16 Reasons to become Financially Independent

There are a lot of misconceptions about striving for Financial Independence or even trying to create more financial freedom. I can often see the confusion or hesitation when I mention it. Here are some of the arguments against it:

16 reasons for financial independace

Your giving up and opting out

You can’t produce

You will no longer add value

Our worth is defined by our job, ergo no job, no worth

The reasons people will seek financial independence are as varied. And each reason has a unique benefit.

Here are the most compelling 16 reasons to seek Financial Independence:

1. You choose where you live

Our jobs often determine our location. Maybe we really want to live closer to family or in the mountains or off the grid, but it’s not in close proximity to our current job, so we give up that dream. With FI, you get to live where you want to live. Even if the pay is lower, or non existent.

2. You choose your most meaningful work

I think we all have important, meaningful work in us. Work that matters to you. When you are FI, you get to figure that out, and pursue it. Even if the pay is lower. Even if you need to go back to school to do it. You can find the kind of work you are most passionate about, and the area where you add the most value.

3. If you are still at your old J-O-B, you can set boundaries

When you are “offered” that extra project, unpaid overtime, a work trip over your anniversary, you can say “Thanks, but no thanks.” You need to leave by 6, you get to make that call. What’s the worst that will happen? They could fire you. But you don’t NEED that job. And if they are unreasonable with your schedule, maybe you don’t want that job.

3. If you are still at your old J-O-B, everything you make is “extra”

With all that extra income, you can do amazing things. You could travel more. You could buy a vacation home. You can make bigger charitable donations. Or bankroll a new animal shelter. What would you do if all the income you earned was “extra”? It’s kind of exciting, right? When what we earn doesn’t have to go to buying food and paying bills, but can be the honest reflection of our biggest passions.

4. If you are at your old J-O-B, you might like it more!

You are there by choice. Because you want to be. The paycheck isn’t the biggest factor anymore. You really feel like this is the best use of your time, skill and passion. Sure, there are still stressful days, but you know that being there is your choice, not coercion by paycheck.

5. Your job can never love you back

No matter how much you love your job, it can’t love you back. No matter how much your boss or coworkers love you, you are only there because 1. They can afford to pay you, and 2. You fulfill a need. And if either of those change, often without warning, you no longer have a job. Being FI means that you can love your work, but you don’t really NEED the job. If the pay stops without warning, you are already prepared.

6. You can take on more risk

Let’s say your old J-O-B wasn’t your true calling. You can take some risks and venture into new things. You can test out new businesses, or try new skills. In my first 9 months of blogging, I made $9. I tested out this passion of writing because I didn’t need this new project to be profitable the first year. Without needing a large income (or any income) at all, what kinds of things would you try?

7. Your physical health

What if we had the time to get enough sleep, exercise and eat real food? Crazy idea, right? Mr. Mt had been trying to get to the gym more as well as eat and sleep better while still working 40+ hours a week. But in this year, since he left his old job, he lost an extra 30 lbs. He is quickly approaching 40, in the best shape of his life and at his high school weight.

8. Your mental heath

You don’t have to work a job that is so stressful to your mental health. If you have overwhelming demands, difficult relationships with coworkers or customers, or just the administration nightmare, you get to find something better. Or back to #3, set some boundaries.

9. Space for your biggest life dreams

What is that one thing you would love to do if you could take a year off? Travel, create something, do a physical challenge? When you are FI, you can take a year off. You can make space for your biggest dreams. If you want to build a home, volunteer overseas, or sail around the world, you can do that. Plus you don’t have to stress about finding a high paying job right after your time off, because your bills are covered.

10. Spend more time with people that matter the most

Typically we spend 40-50 hours a week with our coworkers. They aren’t really friends, they aren’t family or our kids. But do we give our best hours to the people least significant to us. For a long time, I only had 45 minutes after a 9 hour day to spend with my son. 45 minutes when I was my most tired. I worked every weekend, so I had to turn down every request to see friends and family at weekend get-togethers. I spent my best time with people I don’t even talk to anymore. Now the people most important to me get my best time. Now I get to pick who my “coworkers” are. Other bloggers, writers, freelancers, creators or builders of wonderful things. I get to make time to Skype, text, email or go out to coffee with them.

11. You can pick the amount of work you do

Maybe you want to pour 60 hours a week into your work. Maybe 30 would be better in this season. Maybe you have a newborn at home and 10 is all you can give. How much is right for you, right now? When you are FI, you get to pick. If a traditional employer won’t accommodate part time work, you can do work that matters to you on your own terms.

12. You can decide how long you travel

Maybe you really need this week off, but someone else already claimed it. Mr. Mt missed his little sisters wedding, because his boss at the time just decided to say “no.” There was no explanation or reason. He had 60+ vacation days, but his boss decided to be a jerk.

We took a 6 week road trip this summer. No employer would have given us that time, even unpaid. FI means we get to decide. We weigh the pro’s and con’s ourselves, and decide what’s right for us. Maybe you want to travel for a year, or 5. Maybe you just want a month for a nice road trip with your family, with out constant emails and phone calls.

