I gotta be honest here. I had never even heard the term “financial independence” until 2012 when I decided I wanted to return to grad school. At that time in my life, I was trying to figure out how I would be able to afford paying for classes and living expenses without going into debt. I started by reading many personal finance books a la Your Money or Your Life and The Millionaire Next Door, and came across this principle of “financial independence.”
Wait, I don’t have to work forever?!
I couldn’t understand how I never heard of this idea. The fact that I am a teacher and therefore earn a teacher’s salary did not discourage me from trying to figure out how I could jump on this bandwagon as fast as possible. I realized that FI could offer me the kind of future that I wanted.
Financial independence offers an alternative.
I have gone to a few teacher retirement get-togethers where administrators say goodbye to teachers who have reached the “magic” retirement year (for many between the 32nd and 36th year of teaching). Many of the younger teachers and I look at each other with such heaviness and mumble how we “will never make it that long.” Retiring teachers give us “youngsters” a hug and tell us how sorry they feel for us, because we still have so many working years ahead of us. I know…Depressing, right? For many of them they have spent their whole adult life working this one job (and for many, in this one district) and now are retiring to what comes next.
Why I Want to be Financially Independent
I can sum it up in three words: I WANT FREEDOM. I don’t want money to be a limiting factor in my life. Life is a series of trade-offs. I don’t make boat-loads of money, but I also am guaranteed to have holidays and summers off. That does not mean that I stop working during these months (teaching is a year-round job), but it does allow me the possibility of changing up my schedule and doing something a little different. That to me is worth it. If I decide at some point that it is no longer worth it to me, I will add more part-time sources of income or make a change in my career.
Maybe the biggest thing that financial independence can offer me is the realization that there’s more to life than money.
Perhaps even more that wanting to be free, I want to be financially independent to prove to other educators that it is possible on a teacher’s salary. It is not something that happens to only the lucky few, but is possible for the Normal Nancys (or Nates) of the world.
I hope this blog serves as a motivation and an inspiration to anyone who wants to pursue financial independence regardless of job title or income.
Leave a Reply