Whatever you read about simplicity, you’ll often find some connection with the topic of financial independence. And its obvious why you do, as it can be rather challenging to merely try to survive in this world, if you don’t have means to sustain yourself.
Here in the internet, probably the most famous Financial Independence (FI from now on) blog and “guru” is Mr. Money Moustache(MMM), He, like many others, blogs about his own lifestyle and what strategies he discovered to work best that allow him and his family to live a healthy, fun life, without needing to “work-to-live”. The concept of FI you’ll find in most websites and blogs generally sums up to a few basic things:
- stash some good amount of money (what is “good” depends on your age, situation, etc)
- invest that money in stocks, funds or the like, so that you can have a good regular income from your savings and investments
MMM goes a bit beyond this, and perhaps that’s why I like him so much, and includes the idea that you should live a simple life, reduce your fixed expenses to the maximum, consider some frugality, making wiser choices when you spend money, etc.
I came to realize that my own concept of FI is a bit different from what you commonly find, and I’ll explain why.
In my life, my values come first. I’m unable to do something, or support something – directly or indirectly – if I feel it is not the right thing to do, no matter how convenient or helpful for me it might be.
One thing about this whole system we live in that I can not support is the capitalism system. This whole economic model is not only seriously flawed as it is responsible for a lot of suffering and inequality in this world. The stock market is a key part of it. It’s a casino where people and big corporations play with money, some get rich, others ruin their lives. Gambling with money in a broken system is not something I can do, as it would not be consistent with my beliefs and values.
Now, I played in the stock market before. I lost some money and I made some money. I know how easy and tempting it might be to rely on it for increasing your wealth. But we should, above all, be human beings focused on our values.
And if I have these values, I need to live according to them. It would not be right of me to say this, and then rely on stocks or similar products, to get my FI.
So, what is my definition of FI?
I don’t see FI so much as “what strategy can I adopt to get free money for the rest of my life?” but rather “what strategy can I adopt to be able to generate money for the rest of my life?”.
I like to “work”! I like to do things that I like to do. I actually like to feel productive and to contribute to society in a healthy and sustainable way. I just strongly dislike the “bullshit jobs” that we are all victim of(check the articles in my Links page to get to know more about this). I hope I will be able to “work” until the day I die. And so, for me, FI is about being able to independently, find ways to work and earn my living, without depending on a third-party to accept me to work and pay me for that work.
Over the years, as I tune my life style and “work”, I’ve been trying – and keep on trying – different things. As of today, I don’t belong to any company. I run several different activities that allow me to generate some money here and there, and with that I’ve been able to keep my FI, my free time, and free will. Not easy and not yet in that place where I can say its stable enough to live by, but I keep trying.
It’s very unlikely (although possible), that with a strategy like this you will get rich or be able to stash a lot of savings. But I don’t care so much about that. Although it’s important to have a safety cushion for possible emergencies, my take on this matter is not so much in increasing my income but reducing my expenses (a key aspect of FI).
So instead of looking for more work, I keep looking at how to reduce all the costs of my life, simplifying more things, needing less, while ensuring that my family is happy and has all the essential things.
This reminds me of a teaching from Masanobu Fukuoka and his natural farming method. He talked about how in farming and science people kept asking “what else can we do? how can we improve?” and he came to a point where he started asking “what else can I stop doing?”. Letting things be themselves and nature take its course, instead of interfering with it and thus creating more problems to fix.