He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.–Friedrich Nietzsche
To succeed on the path to financial independence and/or early retirement, we can definitely connect with the “bear almost any how” portion of that statement. Some of us take great pleasure in the how, especially the nitty gritty techniques and planning opportunities.
However, lately I have been spending a lot more time thinking about the “has a why to live” portion. In this stage of my FI journey, all of the strategies and techniques have been set in place. I have already set up automatic savings, we don't really budget anymore, and all that is left is to make money and everything else handles itself.
Nowadays, I spend more of my time thinking about my motivations and what life after Financial Independence really looks like. Listening to the Why of FI episode of the ChooseFI podcast probably didn't hurt either! Here's why I'm pursuing financial independence.
The good old bucket list
Despite having worked since I was in middle school, I have never quite liked the idea of working when comparing it to all the things I can do instead. I have tons of hobbies, all of which I could see myself devoting a lot of time to. Having a full-time job, a home, and family to take care of, I don’t get near as much time to devote to my hobbies as I would like.
My bucket list includes a lot of traveling (at least 20 trips or destinations at the moment), tackling a fixer-upper home (or building one myself), and activities that take a significant amount of time like hiking the entire Great Wall of China and the Appalachian Trail.
All of these bucket list items could be a lifetime of their own. Retiring early will allow me to pursue some of these goals that simply can’t be done on my four weeks of vacation time a year.
Being an accountant and financial planner, I've worked with numbers and money for roughly 10 years. During that time, I have thought a lot about how I’d love to never have to think about money again. I figure if I have enough money to meet my needs, I’ll be set. I realize that old habits die hard, but currently, I fantasize about that day.
I’m not sure if it's anxiety about not having enough or the way I was raised, but I’ve always thought a lot about money. I doubt money thoughts will go away when we retire, but I wonder if a guaranteed income source like an annuity would put my mind at ease.
I have read about providing a guaranteed floor of income via an annuity. This is an interesting option, but I probably won't get a reasonable payout given the extremely long benefit period I will expect with early retirement. It's much more likely that I will achieve a very conservative safe withdrawal rate of 3-3.5% and set up automatic withdrawals to my checking account to show up on a biweekly basis just like a paycheck.
Over the last few years, I have gotten more and more into the self-sufficiency movement. I take great pleasure in raising my own vegetables (fruit in the future!). I also harvest my own meat and catch my own seafood. The main goal here is seeing whether I can provide for myself and my family with control over the inputs. I also just want healthier and better-tasting food!
One of my bucket list items is to be entirely self-sufficient for one year. To accomplish this, I will essentially need to establish a working farm with livestock and produce. This, I'm sure will take me multiple years to master. In reality, it is likely that I will have a homestead-type operation and provide a portion of my family’s diet.
I wish more people took the opportunity to raise their own food. It’s not complicated and has serious health and environmental benefits. It will demonstrably impact your budget. And it just tastes better! Successfully growing green beans in a garden plot can produce roughly 120 pounds of beans from 100 feet of a planted row! Tomatoes are projected to produce roughly two pounds per plant. However, my production has always been significantly higher than this estimate.
Finally, having a child has changed my perspective somewhat. Hearing how other FIRE’d folks are able to spend time with their children through their most formative years has provided another element to my “why.”
I want to be around our daughter more. Especially as she grows up and is figuring out what she's interested in. Being able to hang out after school with her and help with homework, or just keep her away from boys is good enough motivation I’d say!
In the end, there seems to be so much more to life than surviving the daily grind.
How about you? What motivates you to pursue your journey to financial independence?