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Beware! Financial Independence Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be!

Becoming Financially Independent (FI), a goal many of us are pursuing or reached already. What is so appealing about becoming FI? We believe (or are made to believe) that once FI we can finally live the life we want, we no longer have to work if we don’t want to, we can travel the world, move anywhere we want, have extra time to spend with our loved ones, tell our boss to get lost, finally get a job we like or even retire. Well, Beware! Financial Independence Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be!

Why Wait To Be FI?

First, let me ask you, why do you need to wait until being FI to do any of the above? What is preventing you from spending more time with your loved ones now? Do you take full advantage of your vacation time? Can you take a few days of leave without pay? Have you considered changing job to one you may enjoy? Have you taken evening classes to train for the job of your dreams? Have you asked for a different work schedule if you don’t like the one you have? Did you apply for an international assignment if you want to see the world? If you don’t like having a boss, why not become an entrepreneur? (I hear blogging can be very lucrative).

Why Is FI Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

Don’t get me wrong, being FI has LOADS of benefits and they are EXTENSIVELY covered by the many bloggers in the FI/FIRE community. But being Financially Independent won’t fix everything in your life and may actually bring up new small challenges you didn’t think about.

Here are a few in no particular order:

What’s Your Purpose?

If you have only been focusing on becoming FI and thought it was your life purpose, it’s NOT! You need to find your purpose and it has nothing to do with money. And if you don’t believe me, wait until you are FI when you will understand what I mean. What’s next for you then?

Do I Really Have Enough?

Even once you unquestionably reach FI (I am not talking about 5 or 10 millions here but still a very decent amount of money!), sometimes you still wonder if it is enough. What if there is a market crash? What if the price of real estate in my area plummets? What if all my tenants become tenants from hell? What if I become disable? What if, what if, what if…?

Too Many Options!

One of the main reason people pursue FI is to get the freedom to do whatever they want, being able to take control of their time and their life.

The problem is you can end up with too many options! You have so much flexibility and so many decisions to make. It can get overwhelming.

For example, I truly enjoy my job (the way FIRE bloggers enjoy blogging!) but I hate the corporate BS. Do I want to get another full-time job working for a smaller company? Do I want to go part-time? Should I start my own business? How about real estate, I could become a broker? Oh wait, I love helping people manage their money, maybe I can become a financial advisor? How about blogging full-time? It could be fun.  Or going back to school? Or volunteering abroad? (Or just go back to bed because this is giving me a headache!) Not having to worry as much about money (well we always worry about money) allows us to consider so many more options!

Where Should I Invest My Money?

If you are FI, you most likely have a nice little nest egg. It may be invested in real estate, stock, mutual funds or any other investment vehicle. Hopefully it is diversified because you know you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket! But it gets to a point where you don’t know which basket is the right one anymore. Where should you invest your money next?

When you were paying off debts or trying to save, it seemed to be so much easier to know what to do with your money or where to invest it. As it grows it seems to get so much more complicated.

Geoarbitrage

Lots of talk about geoarbitrage within the FI community. Once FI, you should be free to move anywhere you want. Right!

I am FI and would love nothing more than to move to a warm location right now but, being the only parent to my three kids and having no other relatives in Canada, I don’t feel comfortable leaving them yet. Even as they get older, I wonder if I will want to be permanently away from them. I know they will have their own lives to live and may all end up living in different part of the world (it would make it easier to move myself if they did!) , but will I want to stay close to them in case they have kids of their own or just to be close? Also, is my partner on board with a long-term move?

Being away can also be hard on your loved ones if you get sick.

My mother lived in Martinique alone when she was diagnosed with cancer. My siblings and I took turns to go help out and eventually coordinate her repatriation to France. It was very stressful to know she was alone when we couldn’t be there. I don’t want my kids to have to go thru the same thing.

Do you really want to live far away from the rest of your family? Whether you have kids or not it can be a tough decision.

I am originally from France and even after 31 years and a fulfilling life in Canada, I do miss my family.

Travel

As you get older, you may no longer be physically able to travel as much as you were hoping to once FI, even if you did all the right things to be and stay healthy.

Relationship

If your relationship with your partner was rocky before, being FI won’t fix it. It may even make matters worse.

