Thursday, August 6, 2015

Financial Independence Isn't Necessarily All About The Money

The easiest way to begin framing financial independence in your mind is to think of a typical day. I'm not talking about a special day or the week that you took leave from your work, where you might do something only occasionally, but on an average day, one that would categorize your activities once you've achieved financial independence.

The pursuit towards financial independence has somewhat evolved through the recent years I've been pursuing it.

It started off as a pursuit towards being able to handle basic proper financial planning like the usual stuff we often hear about - Being frugal about things. Never spend anything more than you can save. Spend on needs over luxuries.

The next step is about how to grow these amounts of money through investable assets that would make money work harder for you - Grow the human assets aspect. Invest in assets that will grow over time. Compound savings and investment early in our years. Choose the right portfolio allocation.

Finally, we look at things from the end results point of view. Grow our passive income. Determine the crossover point where passive income exceeds expenses. Calculate withdrawal rate after retirement.

In one of my previous post on redefining the concept of success (article here), I talked about how most society defines success as a measure of how well an individual is doing. One of the comments by a reader talks about a profession of doctor. Most of the popular professions such as doctors and lawyers are "favorite" because it carries "weight" to their profession, which can differ depending on how society sees it. When kids talk about wanting to grow up being a doctor or lawyer, the motive behind the reasoning is always going to be saving people's lives or bringing justice upright. But the moment one grows up, the society (and perhaps including your relatives and neighbours) sees such professions as having how much money, houses or fancy cars do they own. We can't really blame the society for viewing it that way, as we do have some correlation about the impression of money that can make an impact to this world.

Financial bloggers often talked about wanting to achieve financial independence on their blogs and it is not difficult to see why the community is so fixated on achieving the perfect aspect of this plan, be it savings or investing in any form of assets that can help grow the money. The truth is we can't deviate from the monetary aspect of this financial planning and they are critical if we want to survive in this world. They may look shallow to the first time reader reading the financial blog but they are there to serve the purpose and that purpose isn't all about the money at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure that most bloggers want to achieve independence rather than financial independence, though we can't argue much than accept the fact that they are a subset of the former.

This is perhaps the true intention behind my goal to reach the state of financial independence one day and that is to allow more freedom from whatever I am tied to do right now, be it fear from finding an alternative career path or an impossible task to take sabbatical away from work for a considerable period of time. I also dislike when there are people questioning my motive on my goal because these are mostly the same people who do stick to the conventional wisdom of life - Study hard, get a degree, find a stable job, and stay until retirement. And I want to live my life, while not forgetting my role as a breadwinner of the house. Not an easy task by any means. I can't simply walk away quitting and let my wife and child bear the burden of my selfishness.

I salute those who have the courage to step out of their comfort zones in life and whilst I can't speak for everyone's experience since everyone's situation is different, I'll stick to what I believe in when I started on this blog. But one thing for sure, it isn't necessarily all about the money at the end of the day.


  1. Hi B,

    I agree with you on the idea that attaining financial independence is a stepping stone for us to gain independence, being able to do what we want, not having to go to a 9-5 job day in day out and not being dependent on other factors out of our control.

    As mentioned, we cannot separate ourselves from the financial aspect. It may seem shallow to just focus on it but as some people say in Chinese: "钱不是万能的, 但没钱是万万不能", which means that while money isn't all powerful and important, we cannot do without money as well. For us to gain independence, one of the first steps that we can take is to free ourselves from having to live on a paycheck (and all the other things that we have to do to get it).

    Some Ideas

    1. Hi Some Ideas

      Have to agree with you here.

      Money isn't the end game, but they are a much needed components of financial independence for freedom to take place. Until then, it's all about finding your path in attaining success and independence, just like how Singapore has found hers :)

  2. B,

    Well, there's one less ant in our community ;)


    I think some people can't see the difference between a linear and holistic way of living our lives.

    Linear - I'll get money first, then I'll figure out what I want to do in life, spend more time with people that matter, take care of my health, etc... The straight line extrapolators.

    Holistic - Living in the present. The future is unknown.

    Complacency is assuming everything will turn our exactly as we have "planned".

    Humility is to acknowledge that sometimes shit happens; with a sprinkling of pure dumb luck to even things out ;)

    1. Hi SMOL

      That's a very interesting way of looking at it.

      Linear versus holistic - I've actually never quite thought about it this way. I think I'm more of a linear person. I tend to do and plan things in a traditional organized manner. No surprises. Quite a straight line extrapolators expectations you may say. :)

  3. Hi B

    Timely. Your post can go hand-in-hand with mine:

    1. Hi Frugal Daddy

      Indeed, they speak about the same story and tone to yours ;)

  4. Hi B,

    You're right. It isn't all about the money. If it was, why would we want to quit and retire? Just continue earning more and more!

    I don't know exactly. But if your wife's blog shop expands well, you earn more and more income as a writer and your portfolio continues earning returns in the late teens, what you aspire for may be in full view within a few years' time.

    You've been an inspiration to me since I came across your blog about 3 years ago and continue to be!

    1. Hi 15hww

      Many thanks for your kind words as always. I really appreciate and feel touched by it.

      It's a thinking that I have been pondering on my mind actually. The Mrs is getting busier and enjoying what she is doing while my plan is to tone down and have more time after work and on the weekends. With the portfolio (and yours too) going to increase over time (I hope so), I think there will be a chance that what seems to be an improbable in the beginning seems will materialize at the end of the journey, and then a new journey will begin again.

      I really like how you and the Mrs are journeying your adventure so far. I have yet to hear your concrete plan moving forward but I hope you will find happiness and success in your journey, which I strongly believe you will :)

      Let's keep on marching!!!

  5. I remember quote by an India Celebrity when I was a kid "Money is not god. but it is as important."
    that is the sad reality of our lives.

    1. Hi GP Blogger

      Yeah, I guess just like what Tommy Koh has written on his letter to his grandchildren. He said that do not worship money, it's not going to make you a successful person if you do that. To some extent, it is true because you can't have those money lying the path for you but nevertheless, we can't say that we don't need them.

  6. Hi,
    You're right. It's not about the money. Just like you said, first time readers or some people new to the concept can't comprehend that it's not about accumulating money but the extreme desire to buy our time back. Good read.

  7. eToro is the ultimate forex broker for beginning and pro traders.