Are You Fi-lexible?
This is a guest post from Republic Wireless member and founder of EconoMe LLC, Diania.
The path to financial independence, similar to the stock market or life in general, can be a long journey of highs and lows.
I’ve certainly enjoyed the highs: getting out of $30k of debt in 11 months, receiving raises and promotions at work, buying a house, and walking 500 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago all became possible by prioritizing my financial health. There have been lows as well: a salary reduction due to COVID, my property tax bill tripling over the last year, an unexpected battle with depression, and my passion project, The EconoMe Conference, resulted in a $40k loss in its first year (don’t worry, I have a plan to make it up in the coming years)!
The safety net we build for ourselves by keeping our expenses low and living below our means helps us navigate what life throws at us. It also puts us in the position to seize opportunities that present themselves, ones we couldn’t imagine when we’re developing our financial goals.
While it’s important to have goals … it’s also important to be able to adjust when the unexpected (positive or negative) inevitably happens. One of my big goals is to reach financial independence by the time I’m 40, but for a number of reasons, I’m being “fi-lexible” about this time frame.
What is “Fi-lexibility”?
The Merriam Webster* dictionary defines it as:
- A mindset of adaptation amid the obstacles and opportunities that present themselves on the path to financial independence
- A concept I made up to make myself feel better about not being financially independent
*this isn’t true but I’ve taken liberties since my last name is Merriam
Why be Fi-lexible?
This mindset allows you to prioritize the journey over the destination. I’m not sure that becoming financially independent is even the best part of the pursuit. I’m finding that the journey itself offers many gifts along the way and the opportunity to learn about myself.
Financial independence opens up the option for early retirement or just more freedom to pursue the things we want in life. Here’s the thing… what if we don’t know what we want? Many people pursue FI with a very clear understanding of what they want: to start a business, travel the world, stay home with their kids, or move out to a homestead, etc. I find myself envious of these people because over the years, I’ve discovered that perhaps I’m wrong about what I think I want. My path to FI is not just about saving and investing my money, it’s also about testing my assumptions about what I think I want to do with my time.
Here are some things I used to think I wanted (spoiler alert: I was wrong)
- Be the highest paid female CEO : this one is embarrassing to admit, but it captures my young naive ideas about success. It didn’t matter the work I was doing, or the contribution I was making, I just cared about prestige, status, and a high income. After glimpsing what is at the top of the corporate ladder, it’s safe to say this isn’t for me.
- Pursue a career in stand up comedy : I absolutely love to make people laugh, so the idea of doing that as a job was thrilling to me. After 2 years of refining my material at countless open mics in New York City and Cincinnati, I ultimately decided to hang up the mic. Creative expression is vital for me, but when it starts to feel like work, the pressure thwarts my creativity.
- Play in a brass band : Music was a big part of my daily life growing up. I played baritone horn in a school concert and jazz band for many years. I missed it and so found an alumni drum and bugle corps that I played with from 2014-2016. It was a group of grumpy retired old men between 60-80 years old and I absolutely loved them. Ultimately, I found the time commitment to be a bit too much so ended up leaving the group, but I’m so much better for the experience and learned a lot from those grandpas.
- Sing in a band : While walking the Camino for 38 days, I found myself singing a lot to pass the time on the trail. Singing might be a strong word, it was more like wailing but it was very cathartic. When a School of Rock opened near my house it felt like a sign. I joined the adult program and trained for 4 months, every day, to ultimately sing about 7 songs in front of a 100 people. I’m so proud of myself for trying, but when the show was over I felt more relieved than excited to do it again.
- Become a digital nomad : Travel seems so glamorous and I’ve certainly done my fair share of it. However, after sleeping in a different bed every night while walking across Spain, I realized how much I enjoy having a home base. I bought my house when I got back from that trip!
My current experiment with what I think I want is to be an entrepreneur. I spent 20 months building The EconoMe Conference and it’s the hardest and most gratifying work I’ve ever done. It originated as something I would want to do with my time if I didn’t need to work for money. But I’m hella glad I didn’t wait to reach FI to try this. Having an income while working on this passion project allowed me to take more risks and created a cushion for all the things I didn’t know that I didn’t know.
Maybe I don’t really know what I want… but I’m in a great financial position to experiment with what I think I want on my path to FI.
How to be Fi-lexible
Try stuff, experiment, don’t wait until FI to figure out what you want. Perhaps like me, you’re wrong about what you think you want. Better to figure that out while you still have an income, rather than retire early to something that isn’t as enjoyable as you thought it would be.
Consider mini retirements/sabbaticals. Before you fully pull the plug on your career, giving yourself a few months to a year to take a break from work and knock something off your bucket list can be really eye opening. You will gain some clarity that will serve you well in the long run and avoid burnout during your working years.
Continuously innovate for self discovery, and test your assumptions. Want to walk the Appalachian trail in retirement? Perhaps try a shorter day or week long hike and see what you learn from the experience. Want to go back to school and earn another degree? Maybe first find some free courses online to make sure the subject matter can hold your interest over time.
Write down your goals/bucket list. I find that everything has a season, even ideas for your bucket list. By writing down your dreams and goals in the moment that you’re most excited about them, you harness their power even if you can’t take action on them right away. It can be incredibly fun to look back on the things you thought you wanted with the satisfaction of having experienced them, the clarity of knowing they aren’t for you, or the excitement of figuring out how to tackle them next.
And finally, give yourself the fi-lexibilty to change your mind!
Did you know that Republic Wireless offers you fi-lexibilty in your phone plan? There are great options to change your plan as your plans change! Long gone are the days of being locked down to the same plan for long periods of time, or paying more than you need to. With Republic Wireless, you have the freedom to pay for what you need, and not a penny more.
Learn more about Republic Wireless and how their service can be part of setting you up for financial success and freedom. Your phone plan can play a larger role in reaching financial independence than you think.
For more information about The EconoMe Conference, access to the 2020 speaker videos and to be entered into a monthly drawing for a free t-shirt, sign up for EconoMe’s mailing list here.