Sacrificing Financial Freedom – For My Cat!

"sacrificing financial freedom for my cat"

I’ve come to a turning point in my quest for financial independence. A crossroads, if you will. A time when I’m forced to make a decision. You see, I’m at coast fire.  I could literally quit my job tomorrow if I want and have a secure traditional retirement. But to do that, and survive financially until then, I’d have to sell the house and adapt the RV lifestyle – which sounds freaking epic until I remember that I have four cats and two dogs. Stuffing them all in a RV and traveling doesn’t really sound like the answer. The other option is sacrificing financial freedom.

Sacrificing Financial Freedom for my Cat

I know it sounds ridiculous – but hear me out. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how pets can hold you back, or struggling with feelings of regret for getting so many. But I have come to a peace about it.

My entire quest for financial independence is because of passion fire – I want to quit my mundane job and explore my passions for the rest of my life. Living the RV life would totally line up with that. So would traveling the world, teaching in Cambodia, and riding my bike across America on route 66. But the thing I kept missing was that there is something else that I’m incredibly passionate about.

I’m Passionate about my Cat

Tons of people are passionate about their animals, so this shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. But sometimes, it’s so much harder to look at the things you have already, and say “yes, I’m perfectly happy sacrificing my financial freedom for this – at least for now”.

And it doesn’t have to be a cat. It could be your children, a project that you love, a certain lifestyle of hobby that’s only affordable because of your job, or any number of things. Financial Independence doesn’t have to be a path set in stone -that’s why so many different variations have popped up. It can be whatever you make of it. The point of the movement isn’t to never work again -it’s to have enough financial security to not have to worry about things, and to be able to build the life of your dreams.

It just so happens that my dream life includes making sure that my cats and dogs are happy and taken care of until the end of their natural lives. I love them too much to even imagine giving them up – and that’s okay! I’m okay with sacrificing financial freedom to make sure they have a safe and secure home.

There Are Some Advantages

I’ve come to realize that this isn’t a bad thing for so many reasons. First and most obviously, the six lovely fur babies that I get to hang out with and take care of every day. I love those little cuddle monsters.

But that’s not the only advantage. Let me be horrifyingly transparent for a second with a dirty little secret of mine: I don’t actually have enough saved in non-retirement accounts to live longer than a year or so without a job. The plan is to sell the house I’m currently living in – so that would give me another 2-3 years depending on the market when I’m ready to sell.

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In my original plan, none of that really mattered. I wasn’t going to quit my high paying job to never work again, I’m was going to quit to pursue my passions! Some of them will pay me enough to live frugally – and I was totally fine with that (I’ve always had a slightly skewed idea of financial independence anyway!)

But, I can’t ignore the very real consequences of sacrificing financial freedom for even a few extra years. I’m going to have an even more secure traditional retirement, and I’ll be able to build up an even larger cushion in my non-retirement accounts. I’ll also have more time to get this old house fixed up and in better condition to sell! So even though I’m sacrificing my financial freedom in the short term, I’m really improving my long-term outcomes.

The Original Plan

My original plan was to quit my job in January of 2021 and start pursuing my passions. Though I am at Coast Fire, I don’t actually have plan for surviving between now and traditional retirement age. I was going to throw caution to the wind and head out for a life of adventure and excitement!

 I was willing to sacrifice a ton of comfort and security for freedom. That meant work camping, roughing it, renting smaller places, living in an RV, and doing anything I need to do to maintain that freedom of mobility.

I still am willing to sacrifice my own security – but I’m not willing to sacrifice theirs. These extra few years of work will help me build a larger nest egg – not only for traditional retirement but for when I finally am able to make the leap to passion fire.

The New Plan

My new plan is going to give me a little more time to get on the right track. The new target is quitting when I’m 40, which will be in December of 2022 (but I probably won’t quit until after the new year -that just makes more sense!).  I’m giving myself two more years to build up my non-retirement accounts and get on the road to freedom.

