It’s been said many times that “there’s no free lunch” in life.
But I’d say financial freedom comes pretty close.
Although there are drawbacks to consider (some of which could be significant), the benefits of this lifestyle, in my experience, far outweigh any potential drawback.
After quitting my full-time job more than three years ago, and after reaching financial freedom more than a year ago, I’ve had some time to experience much of what financial freedom has to offer. Reflecting on that, I wanted to reveal my three favorite benefits of financial freedom.
Creating And Living By My Own Schedule
Creating my own schedule is probably my favorite aspect of financial freedom.
For years, my alarm would blare at me at around 6:00 a.m. or so.
I remember our Chihuahua, Diego, would be startled by the noise, and he would look at me weary and confused. I always imagined this thought bubble forming around his head, saying something like: “Man, you cray.”
Agreed, Diego. Agreed.
“Must have woke up on the wrong side of the bed” is what people think when you stumble into work, very early in the morning, still groggy and sleepy.
But how does one not wake up on the wrong side of the bed when their peaceful and wonderful sleep is interrupted by a screaming machine in the middle of the night?
It’s funny. I still sleep on the same side of the bed – in the same bed, no less. Yet I wake up on the “right” side of the bed every day now.
Indeed, waking up without an alarm clock is one of my favorite things in the whole world. It’s worth almost an unlimited amount of money to me. It’s certainly worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars, as the passive and growing dividend income my dividend growth stock portfolio generates on my behalf forms the foundation upon which I currently enjoy my alarm-free existence.
I now go to bed somewhere between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. And I typically get up around 10:00 a.m. or so. If I were a morning person, I’d go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, but I’m a night owl by nature.
One of the best benefits of this lifestyle is that you get to totally customize your schedule to your liking.
It’s all about what works for you (and perhaps/probably your family), not your employer. And that’s a pretty wonderful feeling.
Choosing And Tackling Challenges Of My Choosing
This is huge.
While some websites out there portray early retirement/financial freedom as some kind of never-ending vacation where you simply travel the world indefinitely or just spend endless days at the beach, my experience indicates that this isn’t a great long-term approach to the lifestyle.
Most people who are built to attain financial freedom in the first place are probably going to be quickly bored without ongoing challenges in their life.
I believe it’s actually the huge challenge that is reaching financial freedom that attracts a certain subset of the population.
But that thirst for bettering oneself and reaching new heights doesn’t end when one reaches the top of the mountain that is financial freedom. Instead, one realizes that it’s just one mountain of many. It might be the best mountain of all (because it allows you to access those other mountains much easier), but the desire and will to climb doesn’t end once reaches the top.
If anything, it’s the strong likelihood that those who reach financial freedom early in life will continue to challenge themselves that makes the “early retirement math” debates largely useless.
Relaxing for a bit after a lengthy career is wrapped up is deserved and sensible. But once one is refreshed, new challenges will naturally be pursued.
And it’s aligning one’s lifestyle and interests/skills with the appropriate challenges at the appropriate time that makes financial freedom so special and amazing.
For instance, I took a CPR class this past weekend, which is part of the training necessary to achieve my personal training certification. It’s a new skill. It was fun. It was slightly challenging.
Part of the personal training angle, in all honesty, is just additional motivation for me to be the best physical me I can be. After all, I’m the kind of person who “walks the walk”. I’m not going to tell anyone to do anything I can’t personally excel at. As such, one challenge I’m really enjoying right now is working out six days/week and seeing just how far I can push my body.
And I’m writing this very article from a Starbucks near my apartment. It’s 1:00 p.m. on a Tuesday. I’m here in “my happy place” doing something I love, just writing away while jamming along to some music and drinking an iced caramel latte.
Writing can be challenging. I’ve been at this for more than six years now. It’s not always easy to conceptualize new ideas and put everything down on paper in a coherent and inspirational manner. But I thrive on the challenge. I enjoy it. And it’s aligned with who I am. Moreover, I’m able to work when I’m most inspired. If I didn’t feel inspired to write this article today, it wouldn’t be written.
I also coach people through financial and/or personal issues that may be hindering them from reaching financial freedom. Every call is a new challenge. It’s a new opportunity to better myself and others around me. And it feels great to be in a position to help others. It’s something I’d want to do even if I had billions of dollars in the bank.
I used to wonder why really wealthy people continued to work.
Why does Warren Buffett show up to 3555 Farnam Street in Omaha every weekday?
Well, I now know. It’s because people like Buffett thrive on the challenge.
But they only thrive when the challenge is right.
That’s the key to the whole thing.
I’m able to choose the right challenges for who I am. And as I change and grow, it’s likely the challenges will change and grow.
Financial freedom doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s actually quite organic. It not only allows you to grow and change, but it grows and changes alongside you. It’s like a friend that walks beside you in life, unlocking new doors as time passes and as you become ready.
Having The Opportunity To Change The World Through Philanthropy
One door that will surely unlock for me over time is large-scale philanthropy.
While I give money to select organizations that operate in areas I care about, the money I currently give isn’t very much (at least relative to what I’d eventually like to give).
But as my wealth and passive income grow over the course of my life, I suspect I’ll be able to give away a rather significant amount of money before/upon my death. In fact, I’ve already pledged to give away at least half of my wealth to philanthropic causes.
This world has a lot of issues. Humanity arguably does more evil than good in the universe, but I look at philanthropy as a tool to tip the scales – even if it’s just a little bit.
While this planet would probably be better off without humans, I’m determined to be the best human I can be for as long as I’m blessed to be here. I’m part of this species, whether I like it or not. And so as an eternal optimist, I look at that as a challenge (and a gift) in and of itself. It’s up to humans to improve the human condition.
Moreover, I know that one doesn’t need to be rich, famous, or superpowered to be a superhero in this world. One can effect change all by themselves.
But if one can take action, one should take action. With great power comes great responsibility. And I look at the eventual wealth and income I’ll build over the next 30 or so years as an opportunity to make good on that.
The last 1/3 of my life will be dedicated almost solely to philanthropy, both through volunteering and financial giving/support.
Meanwhile, I get to indulge in minor philanthropic giving here and there as I grow older and move closer to that eventual larger-scale goal.
One of my personal heroes is Charles Feeney. The guy could have spent his billions on yachts, jets, and fancy dinners. Instead, he left a permanent legacy behind and stayed true to who he really is. I can only hope to stay so close to that model.
Financial freedom is what you make of it. You may enjoy the same things I enjoy. Or you may find that it’s very different for you. Every perspective is unique to one’s own eyes. We all experience this world individually.
However, I think most people who become financially independent at a rather young age will find that creating their own schedule, working on the right challenges at the right time, and being able to positively impact the world in a lasting way are three of the best benefits of this lifestyle.
Even if financial freedom offered only these three benefits, it’d be something worth working incredibly hard for. But these are just three benefits of many. How many you personally experience is up to you. And discovering them all is half the fun!
How about you? What are you most looking forward to once you reach financial freedom? Are you already financially free? Do you agree with these three benefits?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.