Financial independence is:
‘The freedom to choose whether or not you want to work and what sort of work you want to do’
I was introduced into the financial independence world when I started writing the show notes for the popular ChooseFI podcast – I was forced to listen to every single episode in order to do my job, which meant the financial independence mindset was really hammered into me, and of course, I learnt a lot 😉.
No idea what financial independence is all about? Check out this interview with Barney on reaching financial independence as a student.
But this post is not about financial independence, it’s about the amazing things I’ve learnt as a 20 year old attending meetups with the most fascinating and intelligent people I’ve ever met. Here goes…
1. Enjoy the journey as much as you can
My favourite question to ask people who have reached FI is ‘Would you do it again if you knew all this at age 20?’, and their answer, surprisingly, is no. Of course, in hindsight we always wish we had done things differently, but I still think this is golden information for a current twenty year old.
And these people say no because many of them, in order to reach financial independence, had to work several years at a job they disliked in order to escape the ‘rat race’. They worked hard, saved money, educated themselves and then quit. Do we all have to do this if we want to reach financial freedom? Do we all have to work a high paying job that doesn’t fulfill us to get there? Personally, I don’t think so at all.
I believe that at 20, if you have financial education under your belt and know how to manage your money, you can choose to work at a job that truly fulfills you. You can choose to work on something that allows you to enjoy the journey of life. And from all these intelligent and interesting people, I’ve learnt that simply being intelligent with your money can get you very far. Knowing this has changed my life.
2. The amazing power of communities
Everyone in the financial independence community agrees that there’s something special about meeting people with a similar mindset. Without trying to sound cultish, the community is truly astounding; people are fine with talking about money, people are willing to help you sort out your finances, and everyone has that mentality of self improvement and working hard to achieve their goals. Personally, I find it inspiring.
Especially as a 20 year old, this amazing community has helped me out a lot; not only do I learn so much every time I go to a financial independence meetup, but I get opportunities to work with some very interesting people which inspire to work harder on my own goals. Literally feels like a never ending cycle of self-development. Not a bad atmosphere to surround yourself with 😎
And I should also mention that I’ve made great friends attending these meetups, namely two who have ended up being the co-hosts on our podcast!
3. Mindset has no language barriers
I’ve been to FI meetups in Edinburgh, London and Barcelona and met people from all over the world. We’re soon going to be doing a retreat next year with even more people from Europe 😍.
Going on from the community aspect, the financial independence mentality has a way of connecting people who speak different languages. I personally find it fascinating to meet people with the same mentality but with who we talk about very different laws, taxes and investing practices. All you need to do is attend a meetup full of expats, and be blown away with all the amazing stuff people have done in different countries.
Having a podcast about reaching financial independence in Europe is also a great way of seeing how people use the system in their country and in other countries to their advantage. Pure geoarbitrage and life hacking.
4. It’s got very little do with money
That’s the craziest part.
When people see financial independence blogs, listen to podcasts and meet the people, the first thing they’ll hear is ‘taxes’ ‘compound interest’ ‘euros’ ‘dividend growth’ and a lot of financial jargon. And many times the first thing they’ll think is ‘these guys are greedy, obsessed with money and cannot be happy’.
But once you dig a little deeper you realise that financial independence is actually the complete opposite. Heck, the actual word says it; we’re all about being independent from your money. We want to get our lives back into control, we don’t want to rely on every penny to get to do the things that we want, we don’t want to depend on money. Because it’s all about control, about being able to do what you want with you life and setting your priorities.
Because you’ll never get to climb Mont Blanc, backpack through South East Asia, sail around the world or learn how to dance tango professionally if you have an inflexible day job that not only you dislike but that you rely on to not go broke every month. It’s all about lifestyle choices.
5. If you don’t know what to do with your life, attend a FI meetup
This last one goes out to the other university students who know they need to fix their finances, their priorities and their goals but don’t know how. Those who aren’t sure if studying a degree will get them a job, those who are scared of being stuck in a job they hate and those who have no idea what to do after they graduate. I tell you; attend a FI meetup.
Whenever I’m going to a FI meetup, I try to bring a friend along who I believe might learn something. So far I’ve seen 2 friends completely open their eyes and change their way of living. A pretty amazing experience.
If you’re interested in joining check out the FI London group, FI Edinburgh group and the EU one. To find out if there’s one in your city, simply type ‘financial independence [city]’ into Google and you will hopefully find a group! (if not look for the one nearest).
So as you can see, the financial independence community has truly changed my life as a twenty year old. I’ve decided to prioritise financial education over getting a degree at university, I do work that currently fulfills me and I keep saving and investing for the future. The whole ‘paradox of FI’ is that if you learn about it and start working towards it at a young age, you realise you don’t need it anymore. Although I’m working towards building a monetary cushion, I am in no rush to reach financial independence, since I’m lucky enough to be enjoying the journey. It’s crazy, but it’s true.
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you believe university students should be exposed to the FI world?