The Real Benefit of Financial Independence

Arizona Sun Behind Clouds

Yesterday, for the first time since I left my full-time job over seven months ago, I didn’t have any work when I actually wanted to work.

That’s not to say there wasn’t any work available.  I’ve found there’s always plenty of work to go around.

Yet, skimming through the list of editing jobs that had been allocated to me (and others) returned few worth the required effort.  Earlier in the day, on two separate occasions, I tried to accept what appeared to be an easy edit of a well-written paper only to have it snatched up by another freelancer seconds before I clicked “Accept.”

Instead of settling on a less than ideal job with either an unrealistic deadline or enough errors to require a complete rewrite, I decided to take the day off.

I kept myself busy by reading and working out.  Must be nice, huh?

As you approach financial independence, you can afford to be picky.

You can also take chances and find opportunities in unique situations.  A few such possibilities have come about recently that would allow me to grow both personally and professionally.  I’m hoping to share them soon.

I’ve discovered that is what this blog is really about.  I initially thought the primary focus was on personal finance, but I’ve found that’s only a small part of the equation.

I didn’t realize the exact term for what this blog has become until the other day when I was reading a post on Reverse The Crush, one of my favorite blogs, written by Graham Bell.  In his tagline, Graham uses the phrase “personal development.”

These two simple words articulate what I’m focused on right now.

What has allowed me to concentrate on this personal growth is our financial situation.  Even with three kids, we’ve always been diligent savers.  With a combined 20 years in the professional workforce (11+ for me, 8+ for the wifey), I’d estimate we’re about 80% of the way to complete financial independence.

Although we’re not 100% there, our financial security has enabled me to reassess my life and career goals and begin building a new lifestyle on my own terms.

For me, this is the biggest benefit of nearing financial independence.  Money just isn’t all that important anymore and it’s liberating.  That’s why I don’t get the negative comments on any article published on a mainstream site written about those seeking an early exit from the daily grind.

It’s not about extreme frugality and doing nothing all day.  It’s about prioritizing so you can do anything every day.  It’s about learning for the sake of learning.  Trying something new because you thought it might be fun/challenging/scary.  Visiting a new city or an old friend… just because.

I guess most people aren’t wired to take a chance and go against the grain.  Society’s conditioned us all from day one to slave away, barely scraping by, because that’s just how it is.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Determine what’s important to you and make the changes necessary to achieve those things.

A part of me has always wanted to be financially free and for the longest time I thought it was about the money.  But I’ve realized that I don’t even care about money.  And I don’t care about stuff.

All this time, I’ve been after the journey of personal development.  Now I’m just getting started.

8 thoughts on “The Real Benefit of Financial Independence

  1. Felicity (@FelicityFFF) says:

    That’s great!

    I’m a few years out and definitely have days where I’d like to simply stay home and sleep in with my dog (and husband…but mostly dog). I’m really looking forward to being able to just not work if I don’t want to.

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  2. chiefmomofficer says:

    Yes, the real benefit of financial independence is being able to make a real choice. You can choose to work, or not. You can be picky about what you accept. You can take off and work from a different part of the country-or world-and celebrate location independence. That’s why I want to reach FI as quickly as possible. Although I’m not sure whether or how I’ll actually stop working, I want to have the independence for it to be a choice I can make.

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  3. Graham @ Reverse The Crush says:

    Hey DTG,
    Thank you for the shout out! I really appreciate it.

    I think it’s really interesting that you’re coming to a similar conclusion 7 months into your journey. The 7 to 10 month mark during my year off was the turning point when I stopped caring about day trading and replaced it with skill building.

    You said it best: “What has allowed me to concentrate on this personal growth is our financial situation.” – That’s why I still think investing/finance ties into personal development. It’s truly incredible what starts to happen when you are outside the monotonous work life cycle.

    I also really like what you said in your closing thoughts…Society has conditioned us since day one. I sometimes feel like I’m back in high school at work. It seems like nothing has changed.

    Moreover, the reason I want to be financially independent is the same. It’s not about the money…it’s about personal development, flexibility, creativity, trying something new, and spending time with people you care about.

    I am glad to hear you are enjoying FI. Best of luck on your personal development journey. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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    • Ditching the Grind says:

      The longer I’m away from the traditional job setting, the tougher it is to see myself going back on a long term basis. I’ll probably do a few short, temporary stints here and there, but nothing major. It’s interesting to hear that going back to work feels like high school! I’m curious how it’ll feel over time.

      It’s unfortunate that many people’s financial situation may never let them experience true introspection and personal growth. Instead of seeking self actualization, most stay stuck in a cycle of making just enough to get by or purchase the next big thing. Most don’t even realize there are other options and that financial independence is attainable.

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