It’s been almost five years since planting my financial independence flag and I want to share with you some thoughts on how life has been since. Before neutering my day job income I feared whether I was doing the right thing financially. What I realized is that the fear of running out of money in early retirement is completely overblown because we are adaptable and resourceful.
Nobody here is too proud to work a minimum wage job if disaster strikes. Nobody here is too selfish not to help out a family member or friend in need. Nobody here is too lazy not to hustle. You will find ways to make things work. Do not worry.
Here are three main points I want to share after achieving FIRE.
Lessons Learned After Financial Independence
1) You change for the better. There’s this wonderful term called “F U Money” out there that’s idealized by people who can’t wait to have it. Who doesn’t want to have enough money so they can tell their micromanager or high school bully to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine? I know I did. But the reality is that having enough money makes you more empathic towards other people’s struggles. Your insecurities melt away once you’ve achieved your goals.
If you look at the Financial Samurai archives between 2009 – 2012, you’ll notice a more irreverent tone with lots more comments on each post (see Most Commented Posts on the right column on your laptop). Now, despite the site being 10X larger, there’s less comments on each post because less people are agitated by what I have to say. I’ve spent much more time listening to other people’s perspectives and taking them into consideration when writing a post. I’ve also spent a lot more time responding to comments with less snark. You’d think the opposite would happen.
Having money makes you care more, not less.
2) You realize financial independence is just one stop. Life is like a juicy novel. You don’t want to die before reaching the last chapter because that’s where you THINK the excitement and satisfaction lies. What a shame to never find out whodunnit. The reality is the greatest excitement resides right in the middle where you’re struggling to get ahead. It’s just hard to see when you’re in the mix of things.
The last chapter in volume I is rarely satisfying because you realize there’s volume II to look forward to. You simply put your past behind and look forward to a new challenge. In my case, the next volume is starting a family and doing everything possible to be a good father.
3) The greatest reward is helping other people. Once you achieve financial independence, making more money starts feeling like a game. It’s fun to tinker with new income generating methods because there is no downside. But sooner or later you’ll find the joy of making more money to be meaningless. It’s why there are plenty of unhappy rich people. They haven’t fully tethered their wealth towards a cause they are passionate about.
I want to help as many people achieve financial independence ASAP before and after I die. The internet is the best way to achieve this goal because access to my site is free and the content will live on forever. Everybody has something valuable to share. Screw the $50,000 a year in college tuition where only the wealthiest or smartest people with the most connections get to attend. Today is about giving access to everyone who wants to learn.
Every single comment or e-mail from a reader who says how an article I wrote helped them lead a better life gives me a “power up” to keep on going. It’s easy to do nothing once you’ve taken care of yourself and your family. But I see the readers here as an extended family.
Here’s a handwritten note I received not too long ago.
Keep On Fighting
The sacrifices you make today will be worth it. I have no regrets sharing a studio with another fella in my early 20s in order to save money. Yes, it was embarrassing bringing people over at times, but who cares. I have no regrets waking up by 5am to work on my side-hustles before work in order to one day break free. Yes, hearing the alarm go off when it’s pitch black outside while you’re in the middle of a lovely dream is painful, but you’ll get used to it.
You will regret more of the things you don’t do than the things you try. Once you find that wonderful purpose, you’ll go on forever. Keep on fighting!
Readers, why do you want to achieve financial independence? For those who’ve achieved financial independence, how has life been like for you?