By Amy, from Women Who Money
Being financially independent (FI) – or very close to it – gives you the flexibility to embrace new opportunities, and deal more easily with challenging life situations you may have never even imagined.
When I first embarked on the FI journey in 2013, it was all about chasing freedom.
Initially, I dreamt of escaping from a soul-sucking job to enjoy a life of more travel and adventure. Freedom on the open road, so to speak. To have more time for myself and my immediate family, without worrying about earning a paycheck to pay for it all.
I’ve since been learning the benefits of financial independence aren’t all so self-centered.
Financial Independence Provides Flexibility
Life happens. Many times it’s amazing, full of fun and good blessings. Sometimes it’s messy and stressful. Other times it seems unfair and overwhelmingly difficult, if not impossible, to navigate.
But I can tell you without a doubt, it’s so much easier if you’re financially independent.
Recently some blogging friends, Mr. & Mrs. PIE, from Plan, Invest, & Escape, shared a heartbreaking story of illness after achieving financial independence and retiring early (FIRE).
Mrs. PIE here. 👋— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
I’m sorry to say that it’s time for us to shut down our little blog.😥
It has been gathering dust for a while, and not because we retired early and sailed off into the sunset without even a goodbye
The truth is a heartbreaking story that we want to share.
A seizure sent him to the ER. Just 4 months to the day from retiring he had brain surgery to remove a mango sized Glioblastoma.— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
Glioblastoma is an extremely aggressive and incurable brain cancer.
Needless to say this is not the retirement we envisioned. Hiking, skiing, traveling etc is no longer on the agenda. But thank goodness we are retired. We don’t have to worry about missed work and lost salaries.— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
In true PF blogger style we feel we should share some…
“…thank goodness we are retired. We don’t have to worry about missed work and lost salaries.”
When dealing with a serious illness of your own or a loved one’s, something you don’t want to worry about is money.
The 3rd quarter of 2019 has been a doozy for me personally. Nowhere near as heartbreaking as our friends at PlanInvestEscape, but unexpected, challenging, and stressful nonetheless.
Unanticipated and totally out of the blue, a family matter arose that I’m now in the midst of dealing with. With my uncle’s passing and my aunt’s dementia, taking on the responsibility of guardianship/conservatorship for her is quickly becoming a job in itself.
I’m spending countless hours visiting my aunt, purchasing her supplies, taking her to appointments, fielding phone calls, doing her banking and paying her bills, cleaning out her house and preparing it for sale. And it’s only just beginning.
As a result, I’ve missed time with my new infant grandson and my granddaughter, as well as time with other family and friends. I’ve been unable to spend as much time on my business as I’d like, my fitness routine is inconsistent, and time for my other passion projects and hobbies is nonexistent.
If my financial house was not in order, I would still be handcuffed to a job and not able to so easily assist my aunt with her health and financial affairs. And I sure as hell would be a lot more stressed.
You Need Flexibility
In your 20’s and 30’s you might not yet feel “sandwiched in” between generations, but you may want (or need) the flexibility to stay home with a child, or care for a spouse, or parent.
As you hit your 40’s and 50’s you’re likely to hear or experience more stories like Mr. & Mrs. PIE’s and my own. Helping your aging parents with their finances is one thing. Having the flexibility to manage their life is another.
Being financially independent for the freedom it provides so you can leave a job you don’t love or pursue a dream of travel and adventure is worth a few sacrifices to achieve.
Being FI for the flexibility it provides to embrace an opportunity or challenge you never dreamed of, is worth much more than just a few sacrifices to achieve.
valuable things we have learned along the way.— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
1. Don’t think that you can ‘healthy lifestyle’ yourself out of needing great medical insurance. Brain cancer is rare, but unpredictable no-fault things can, and do happen
2. When budgeting for early retirement be prepared to pay your full health insurance out-of-pocket max in any one year. Or maybe in every year.— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
3. Our saving grace has been our conservative planning. We planned a very low withdrawal rate with plenty of wiggle room. Our FIRE budget has been changed significantly, and now things to be frugal about are simply paid for. Cleaners, landscapers, childcare….— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
4. “if necessary we’ll just go back to work”. We said it because it’s easy to say when retiring early, it’s a nice safety net. What if going back to work is no longer an option?— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
5. If and when you’re ready to pull the plug on work, or to make a major lifestyle change, JUST DO IT! Don’t wait. Cliché coming….tomorrow is not guaranteed.— PlanInvestEscape (@Mr_MrsPieBlog) September 4, 2019
If you made it this far into my tweet, congrats!
I’ll leave you with this…..
Achieving financial independence is challenging in and of itself, and while it may be an impossibility for some, it is indeed possible for many with the right mindset.
I hope obtaining FI is a challenge you’ll embrace for your own freedom and flexibility because the benefits are indeed priceless.
But please consider the advice from Mr. & Mrs. PIE above when doing your planning. You don’t want to rush FI – ensure you’ve considered your insurance options and funding, be conservative when planning, understand you may not be able to “go back to work someday”, but by all means don’t get caught in “analysis paralysis” either – Just do It!