnie 👍

  4. It’s so amazing to hear that your why of FI has transformed from avoidance to aspirational. That’s exactly what experienced retirees advise us to strive for: to retire INTO something, not AWAY from something.

    Interestingly for me, my why of FI has stayed the same—to free my husband from having to work for money. However, the more we discuss it, the more I realize that his retirement will mean more time freedom for both of us.

    So… while my why of FI is the same, the what of FI has evolved. It’s no longer just about the time freedom he’ll gain. Now we both see how he can also help to give me more time freedom once he no longer has to work!

    Anyway, back to you! Congratulations on all these huge milestones and mindset shifts you’ve reached in the last year. I couldn’t be more thrilled for you and what’s ahead in your FIRE journey. ❤️

    1. Oh yes, he will have so much more time to help you :)) We underestimate the time & dedication taken to look after a family and run a household well.

      Thank you for your well wishes – been learning heaps along the FIRE path 🔥

  5. I love this! I think many of us, including myself, start our financial journeys from a place of fear. As we learn and find more control over our money, that fear starts to change into something else – excitement, understanding, and hope.

    I love that you described how your feelings have changed. I felt relief for you as I was reading it when you started working towards your goals and found a new sense of freedom.

    I’m so happy for you!

    1. Thank you, Liz.

      It’s amazing how we can feel that relief and an increasing feeling of freedom BEFORE we ever reach financial independence – just being on the journey and knowing we are getting there helps so much

  6. This resonates so much with me. I started out thinking I could never retire, and now I know I definitely can. I really want the freedom from work, but I know that I’m not there yet in terms of the numbers. If I can hang in there for another 9 years I’ll be able to have a comfortable retirement. The question is can I/do I want to wait that long. The jury is still out on that one. I guess I’ll see how I feel in 4 years when RE could be a possibility, but would need to much leaner than if I wait 9 years.
    And it’s completely bloody marvellous that your fear has turned to Hope. Well done.

    1. Thank you!

      It’s all an experiment, isn’t it? Who knows what the future holds but we stand a better chance of succeeding at retirement if we do everything we can now to save and invest … and that means earning an income. Exciting times ahead!

  7. Having a plan makes all the difference.
    And as to that reading during the night? I’ve been neglecting the blogs because I’m on a Thumping Good Reads streak – one after another reading books that I can’t put down! I use my library’s eBooks so I can use the iPad in the middle of the night – so much easier than a real book.
    I can always take a quick nap the next day if I need to. 🙂

    1. That is exactly what I’m looking forward to – reading all night and nanna naps – such bliss 🙂 I’m enjoying your shenanigans since you retired earlier this year – please keep those blog posts coming!

    1. Yes, but how much is enough? Ah, that is another question for another blog post perhaps 🙂

      Some fear is good, otherwise we become complacent but it is so liberating when most of the fear is gone

  8. I would say my WHY for FIRE is a little bit of both hope *and* fear.

    The hope is that I will one day enjoy the life I envisioned which is a fatFIRE life where I’d still continue working, but would no longer be bound by corporate chains or have to interact with people I don’t want to interact with.

    The “fear” part comes in because I always feel like I am running out of time and it almost feels like no matter what I do, the goal is still super far away. For example, my net worth goal is $10MM. I’ve done something very difficult recently that’s been showing good results that is netting me $400-$800/day, depending on the day. But after taxes, I am earning maybe only earning an extra $146K a year if I am being very optimistic. I’m still very, very, very far away in terms of time from my goal despite the extra $146K/yr + my 9-5 income. Not to mention I’m inherently impatient so I keep setting deadlines like “next year” for retirement lol.

    1. Ha, the balance between fear and hope – I know what you mean. I’d love to bring forward my early retirement deadline but at the back of my mind, I fear I don’t have enough time – I know I have to trust the math. You have massive goals 💪 and are working hard towards it – that’s all you can do:)

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