Friday, July 4, 2008

Financial Independence

I keep hearing about everyone tightening their financial belts. It seems that indeed our world does revolve around the oil "crisis." You don't realize it until the (US) economy suffers (more than usual). How do we know? Fuel and food prices have been going up. These two affect us everyday - it finally hit our wallets. It is starting to "hurt."

I remember when Amy Dacyczyn (author of the Tightwad Gazette newsletter and books in the 1990's) talked about being frugal, in varying degrees, as a way to live your entire life. She talked about living your life, not based on credit, but based on paying for everything with cash. "Pay as you go" as the phrase goes.

She talked about her and her husband's goal to have a large family and a home in New England (USA) with an attached barn. Nobody thought it was a realistic goal. You know what? They now live in Maine and have six children. They own a pre-1900's farmhouse with attached barn! Her husband retired while she was doing the newsletter. And she retired from the Tightwad Gazette when her goals were met. How about that? She finished up her work when most people would have just been getting started. Her writing was popular. Still is.

I like her name,'s pronounced "decision." Mrs. "Decision" made the choice to enjoy her family and be financially independent while still having children at home. Financial Independence (“FI” as it's called for those in the know) is achievable for many people, but most people think that they need to work the rest of their lives. These days people only hope to retire and enjoy the end of their days with "ease." She had some pretty interesting ideas about the economy and how it should be handled. I liked them and I think she showed real insight that the rest of us should consider. I wonder what her thoughts are on the stimulus checks these days? Hummm...

What about enjoying the days you have now? What about working in a field of your calling and enjoying every minute of it, instead of waiting 20-30 more years to "relax" with arthritis, bifocals, thinning hair, and maybe a cane, all on a fixed income? (By the way, I am using a stereotype here - in no way do I imply all people are like this, but it's more likely when you are older).

How about living the way you want now, not luxuriously, mind you, but on purpose? You can enjoy your family now. Enjoy being debt free. Enjoy the freedom that comes with not worrying about money. Enjoy sleeping at night. Enjoy your spouse more because you will not have the #1 cause of divorce in your house - financial woes.

Surely God does not want us to be slaves in bondage to the money driven life people have because they think they need more to live the "American dream" lifestyle. Are the diamonds and gold, the latest style in clothing, pools, electronic toys, numerous cars in the driveway, and fancy televisions and stereos all worth it? Most people in the world will never own anything like that list. And many are happy people despite this.

I have known poor people and I have known frugal people. "Poor is a state of mind" - a statement that is very true. Frugal is a choice. Sometimes we think we have no other choice. If you say you're "broke," then you have a "poor" mentality. If you choose to save money by growing a garden and not eating out, then you are being frugal. If you choose to be a stay at home mother for your children, when everyone thinks you're crazy because "it takes two incomes in this world to raise a family," you might be of the frugal persuasion.

I started this post talking about the economy. Let's go back to that for a minute. Who do you think is having a hard time budgeting now? Those that are (more or less) forced to because of their skyrocketing expenses to maintain their fancy lifestyle? Or those that have lived that way for years?

I remember when the Y2K scare was on everyone's mind. Coming up to the year 2000, banks, schools, utility companies, all computer using businesses were having to become 4 digit year friendly to "save" their records and so everything wouldn't just "stop" as we were told. All because of going from "1999" to "2000." People stocked up on non-perishable foods (grains, beans, dehydrated and canned foods). People bought generators. Lots of them. Some people were ready to "camp" out. Or they thought they were.

Who do you think was standing by wondering what all the commotion was about? People that already were doing these things for years. The Amish do not use generators and they don't rely on electricity to lives their lives. And others that are "off the grid" need not worry that their dependence on electricity will stop them from making breakfast and being happy.

I'm not saying we should all be Amish (many are them are fine people, I know). I am saying that for true financial success, the result of a lifetime of financial stewardship really shines through the longer and more intense you are about it. Even if we don't want to or can't achieve total financial independence, we can still be satisfied and financially secure. Dave Ramsey would approve.

Today being July 4th (Independence Day in the USA), and being in Africa just makes me think a little more about true freedom. Did we gain independence only to be slaves to the "almighty" dollar?

I'd rather choose for my family to stay debt free (more than 1 year now!) and control my money before it controls me. You in?


Amanda T said...

Well said. I so agree with you. I'm linking to your article from my blog.

Audra Krell said...

Very well written post. Congratulations on being debt free for a year, sounds like you are experiencing true freedom. Thanks for all the reminders.

Jennifer said...

I like this post, thanks!

Heather said...

Very well said! I like all the points you made. I talked about something similar in my Frugal Friday post today as well. Check it out.