I know what you’re thinking – that’s only 2.5 years from now, and 2 years from your original projection. How are things going to change with your pets in such a short time frame?



 

I don’t think it will change much that quickly. I’m only worried about one of my babies not making it that long (he’s an older Akita, and sadly, they don’t have the longest lifespans. I hope he has at least two more years of life in him, but I’m not sure). My oldest cat is 13, and although they are all technically seniors, indoor cats live for about 20 years on average, so I hope to have them all for at least another 7 years. If four cats in an RV isn’t the answer, how am I going to quit in 3 years?

I have many passions. My original plan was to pursue the ones that include adventure and excitement first – those sound more appealing to me. But, I also have goals and dreams that require a bit more stability. I want to write a book, spend some time focusing on art, be a wildlife biologist, and study anthropology. Those are things I can do while providing my darlings a safe and loving home. But they are also things that require a bit more of a nest egg – which is why I’m pushing my date back by a few years.

 Not Following the Script

The thing is -there is no script for achieving financial independence. The movement is about opting out of a system that doesn’t work for you, and building a life that does. For me, that life includes taking care of my little guys. Your life will probably look much different, and that’s perfectly okay. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach to this.

What are you Sacrificing Financial Freedom for?

Have you ever come to similar crossroads, where you realized that you want something more than you thought? Or realized that one thing was so much more important to you than another? What was it? I want to hear your stories!

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9 thoughts on “Sacrificing Financial Freedom – For My Cat!

  1. I love the thesis of this post.
    I have been posting and thinking a lot about not sticking to these ‘scripts’ and ‘playbooks’ that we FIRE guys are getting a bit too obsessed with. Life isn’t linear, or simple. Nice work!

    1. Very true. I think we need to be more open to change – why is it so frowned upon to learn something new or to re-prioritize? Never understood why we encourage sticking with it more than learning something isn’t for you and redirecting.

  2. Yup. I can relate to this for sure. I love our fur babies.

    We’ve been focused on getting debt-free for the last couple years, which means I have not had a lot of time to think about what we want life to look like down the road. And I’m OK with that because I get the feeling that by the time we reach that point, life is going to look pretty different in more ways than just how much we have in our bank account. Makes me glad that financial independence isn’t a one-size fits all thing, for sure.

    1. Exactly. Life will be different for all of us in a few years, so there’s no need to be rigid about plans. Adapt and adjust and make sure that your plan works for you – that may involve some change, but that’s ok.

  3. There is a lot pull in the FIRE community to make massive amounts of money and retire so you can do what you really want to do. I am pursuing a different approach. Okay, its the exact opposite approach. I love being a Park Ranger but for the FIRE peeps that is peanuts for pay and ill advised. What if I am already in a job that I love and allows for extended travel furloughs? Being a Park Ranger is basically what many want to do when they retire, I am just skipping the retire early part. So, I follow the FIRE community because they are smart, funny, insightful people but I don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

    Also, fur babies are worth it every time.

  4. I follow a lot of fire blogs too and dream of being free but relate to this. I have both kids and cats! I’m in my 50s and working and husband older and already retired. I’ve actually reached the highest paid years of my career as well (lawyer). Literally could retire tomorrow, but my youngest kid has 3 more years of high school and doesn’t like to travel (he is a homebody, and cats just don’t travel!!). So I am biding my time like you and just working a few more years. Helps that a couple years ago I moved to a better job situation too, makes it less painful to continue working. And, also can’t argue with the extra pay and more years of paid-for health insurance! On the other hand I’m a camper, hiker, outdoors lover and not getting any younger….So the kids and pets do keep you in place. I too am extending my time. I don’t have a set plan either. Taking it year by year—since 2014 my date has been 2020. But Jan 2020 I decided I will work the year and revisit the decision in Dec 2020.

    1. It doesn’t hurt to be over prepared! You have a great situation though, you can travel for a few days and let your youngest take care of the cat! Unfortunately I don’t have cat care haha. But, I agree that making a little more money now will make your situation immensely better in the future!

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