Let’s make a distinction.
Being financially free does not mean that a person is retired (although they could be). Being financially free simply means one thing: Your monthly passive income exceeds your monthly expenses. This means a janitor who created $3,000 in monthly passive income to cover $2950 of monthly expenses is technically financially free. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend he quit his job just yet.
Also, consider someone who went the FIRE route (work, save, invest in the market, and retire by selling off your shares). After slaving away at a job for 20 years, they amassed, let’s say, $1.5 million in the market. They decide to retire, selling off the shares, slowly whittling away their net worth year after year. Technically, this person is retired, but not financially free. Why? Well, they have no passive income. Or perhaps they have a bit from dividend investing, but not nearly enough to cover their monthly expenses.
Being financially free is just the beginning.
I used to think that once I was financially free, well, I’d be done. Make sure I have enough passive income plus a few thousand to save each month, and I’ll be set for life. Right? Well, not exactly.
What I did not foresee was that being financially free is actually the beginning. To clarify, when I was trading time for fiat currency (aka, a job), I had to work. I had to grind. I had to make enough to pay my bills, my mortgage, and my other expenses. I was working out of necessity. Once you are out of the rat race, you are no longer working because you need to work. If you do choose to work (for yourself or for another) you do so out of desire.
And honestly, this can be a much harder motivation. I’ve found that very few people, myself included, truly know what we want. Perhaps you grew up in a house where wanting something was considered selfish or self-focused. Maybe you were never able to get what you want and you’ve always just scraped by. Maybe you’ve spent the entirety of your life attempting to please others and prioritizing what they want.
Once you are financially free, you are somewhat corned into asking a paramount question: “What do I truly want?”
Here are some issues.
First, few of us truly know what we truly want. For instance, I’m terrible at goal-setting. I’ve never liked the idea of setting goals because I was never really a results-oriented person. I was always a journey-oriented person. Understanding the process of how we get there is actually more important to me than the actual destination.
Secondly, I’ve found that many of us want so little. “If I could just get my car payment covered,” we say. “If I could just pay down this credit card.” One of the things I admire about working with my partner is his capacity to dream and desire on a grandiose level. He is notorious for saying things like, “I love these small, six-figure deals.” It’s perfectly frustrating.
And what are your final issues? Shall we sift through a few?
- Do you easily give in to defeat?
- Are you apathetic toward your financial future?
- Do you find moral superiority in poverty and struggle?
- Do you find too much of your identity in a job and working hard?
- Do you have a mindset of scarcity?
- Are you easily distracted by social media, gaming, or gossip?
- Do you believe you don’t deserve wealth?
- Are you stuck in the lie that nothing good will ever happen to you?
Do any of these hit home? Perhaps more than one? Because if you’re anything like me, beloved, you still need a lot of work.