It might sound like a lot of work to be aware of where your money is going and cutting back where you can, but it quickly becomes second nature. You learn to be aware at all times and to analyze purchases instead of making impulse buys with every trip to the store. In fact, it gets easier to just skip going to the store (or surfing Amazon), making opportunities for impulse spending scarce.
There are many people living paycheck to paycheck who actually make a decent living, and that is more exhausting for me to think about than saving money for financial freedom. If you start planning and saving for retirement now, you will have much greater flexibility down the road. When you reach financial independence – that point in time where you do not have to rely on a paycheck for living ever again – you can do most anything you want.
But I like my job! I don’t want to retire!
That’s great! Keep enjoying your job and working hard. But what if, one day down the road, you decide you don’t want to do that job anymore? Would you rather be able to leave immediately knowing you had your nest egg saved or be stuck in that job knowing you couldn’t afford to leave and look for another one (or retire on the spot)?
Even if you love your supervisor and coworkers, they are usually not destined to be there forever, messing with your stuff while you are away. At any point in time, you could get a new boss with whom you don’t get along. If that were to happen, it would be great to have the flexibility of leaving or moving to another office. I work in a job where people are leaving or moving all of the time. You can never guarantee you are going to mesh well with the next group of people coming through.
But I love buying stuff, and to buy stuff, I need to spend more MONEY!
Do you really love buying stuff, or do you love being the first person on the block to own certain things? Are you buying things to try and buy your happiness? Are you looking to purchase a status symbol? Do you really need all of the things you buy? There is no need to buy and buy and buy just for the sake of having things. If you keep buying things, eventually your spending will outpace your income, and that is a very dire situation indeed.
You will also, eventually, run out of room to put all of the things you are buying. Then you will need to buy a storage shed to store the things you have bought. Then you will need to buy more things to fill that storage shed. It is a never-ending cycle that you do NOT want to be a part of.
But I want more money!
Once you save up enough money to retire and live comfortably for the rest of your life, why do you need more money? What is saving extra money going to afford you that will outweigh your unlimited freedom? Having more money saved up is great, but continuing to work in a dead-end job is not worth it, especially if it means missing out on life and raising your kids.
Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely need to have a safe sum of money set aside before you quit your job, but acquiring money to just acquire money comes at great expense – time. You only have a limited amount of time on earth. Wouldn’t you like to make it count?
But my kids deserve better than I had!
You are right, and that is exactly why you need to show them that spending money doesn’t buy happiness. If they are spoiled by you buying them everything they ask for, and even more that they don’t, you are not giving them the right tools to succeed in life when they have to start managing money, which should be sooner rather than later. It is easier to teach good behavior from the start than it is to correct it down the road – just like it is easier to start saving now than later on down the road.
It’s all about having options!
The whole goal of financial independence is to have options. Once you have reached financial independence, if you want to continue working at your job, you can! If you want to quit your cubicle job and pursue your dream of freelance photography, you can do that, too. If you want to sit in a rocking chair on your front porch sipping coffee and yelling at neighbor kids, you are more than welcome to, though I wouldn’t recommend it.
And if you start NOW, you have even more options. The sooner you build up your nest egg, the more flexibility you will have down the road. At that point, you can choose to do anything you want because the need for money will not be holding you back.
When you reach financial independence, are you going to keep your job, or quit and start a new life project?