There are so very many reasons to want to be financially independent. Without a daily grind you have more time to spend with family, to pursue hobbies and interests, take afternoon, weekday naps… the list goes on and on. But it’s not just the destination of being FI that has so many benefits. Along the way, we have discovered that just learning the principals and optimization strategies to attain FI has completely changed our perspectives on life and how we make decisions for ourselves and our family. Confidently managing our finances creates decision making power for now and for the future.
A few years ago, (before we were exposed to the FI concept) I worked full time as a hairstylist in a busy salon in Downtown Portland. I had built a very successful career and was making lots of money. But after 16+ years of 12 hour days without breaks, on my feet with my arms up (and no naps), I had some significant chronic pain issues that I just could not get on top of. I was also burnt out. I had fantastic clients and felt proud of what I’d built but I it was just becoming drudgery. I felt guilty for wanting to quit something I worked so hard to build and was SO scared of not making enough money if I did something else that I put it off for a couple more years of pain-filled boredom. Mr. Bona Fide Money was also concerned about a significant income loss but was very aware of my discomfort so he finally convinced me to quit. Or he was tired of my whining. Either way works.
A couple months before I made my announcement to leave, I built a little salon in the spare bedroom in my home. My plan was to bring my client base from around 200 people down to around 40, only working a day or two a week. I had also gotten my real estate license since we had been buying, selling and managing our own rentals. I had helped a couple hair clients with their real estate issues so I felt I could transition my existing hair client base into a boutique real estate business. I didn’t know if people would actually be willing to give up the urban salon experience to come to my spare bedroom in the suburbs and there was no way to know how many houses I could expect to sell. It was terrifying.
It was also the best decision we ever made. Being home and able to manage more of what the kids and home needed gave Mr. Bona Fide Money some much needed support, I was able to focus on the physical therapy, exercise and rest that I needed to heal and manage my pain.
And guess what? I’m making more money than I ever have! My long term clients are like family and they love coming to my home (free parking doesn’t hurt). My real estate business is thriving with zero marketing effort on my part. In fact, it’s thriving a little too well. I’m now looking for ways to pull back a bit to preserve more of that hard won free time that is so important. I actually just TURNED DOWN a 1.2 million dollar listing! I had already helped the client purchase a condo and I was honored that she trusted me to help her sell her very expensive home. However, they were in the middle of a divorce and homes at that price range really need a team of people to manage the transaction and marketing and I don’t have a team. It just sounded like way more stress than I wanted to deal with, even after I calculated my commission (ouch). The old me would have made a decision based on fear of missing out on money and disappointing a client. The new me said “No thank you” and felt nothing but relief.
In hindsight, I had the tools and a good plan to pivot my career but fear kept me from doing it for years. All that miserable stress was not necessary.
Being able to turn down thousands (and thousands) of dollars in exchange for peace of mind and free time IS what financial independence is all about. Eliminating fear from our decision making process is key. I may not be ready to quit my day job entirely, but with the financial skills we learn through this community, we can confidently create the lives we want to live now and in the future. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 2:30 on Wednesday so it’s time for my nap.