I remember being a child, looking up to famous athletes, actors, and musicians.
Growing up as a poor kid in Detroit, Michigan, I thought it must be pretty amazing to have fame, fortune, and freedom.
But now that I’m an adult in his mid-30s, I’ve come to realize that you can live a life pretty close to what celebrities enjoy.
That’s because freedom doesn’t require fame and fortune.
Moreover, while fame and fortune have significant drawbacks, freedom offers an incredibly advantageous spread between benefits and drawbacks.
And so it’s occurred to me that one can actually emulate what’s arguably the biggest advantage of a celebrity-like life while simultaneously mitigating many of the disadvantages.
David Bowie and John Lennon crowed about fame back in the 70s.
But the song itself was actually written out of anger, and Bowie later clarified his thoughts and feelings on what it’s like to have fame:
I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants. Other than that, there’s very little about it that anybody would covet. It’s really not much of a deal. I still have my favourite times when I’m not recognised, or at least left to my own devices.
Couldn’t agree more.
Who would want to live a life where they’re always under a microscope?
Who wants every decision they make being examined by self-appointed judges who judge more than they have sold (to borrow from another famous front man named Kurt Cobain)?
Who likes being endlessly watched?
Fame is a thing where the advantages are little when stacked up against the disadvantages.
Sure, you could monetize fame. But if you have fame, the odds are good that you already have wealth. Thus, one of the only advantages to having fame in the first place is sort of a catch-22.
Ahh, now we’re getting to the good stuff.
The thing is, fortune is highly overrated in a modern-day developed society.
This is because the difference in lifestyles between average and extremely rich people aren’t as great as they once were.
I realized years ago that it’s good to be me.
It’s good to be me (and it’s good to be you, since you’re obviously interested in saving/investing/financial independence – and you have access to the resources necessary to read this article) because it doesn’t take much money to benefit from much of what being alive in today’s day and age has to offer.
Many of the best luxuries in modern-day life require very little money, relatively speaking.
The Internet, housing, indoor heating/cooling, reliable access to food, refrigeration, running water, and electricity are just a few things that significantly increase one’s quality of life, yet they all cost relatively little money at their core.
Sure, you can scale up some of these things indefinitely. But the basics aren’t hard to come by, nor are they particularly expensive.
And so I wouldn’t trade places with the richest and most famous person alive a few hundred years ago. I wouldn’t even trade places with John D. Rockefeller at his peak. That is not a lie.
What good is fortune if the best things in life are almost free?
I mean, Rockefeller couldn’t just hop in a plane and fly across the world in mere hours for a few hundred dollars.
But I can.
And I did just that when I decided to relocate to Thailand as a dividend expat, which turned out to be my best financial investment of all time.
In fact, there are many things I can do that Rockefeller couldn’t do. Yet there is almost nothing he could do that I can’t do right now.
You might say, sure, even someone who doesn’t have much money can fly, but fortune can give you access to a private plane.
Yeah. But even Warren Buffett, who lists his jet as one of the few luxuries he really enjoys spending on, noted that he views access to the Internet as worth more than his plane.
The thing is, most everyone reading this article is already in the top 1% of global wealth, meaning fortune is already ours anyway. It’s just easy to take these modern-day luxuries for granted until they suddenly disappear.
We’ve finally arrived to the truly good stuff.
Freedom is it, baby.
Freedom can allow you to pursue your passions, become a better version of yourself everyday, fulfill your potential as a human being, and make your dreams come true.
It allows you to live life on your terms. It allows you to become more than you. It can make every day a holiday.
Freedom provides options. It can and should allow you to live a fully authentic life that reflects who you truly are inside.
As I noted above, some of the best things in life – even some of the most amazing luxuries life has to offer – cost almost nothing. That’s because there has been a massive and beneficial societal commoditization, turning amazing inventions into life basics.
Meanwhile, many of the things that can really move the dial in terms of quality of life, once you’ve already gained access to the amazing life basics, require freedom to fully experience, enjoy, and take advantage of.
In fact, many of the things that personally make me happiest in life cost very little money, but many of these same things do require the kind of time/freedom that being financially independent allows for.
For example, just the simple act of starting my day without waking up to an alarm clock is such a huge boost to my happiness. Going to bed when I want and waking up when I feel ready is a luxury that I enjoy so much, I almost can’t put it into words. It impacts every single day. Thus, it impacts my entire life. Yet it costs very little. At the same time, though, it costs almost everything, because it requires the financial independence that is necessary to set this kind of lifestyle up in the first place.
It requires freedom.
But it doesn’t require fame or fortune.
And not only is fortune not required to have freedom and happiness, it can actually often be a situation where more of it causes a decline in one’s freedom and happiness.
Extreme fortune is something that can entrap and enslave a person.
It’s been said mo’ money equals mo’ problems. Many people who come into sudden wealth – like lottery winners – often realize this when they chase after soulless purchases and only end up buying themselves problems.
And even slow, old wealth isn’t immune to this phenomenon, as the aforementioned Rockefeller apparently once remarked that his “dividends coming in” were the “only thing” that gave him pleasure.
Look, I love my dividends, but only because of the freedom they give me. Dividends coming in are far from the only thing that gives me pleasure in life. I feel sorry for anyone who feels that way.
Then there’s that Jean Paul Getty guy. Just wow.
Becoming a miserable miser is a slippery slope. Seeing the compounding ability of money can trick you into thinking the only admirable and worthwhile goal in life is to increase one’s fortune.
Freedom, however, can be unlocked very early on in the journey to wealth. The rest is often superfluous.
I don’t have fame. And I certainly don’t have celebrity-like fortune.
But I do have freedom, which is built upon the foundation of the five-figure passive and growing dividend income that my six-figure dividend growth stock portfolio generates on my behalf.
I don’t have Brad Pitt looks. I suck at playing sports. I couldn’t play a guitar if my life depended on it.
Yet I’m able to enjoy many of the benefits that fame and fortune would confer, without most of the drawbacks.
See, the more fame you have, the less free and private your life probably is.
And the more fortune you have, the more beholden to and obsessed with money you may end up becoming.
This is exactly why freedom is my preferred path to grandeur.
The crazy thing is that it didn’t even take me that long to build my portfolio/passive income and become financially free, nor did I have a glamorous or high-paying job. We’re talking roughly six years of my life dedicated to living frugally and aggressively investing in some of the world’s best businesses. It’s something almost anyone can do.
Now, freedom does have some potential drawbacks. This is especially true if you use your freedom incorrectly.
But the advantageous spread between benefits and drawbacks is far greater with freedom than it could ever be with fame and/or fortune, in my view.
Fame, fortune, and freedom sounds nice.
But whereas fame and fortune are highly overrated, freedom is an incredible thing to behold.
Furthermore, it doesn’t require fame and/or fortune in order to achieve and enjoy. In fact, it’s probably best enjoyed in isolation of the other two things.
What do you think? Is freedom preferable to fame and fortune? Is it easier to achieve?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re more interested in freedom than fame and/or fortune, I’ve compiled some excellent resources that helped me achieve financial independence in just a few short years. Definitely check them out!