Money Is Not Everything

7 More Important Things

Money Is Not Everything
Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

The year 2020 changed the world forever. On a personal level, its sparked many respective days of thinking. I’m grateful for these days, they help bring things into perspective. The world is a fascinating place and there is much to think about. 

I’ve been part of the FIRE movement for 3 years now. I’ve already achieved financial independence. I’m still working to earn more, invest more, and increase the quality of my early retirement life. 

I’m working through my ultimate FIRE checklist and counting down the days left of my career. The more my net worth grows the less interesting having a lot more money becomes. Getting to my stretch goals is a means to an end. The idea of having a lot of money by itself isn’t very exciting to me. I have no desire to be rich. I have no desire to be famous. I have no desire to have a fancy corporate job to impress others. 

Once I hit my financial goals, I’ll be free to focus on other things. The human experience is waiting and I’m eager to explore! 

When I think forward to the days ahead when I have more than enough money, I hear Tom Hank’s voice in my head as Forest Gump, “We don’t have to worry about money no more, that’s good one less thing.” 

I plan to take a page from the Forest Gump book of life and cut grass for free. I do enjoy mowing a lawn and laying down some beautiful stripes in the grass. 

In this future world, when money is one less thing to worry about, what will I do? What will I think about it? Answering this big squishy question made me realize a few things. It helped me discover a few things that are more important than money! Here are my top 7 things. Of course, most of these things cost no money. That figures. 

1. Being with your partner, your true love

A smile from my beautiful wife melts my heart and makes me forget everything else. I look forward to our days together. The rainy days, the sunny days, and everything in between. 

2. Talking, laughing, and just being with friends and family

The COVID pandemic reminded the entire world how much joy we get from being with those we love. Laughing, eating, and drinking with our favorite people is irreplaceable joy. 

3. Being in flow, a mental state

Reading Flow had a profound impact on my life. It helped me understand the feelings that give the spark to our lives. I enjoy puzzles and puzzles come in many shapes and sizes. Discovering, building, and solving puzzles is a lot of fun for me. I often get lost in flow readying, studying, analyzing, and working through mental puzzles. 

I’m drawn to finances and economics for this reason. These are big puzzles. Some of the greatest minds still haven’t figured it out. 

Find something that sparks your imagination and mental curiosity. It’s worth it.

4. Being in flow, a physical state

Physical states and flow are great joys in life. Many of my favorite experiences fall into this category. Team sports and individual sports are a lot of fun for me. 

I look forward to ramping up my physical activities and finding my weekly limit of golf. Many FIRE writers warn against early retirement if the only thing on your to-do list is to play more golf. Great advice for 99.9% of readers. I’m more in the camp of psychopaths that can’t wait to play 100 rounds per season. 

Find a sport, a game, or anything that challenges you physically. You’re a human being, we’re designed to be active and play! 

5. Giving: time, money, knowledge, and energy

Like most great secrets of life, this one is obvious in retrospect. The gift of giving is a gift for both parties. Volunteering is very rewarding. Giving a few dollars provides more joy than spending those dollars on yourself. Share what you know with others. The value of your wisdom will surprise you. 

This one is often missed, your positive energy and spirit is a gift. People like to be around others that bring positive energy into the room. It’s rare, it’s comforting and it’s inspiring. Give the gift of positive energy, it costs you nothing and can change sometimes day.  

6. Wellbeing: living and eating healthy

Being rich is better than being poor. However, if you’re rich with poor health, you’re poor. 

7. Studying: reading, and thoughtfulness

It’s a failure of American life that studying isn’t revered as a lifetime sport. It’s a front-loaded experience for the first 20 years of life. When work consumes your waking hours studying and continued learning take a backseat. 

Studying, reading, learning, and thinking are principles of a fulfilling life. The greek philosophers figured this out a few thousand years ago.  

A final thought 

While developing my ultimate FIRE checklist I asked myself, what are margins of safety that I can add? What are all my options? What if I couldn’t access my money for an extended period of time. What would life be like if I couldn’t spend any money? 

If you take away all the categories that you typically spend money on, here’s what’s left:

  1. Shelter – Buy a home and pay off the mortgage. 
  2. Food – Build a garden and a greenhouse to grow vegetables. 
  3. Water – Buy a system that collects and filters rainwater
  4. Electricity – Buy solar panels or a windmill
  5. Heat – Oil, propane, wood pellets, or wood heating can last months between refills
  6. Transportation – Buy a durable and affordable car. 

While you have money to spend, you can create a life with almost no marginal cost to life. Cheaper than LeanFIRE is FreeFIRE. I wouldn’t want to live completely off the grid and off the fruits of my land but I could. A few months of near-zero expenses is the mega backup plan to lower the sequence of returns risk.