Having free time to do what I want is really my main reason for wanting to become financially independent. It’s a strange concept to consider, given that we often think of ourselves as being “free”. I guess technically we are. I don’t have to work if I don’t want to, but the alternatives aren’t exactly enticing either. So are we really free when we need to work a 9 to 5 job just to make ends meet? I often ask myself that question. Obviously a regular job takes a considerable chunk of your week. Consequently, I often tell myself that I’m working to buy my own freedom one dollar at a time.
The problem with relying on a regular day job to achieve financial independence is that it’s a slow process. Very few people get rich by earning only a wage. I don’t even want to be rich for the sake of being rich. I don’t want a big house or an expensive car. But financial independence (without sacrificing too much quality of life) requires quite a bit of capital. In my case I’m hoping to make at least 25k a year, which at 4% in dividends, means having around $625k in dividend paying stocks. I’m nowhere near that at this point.
The obvious solution is too find other sources of income to amass that capital faster – preferably from sources that require as little effort on your part once set up. Some people start businesses, others buy real estate. There are literally millions of ways to make money out there, but finding which one works for you is a daunting task — especially when you don’t have a lot of capital to risk. When you’re starting out, like I am, it feels like your first move could make or break your entire future.
The other problem, and this is the real catch 22, is that starting anything requires time — which if you remember, because of your job, you don’t have a lot of. This is easier when you don’t have many obligations. But throw in a spouse and a few kids, maybe some sick parents, and you’re about tapped out. You also have to have a life of some sort, if not you’ll likely go crazy before you’re even close to becoming financially independent. Thankfully I don’t have many of these kinds of obligations — but others aren’t so lucky.
So that’s where I’m at right now. I’ve been thinking a lot about asking my boss to work fewer hours — if anything to have more time to work on more lucrative money making projects. That way I might get to being financial independence faster. Obviously I’d be taking a hit in the short term and I’d have less disposable income to invest. But I’d have more time (and energy!) to invest in myself.