Why FI?

I start­ed my new posi­tion at work 2 weeks ago, and a con­ver­sa­tion I’ve had with many dif­fer­ent peo­ple usu­al­ly goes like this: “How long have you been work­ing here? What did you do in your last posi­tion? How long are you here with us? What do you want to do when you’re done with your starter pro­gram?” (I’m in an Ear­ly Devel­op­ment Pro­gram that con­sists of 2 18-month rota­tions to gain expo­sure to dif­fer­ent aspects of the com­pa­ny. This is the start of my sec­ond rota­tion.)

A by prod­uct of this con­ver­sa­tion is I usu­al­ly end up men­tion­ing my FI plans and my blog. I’m some­what leery of talk­ing about it at work, since I’ve heard it can be counter pro­duc­tive to career pro­gres­sion, but for now I’ll talk about it. I’ve had a lot of unex­pect­ed encour­age­ment and sup­port for my plans from talk­ing about it, most­ly from upper man­age­ment, which helps affirm my choic­es. Peo­ple ask me, “If you don’t have to work, what will you do with your time?”

Oh boy. Maybe a bet­ter ques­tion is, what won’t I be doing? I have tons of hob­bies I’d like to mas­ter, I’d like to give back to some orga­ni­za­tions, I’d love to trav­el and heck I might even go back to school.

HOBBIES

One thing I’ve noticed since start­ing a full time job is that the things I enjoy doing are sim­ple, but time con­sum­ing. Going for a bike ride, quilt­ing, hik­ing, read­ing, going to the pool… all of them are (rel­a­tive­ly) low cost but take up hours of my time. When I only have 6 or 7 hours of “free time” on any giv­en work day, I usu­al­ly don’t have the time when all the oth­er nec­es­sary activ­i­ties of life are added in. Not only that, sit­ting in a cube for 8 hours a day star­ing at a com­put­er screen kills my brain. The last thing I want to do when I get home is think. Fig­ur­ing out how to cut the cor­rect sized pieces and sewing them togeth­er in the right order is often a daunt­ing task on a week­day.

I severe­ly dis­like that my brain pow­er and sweat equi­ty is going to a large cor­po­ra­tion. Yes, they give me mon­ey and oth­er ben­e­fits in exchange, and the world wouldn’t exist as it is with­out peo­ple work­ing, but fun­da­men­tal­ly I oppose it. I want to use my time and ener­gy to do things that will enrich my life, not just earn a name­less com­pa­ny mon­ey. Not only things that enrich my life, but poten­tial­ly other’s lives as well.

VOLUNTEERING

Grow­ing up, I was heav­i­ly involved with the Girl Scouts. I start­ed out as a Brown­ie in 2nd grade and went all the way through to my senior year of high school when I It's not camp without fire and s'mores!earned my Gold Award (the equiv­a­lent to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout Award). Going to camp every sum­mer was the high­light of my year. I LOVED going to camp, and I can hon­est­ly say a large part of my devel­op­ment as a per­son was heav­i­ly influ­enced by the sit­u­a­tions I faced and the peo­ple I met. Very few envi­ron­ments like camp exist when young girls have so much con­tact with old­er teenagers and 20 something’s. To me, the camp staff were my idols. I’d hap­pi­ly dis­obey my par­ents, but I would do any­thing pos­si­ble to avoid the wrath/disappointment from the staff. I’d be a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent per­son with­out camp, and it wouldn’t be for the bet­ter either.

The hap­pi­est sum­mer of my life was when it was my turn to be camp staff. I spent the sum­mer as a life­guard hang­ing out around the pool and teach­ing girls how to
canoe (with vary­ing degrees of suc­cess). To this day, I men­tor some of the campers I met and a few of my clos­est friends are fel­low staff.

The fol­low­ing sum­mer I didn’t go back. I would’ve loved noth­ing more than to do so, but I lit­er­al­ly couldn’t afford it. I was on the cusp of going to col­lege with no fam­i­ly sup­port so a job that only paid about $1500 for the sum­mer wasn’t near­ly enough to help. I instead got a job at a child care facil­i­ty that paid me clos­er to $5000 for the sum­mer.

