One of the goals of this blog has been to track my progress to paying off debt, maybe offering some small advice on financial matters, and ultimately achieving financial independence. Financial independence and early retirement are big topics, aside from paying off debt, on personal finance blogs. Practically every blog out there is either tracking their progress to paying off debt or talking about their goal to become retired early/financially independent.
One of the reasons for those notions is the precious commodity of time. The people who are motivated for FIRE (Financially Independent Retiring Early) want to be able to do with their time what they see fit. They may not like their jobs, are tired of the rat race, whatever.
I share a lot of those sentiments. I hate debt. I am tired of it. I want to be able to do what I want when I want it. But when I was in Beijing I saw a t-shirt that got me thinking. It said “Doing What You Like Is Freedom.” Well, I know that notion has been kicked around before, etc. But it got me thinking. Aren’t I already free? Aren’t I already financially free?
While I may have debt and I really do need to work for Mrs. ROB and I to survive I really like what I do. I mean I really like it. I get to travel, research the things I think are fun, give advice to others, teach students. Of course there is bureaucracy and other things that I hate, but wouldn’t I have that if I weren’t doing this job. Wouldn’t there be aspects of my life that I don’t like even if I had nothing imposing myself on my time.
My goal has never been to truly retire early. I don’t think I could do it. I need structured time and work provides that for me. At the same time, I love the idea of being financially free to do what I want. But, in some respects, I do that now. I am free, really, to explore the topics I want too. I am not beholden to anyone. My job is pretty secure.
The only thing holding me back from true freedom is some of this debt, but that will come in time. So maybe I have already beaten the game. Maybe I am already free? Kind of liberating when I look at it like that. Once this debt gets paid off then I can be even more free. That will take a bit, but I think I might be even more ahead of the game than I think.