Why is financial independence such a hard sell?
I don’t get it. Not one bit.
It sounds wonderful to me. Absolutely wonderful. Yet when I try to tell people about it, nobody seems interested! I haven’t ‘converted’ a single person. Not one. When I first stumbled upon this stuff, it was like the great sea had opened up. I heard angels singing. I wanted to tell everyone I knew – there was a way out! But Fuck. They are stuck in Plato’s Cave. People just don’t understand.
“You mean, suck the fun out of life when you are young just to retire early?”
I still have tons of fun, and I am not even financially independent! Until very recently, I used to sit in a cubicle every day. That wasn’t fun. Look at how Mr. Money Mustache lives on $27,000 per year, or how Jacob Fisker from Early Retirement Extreme lives on $7,000 per year. Do they seem like they arn’t having fun? Other people are starting homesteads for themselves and others are traveling the world full-time. Compare that to sitting in a cubicle and blowing all of your savings on a 1 week vacation (or 2 weeks, y’know if your boss lets you). Working for ‘The Man’ sucks the fun out of life.
“I wouldn’t be happy if I deprived myself of all the expensive things I love! What’s the point?”
Marketers have done a great job convincing you that you need those things to be happy. If you think the only things that make you happy are things you spend money on…then you are wrong. You don’t need to buy things to be happy! You’ll end up wanting more and more if you are on a journey for things to make you happy. You’ll join the mindless herd running on the hedonic treadmill. Lifestyle inflation follows. Spending money brings short-lived thrills, not happiness. Find activities that you love (and don’t cost, or better yet, earn you money), and spend like you have a rational brain. No deprivation necessary.
Not only that, but reducing expenses is often a case of increasing skills so that you can be a producer rather than a consumer, not a case of ‘going without’ or deprivation. Learning how to cook (skill increase) will result in going to restaurants and buying prepared food less (reduced expenses). As a bonus, you can cook exactly to your tastes and it’ll likely be healthier.
Other things require a mindset change to understand they don’t bring happiness (at least to me compared to the freedom of financial independence) and they are keeping you locked to a job (which in my case I don’t like). I don’t feel deprived not having a car (I get by without one easily, and I love riding my bike), or eating at restaurants (my girlfriend is an amazing cook, for one, and I eat much healthier at home than I ever could eating out). I feel deprived when I wake up to a gorgeous day, hearing birds chirping and seeing a beautiful forest outside my window, with a bike path calling out my name, but it’s a Monday. And on Monday, I sell my time to someone else; they get to dictate what I do that day, and for the next 4 days. I don’t get to go on a bike ride. Just because I spend money. The result of living a lifestyle above my means. It’s not worth it to me. How free would you feel, riding your bike with an ear to ear smile, relaxing and knowing you have the entire day to do whatever you want? You would be the envy of the grumpy people stuck in traffic, late for work!
I’ll continue to try telling people about financial independence, because I believe it is the way to a better world. I believe it would make people very happy, and if I could just convince one person, it would be worth it!
Update: I have convinced my lover. I also got a few people thinking…and read Early Retirement Extreme. Have I convinced you?