I’m testing out a new life philosophy. The philosophy goes like this:
If you aren’t financially independent, in the sense that you are capable of living comfortably off your accumulated net assets and their reasonably projected growth over time for the rest of your life without drawing more income from work, you are in the mission critical baby-startup phase of life. And it is imperative to put significant resource and effort into getting out of this stage as quickly as possible.
In other words, being in this stage is like being a caterpillar. We’re babies, and we don’t have true freedom – not yet. We’re still confined to the ground, constantly spending our entire lives slowly consuming green cellulose until we hit that critical mass point where we can pupate and spread our wings and fly away.
Most of us seem to think being a caterpillar is par for the course. That it’s normal to be a caterpillar for our entire lives, to be beholden to a constant paycheck for decades upon decades, not truly free to explore the world in all its glory with the full extent of our potential and time, with as minimal mal-aligning incentives such as the need to grab more green cellulose as possible.
This was true, certainly, for most of humanity – but that’s a fallacy of nature. Sure, once upon a time, we *did* need to spend the vast majority of our lives to simply obtain enough sustenance to get by – but that’s no longer the case. There’s such an abundance in the world that all it takes now, for most people in the developed first world making over $30,000/year to become financially independent in a decade or less (i.e., around age 30-35, versus 65-70, saving 35-40 years of your life to be fully free) is a little long-term thinking, planning, and prudence. Much faster for anyone who’s lucky enough to pull say, $60,000 a year or $100,000+ a year, which plenty of us are these days.
So the question is to ask ourselves: Is that extra meal out, or that new pair of shoes, really worth 40 extra years of your life slaving away your most valuable resource and the crux of your life potential—time—just to get by? By all means, invest money where it is appropriate – in yourself, in experiences, in relationships, in generosity…but never in excess or pure consumption. Do that, and save 40 years of your life.
I don’t know about you, but personally, I think that’s a great trade.