When we identify a goal we want to achieve, we often want to get to the finish line as fast as we can. The best feeling is when you see progress, especially fast progress, toward achievement. However, fast is not always possible with every goal, especially financial goals. It’s a slow journey, whether it’s paying down debt, saving for your future, or watching your investments grow… it takes time.
I choose to end a lot of my posts with the mantra “enjoy the journey” because I feel like taking time to smell the roses, enjoy life, and find comfort in the little things, brings about a sense of contentment as you progress. I believe that you can’t find happiness in your achievement of a goal unless you’ve actually taken time to enjoy experiences along the way.
“Slow and steady wins the race.” ~Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and The Hare
The Good Life – Financial Independence
Back in 2013, I started learning more about the concept of financial independence. I already knew I wanted to retire early and free myself from the corporate rat race, and once I discovered how financial independence worked, I read and learned as much as I possibly could. I read personal finance blogs like Mr. Money Mustache and Frugalwoods, I searched for articles on early retirement, and how to save more, and how to increase my investments. It’s amazing how much information is out there is you just start looking.
Being in my 40’s, I’m at an age now where I see a variety of different life situations. Some people work until the day they die (like my dad). Some people get laid off during corporate downsizing or restructuring (co-workers, acquaintances, and friends). Some people retire, and then die shortly after. Then there are the lucky (or smart?) people who find a way to retire early and discover ways to really enjoy living. These latter folks are the ones that caught my eye and pushed me to explore alternatives than the ‘9-to-5 until you die’. These financially fiscal folks found a way to become financially independent at a young age.
Financial Independence = having sufficient personal wealth to live, without having to work actively for basic necessities.
Find Others to Learn From
With the concept of financial independence and a path laid out to save more of my income every month, the journey began. Unfortunately, it’s not a quick journey. This is one that you have to lay out a future plan to stay on task, continue to forge ahead no matter how difficult, and know you will get there – one day. I found that it helps to find others that either have achieved financial independence or are still on their journey. You can learn so much from other people – what they are currently doing, mistakes they have made, and how they envision their future.
It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes too along the way (we all do), but knowing other people have made mistakes, but continue on their journey, helps you forge ahead. I know it has definitely helped me along the way. I love to read, and learn, and knowing that others are on the same path. Although everyone’s path is different, there are similarities we can all relate to and say “Me too!”
Ups and Downs
The goal of saving enough money to be financially independent is exciting, however, there are so many ups and downs it’s hard to know if you will ever get there, especially if you aren’t financially savvy at tracking your income, expenses, and savings, to know if you are actually on track. For one thing, we all experience financial emergencies that can suck up some of our savings. Home repairs, a roof leak, an appliance (or two) breaking, a car repair, breakdown or accident, or a medical emergency. These unexpected things happen all the time and when your goal is saving more, any of these situations that suck up some of your savings can be devastating to your progress. It can take an emotional toll, and add stress to your life. Even if you already have a nice emergency fund, it’s still disheartening… and it seems like when one thing happens, another one follows.
Additionally, the stock market can impact your investments up or down on a daily basis. The impact of the stock market is 100% out of your control, and it can give you a feeling of happiness or sadness depending on what’s going on. It’s important to understand that when it comes to your investments, you’re in for the long haul (hopefully, depending on your age), so the daily fluctuations don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Also, trying to time the market, and invest your money at the right time, really isn’t feasible based not only on my own experience, but also a lot of ‘experts’ out there.
The Long, Slow Journey
As you set a financial goal for your future, you need be fully aware that it’s a long-term goal and getting there can be a slow journey. Unless you win the lottery or somehow become instantly wealthy overnight, most of us commoners have to slowly save, save, save, and invest wisely to finally end up financially independent. Personally, I’ve found the journey over the last 5 year to be fun and rewarding. I actually enjoy trying to find more ways to save money, be frugal in my spending, and generate more income.
Once you are on the path to financial independence and gain some momentum, there’s no stopping you. Saving more, paying off debt, and investing in your future can be an emotional roller coast that is exciting. And then, once you hit your goal, you are free to do whatever you please – retire, work for fun, volunteer, spending time with friends and family, travel… whatever your heart desires. It’s a slow journey, but worth the wait to enjoy the good life!
Set your goal, stay on the path, and remember to always, always, enjoy the journey!