It has been a great month, lots of celebration, good time spent with family, friends, a whole lot of good food, smiles with gifts both given and received. I’m sad to see it end. Why can’t all months be like this? As I reflect back over the month I was trying to pinpoint why this December over many other in my life was so special. I could easily say it’s because we are now debt free, the burden, the stress of the $109K hanging over our heads is now gone, that’s part of it for sure, but what really made it special was time, my time.
Of the 31 days in the month of December, I enjoyed 18 days off. They were a combination of vacation, Holidays and weekends only working for 13 days in the month. This time allowed me to travel with my wife to visit family, attend a wedding, finish Holiday preparation, share laughs with my three children, enjoy extra time with extended family, act as children chauffeur to events, sleep in if I wanted too. Now I do a lot of these things during normal months, but they are often rushed, a bit stressful because I’m typically working a minimum of 45 hours a week, and I’m on call 24×7. So my free time to take part in these events is limited, it always being pinched to move on to the next thing. All these extra time really made this an extra special month. My next logical thought is how can I duplicate this month, financial independence. What’s Financial Independence you ask? Let’s dig in.
Financial independence is generally defined as having enough personal wealth to live without having to actively work. Most people call it retirement. This is typically thought of after completing a career of say 25-30 years and leaving the workforce to enjoy free time. I posted about extreme early retirement back in 2013. A concept I haven’t given much thought of again until this past month. In between our focus was debt repayment, but now having that complete and having the time off this month got me thinking, can we achieve financial independence? I’d sure like to try.
Start as early as possible – I missed that boat I’m about to turn 45.
Avoid customer debt – strike two, good news we have now cleaned up that mess.
Don’t keep up with the Joneses and slash expenses – We are somewhere in the middle here, we could tighten our belt a bit.
Have passive income, income generating assets or a side hustle – This is a work in progress for us. My wife and I have our 9 to 5’s.
Invest for the long-term – We have investments, one of 2015 goals is to increase our investment rate to 15%.
We have certainly got a late start to maximize the FI plan, and we do plan on helping our three children fund their college tuition. With that said I still think with some hard work and some corner-cutting we can trim some years off the steady weeks of 45 to 50 hour work weeks and being tied to a phone all hours of the night in our careers to enjoy some of that free time I experienced this month. In the meantime, we can maximize our PTO to enjoy extra time doing what we enjoy the most.
Have you considered FI and a plan for getting there? How do you balance time between work and home life?