You may realize you both don’t have the same desire as far as what you want to do with the rest of your life. Your spouse may want to keep working while you don’t. You may want to travel the world but they may be quite content with a few weeks away. Or maybe they want to start spending your savings and you don’t.

Spending More Time With Your Loved Ones

My #1 advice no matter where you are at in life: Don’t wait until you are FI to spend more time with your loved ones! Why? Because they may not be around or available when you are FI.

By the time I was 48 I had lost both my parents and my husband. It doesn’t matter how much time I can free up now, does it?

Your kids may not want to spend as much time with you as they get older. Not because they don’t like you (well maybe they don’t) but because they have their own lives to live.

Take time off now, go on a few field trips with their school, volunteer wherever they have activities once in a while. Make the time for them out of your busy schedule. You don’t need to be FI , you need to prioritize!

Kids And Being FI

The Right Balance

Being FI means that you have some money, which can make it tougher when it comes to making decision for your kids. You CAN afford a lot more than you used to but you don’t want to spoil them. It’s a constant struggle to try to find the right balance between what is too much vs not enough. It is for me anyway! At least when I was not FI , it was easier to say NO because I couldn’t afford it!

Kid’s Perception About Their Future:

Explaining to them how you managed to get where you are in life (being FI!) and why you get to enjoy more freedom than many is not always an easy task. From the outside they may think (depending on their age) financial independence is a given, not realizing they will need to work hard at it!

Dating

Not everybody is in a relationship, so for those of you who are single and FI, you most likely expect your future partner to be in a similar situation as yours or at least value money the same way you do. Would you date someone loaded with debt or not as careful with money as you are? Probably not! The bad news? You just eliminated a large number of potential dating prospects!

Mental Health

If you were dealing with mental health issues, being FI will not fix them. It may help a little (or a lot) by removing some of the financial stressors but you still need to address your overall mental health. Assess your life and make the changes required to live a more balanced life, don’t wait until you are Financially Independent. Mental Health issues can affect any of us. Check out Bob’s current struggle in his post The End.

Related post: How My Husband’s Depression Changed Our Lives Forever

Loneliness

It’s lonely sometimes when you are FI, even at 51!. You can’t relate to the people around you and they can’t relate to you.

I can’t imagine what it must be like if you are FI in your 30’s. How many of your friends are in your situation? I am not even talking about being RE!

Spending, Saving And Frugality

Once frugal always frugal plus if you diligently saved to get to FI, it’s hard to stop saving and start spending!

Crappy Bad days?

Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who never has a bad day. I am not! Sometimes I wake up with a black cloud hanging over my head, following every one of my moves. No specific reasons, it’s just there. And you know what? Once I reached FI, it was still there! Sometimes I managed to find a way to get rid of it and other days, it’s still there when I go to bed!

Final Thoughts

The point of this post is to emphasize how being FI is not going to fix everything in your life. Being Financially Independent is not all it’s cracked up to be!

Follow some of the common sense recommendations to achieve Financial Independence, such as “Live below your means” and “Eliminate your debts”, but beyond that, find the right balance (the one that is right for YOU) between saving for the future and enjoying the present!

Evaluate your life and make changes NOW, in line with your goals. Don’t wait to be Financially Independent to start living your life! S** t happens, don’t waste time.

Over To You

Pursuing FI? Do you think your life will change drastically once FI? Do you have a plan?  Are you making changes to your life to truly enjoy it now instead of waiting until your reach FI?

Already FI? How has your life changed? Was it everything you expected it to be?


Recommended Reading:

Financial Independence Is Not All It's Cracked Up To Be!

20 thoughts on “Beware! Financial Independence Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be!

  1. I certainly agree that FI won’t fix most if any problems you have in life other than reducing time at work and work stress. In fact having more free time may exacerbate other problems in your life. That said, being FI, certainly beats the alternative for me. I did have a plan and for the most part have executed it over the last 5 years. I have never once regretted my decision or considered going back to the 24/7 grind. Tom

  2. i agree with 100% of this, caroline. i just think you gotta keep some flexibility and an open mind. if you are a young person don’t let a potential date go because of finances. you don’t have to marry every one, for instance.

