It’s that time of the year again, when I take some time off from the crazy merry-go-round of life and reflect. Taking in what was and was not accomplished. This year marks 10 years since I first started learning about financial independence and without realizing it, I have had some pretty wonderful extra bonuses.
In honor of my 10 year anniversary, I am listing out my top 10 BONUS lessons on top of building a financial nest egg. Here we go:
10. Built a Solid Financial Foundation.
Admittedly, whenever I take on a big project, I am slow to start. The first 3 years I did a ton of research, talking to people who have achieved FIRE, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, reading books and articles on financial independence and defining what that would look like for me and my family. All that self-education gave me such a strong foundation. From that point on I was quick to build and make decisions with laser focus. Reading other people’s stories made me realize I can do this and even if I saved for one year, I would be better off than where I am today.
9. Free from the Joneses.
I used to live in a big house, in a nice neighborhood. Everyone’s lawn so nicely manicured with nice cars parked out front. I would say to my mom how my life was such a mess and the neighbors “have it all”. She would remind me that “when their front door shuts and the porch light is off, you have no idea what goes on”. I stopped measuring myself against what I thought they had and live according to what is important to me.
8. More Appreciation for little moments.
Every year, I budget a 1-1 trip with each of my kids. On the trip we do one big activity. One year, my daughter wanted to go horseback riding. I surprised her with horseback riding on the beach.
That summer, we drove out to the beach and stayed in this little hotel across the street from a small grocery store. We played bocce ball on the beach, went window shopping, hiking, got up late, laid on the beach, had our one fancy night out for dinner (all dressed up and everything) and of course, the big one, horseback riding. It was a ton of fun! Driving home, I asked her, of all the things we did, what was her most favorite. She immediately answered playing bocce ball on the beach. It was at that moment I realized, we don’t have to wait for our once a year summer trip to have little special moments.
7. Less stress.
I use to worry all the time about losing my job, paying my bills and staying out of debt. Two lessons freed me of that worry. One, was learning how to budget. Cutting expenses that were really fillers (dining out, groceries, and general discretionary expenses). Controlling those expenses, never cut the fun out of our lives. Two, building an emergency fund to what I felt comfortable with and not spending it on vacations or gifts. Having that emergency fund lets me sleep at night.
6. Money Flows Where Energy Goes.
I am not a New Year’s Resolution kind of person. My goals are an ever evolving, active list of priorities that are marked complete, in progress, not started and revolve around family (summer trips), friends (get togethers), career, side business ideas, financial investments and personal (physical and spiritual). Having my goals keeps me focused on where my energy needs to “flow”. 😉
5. Put Every Dollar To Work.
When the kids are quite, they are probably up to no good. Just like children, if you don’t keep your money busy, it will get into trouble or worse get lost. I automatically put every dollar to work in some fashion. Tracking month to month expenses, even when I only focus on groceries, dining out and other discretionary spending continues to be a big eye opener.
4. More Freedom.
The definition of financial independence is personal to each of us. We don’t have to be in the top 1% to be living a financially independent life. What I learned is that because I can live on less, I have the freedom to do more. I can take a sabbatical for an extended period of time and fund it myself. I can take a job that I love, even if the pay is less. That is the true beauty of living financially independent.
3. Purging Stuff.
Twice a year, we purge our home. We look to streamline, giving us less stuff to keep track of and maintain. Living with FIRE means having less but ending up with more of what is important. End result, we either donate or give it to families who could actually use it. It’s a win-win.
2. Your future is now.
Making financial independence a priority meant thinking that my future is today. Why wait 40 more years to enjoy life? Why not make financial independence a goal within 15 years (or less) and enjoy life today?
Early on, I was scared. All the “what if” questions would fill my head. At the end of the day, I had a laundry list of excuses to continue the way its always been. Financial independence isn’t about not working, it’s about having the freedom to do work that fills your soul. It’s about having time to spend with the people that matter. It’s about having “me” time. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?
1. Mindset Change.
This was the biggest take away. Being on this financial independence journey is not and never was a destination. Accumulating money was never the goal. It was learning that money is a tool. A tool we leverage to live a life that makes us happy with the people we love. Money won’t buy happiness and we can enjoy life in the little moments.
The best part, there is literally no down side to joining the FIRE movement. Even one year will put you further than you thought. Leverage direct deposit. Start small if you are unsure. Then increase the percentage every year or sooner. You will be surprised at how little a fulfilled life actually costs. Bonus, if you have children, you can pass on these lessons through your own actions. Start today. There is no better time.
GRAB YOUR SLICE,
Pie Lady FI