Financial independence. It’s the overall theme of this blog, but what does it actually mean?
I’ve been wrestling with this topic for a few weeks now. After I wrote Confessions of a PF blogger, I was replying to comments, and found myself writing: I wonder if “financial independence” is just a phrase I use to describe a goal I might reach financially, but might never reach emotionally.
“Financial independence” is such a vague term. I’ve always thought that it meant living a comfortable life where you don’t have to rely on anybody else, or allow yourself to be limited by your finances. But can you really put a dollar amount on that? And if you can’t, how do you know when you’re actually achieved it? Is it just a feeling that you get? Often times I struggle with goals that aren’t black and white, or things that aren’t consistent or universal.
Right now, I’m financially dependent on Vancity for my mortgage. Without the bank, I wouldn’t have my townhouse. So even though I have savings in the bank, and can fully support myself on a day-to-day basis, until I pay off my mortgage, or decide to sell (without buying another place), I wouldn’t consider myself to be financially independent.
I guess it’s kind of open for interpretation. Does “financial independence” mean being completely free of debt? Does it mean having enough money in the bank (or in passive income) to never work again? Or does it simply mean being able to live a comfortable life without being dependent on somebody else?
I’m beginning to realize that for me, “financial independence” is more about feeling, rather than a number or a dollar figure to be obtained. And that scares me a little. I tend to trust logic and facts over emotions and feelings. Like I said before in this post (and in my Confessions post), I’ve never been good with vague goals. Once I think I’ve achieved it, I’ll convince myself that I haven’t, and push the goal out a little further – making it seemingly unattainable.
Yet, I know that I’m not blindly chasing this abstract dream of “financial independence.” I’m fully confident that one day, it will become a reality. I just need to figure out what it means in order to realize it emotionally. Once I’ve stripped away all of my dollar figure goals, and stopped crunching the numbers, what will “financial independence” feel like?
What does financial independence mean to you?