Today I’m going to reflect on how very good Mr. FI and I have it now that we are on the road to being FI. It’s not often enough that I sit down and actually think about how this journey we’ve embarked upon has changed our lives for the better in so many ways that we did not imagine. Not only in the obvious ways, such as being able to leave the rat race behind and have more time to do things we love, but in other aspects of our daily lives as well. As in changes happening right now.
One big change that I’ve come to realize is how aggressively saving money for retirement has decreased our stress about having money, and changed how we view happiness and what causes/creates it. This is something I often forget as my mind is usually caught up on what having that money will do for us in the future. But what about now? Sure, that money is for early retirement and that’s where we hope to put it, ultimately. But in the case where one of us loses our job or something unexpected happens where we both can’t work, let me tell you, knowing that we have money in the reserves is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
Striving to become FI can garner future benefits, but current ones as well.
As I’ve mentioned briefly in a previous post, the future at my current company is up “in the air.” I may still be working for them by the end of the year, or I may work for a new company if we are bought out. Or, our site may close altogether and I’ll have to find a different place of work and dust off the ol’ résumé. On top of all that potential change, there’s no official end date in sight. So my security blanket of planning is out the window (sounds like a planner’s worst nightmare…oh wait, that’s me).
When finding out I no longer had job security, I had mixed emotions. Shock for one, but also relief*. I did not believe our company being sold was an option. Up until last month, my coworkers and I were under the impression that our part of the business made our company a good amount of money and was therefore “instrumental” and a “safe” part of the business to work for. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be sold – at least any time in my time there. This was the first “secure” job and paycheck I’d ever had. But I suppose that’s a lesson in itself.
No job is secure. That’s another great reason to seek financial independence.
Along with this little epiphany, another one dawned on me that wouldn’t have had it’s full effect unless I was there to see the panic set in around my building first hand. I was one of few (if any) of my coworkers that was not worried about “making it” if I were to lose my jobs in the next few months.
That’s right, I’ll say it again.
I did not stress for one millisecond about how losing my job might affect Mr. FI’s and my livelihood. There was no worry about how we would make our next house payment. No worry about if we’d be able to pay for food or electricity if we were to lose my next paycheck. In fact, the moment I found out that I may not have a job by the end of the year, the only worry that popped into my brain was:
Oh no…are we going to be able to afford the kitchen remodel we’d been planning for the last year???
Suddenly I realized how unimportant my “worry” was in comparison to probably 85% of people in my building. It was a “rich person problem.” But that can’t be right…we’re not rich. Or are we? According the the definition of rich on Dictionary.com, it seems we are.
While we make a good number of thousands less per year that other people in the FI blogging community and are much further from our FI goal than many, we are by definition, rich.
It’s hard not to look out into the FI community sometimes and think that we’re behind, in both income and achievements. There are many blogs written by people in professions involving engineering of some kind, bringing in the big bucks and killing it in the savings department. Then there’s us–relatively simple financial careers, just starting out and not knowing what we’re fully capable of yet. But then scenarios like this happen, outside of that “we-have-it-together” community, and we realize, “Hey…we’re doing pretty darn good.” It’s a reality check and I’m glad I was fortunate enough to see it.
So no matter where you are in the FIRE community, making mullah out your ears or a modest salary, it’s pretty cool to know that by working to reach your financial goals of the future, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised about your present financial situation as well (in fact, you may even be rich!). One of the biggest benefits of having and understanding money is realizing what it can do for you. In our case, it’s given us the ability to sit back and see what happens with my job instead of worrying about if we’ll make it before I find the next one. And if that’s not a reason to figure out your finances, I don’t know what is.
*While I actually really do like my job and the company I work for (it does have its flaws, of course, but what job doesn’t?), I’m excited to have the opportunity forced upon me to really consider what I want to do next. To do so without the worry of having to find something right away is a relieving bonus.
How about you? Do you consider yourself rich? How has your pursuit of FI or ER changed your life?