That was the first time I chose to do some­thing that would pay me more mon­ey over some­thing I want­ed to do, and it wasn’t the last. My entire career choice was based on two ques­tions: “What career field is in demand?” and “What job will pay me the most mon­ey?” I stum­bled into Mr. Mon­ey Mustache’s blog in col­lege, so my whole goal since then has been to earn as much mon­ey as quick­ly as pos­si­ble so I can go back to doing what I want to do. I’d love to go back to camp dur­ing the sum­mers. If I was finan­cial­ly inde­pen­dent, it wouldn’t mat­ter that I was earn­ing the equiv­a­lent of $.23/hour. Then I could spend part of the year with fam­i­ly, and part of the year trav­el­ing!

TRAVEL

I’d absolute­ly love to trav­el. When I was younger, my family’s idea of a vaca­tion was going to vis­it rel­a­tives. We nev­er real­ly took vaca­tions in the tra­di­tion­al sense. I did get to go on a few Spring Break trips, but that was because a fam­i­ly friend invit­ed me on their fam­i­ly trips. I saved last year to take a trip to Aus­tralia, but I ran into that age old prob­lem of I have the mon­ey, but not the time. I was only able to stay for 3 weeks, and that was because I used up almost all of my vaca­tion time in con­junc­tion with com­pa­ny hol­i­day time over Christ­mas and New Years. I flew 26 hours (one way) to bare­ly scratch the sur­face. If I was finan­cial­ly inde­pen­dent, I could not only fly at a less expen­sive time of the year but I could stay as long as I want­ed to see every­thing on my wish­list (for that area, I’d like to vis­it the East Coast and New Zealand).

I’m going to Ecuador this Octo­ber for the annu­al FI blogger’s Chau­tauqua. It’s a week long retreat, with an option­al trip to the Gala­pa­gos Islands after­wards. I would love to go to the islands, but I don’t have that much vaca­tion time, so I’m not going to. I’d love to go and spend far longer than a week so I could explore all that Ecuador has to offer.

To me, the worst part about not being finan­cial­ly inde­pen­dent is being behold­en to some­one else’s sched­ule. I can only take vaca­tion at cer­tain points in the year and can only use as many vaca­tion days as I’ve been giv­en. I’m not free to do what I want, and I severe­ly dis­like that.Cottesloe Beach

TENTATIVE PLANS

How­ev­er, at a cer­tain point of sav­ing, I will have enough accu­mu­lat­ed to say “FU!!” and do what I want. Due to my mil­i­tary ser­vice, I have 4 years of col­lege tuition waivers that I haven’t used. I orig­i­nal­ly went into the Air Force to pay for school but then end­ed up get­ting a full-ride schol­ar­ship for aca­d­e­mics. I’ve con­sid­ered toss­ing around the idea of going back to col­lege to take class­es on sub­jects that actu­al­ly inter­est me. Not right now though. The thought of tests and home­work and projects on a dead­line still kills me inside. I’d love to get for­mal instruc­tion on a vari­ety of top­ics, but pri­mar­i­ly in var­i­ous art medi­ums. I love to quilt, I know how to knit, and I’d love to learn how to screen print, throw clay and learn wood­work­ing skills. My dream would involve mov­ing down to the St. Louis area for art class­es while get­ting sea­son tick­ets to all the Car­di­nals home games. I’m a 3rd gen­er­a­tion Car­di­nals fan and I con­sid­er it a shame that I’ve only been to a hand­ful of games in my life.

 

Basi­cal­ly, to me, finan­cial inde­pen­dence and retir­ing ear­ly is all about FREEEDOOOMMMM [works best if you say it Brave­heart style in your head]. The free­dom to do what I want and help make the world a bet­ter place for the gen­er­a­tions to come. Doesn’t that sound bet­ter than meet­ing dead­lines and spend­ing most of your time in a win­dow­less cube?

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