Financial independence is definitely going mainstream. This past weekend, one of my fave blogs profiled a couple of young people who’d achieved financial independence in their early 30s. As a fellow millennial, I was super proud of their hard work and accomplishment, and despite their prickly dispositions, I’m glad there are now so many ambassadors for the movement. For all that is written about our generation being lazy, entitled and materialistic, so many of us are proving them wrong.
I personally stumbled on the FI concept after moving to a small Ontario town in 2009. I’d just graduated with my pharmacy degree and signed a contract to work about 2.5 hours northwest of Toronto. I felt so lucky to have a job that paid me a decent wage at a time when so many had lost their jobs, homes and savings in the aftermath of the GFC. So I started searching online for ways I could put my earnings towards a worthwhile endeavor since conspicuous consumption is out of line with my personal values, and saving money for the sake of saving money seemed pointless.
Early Retirement Extreme and Mr. Money Mustache were the first websites I found espousing the early retirement notions. I read them religiously but was often left wanting as they were far more hardcore about saving money than I was. I was not interested in enduring unnecessary hardship or living below the poverty level. But I also didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck and blow money frivolously on stuff that wouldn’t provide lasting happiness. I hoped to adopt my own version of FI where I could still spend on things that added joy to my life, while cutting out the unnecessary consumer junk. These days, there is much more available for the FI minded. You can use your passive income to fund a life of adventure and travel, a homestead in the woods, or just have more time to spend with your family.
So in my mind, chasing FIRE isn’t so much about ceasing employment, but rather having the option to reorganize priorities to match your personal values. True independence lies in being able to choose how you spend your days. And clearly, that’s something that most people can get behind.