You only get one life. This isn’t a dress rehearsal, this is it. I want to live my life as well as I can and the way I want to. However, to enable me to do that, I need £’s. And lots of it. So, I need to live as well as I can, strategically, before I can live the life I truly want.
When we were in our early 20s, undergraduate degrees in the bag, we both started our first professional jobs in London. And initially, it was exciting. It was grown up, we felt like proper adults, with actual responsibilities. And dare I say it, we even liked the train commute; it gave us time to read or do our online food shopping.
But time wore on and the sparkle faded away. The weeks turned to months, which inevitably turned to years and before we knew it, we had 6 years of London commuting under our belts and we were knackered. Like, bone exhaustingly tired. Mentally and physically taxed. And we were still only 28!
We moved to America and slashed our commute time dramatically (paying for it in an increase in housing costs for living in the city) but the exhaustion remained. The constant conveyor belt of waking up, going to work and being out of the house for up to 12 hours a day (or more for Mr. LLC), coming home, scrabbling to make dinner and lunch for the next day. Spending our weekend days doing chores, before resetting and doing the same thing all over again and again. And again.
I don’t even hate the life I live. And in small chunks that routine is perfectly manageable. But it’s the week after week relentlessness of it that wore us both down relatively early in our professional lives. When you realise this is life until 65 (if you’re lucky), it’s overwhelming. And you work so hard all your working lives, so that, hopefully, you’ll be well enough to enjoy the free time retirement gives you. But what if you can’t? What if you drop down dead 6 months into your retirement? My dad’s colleague died of pancreatic cancer in his 50s, before he even got the chance to retire to the life he had been working so hard towards.
Financial freedom will enable us to live the life we want to live whilst we’re still able to. The ‘early retirement’ of ‘FIRE’ (financial independence | early retirement) has never sat completely well with me. When I think of retirement, I inevitably think of older adults and the twilight years of life.
I like to think of it financial independence | living life on my terms.
We’re saving aggressively so we have wealth to be able to live how we want. And at the moment, we don’t even fully know what that means. We know it will involve moving to the countryside, pursuing our hobbies and working on passion projects. It’s OK that it’s not quite figured out yet; there’s still plenty of saving to do before we get there.
We know what it doesn’t mean though. It means not being ruled by the alarm clock, commuting for 3+ hours a day on top of working, sitting in a grey, sterile work environment with people you can barely tolerate, having that nagging feeling that you should be checking your work emails at home, getting ill through stress, not spending enough time with the people you truly want to. We spend more time staring at a computer screen/drab office walls than we get to spend staring at mountains or the ocean or a great expanse of desert.
One thing I’m fond of saying to Mr. LLC is that he is literally my most favourite person in the world and yet, his work colleagues get to spend more time with him than I do. How backward is that?! The one person I literally want to spend every waking second with and I can’t, because we’re wage slaves. I can’t wait for the days that we have so much time together we start to get on each other’s nerves!
Ours is a simple strategy to enable us to live a simple, well-intentioned life but it’s not easy to achieve. You have to live your life well and with intention on the journey. Because, whilst you’re saving for the life you aspire to, you’re still living your one life. The clock doesn’t reset when you hit your target and leave the 9-5 behind. It’s about striking a balance between working and saving aggressively to give yourself a better life but still stopping to appreciate the journey and the ups and downs along the way. We don’t want to live in deprivation and begin resenting what we’re doing because it won’t bring us fulfilment when we finally achieve it. We want to be happy with how we live in the meantime so we can be proud of what we created for ourselves.