It's been said that life is a journey, not a destination. I believe that to be true. Always planning for tomorrow and keeping your eye on the future will give you a lack of appreciation for the moment at hand. I am sometimes guilty of this, as planning for retirement before the age of 40 takes a great deal of thought, vision and fortitude. However, that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy my days or that I'm somehow unhappy because I'm choosing to pursue financial freedom so early in life. Rather, it's the opposite: I'm extremely happy knowing that I'm hastening gratification in life because I'll have all my time to myself at such an early age.
I've received many emails and comments from curious readers as to why I would want to "sacrifice" 12 years of my life so that I can retire by 40 years old. Who would want to suffer for such a significant period of their life only to really start living at a future date? That makes no sense to me. Hopefully this post will dispel some of those crazy notions.
I believe financial independence is both a journey and a destination.
Certainly I've had to live well below my means for the last three years. At first it was a struggle to sell my car and get by in a small city by bus and bicycle. It wasn't easy. There were many days when I was riding my bike home in the pouring rain (we get crazy afternoon thunderstorms here in Florida), getting weird looks as onlookers would gawk at me as they whip by me in their shiny Cadillacs and Audis. Days in the beginning were trying, and I sometimes wondered if I was doing the right thing. I didn't have a lot of money saved up and coming home soaking wet after a long bike ride home only to sit down and eat some mac n' cheese was tough!
But after doing it for a few months I started to see the beauty in it. Life became an adventure. It wasn't just wake up, get in my car, find the closest parking space to the door, clock in, work, get back in my car, avoid other drivers and people, ignore the scenery, set myself on autopilot, get home, eat dinner....wonder why I was so broke.
That game was over! A beautiful, new life had sprung up in its place. One where getting to work and getting home actually became an adventure. What time would the bus show up today? Early? Late? Don't know...better get to the bus stop with time to spare. The bus ride became a time where I could get a nap in before work in the morning, and watch the scenery with gusto on my way home in the evening. No more worrying about gas prices or traffic. Hmm, I guess this isn't so bad after all.
Moving across town to a cheaper apartment sucked at first. I was living in a gated community when I first came down to Florida - suckered in by the beautiful landscaping and heated resort-style pool. But a sucker I am not. The girlfriend and I moved a couple miles down the road to an apartment that was over 25% cheaper and closer to the bus line. Hmm, no car payment and now a cheaper rent bill too? Now the money is starting to roll in. The benefits are becoming clear. You mean I get to still live in a nice apartment with modern luxuries like air conditioning, running water, electricity, all the appliances one could need to live a life fit for a king and also save money on top of it? Where exactly is the sacrifice?
I've since developed some wonderful talents as the journey to financial independence has become fuller and more enriching.
I've learned I have a passion for writing, and the fact that this blog has grown in such an exponential manner is staggering and rewarding beyond my wildest dreams. To know that I can reach over 1 million people all over the world and inspire that kind of audience is, well, simply amazing. That is a part of the journey that I can only wish I had started earlier.
I've also fallen in love with investing, specifically dividend growth investing - whereby I invest the excess savings from my frugal lifestyle into high quality companies that have a history of rewarding shareholders via rising dividends. These rising dividends are of course backed by rising earnings, because the companies produce or sell products and/or services that people around the world want and/or need on a regular basis.
You see, the journey isn't a sacrifice at all. I'm living my passion every single day. Every time I log ontoDividend Mantra and interact with you wonderful readers is a joy for me. Writing articles like this, inspiring people to change their lives is no sacrifice at all. It's a wonderful journey towards personal growth. Researching wonderful companies, balance sheets, cash flow statements, income statements, annual reports, 10-K's and the like is heaven for me.
But it's not just the journey. It's also the destination that makes the journey so fulfilling in the end. Certainly I'm having fun all the way to the finish line, but just like a runner in a marathon, the reward is in the run as well as crossing that line and knowing that you did it. You've accomplished something real and nobody can ever take that away from you. I've done some amazing things that have been a part of the great journey, but are just as much a part of the destination. I've built up my portfolio from $5,000 to over $100,000 in three short years. I did this on a middle class income because of persistence, consistency and a strong belief in what I'm doing.
The destination is there. I'll cross that finish line one day. I'm currently 31 years old, so I have about 9 years to go. But don't feel sorry for me. Don't think I only concentrate on the future, not really living for today. I'm living out my passions today, while still knowing that I'm getting closer and closer to the destination of financial independence, which will only buy me more time to focus on the passions that brought me there in the first place. That means more time to research investments, more time to write and inspire, more time to be a better person and more time to try and make the world a better place. A wonderful destination, but an even better journey!
Make sure your journey to financial independence isn't just focused on the destination. What makes you feel alive? What are your passions? How can you cultivate those passions now, while still marching towards financial freedom? Enjoying every single day is extremely important, and can be ever more enjoyable knowing that you'll one day have much more time to do what you really love to do. Make the most of every day. Make the most of you!
How about you? Do you believe financial independence is both a journey and a destination?
About the author:
Dividend MantraTrying to retire by 40 by investing in dividend growth stocks and living frugally, valuing time over money.