Financial freedom can also mean personal freedom

People often talk about achieving financial freedom. But what does that mean exactly?

For starters, it means not having to punch the clock anymore. You get up and do what YOU want, not what your boss wants. This concept is pretty easily grasped by people.

But it doesn’t stop there. What does it mean when you don’t have to report to your boss? When you no longer have to punch the clock? It can extend much further than financial needs.

Have you ever seen certain Hollywood celebrities that are all too happy to share their opinions on things? Some you might agree with; others you might fervently disagree with. What do you think has empowered them to so strongly voice their opinions on twitter, facebook, etc.?

Financial freedom.

These celebrities probably had a wildly successful TV series or a few movies, and now have a combination of payment from its initial release or residual payments, that they essentially report to no one. When you don’t have to show up at anyone’s office, then there is no danger of your boss chewing you out for “making us look bad”. You can say what you want, and it doesn’t change the fact that you still have plenty of money in the bank.

Ever notice that people that were able to retire comfortably seem to have the same power? Well there you go.

Your goal in building retirement wealth is to able to get up each day and do what YOU want to do. Now I would never say that’s license to be rude or condescending. I certainly hope I don’t get that way. But not having to ever, ever, EVER worry about embarrassing my co-workers, my boss, or anyone else is a nice little freedom to have courtesy of financial freedom.

Economic freedom – a convergance of ideas

Once again, I seem to have experienced a convergence of ideas. These all involve the concept of economic freedom.

In principle, economic freedom is when you attain the status that you can choose what to do when you get up. Sometimes this is referred to as retirement, because you can up and choose to no longer work. You have built up enough assets that you can fund your life from here on out without have to “punch the clock”. But there’s more to it than that. Many people that reach economic freedom continue to work because they really enjoy what they do. Others may quit their boring/trivial/horrendous job and pursue something other job they have always dreamed of.

I remember riding in the front of a monorail and talking with the driver. He had retired from his career and now drove monorails for fun. It was something he had always wanted to do.

Back to the subject at hand. I experienced a convergence. Apparently Microsoft has a new advertising moniker out that advertises their tools, with keen emphasis on how you can access your documents from anywhere. You can see it here. Notice several phrases like, “You don’t have to miss the kids’ game or recital when you can work anywhere.” How about this, “Whether in an office park or a national park, you can still participate in meetings.”

This kind of shocked me. If I’m at a game with my kids or visiting a national park with my family, I ain’t dialing into no meeting. I enjoy the flexibility my company offers by letting me work from anywhere. I’ve taken advantage of that by traveling to Florida on many occasions and also working at my in-laws a couple of times. But this is absurd.

Well I wasn’t the only one who thought so. 37signals issued a parody title Work Can Wait that really sums things up better than I could have. The graphic on the right is much clearer and is something we should all seek. We need a proper balance between our work lives and our personal lives.

This coincides with an article I read a couple days ago titled The Easy And Hard Ways To Create Million-Dollar Fortunes. The article details how if you become a lawyer with aspirations of some day being a partner in a big firm, you will make big, BIG money. But you will work a “ridiculous amount of hours.” The estimate of the author was in the neighborhood of 56+ hours/week.

Take that and multiply it by 30-40 years. Can you really appreciate the amount of sacrifice that entails? The bullet points on the parody coincide with it perfectly. “100% of kids wish you had seen them score that goal.”

The idea of building retirement wealth through various vehicles such as real estate, dividend paying stocks, and EIULs is so you can spend more time doing what you WANT to do and getting away from the old fashioned rat race.

Frankly, this whole ad sounds like a way to sway managers to push more work onto employees. Thankfully, I work at a company that is flexible, yet most of my co-workers have families. When I send a message over Skype that I need to take off for a couple hours my colleagues say “no problem.” When I plan to take off the following week, they wish me the best. They don’t demand that I spend every waking minute working. Sometimes I find myself working at odd hours on bits and pieces, but I really try to keep things within reason. If I work an extra hour at night, I tend to take a longer lunch break the next day.

And always remember, when you reach the ripe old age when you can retire, what memories do you want to fill your mind? Meetings, trudging the hallways, and other work stuff? Or would you prefer having seen your kids take their first steps, learned to tie their shoes, and helped your 2-year-old take his first nap outside the crib? Those are the really golden ones. My four-year-old is already noticing that I spend too much time on my iPhone after work. She says to me, “No phone, Daddy.” I smile and realize she is right. She can already tell when I’m paying full attention to her or just “phoning it in.”