The world of personal finance blogs (this one included) is filled with a healthy dose of fantasy. Where we’ll live, what we’ll do, and the many adventures that the ability to say “see ya” to our jobs will allow us to have. There’s one freedom granted us by financial independence that I think a lot of personal finance and early retirement blogs gloss over: The freedom of changing your mind.
This week, the future Mrs. Vagabond and I got to talking about the many places we want to live or visit in the world, and chatted happily about where we’d like to begin. Part of our plan for the next few years is to get married, and hopefully start our family… just in time to begin to raise them on the road. Well, to call it “on the road” may be overstating it a bit. We don’t intend to jet from place to place at vacation speed. We’ll arrive in each new location expecting to spend a few months, and either extend or cut short our stay depending on how much we’re getting out of the experience.
Though it was a happy conversation, it began because one of our close friends had attempted to pour a lot of cold water on our early retirement enthusiasm. Curiously (or maybe totally expectedly), the few people who have voiced concerns about our plans of the next few years have all been very close to us. We’ve been told that you can’t retire by forty, that you can’t travel with very young children, and that we are going to be lonely and miserable. To be frank, I think they’re completely wrong on all counts.
But What if They’re Not Wrong?
What if the places that we romanticize are too hot, too cold, too boring, too scary, or just too different to make us happy? What if we get so tired of traveling that all we want is the safety and reliability of the USA?
If we’re not happy, we’ll change our minds.
We’ll move. We’ll come home. We’ll settle someplace new that we can’t imagine leaving. We’ll take on part or full time jobs just to pass the time, assuming we enjoy them completely. That’s part of complete financial freedom too.
Think about all the people in the world living paycheck to paycheck, or deeply in debt. Those are the people who can’t change their minds. If someone with no savings whatsoever takes a new job that turns out to be a nightmare, they have few options aside from finding another one. Families relocating for work, pursuing further education in an attempt to get a raise, or working long hours are the ones truly trapped in their choices!
Financial Independence isn’t just a single moon-shot towards your fantasies. It’s a safety net that allows you to make and unmake choices, to experiment, and to let the experience of freedom plant new desires and dreams inside of you.
If you’re a little further along on your journey to financial independence than we are, and you’re resisting pulling the trigger because you’re not sure you’ll like retirement, or you think you’ll be bored, don’t fear! You have a power that is actually the foundation of the “independence” part of financial independence: the freedom, the wherewithal, and the luxury of changing your mind.