F.I.R.E. is a big concept right now. It stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. I hear and see a lot of information on this topic. While I think it’s great, it’s not my goal….at least not yet. Let me explain a component or two of F.I.R.E. and tell you why it’s not for our family anytime in the near future... and then tell you what IS for us.
1) A common element of F.I.R.E. is to grind now, get the rewards later. While I’m all about the grind and working hard (or, maybe I should say I used to be more about the constant grind in an unhealthy way that left me always exhausted and detached), this has to work with the life you have and what you want. So, it might mean working a job you don’t love, working extra hours, filling your days to the brim. Why I'm not about it now? Well, it's because I'm aware of what's important to me, which is my family. I don't want to waste away the precious years of Marley's youth because I'm always working. I want to be present and enjoy life...now!
2) It also means calculating out a plan to reach financial independence. Ok, so you might not have to do this, but if you’re working like crazy and especially in a job that is draining you, you will want to be able to calculate this out. When I’ve read from difference Financial Independence books this was a big part of it, but for my career line a crystal clear calculation is impossible. I admire those who can come to such a calculation, but I realize it's just not for me.
Really, I’m not actually against either of these things. I am not opposed to working hard or working a job I don’t like. I think financial independence is amazing and can teach us some big lessons, even if we don’t go all in with that as our overall goal. I decided to continue with some elements of F.I.R.E., but shift things to fit our family. Here’s what we ARE about…
1. Living frugally
For some people, the word “frugal” has a negative connotation. For us, frugal means to cut out unnecessary expenses that really don’t bring us more joy. BUT we are not in any way trying to deprive ourselves. If I deeply desire something that adds value to my life, I use money to get it. Living frugally is just spending money on what matters and cutting out expenses because of old “shoulds” or any type of underlying reason of keeping up with others.
2. Living simply, soulfully, mindfully
We aim to live life fully awake. I’ve been in stages where I was going through the motions in a robotic way. While I was in a good-paying job and in a doctoral program that I liked, I was still just going through the motions because I had to. I had to just go through the motions because if I would have woken up to what I was doing I would have needed to stop. Underneath I knew I wasn’t in line with the path of my soul so I had to hurry up and stay busy so I didn’t pay attention to my lack of alignment. Even if we are living a “good life”, we might need to wake up to a life that is even better for us and take a step out in faith. So now, instead of going through the motions I choose to live simply, soulfully, and mindfully. I take time to read, pray, meditate, and reflect every morning. The more I do this, the more I’m tuned into my internal guide. The more I’m tuned into my internal guide, the less I can ignore it’s wisdom and push aside the deepest desires of my heart. In many ways it feels riskier, but it also feels really right honoring my true self.
3. Staying connected to our “why”
With each decision we make, we have to define our “why”. This is connected to living mindfully and soulfully. We need to move forward with the underlying string of what our life is about. We are about growing to be the best versions of ourselves and helping each other do our necessary work to let go of old habits and step into life-giving choices. We want to live a life that is simple, yet exciting. And this life might not look like everyone else’s, but that’s ok because we have to continually return to our choice to let go of the box other’s have tried to put us in. Sometimes it even feels a bit rebellious :) We can go against the grain as long as we stick to our “why.” Constant returning to that “why” and the still, small voice inside gives us momentum to move forward.
4. Investing & creating passive income
What’s this? A therapist who typically only talks about emotions and listening to our hearts is now talking about investing? Heck YES! In marriage, we have to allow our spouse to influence us to reap the benefits of the union and in this way my financial-wiz husband has beautifully influenced me. So much so that I realize I have more of an entrepreneurial spirit than I thought! Ok, but enough about that. An element of F.I.R.E. that we are adopting is to invest and create passive income. We are still at the beginning stages of this, but we have a plan and we are moving in that direction. Having passive income can give you a boost of confidence to take a step out in faith if you know you have some money to help you get by.
5. Creating a “rough” vision
This one is a little shaky in how necessary it is for F.I.R.E. but I’m reading between the lines with this one and making it work. Like I said above, F.I.R.E. does require a certain amount of mapping out one’s course. Because for us we can’t quite do this step effectively, we’ve decided to have a rough vision for what we want down the road. I use the word “rough” because as much as I’m about goal setting and setting small process steps to get there, I’ve learned from life to loosen my grip on my goals. Life changes us, opportunities come, so our vision is not held to one specific picture but rather a theme. Rather than getting hung up on the fact that one month I want my picture to be a house on the lake, the next a farm with huge barn, I stick to the theme. My theme is to live simply, invest in caring for others, and spend time with my family. If that theme takes me to the lake or to Old McDonald’s farm, then so be it. So if you’re a person that likes to imagine possibilities and your vision changes, think about creating a mission statement of what you want your life to be about. That way, you can allow your vision to shift as life changes and you change. Isn’t that what life is about, evolving to be a better version of ourselves with each passing year? I think it is!
Ok, so that’s how we’ve decided to move forward. We are just stealing some F.I.R.E. concepts that fit us. If you’re new to F.I.R.E., my favorite book on the topic was “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. Even if Financial Independence is not your goal, you might find that some of the advice could really encourage you and shape the way you see money. Whether you decide to read on this topic more or not, my hope for you is that you can continue to grow and evolve and step into a life that fits your unique personality! Happy rooting, everyone.