Log (Day 1): The experiment begins
I thought I’d write a real-time account of Day 1 of the FI experiment. It’s Tuesday. A “workday” Tuesday for most.
9:00 am: I spent the morning at the kids’ swim team practice. Instead of putting on business attire and rushing out the door for a 45-minute commute where I would eat something that sort of resembled breakfast and listen to podcasts about personal finance and working toward financial independence, I walked the 300 yards to the neighborhood pool with my writing notebook and the kids in tow. The view as I pen these thoughts …
sure beats the hell out of what would have been my view Tuesday a week ago, and for the last 16 years …
It feels odd. I’m surrounded by mostly stay-at-home moms, although a couple of fathers have meandered in and out over the last hour. I’ll admit to feeling a bit of stress brought on, I think, by a nagging subconscious feeling that I should be somewhere–you know, doing something to earn a paycheck. I think that after 16 years of programming this feeling will not subside quickly or easily.
I think it will take some time for me to internalize that the world will keep spinning on its axis even if I don’t report to an office every Monday-Friday at 9 am; to see and experience first-hand how life is more rewarding and exciting when we’re doing our own thing and pursuing a productive passion; that we are more fulfilled without conspicuous consumption and living in a state of psychological freedom. I think I’ll be re-reading MMM’s blog from start to finish in the next few days. But first I have a planned trip to the grocery store.
11:00 am: Swim team practice is over and I have the kids headed to the store. I haven’t shopped for groceries on a regular basis since college, so this is a skill that I’ll have to re-learn–if I ever really learned it in the first place. A key piece of our financial strategy in this experiment is to appoint me–the frugal one–as “CPO” or Chief Procurement Officer for the household with the idea that I’ll be able to reduce our core expenses. In our prior arrangement it just was not feasible for me to be the CPO while working 50-60 hours a week (even though I was the CFO, and in that role I had many discussions with the then-current CPO regarding our procurement policies). We eventually realized we had a mismatch of skills and responsibilities–the frugal member of the team (me) was isolated from many of the consumption decisions while giving my life away to a job that I had no interest in, while the frugally challenged Mrs. JF was making the spending decisions but really wanted to be working on a business endeavor. We were swimming against the tide on both fronts. Not an ideal arrangement.
2:00 pm: After lunch and a failed attempt to get the 5-year-old to rest, I’m in the home office helping Mrs. JF out with her business venture. Since I’ve declared us financially independent for the time being, I was able to accept this position at a salary of $0. In the distance I can hear a lawnmower doing its thing, which is comforting. I logged a couple of hours as general counsel and CFO for the start-up.
4:30 pm: I had to make an additional trip to the grocery store to buy necessary supplies for the birthday party tomorrow (see Consumption Challenge No. 1: Kid birthday parties). That low-cost option is turning out to be not quite as economical as I had planned. I won’t point any fingers. A logistical snafu of this sort would have absolutely DESTROYED a normal Trapped In Work day. But for those of us experimenting with financial independence, it’s no big deal. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it.
9:00 pm: With the help of Mrs. JF I’ve got the kids in bed (but I still hear them giggling down the hall as I write this). Finally a moment to type these words into the computer and reflect on the day.
I’m more physically tired by comparison to the 9-6 office workday because I’ve been on my feet moving all day long–maybe increased exercise and improved health will be a side-benefit of this FI experiment. My concluding thought for the day is that I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this adventure.