For a long, long time, I was obsessed with personal finance content. I was on all the email newsletters. I watched all the videos. I listened to all the podcasts. And, I read all the blog posts.
As it turns out, we aren’t missing much, except for the consistent application of both time and money. Just keep investing and over time, you’ll get where you’re going — that was the general advice we received.
I wanted to know what we were missing so that we could cover all of our bases before Garrett quit his job. We thought that there would be a certain amount of money we’d save and some amount we’d invest before he’d leave, but that came and went…and yet, Garrett was still employed in March 2018 when he really, really didn’t want to be. We kept changing our “before Garrett quits his job” financial goals.
Just after we increased our “before Garrett quits his job” financial goals for the last time, I saw Mr. Money Mustache had published a new blog post. The date of his post? Exactly one week before Garrett was originally going to put in his notice…you know, before we moved that financial goal post on ourselves.
Being the obsessed consumer of personal finance content that I was at the time, I clicked over immediately.
Mr. Money Mustache was never more on the money (get it?) than in this particular post, at least when it comes to our situation.
After reading the post, it was clear that our number one problem was confidence. There wasn’t going to be any amount of money that would make us comfortable before we started our next adventure — so, I realized that it was confidence we lacked and not money.
This is the exact sentence I read that made me pause and reflect:
“It turns out I didn’t need all that money, because my needs and wants will never be more than I earn from my natural desire to do useful work.” – Mr. Money Mustache
His reflection made me realize two things:
1. FIRE might be a waste of time. Maybe. The jury’s still out on this.
2. I am Mr. Money Mustache. Well, I am like Mr. Money Mustache in that I
like love to work and I don’t need lots of money to have a fulfilling life.
In college, I had two to three jobs while I had a full schedule of courses (yeah, some of that work was necessary, but it was also because I liked work). At one point, I had six classes, one part-time job at a grocery store, and one part-time work-study job in an office. I was busy being useful and I loved it.
After college, I started doing consulting work outside of my day job just two years after graduation. Someone would refer me to someone who would refer me to someone and so on. I did good work for a fair price and since then, I’ve never been short on extra work.
Today, I run a business, so I can work all of the time if I want — I don’t, but I could. I can take on more work at any time, doing just about anything I want. Why? Because someone is always willing to pay for help. That’s powerful.
There was a moment that truly sealed the deal for me and that was when Garrett asked me how much money I would need to have saved or invested to stop working. I said none — there isn’t any amount of money we could possibly have that I would stop doing something useful that has earning potential.
Honestly, it took a long time to come to this realization and it definitely wasn’t possible to have had these thoughts when we had debt. Paying off our debt gave me a clear head, which I promptly filled with FIRE strategizing. But, I did have a clear head and the potential to clear it once more. For the first time in my adult life, I could think about doing something with money other than paying off debt.
So, I’m not thinking as much about FIRE as I was. Does that mean we’re no longer investing to have some amount of financial freedom? Oh no…no, no, no. We may be enlightened, but we’re not naive. That’s why we focus on a fully-funded lifestyle change instead.
I have also shifted my thinking to identify ways of maximizing the value of my time rather than selling more hours because I have greater confidence in my abilities and also my choices than I did before. I like to work, so the focus is now on how I can generate the best return on investment for my time.
But, enough about me. Here’s a tip I have for you. Meet bloggers (like me!) online or in person.
We met Pete at a mutual friend’s house during our Colorado vacation. Had it not been for Carl and Mindy sharing their home with us, making tacos, or organizing a meetup, we couldn’t have had the opportunity to meet other bloggers/like-minded people, including Pete. So, get out there and meet people. Do it safely, of course, but consider putting yourself out there because you just might end up meeting the real Mr. Money Mustache.