On the first day of my first ‘real’ job after finishing university, my boss gathered all of the new hires into a meeting room. A group of around ten, all college educated, fresh faced and wearing suits slightly too large for us. One by one, my boss asked us why we had were there – every answer echoing a variation of ‘to establish my career in finance’ or ‘because I want to help our clients succeed’. But why was my boss there? What made him get up and come to work in the morning? We found out soon enough – ‘I’m only here for one thing – money.’
Well the money wasn’t great, and the job wasn’t either. Within three months only a few of us newbies remained, by six months I was the only one. After progressing as far through the company as I felt possible, I put in my two weeks notice and moved on to greener pastures. The grass may have been greener, but one thing stuck with me. The only reason I go to work is because I need to get paid, establish a life for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I quite enjoy my job – but in the middle of winter when I need to drag myself out of bed in the dark and out into the freezing cold world I wonder what it would be like to be able to sleep in. If I didn’t need to go to work to make a living, I wouldn’t go. I travelled to Thailand on holidays for a month a few years back, spending my days lounging around hotels, eating street food and riding elephants. I was miserable the whole first month after my return – rudely reawakened to a world where my workload hadn’t paused in my absence, but merely piled up for my return.
This is how I decided at age 25 that there had to be a better way to spend my days. I don’t want to go to a job just to earn money to buy things I don’t need. I’d much rather spend my time elsewhere – renovate a property, maybe learn how to build a piece of furniture. Of course if I relied on these activities to earn a living, they would become a chore and I would grow to dislike them. It’s also highly improbable that I could make enough money to live comfortably doing these things as I have no training or skill.
For me, financial independence is freedom. I aim to eliminate my debts and build a portfolio of investments which provides sufficient income for me to live comfortably without being tied to an occupation. This will allow me to spend my days doing activities I enjoy, learning skills I might have never considered. I’ll probably always work in some capacity, but being able to dictate the amount and type of work is the goal.
Sounds easy right? After all, I’m young and earn a reasonable income. Despite this, my journey will take me the next decade and quite probably longer. I have a mortgage of over $350,000 to clear, followed by squirrelling away enough assets to provide for my living. Most people spend a lifetime getting to that point, and many still fall short and end up retiring on government assistance. In my mind, it’s worth the time, effort and sacrifice to secure my future and buy back years of my time otherwise wasted. As they say – ‘live like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later’.