FI or Financial Independence. A way of living frugally that can lead to a life of true independence and freedom. This was instantly intriguing to me. Who wouldn’t want to have the ability to sit on a beach all day somewhere with a cold drink?
The older I get, the more I realize my picture of FI was more like winning the lottery than it was about retirement.
According to a study by The Balance.com the average American only has $95,766 in retirement savings. I would assume that most people won’t be retiring like they won the lottery.
As I was growing up, my parents were always talking about money. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a discussion about investing, compounding interest, or savings. It seemed to always be a focus on how much things cost and how there wasn’t enough money to go around.
I decided right then that I didn’t want to have worry about money.
I went to college to learn how to be a software engineer and have made a very satisfying and rewarding career. At least initially.
I have reached my original goal. I have a career in the tech industry that puts a lot of money in my pocket, but also puts a lot of restriction on my time.
The always-on and completely accessible tech industry seems to never allow for you to completely disconnect. Add in the cost-reduction, “do less with more” mentality of most businesses and you get a life where it feels like you are always working.
Somewhere along the way I lost my creativity. Maybe due to burnout or being overworked. I’m not really sure.
I really enjoy the design piece of software engineering. Taking a look at a problem without any bias and discovering a solution. Or working a very complex issue, piecing the entire architecture together, and making recommendations to the customer to move the system towards a new vision.
This all started to change a few years ago, as I started to take on more responsibility. I forgot my passion for software engineering.
FI for me is more about freedom, than Financial Independence.
Once I started my journey towards FI I had a lot of time on my hands. I had to reevaluate my life. I realized what I had lost a vital piece of my life. Creativity!
I wanted that piece back. I started to take time to bring creativity back to my life both at work and outside of work. I began to take steps to limit how I felt about the responsibilities I had at work and I began to get more creative outside of work.
At work, I feel a sense of responsibility as a leader to my team and to my leadership that tends to expand into unrealistic proportions. I really had to refine my job for myself so that I had limits I could live within and yet still do my job. Taking a 15 minute break to walk outside and setting time constraints on tasks were two methods I used to limit my stress about my job as a leader and to allow for more creative time.
Outside of work, I began to delve more into photography and exploration. I started this blog. I planned more vacations. I face-timed with family and visited friends.
FI really gave me the freedom of choice. The freedom to choose how I spend my time both at work and outside of work. The freedom to take time off without pay to travel if I wanted. The freedom to retire early if I wanted.
As a single woman, this freedom is priceless. I don’t have someone else to lean on if times get tough. But I still have aging parents and others who depend on me. I want options. In my career and in my life.