It’s true. I started investing because of my “financial blueprint” growing up. That blueprint is: “What if X happens and I have nothing to fall back on?!” Luckily, reaching financial independence (FI) wasn’t too lofty of a goal, as it turns out. My lifestyle didn’t need much trimming to set a real, attainable goal and use real estate to reach it. The biggest thing investing has done for me was give me peace of mind—and it has been in more ways than one.
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5 Ways My Life Changed When I Reached Financial Independence
1. Worst case scenarios are no longer worst case scenarios.
About to lose a job or need to switch careers? Who cares? Being FI means annual spending is covered by the investments’ cash flow each month. I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving my job for quite some time and starting a new chapter in life. One of my “worst case scenarios” would be losing said job and not being able to find another one without significant retraining.
Does it still worry me? Yes, but less so as I continue to invest. Is it the worst case scenario anymore? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s such a small worry that I think I might quit this summer and take a few months off before I start looking for part-time employment.
2. I’m not consumed by work stress.
This is a variation on a theme, but after my day job, I teach dance and violin lessons. My husband and I also host a church group at our home once a week and frequent another outside our home. That’s a busy lifestyle, even if lovingly so. The good thing is that suddenly I’m not concerned about what my career trajectory will be in five or ten years and what I need to do now in order to get there. I’ve been able to pursue my hobbies and spend time with loved ones on a regular basis with the full-time job, but I’ve noticed a significant decrease in stress because I no longer need to “play the game” in any way, shape, or form.
Related: Dave Ramsey is Wrong: You DON’T Need to Be Debt-Free to Hit Financial Freedom
3. My priorities straightened out.
Priorities. Being financially secure is a priority for almost everyone. So once that’s taken care of (at least on a survivable level, not an extravagant “anything you could ever dream of” level), life doesn’t seem so cloudy. I can stop and smell the roses. I have a much weaker connection to the physical things I own as a result of plugging into Mr. Money Mustache and The Minimalists.
I’m not as “frugal” or “minimalist” as they are, but they have some lifestyle values that greatly align with my own. I am unplugging, slowing down, and being with the people around me much more as a result of not being so stressed out. I’m not secretly running through tomorrow’s meeting while someone is telling me about their day, which allows me to be more genuine.
4. I have the luxury of being picky.
This is possibly the best and worst part of being FI. Suddenly jobs that require 50+ hours minimum each week and 90 percent travel aren’t as appetizing. Being the single point of failure or the person EVERYONE relies on at a job seems like too much hassle. Is this being lazy? Maybe to some. To me, it’s being intentional. So now I’m considering part-time employment as my next step to contribute to society, have a sense of community and purpose outside the house, etc. But not right away. Instead, I plan to see if I can fulfill that in other ways.
5. I gained the freedom to try.
The freedom to try new things or nothing. To sit outside in the sun with my dog. To do those things I’d always promised myself but never quite prioritized. And maybe the biggest obstacle of all for some—to find out who I am when a job doesn’t define me.
Peace of mind comes in many ways. I got more than I bargained for when I started investing in real estate—and even more than that when I reached FI.
[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]
Where are you on your journey to financial independence? Or if you’ve already reached it, how has your life changed?
Let me know your experiences with a comment!