13. If things suck, you can quit

Now, if you work enough jobs for long enough, at some point things will suck. You’ll get a new boss, a mean coworker, a horrible customer, or go through restructuring. When you are FI, you don’t need the paycheck, so you get to honestly evaluate if this job is the best use of your precious life. If your time, passion, work, is best used here. And if not… you get to quit. Just like that.

I had a work environment turn hostile once. A coworker went all “mean girls” on me. Daily she would call me things like: slut, prostitute, accuse me of being bulimic, throw paper at me, or refuse to speak or look at me (which was kind of awkward but somewhat a relief). It sucked for me, but was also really awkward for everyone else. After a few talks with the management, they made it very clear that she mostly likely wouldn’t adjust her behavior and they wouldn’t fire her. So I could get use to this constant abuse or quit.

Life is short. I have meaningful and important work to do. Because we didn’t need my income anymore, guess which I picked! =) And imagine how much more that would have sucked if I desperately needed that paycheck to pay a mortgage.

14. Time for other important areas

What other areas of your life are important? Do you have enough hours left in the day for those other things? FI means you get to decide how many hours are dedicated to each thing that matters. To your family, to relationships, to hobbies, to art, to volunteering, to community. As life changes, you can adjust the number of hours allotted to each.

15. Work without pay

Sometimes the work we really want to do, the thing that is most important to us, doesn’t come with a paycheck. Staying home to raise our kids. Coaching our kids little league team. Watching our grandkids on the weekend. Blogging (cough, cough). I like to be able to speak for different local organizations. I can add a lot of value, and it’s a great way to leverage my message to have a bigger impact. In return, I often get a gift card, candle or simple thank you card. And that is OK. Because I don’t need the paycheck. I can choose to use 15-20 hours to prepare a great talk when the monetary benefit is a candle.

16. Comfortably Retire when you need/want to

Honestly, when we first started talking about FI ideas, this was my number one motivator. I had seen friends and family forced to retire because of health concerns even though they weren’t financially ready.  Our health and able bodies can go out long before our income needs are met. And at that point, it’s a dire situation to repair. So I want to be able to retire comfortably on our own terms. I didn’t want to be in a spot where we NEEDED to work until 70, just in case we weren’t physically able to do so.

We all can strive to build more financial freedom.  If I’m still working 40+ hours a week when I am 70, I don’t want it to be because I need that paycheck to pay next months rent, but because I have work I am passionate about. Financial Independence isn’t about opting out of a meaningful, productive life. Instead it’s about having the freedom to make the choices that are right for us.

for conversation:

Any reasons appealing/motivating for you?

Any other reasons that are a driving force for you?

Do you think most people “get” these reasons, or still just view it as opting out?

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32 thoughts on “16 Reasons to become Financially Independent

  1. Sheesh, it sounds like you’ve had more than your fair share of jobs with major downsides 🙁 I’m glad you’re turning them into learning experiences and leading the way to FI for others!

    • No, same job. =) Most of them (and I’ve had a few) have been awesome. But work enough jobs, with enough coworkers, and enough bosses and you will find some sucky situations. Mr. Mt probably had over 30 direct bosses and supervisors during his time in the military. Only 2 were really bad. Which is a great percentage, but it still sucked while he worked for those 2.

  2. 1. Which church are you going to? I never got free donuts!?!

    2. To me all of these reasons boil down to one think: freedom. Being FI means you get to do what you want. And I want FI more than I want a new car or designer clothes. So the only sacrifice I’m making right now is trading my time for a paycheck. Gotta get FI so I can stop that immediately.

    Now, I’m off to Krispy Kreme

    • Hanging out with friends, chatting and eating free donuts and drinking coffee after church is the best part! If I could digitally send donuts to everyone who hangs out in the comment section to chat, I would! 😉 And yes to freedom! It’s all different forms of freedom and choice.

  3. I read a magazine article kinda like this earlier today. I think the big thing (for those that can afford to make a life change) is getting outside the comfort zone.

    All of us gripe about how we have it worse than than the rest and don’t always do everything in our power to change anything. Your 16 reasons reverberated that tone in my mind as I read your article.

    • Hum… I’m not a 100% sure I understood your comment. Do you think this post has the same tone as, “All of us gripe about how we have it worse than than the rest and don’t always do everything in our power to change anything.”?

      I hope not. Because that was kind of the opposite of what I was going for. I was hoping it would read more motivational “Please do the hard work to create more financial freedom because there are so many good things that come with it!” Or maybe “Let the haters, hate, there are very good reasons to seek FI, even if not everyone “gets” it.”

      Ok, I need a few more people to chime in: what was your take away from this post? Did I mess up a good idea?

  4. Hi I am new to your blog. Wow Mr. M is near his high school weight and nearing 40. Luckily I was pretty able to keep my weight over the years but it’s my height that is slowing leaving me. My kids measured me the other day and I was an inch away from my HS height.

