Financial Independence/Early Retirement Comes In Many Flavors

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15 Responses

  1. I definitely agree. Working diligently at a life you hate for a decade or more to reach FI quicker is probably not a great idea. Life’s journey is just as important as the destination. Going along with that there is no guarantee you will make it to that destination. You could leave this planet the day before FI, in which case you’ve not enjoyed anything. As such going towards FI should be a situation of balance in my opinion. However it’s also easy to fall for the grass is always greener on the other side. IE most of us are not drug king pins, we fall somewhere on the spectrum. That means you have to be very careful if you do decide to make a change to ensure its the right one.

    • Joe Freedom says:

      Thanks for the great comment FTF. We’re on the same page. In a prior post I made a similar point: I’m about 5 months into the “early retirement” phase, but I don’t have any guarantee that I get a tomorrow. If the gig is up for me tonight at the stroke of midnight, I will have worked 16 years for only 5 months of “RE” phase. That’s not a trade that I would choose to enter into! So it’s important to put yourself in a position where you are enjoying today while also planning for tomorrow. And I totally agree with your second point–it is important to be thoughtful and deliberate with respect to any major career change. No matter how bad any particular situation is, if you’re not careful you could end up in something worse. I had something of an experience along those lines early in my career; now that I think about it, that’s probably a topic for another post.

  2. Joe, this is an excellent read. I think you managed to capture and synthesize a bunch of the issues relevant to “FI _ _” and career and much else.

    My feeling is that many of the choices we make about complex things like career are affected by a great deal of uncertainty at the time those initial decisions are rendered. Those early (often poor) choices then lock us into pathways that provide opportunities for smaller decisions as we go. The trouble is many of those subsequent decisions can get influenced by how we arrived at that point, and we can make choices at those junctures that, though the best alternative at that moment, only worsen the impact of poor choice we initially made – e.g., an unhappy lawyer accepting a partner position that compounds the problem of becoming a lawyer in the first place. Stuff like this is “path dependency,” and it’s a terribly tough thing to deal with in personal choice. All of which is to say I agree with your analysis here, and I applaud your bro Jake for having the strength (like you) to chart a new course.

    A very good read as is customary here. Thanks!

    • Joe Freedom says:

      Thanks for the comment FL! The imagery of path dependency operating as a funnel that is gradually narrowing our options based on prior big-picture decisions is instructive. Interestingly, I do recall at various points in my decision tree thinking that if I was wrong in my analysis/decision to pursue law, at least it was a profession that would allow for multiple different opportunities and paths. This is probably mostly true for law in theory, but in practice it takes a lot of courage and maybe creativity to explore alternative unorthodox paths. And to bring the discussion full circle with the theme of the post, if you haven’t bought yourself a sufficient amount of financial freedom, these alternative paths may not be financially viable. Fortunately that’s one decision I got (mostly) right, and therefore I had options of the unorthodox variety. If I’m applying this concept correctly, the idea of path dependency applies with particular potency to personal finance choices. Early decisions such as how much student debt you accept, where you live (city, house, etc.), can dramatically narrow the paths that are available down the road. An early decision to buy Freedom in lieu of stuff allows us to keep more options open. Thanks for making me think!

  3. I’m aiming to be a FIRK who enjoys a good firkin. Looks like a tasty lineup in the picture — Hopslam, Sucks, Fresh Squeezed, Jai Alai, All Day… somebody likes hops.


  4. Great article about choosing to follow your passion versus working for the almighty dollar! Thanks for the reminder and great explanation!

  5. I love this. I have to admit, as someone who is raising children and the main breadwinner in my family, I can’t always relate to the early retirement philosophy. I don’t want my current years to be all about scrimping and saving so that I can finally start enjoying myself once my children are gone! I mean, I hope my husband and I do enjoy ourselves then, but I need to figure out how to make life work now, in these special years when my children are young. There is no chance of my not working right now. Early retirement is a non-starter, but perhaps the dream of a happier/ better work situation is within the realm of possibility, even if for those who are not totally financially independent. I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future, but sometimes when you have small kids, the present matters just as much.

    • Joe Freedom says:

      Totally agree Linda. We all have an obligation to be prudently planning for the future, but when your existence becomes exclusively one of idealizing tomorrow–at the cost of a miserable today–that’s a problem. I don’t know how prevalent this issue is today, but it’s certainly something that I experienced. Thanks for the visit and the awesome comment!


  6. Arrgo says:

    I think you are bringing up many truths here that most people over look. While maybe not ideal, any job can be done for a while for the money, perks, etc. But you also have to ask yourself how many good years of your life to you want to give up for this just for the money? Do you want to wake up and be 55 or 60 and still be working for a lousy company/ bad boss, playing their games/ politics, and doing a job you don’t really give a sh*t about? I agree that finding a better situation doing a job you find more fulfilling is the better path. If it takes you longer to be FI then so be it. And on the plus side, if you really like your profession you will likely have much more longevity. You won’t mind working full-time/ part-time longer which will also have some financial benefits. I actually don’t mind working, but I really despise a lot of the BS I’ve seen in the corporate world.

  7. Agreed. In the legal field, it always surprises me to find people that absolutely hate working as a lawyer but want to do so for “five years” in order to get some kind of leg up. Do they not realize how incredibly long five years of misery will be and what it will do to their psyche?? I’d venture even further than you to say that it’s not just financial independence that gives you this kind of optionality, it’s any type of aggressive savings plan that puts you in a position where an extended job loss would only be a bump in the road for you and not a total disaster.

    I often have conversations with junior associates that goes like this: Are you stressed about your upcoming annual review? Think about how much of that is because you have $200K in student loan debt. How would you feel if you walked in with no debt? How about with no debt in and $200K in assets? They get so much easier each year!

    • Joe Freedom says:

      Good stuff Biglaw. Agreed on all points. And not only does having optionality improve your psychological quality of life, but I think it also makes you more confident and attractive on the job–potentially moving you up the ranks quicker (thereby boosting income and, if you’re smart, reducing the entrapment period). When I came out of law school I was incredibly fortunate to have no student debt (state schools for undergrad and law). So after receiving literally my first paycheck and banking a big chunk of it, I had options. I can imagine how different my perspective would have been if I was carrying a big six-figure student-loan balance at the time. Much more stress. But because I knew almost immediately that the Biglaw gig just wasn’t me, I always had the attitude that if they asked me to leave TODAY, I’d be fine with it (and I’d be financially OK). I think that gave me something of an Office Space-type vibe where I climbed even faster. There are many benefits to getting your financial house in order!

  1. January 7, 2017

    […] Flavors of financial independence […]

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