What thoughts spring to mind when you think about FIRE (Financial Independence and Early Retirement)?
Are you thinking about how much money you are earning, spending and saving now? Are you thinking about how much money you need to save up to stop considering money for your decisions? Are you thinking about when you can quit your boring, uninteresting day job?
I would bet that these would be the top 3 if we take a poll. In this consumer society money has become an integral part of our life. So much so that it has started owning us and has become a key influence on our decisions and way of life.
I agree money is essential for living. Our lives are much easier with money than without. Even the institutions of God need money to carry out their activities. But as a Tamil saying goes “Alavukku Meerinaal Amirthamum Nanju” (Even nectar is poisonous if over consumed). Money should be the be-all and end-all of our lives.
More important are the values that drive your life. You like eating out and don’t want to cut down – define what value is driving that behaviour. If it is just about socializing, inviting friends over to your house is a much better experience and is much less stress on the wallet too. If you are a foodie and like trying new options, there are numerous cheaper options to try first. You like watching movies in the cinema with friends – the single screen theater can offer you the same experience at a much lower expense compared to the multi-screen option in the mall. You might even get a bonus by eating at the tasty restaurant near the single screen than waste money at the mall food court.
“Make your life choices based on the values that drive them and you will end up being a much happier person. You will realize you have a lot more energy left over and more passion to live life. “
I for example, would rather teach my own child (when we have a child), rather than use private tuition as an option. But if both parents are working, the extra time wasted travel to and from office would leave with no time or energy to do this. I would choose to stay closer to office so I can do this, while someone else might choose to stay further and save money (save on rent but spend on tuition).
The journey to financial freedom is not about managing your money. It is about making the right life choices based on values. It is about living life to the fullest.
When we relocated to Mumbai, we had a small vegetable market about a 7 minute walk from home. We learnt from our neighbour that there was a better and bigger market about a 25 minute walk away. Since it is just the 2 of us, it was easy to buy once and stock up for the week. We still managed variety and the vegetables tended to stay fresh. We used to walk to the market, and then take the bus back. I don’t think we saved any money doing this. But it helped us get out of the house on something other than going to the mall or eating out. We would talk a lot during the walks and it helped that little bit towards making us healthier.
I used to be someone who could watch movies on TV for hours together. Then about 5 years ago I got an opportunity via work to relocate outside India. For the 1st 2 years, I did not have a TV at home. The last year, my wife joined my (on a sabbatical) and we rented a furnished house with a TV. But the 1st 2 years of living without a TV, changed me. I have never been interested in watching TV like earlier since then. Now, I catch a sitcom or series (Masterchef Australia is my favourite) during dinner and a movie twice a month or so. I realised that watching TV did not add anything to my life. I found spending that time reading a book helped me relax a lot more. These days I tend to use that time to help plan this blog.
How do you decide your life choices?
Do share your thoughts below.