    FI can be lonely. it was such a big milestone to achieve with a lot of hard work and where do you go from there? sometimes i miss the hardship, struggle and lean times. nice article.

    1. Thanks Freddy. Totally my point, you need to be flexible and enjoy the present. Saving money is great but not if it makes your life miserable until your reach FI.

  3. I think if you want to pursue FI, you need to have a well-thought out plan if you want to go ahead and pursue it. You need to find out what you want to do if/once you reach it and know what specially you have in mind. Having options is great like you said but you need to narrow it down and pick something you truly want to do once you reach FI. And all the other factors you have on here like enough money and how much you plan to spend yearly, how you want to spend time with your loved ones, traveling are crucial too.

  4. “I hear blogging can be quite lucrative.”

    Bahahahaha.

    But yes. Absolutely. FI is not the point where your life suddenly becomes all magic and rainbows and sunshine. The same reason I hate the Dave Ramsey quote “Live like no one today so you can live like no one else in the future,” is why I hate this hard fixation on the future. Absolutely plan ahead (obviously I’m still planning to be FI in the next 9-14 years), but do not wait until then to start living. None of us have tomorrow promised, and neither do our loved ones.

  5. Love this Caroline!!

    Sometimes I am washing the dishes, cooking and scrubbing the pots and pans and I think to myself “being FI won’t eliminate this from my daily routine” lol!!!

    I guess it will give me more time for that daily routine but the same ‘chores’ are all there.

    Being FI will definitely give you more time to spend with family and loved ones- so important.

    1. Hi GYM, maybe if you reach FatFIRE, you will hire a maid?:)
      There are definitely a lot of benefits of being FI but I worry sometimes that readers may put their life on hold until they get there. You can work towards FI and still enjoy the present, it’s all about balance. Cheers

  6. great post Caroline!

    love hearing your point of view. There is no question that we need to live life in the now and enjoy it in the moment.

    Noone knows what the future holds for us.

    Also great points about dating, I never thought of that before but deifnately agree with your points.

    cheers

  7. Hi Caroline, very true, FI won’t fix everything. There are still a lot of things we have to work on no matter we have achieved FI or not. A great suggestion on spending time with our loved ones. That matters a lot.

    Right, it’s nice to have options. But sometimes, too many options could be overwhelming.

  8. I feel blessed to be able to work in a rewarding profession and enjoy my job while also achieving FI. After arriving at FI I changed little. I cut back my work hours some and cut out some of the things I don’t enjoy, but otherwise my life was good. You know when you are on the right track when someone asks you “what would you do if you won a $10M lottery?” and you have to think long and hard about whether you would change anything at all. That is how I feel now.

    1. That has to be an awesome feeling to feel like your life is just the way you want it. I wouldn’t change much if I won $10M at the lottery but I would make a few little changes:)
      I love the work I do but I need to find a no Corporate BS environment, not sure it even exists!
      Thanks for dropping by.

  9. Your rationale is part of the reason my wife and will FI in 15 years or so. We are saving quite a bit. We are saving about 25% or so of our income, and we live in the NY area where our family has been and remains since coming to America. The option is there to save more, but we are balancing that with living now. For us, I think there will be a slide toward FI. Time will tell.

    1. Hi GenX FIRE, you are doing it the right way, balancing your savings for the future with living life now. No hard line, you can change things up anytime you feel like it:)

  10. FI doesn’t fix everything, but it helps a lot.
    Maybe I’m just different. Life is a ton better now that I’m FI and RE. Removing the work stress helped a ton.
    Also, I think I’m just better on my own. Being part-time self employed is the best. I love having more freedom.
    The corporate BS really killed my engineering career. If I could just do the technical work, I’d still be an engineer today.
    A lot of it is psychological. I just feel a whole lot better than when I was working full-time.
    Of course, while you’re trying to reach FI, it’s better to enjoy the journey. Don’t focus on FI too much. It won’t fix everything.

    1. Hey Joe, I can relate with the Corporate BS, it really kills the work environment!
      Totally agree that being FI does help a lot and I recommend it to anyone as long as they find the right balance and enjoy the journey. It looks like you found your balance and it’s working out great for you:)

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