Money is Not the Goal
With all the talk about savings, rental properties, income, frugality, investing, debt payoff, and side hustles it would be easy to think that money is our sole focus. I can already hear you now: “But, Mr. RRR, all of these topics, and every other article you have, ties into money in pretty overt ways. But money is just a tool to reach the goal. Money is a means to an end. And the “end” goal is to steal our lives back for ourselves.
How many of you, or how many people do you know that are slaves to their job. There are many ways that someone could be a slave to their job, or many reasons, but the results are the same.
- There is someone we know who is stretched so thin, that if they don’t get a full 40 hours of work in a week, they might have to skip a meal at some point in the next couple weeks. But, this person eats out every day at lunch, bought an oversized house that they live in by themselves, and just realized that they could “afford” another car payment and lo-and-behold they roll up with a new SUV.
- There’s also the age-old story of the dad, or mother, who is never home because they are working their entire life away. This person misses time with their friends, spouses, and children because they believe that working 60+ hours a week will give them more money to give their family a better life. And they are giving their family a better life, if “better” life means: new name brand clothes that are out of style the next month; name brand food (because everyone knows that Cheerio’s taste better than Aldi’s Millville Crispy Oats); a new SUV every 5 years.
I don’t say this to criticize someone else…but damn, that is a recipe for failure. If something would happen with either of their jobs, they wouldn’t be able to float their lifestyle for a couple of days, much less the couple of weeks it would take to get another paycheck…and that’s if they immediately got another job. With a couple of small changes, both could save thousands per year which could cut the time they need to spend at work tremendously. But making a mental connection with that is tough, and convincing yourself that you are working more to benefit yourself, or your family means that cutting costs anywhere could be sacrificing the “better” life that you are working for.
With this being said, if you find fulfillment in driving a new car, and eating out at lunch everyday, then you do you. Most people on the other hand, ourselves included, would say they want more time with family, travel more, and time for leisure & hobbies.
It stands to reason that if you are spending your time working for money, then poor money management means you are literally wasting your life.
Time with Family
This article on how much time you really have left in life was pretty eye-opening to us. By the time you are 18, you’ve spent 90%+ of the total time you will spend with your parents. And that’s if your parents are still around by the time you graduate high school, and live until they’re 90. So the same would be true for your children, by the time your kids graduate high school, you have 10% or less of your in-person time with them left. Knowing this, are you happy with the way you are currently spending your time with your kids?
We have no plans for kids in the immediate future, but if we do have them, we can’t imagine spending 90% of our time that we will ever have with them at work instead of exploring, teaching, and learning with our children.
If you are lucky enough to spend a week a year on vacation and exploring the world, by the time you are 30, you’ll have 420 days of vacation left in your life. And I don’t know many 80-90 year olds taking week-long vacations (really, I dont know of many 70+ year olds doing much travel either, but working at a physical therapy clinic may have skewed my perception), so subtract at least another 70 days off of that. 350 days of vacation left in your life by the time you are 30. Less than a year exploring the magnificent world around you. No thanks. We would rather flip this and spend years traveling and exploring the world instead of working for the man.
Leisure & Hobbies
Mrs. RRR and I have lofty goals. We want to learn more languages, have time to be lazy, do DIY projects, read more books, build our own tiny-house, spend more time outdoors, and a plethora of other things. If we are spending all our time working so we can afford unnecessary things, we would be limited to a few weekends to try to do all these things. But, by building a lifestyle that brings us happiness without costing a lot of money, it becomes much easier for investments to fund that lifestyle and our working lifetime is shortened dramatically. Then we have our entire life to do anything we want.
Time, not money, is the goal. Freedom, not money is the goal. To be able to spend our time how we want to. Having the option to spend days, weeks, or months with family because we aren’t limited by a work schedule. To get tired of one place, and have the freedom and means to travel and explore another area for weeks, months, or years if we want. To be able to immerse ourself in a culture to make learning a language easier, to have the time and money to build our own tiny house and be able to take it around the country and world, to see a need and have the resources to start a business to meet that need, or any other hobby that we would prioritize over work.
If you didn’t have to work for money, and had all the freedom in the world how would you spend your time? That scenario may not be as far as you think if you take the right steps today.
But Cheerios really do taste better than Millville!
See, this is the point I think a lot of people are missing about the whole idea behind FI/RE. It’s not about grinding it out and living the suck to get to some lofty goal and then forget about work for the rest of our lives, it’s about finding creative ways to build up funds so that we can live our lives more meaningfully and intentionally. I think you guys are on the right track for that!
Visit every national park. Ride my bike across the US, and maybe other countries. Spend a few months in another place and learn it’s language.
But I’d also like to keep playing lawyer maybe 15 hours per week, meeting my running and cycling buddies. Having beers and catching local live music. Having dinner with my parents. Routine stuff.
When you ask what we’d do with total freedom, there’s also a line from Office Space that comes to mind, but perhaps this isn’t the place.
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