What’s the point of being rich? Wisdom from financial independence
I never wanted to be rich. I sure as hell don’t want to be famous. The fewer people who know me, the better. I view financial assets as a medium to enable a purpose-driven and balanced life. The journey to and through financial independence led me to the following points.
What’s the point of being rich?
- to live a comfortable life
- to stretch your comfort zone on a routine basis with less fear
- to have more space in your mind to do great things
- to have more room in your heart to be a good person
- to be present for your family and your friends
- to have time to think on deep questions
- to have more to give
If you read nothing else, know that being rich is NOT about having a lot of money for money’s sake.
More lessons learned on my Fat Fire path to financial freedom.
Becoming rich is a lot more fun than being rich. But, I expect my feelings to change as I spend more time in early retirement. Living an intentional and time-centered life might be more fun in the long run. But hell, the wild roller coaster of becoming rich is such a rush.
The journey from rags to riches is remarkable. Going from six figures in debt to a seven-figure portfolio is better than any amusement park ride. Having enough money changes your perspective of daily life. You now have resources to make life easier and create change in different areas of your life. The journey is so much fun! Wanting to become rich to experience this ride for yourself makes a lot of sense.
So you’re rich, now what?
Being rich provides more options and amplifies more of what your life is. If your life is about creating more income and wealth. That’s what you’ll continue to do. Work and success in your career can be addictive. For many people, their career defines their identity. There are many reasons why high achievers still pursue more success even after they bank life-changing amounts of money.
If your life is about gratitude and helping others, being wealthy allows you to do more good. These will be small and continual gestures of goodness. You don’t need to make fancy donations to make the world or your community a better place. Your time and energy are worth more to others than your money.
Leaving behind paid work
Leaving work behind that no longer matters is a huge benefit of being rich. You can be ruthless with where you spend your time. You can more or less fire all the people in your life that drain you of time, energy, and money. The act of leaving behind paid work may be a fun day, but the purpose is more significant. The FIRE seekers in the FI community know the importance of leaving behind work that is not worthwhile.
Once you’ve solved the 9 to 5 puzzle, it’s time for the next phase of work. It centers around choosing work that’s important and fulfilling for you. Work that feels like a calling, not like a job. Look to your childhood for clues if you need help figuring this out. What do you want to be when you grow up? How did you use to answer this question? Write down everything you can remember, and then study the clues!
Being rich without connection is useless.
There is no point in being rich if you have no one in your life. We all need real friends that we can count on in good times and bad. No amount of money matters if we don’t have loved ones. People who know us and love us for who we are. Money is lifeless and just a thing. Having kids and a family gives us unfathomable meaning and joy.
The truth about having money without meaningful connections in our life is simple. It’s a horrible existence. We need people to love and to reciprocate that love. We fade into nothing without it. It’s why life partners who spend decades together die within weeks of one another. Getting on with your days without love is not worth it.
Why the FIRE community seeks to build wealth
Discovering FIRE can feel like finding a message in a bottle. Written just for us, calling us home in a way that we never dreamed up. One of the most important reasons we seek FIRE is to make work optional. We’re not lazy, and we don’t want to stop work. But, we want an unprecedented amount of autonomy with our work.
We like work and enjoy the feeling of a job well done. I do puzzles for fun, and work feels like a big old puzzle. I want a work-life that disconnects high compensation opportunities from essential projects.
That means creating a work experience that’s the best of work with less corruption. Less terrible bosses. Less insanely long board meeting filled with salespeople peacocking for attention. Less explaining to low IQ executives the value of small projects.
Deep work in flow states is part of the optimal human experience. So, naturally, we all want more of that.
A human life should balance work and play. So a week that contains work, leisure, and rest is perfection. Food and wine enjoyed after good labor are so much better. This is why I love ski trips and hate beach vacations.
You don’t want an extravagant lifestyle full of excess. You want a life that feels full because you’re using your mind and body. So, again, ski trip > beach vacation.
It’s better to be rich than poor, but without our health, we have nothing.
I think about this phrase more with each passing year. My finances are on autopilot, and the portfolio keeps growing. Every hundred thousand earned is less and less exciting over time.
Living a full life requires lots of energy. Being a great dad and husband is a full-time nonstop assignment. So you need your wits and health to fire on all cylinders to rise to the call of duty.