What’s your definition of financial independence? Many of the big players say that it’s having enough wealth to cover your living expenses without having to work. This traditional definition is great, and it works for tons of people. I’m sure that lots of people who are pursuing financial independence are working hard while saving and investing the bulk of their income so they don’t ever have to worry about making a paycheck again. That’s awesome for those who want that, but my definition is a little different.
My (Slightly Skewed) Definition of Financial Independence
I think the traditionalists are super close. But I’d add one tiny thing to the definition – I’d say that financial independence is having enough wealth to cover your living expenses without having to work a traditional job. And to me, a traditional job is any soul sucking job that you hate – whether it be a traditional nine to five, a part time job, or a piece of the gig economy. I align my definition of financial independence with the spirit of financial independence – it’s not about limiting yourself now so you never have to work again. It’s about choosing the best lifestyle for yourself and pursuing your passions.
The Trouble With Not Having to Work
I think the thing that gets me about some people’s definition of financial independence is the idea of not working. I think most people really do want to work (but if you don’t, that’s fine too!). They just don’t want to work a meaningless, soul-sucking job. They don’t want to be forced to waste forty plus hours of their lives slaving away for some company that doesn’t give a crap about them. People want to complain that those of us seeking financial independence are lazy, but I don’t think that’s the case. We just know our value, know what are passions are, and won’t settle for anything less.
I fully intend to work once I reach my idea of what financial independence is. Heck, my FI plan includes tons of options for making money! Does that mean that I shouldn’t consider myself financially independent? Does that mean I can’t be apart of this awesome community? No, of course not! It means that my plan for financial independence (getting away from a miserable, soul sucking job) includes other ways of making income. And those ways of making income just so happen to be things that I love doing and that I’m passionate about. Is that so wrong?
Other Types of Fire
The thing is though, I know I’m not alone in this. Heck, I think that Tanja over at Our Next Life has a full chapter in her book dedicated to this very subject! But also, I think this idea that there are tons of options for being financially independent is incredibly prevalent – so much so that it spawned variations of the movement itself. Barista fire is all about working a low stress job. Coast Fire is about not having to save any more. These are two widely accepted “types of Fire”, yet they both involve working.
I think I’m going to coin a new term though. Let’s call it Passion Fire. Passion Fire means that you’ve saved enough and hustled enough to stop working your terrible job and you can now pursue your passions! But the caveat is that you probably need to make some money with your passions to maintain your standard of living. There’s nothing wrong with that! It’s awesome to be able to support yourself by following your passions – it doesn’t make you any less valuable a member of the financial independence community. In fact, I think most of us are working towards this type of fire!
What is your Definition of Financial Independence?
Are you a traditionalist? Or are you comfortable with a more lenient (and inclusive!) definition of financial independence? Tell me what you think in the comments!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.