    Anyway, the most meaningful of the 16 is spending time with loved ones more. Especially my kids.

    Thanks for the good read.

    • Thanks for checking out the blog!

      And we totally just measured Mr. Mt last week and found out he is 1/2 inch shorter! He was slightly devastated. What was even worst is that I was 1/2 and inch taller than I remember being. 😉 But he has been working out 90 minutes a day for over a year now, and is in rocking shape. It’s really cool to see.

      And YES to seeing the kids! Having the time home, plus time to go do fun things and travel has been amazing for all of us. =)

  5. Awesome list Ms. Montana! Your post is way more thorough than mine! I think most people don’t get these reasons. They usually use not needing to reach FI as a reason why they don’t need to save. You can do both though! Work all you want and save until you’re FI.

    • Agreed! Plus it’s even better to be working when you are FI! All that extra cash, and choosing your most ideal work. I’m all for continuing to work, I just don’t want to desperately need the paycheck! Because the reality is 30% of people who retire before 60 do so because of health concerns. Just because a person wants to work forever doesn’t mean they will be able to.

  6. Hand in hand with your comment on risk is if when layoffs come around you can take the best package or not lose sleep on it depending on your life. Retirement is sometimes not a choice after all.

  7. I’m still figuring out my long term plans, they’re fluid at the moment. But one thing I do know is that I don’t want to be tied to a job I hate and I want to have the energy to invest in important relationships. Last year we paid off out mortgage and though we don’t have much passive income yet, being debt free gives us a huge amount more flexibility and is very… freeing.

    • We don’t have a mortgage either and it creates so many options! Even with 5 little kids at home, I feel like we have a lot of flexibility just because we can easily keep our expenses under $2,000 a month.

  8. 5. Your job can never love you back.

    It took me so long to learn this lesson. I feel I gave a lot to some jobs, only to have to go for one reason or another. The commitment asked for and given was so very one-sided. Do your job, do your best, but don’t forget that in the end, unless it’s your own business, you may have to walk away.

    • It is so incredibly one sided! It took me a long time to figure out that is just the nature of business. But what really drives me crazy is the false security some jobs preach. And often use that as a tool to take more and more.

  9. So many great points in this post! It’s all about the freedom to choose and the ability to call your own shots. That’s powerful stuff!

    Though we aren’t FI yet, we are secure enough that Alan has been able think about his job differently. He’s been told recently he may have to start putting in more than his typical 45-50 hours/week – what’s nice about that is he can say “no” without fear.

    • Just having the financial freedom to do that is awesome! I remember during the recession when things were so scary and jobs scarce, in the downsizing the employees who stayed often ended up cover 2 or 3 peoples work. If your finances weren’t in order, you just did whatever your boss asked.

  10. I love this list! My dad was at the worst job of his life and 3 people in the past year ended up in the hospital because of the stress. If that’s not a sign to leave, I don’t know what is.

  11. I agree with Ty. Working on your own term is so much better than working for others. The corporations just don’t have your best interest at heart. It is so liberating to work for myself.

    • It’s very transactional with most jobs. It seems like most jobs ask for more and more. Like if you only put in 40 hours a week you lacked commitment, and you better have your phone on all the time, or check emails on the weekend. We rushed as fast as we could to get to the point where we could cover our bills ourselves without needing the paycheck.

  12. Some great points Ms M!

    For me it comes down to being able to work on whats important to me, and the freedom to decide when, where, and with who.

    Because I graduated with Student Loan debt I had less options. Once I’m debt free (2-3 months away :)) I will finally be able to accelerate the process of gaining back control of my life and my journey to FI.

  13. Great points!

    During our meetup yesterday, we had a group discussion on systems vs goals. A big part was about why do we do all of this. The ultimta goal is happiness. The points you mention are all contributors to that one single thing we strive for.

  14. Right now I am stuck at a j-o-b, and although it isn’t my true calling it’s paying the bills. I dream of the day I am financially independent so I am able to say “thanks but no thanks” instead of feeling obligated to overwork myself! One day…

  15. Holy crap! I can believe management tolerated the mean-girl sh*t. Was she the boss’s wife? Reason 13 alone is enough reason to pursue financial independence. And all the others are good reasons too. I especially love reason 5, “your job won’t love you back.” Back in 2007, the company I worked for lost a major federal contract. One day, 100 people were busy as beavers fulfilling the contract’s requirements. The next day, 100 were unceremoniously shown the door. Meh.

    • That situation was crazy stressful at the time, but with a few years separation, the ridiculousness of it humors me. She was the owners sister-in-law, which was actually much worst. She had been fired from every job she had ever had (shocking, I know.) and went bankrupt and ended up living with him and his wife. I mentioned that allowing this kind of abusive behavior to go on would only put the business at risk of a future lawsuit. But at the end of the day, which is worst: future potential lawsuit or having this delightful sister-in-law have to live with you, potentially forever. 😉 I kind of don’t blame him. I know I sure as hell wouldn’t want her living in my house!