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Why Financial Independence is Important
Old 08-25-2014, 04:49 PM   #1
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Why Financial Independence is Important

I just had lunch with a former colleague and learned of a hellish situation at my former workplace. People being pushed out simply because they are not liked by administration, statistics being manipulated to abolish departments, people's self-confidence being undermined... You may say that a company can't survive under these circumstances but this is a non-profit and if they can convince the board they are accomplishing something, that's all that is required. Those of you working for corporations also know that companies do coast along for long periods of time with cruel or poorly functioning leadership.

Which brings me to the point of my post. Even if you love your job/work/profession it is important to be prepared for it to go away. Workplaces change. Bosses come and go. Economies tank at the wrong time. Anyone, no matter how skilled, can be pushed out of a job or made miserable while staying in one.

Financial Independence gives you options. You can take a better job that doesn't pay as well. You can try starting your own company. You can pursue your hobbies and forget the whole thing. You can donate your time to some organization that is really accomplishing something. You can write that novel that's been bouncing around in your head. Or you can continue right where you are, knowing that should things change, you have options.

I walked away from this insanity half a year ago and am I glad that I had the option to do so.
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:56 PM   #2
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. Economies tank at the wrong time. Anyone, no matter how skilled, can be pushed out of a job or made miserable while staying in one.
So true.

I learned this when I saw my CEO get fired at Microcorp. Microcorp lost a big customer (60% of our business) and the VCs didn't like the CEO's handling of the situation. And this was the founding CEO.

Nobody is safe.
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Old 08-25-2014, 04:59 PM   #3
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Amen.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:04 PM   #4
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Spending time with DH's former co-workers made a lasting impression on me - how much they spent per year and how much they hated their jobs and lived in fear of getting fired from jobs they detested. They were stuck on a treadmill of high income and high spending and didn't know how to get off.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:31 PM   #5
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Preachin' to the choir, here, but your post is the essence for being FI.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:38 PM   #6
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They were stuck on a treadmill of high income and high spending and didn't know how to get off.
Just as bad are those stuck on a treadmill of medium income and medium spending.

Worse are medium income folks stuck on a treadmill of high spending!
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Old 08-25-2014, 06:51 PM   #7
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I learned the need for financial independence a long long time ago. Like when going to a candy store but not having enough to get the candy I desired.

So, I had to take a step back and save or earn enough to what I really wanted. That is financial independence.
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Old 08-25-2014, 08:18 PM   #8
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Nothing sadder than someone whining: " I hate it but I need that job!"
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Old 08-25-2014, 09:55 PM   #9
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I saw FI, or at least moving strongly in that direction, as a means to buy my way out of the miserable aspects of working. While I more or less liked my job, it was the commute I despised so much. So, as I lowered my expenses in my last 10 years of working there, I used my growing FI to buy my way out of the full-time commute. Twice I asked for and got a reduction in my weekly work hours. I am sure my bosses must have thought I was nuts - isn't it more typical for employees to ask to get paid more either through raises, bonsues,m or promotions? And here I am asking to work LESS and get paid LESS, not once but twice in a 6-year span. That's the power of nearing FI, I can do these things to buy my way out of the miserable aspects of my job.

But in the end, when I actually hit FI, the commute even 2 days a week became more miserable so the only way I could buy my way out of that was to ER entirely, which I did in 2008.
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Old 08-25-2014, 09:56 PM   #10
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Just as bad are those stuck on a treadmill of medium income and medium spending.

Worse are medium income folks stuck on a treadmill of high spending!
I guess what struck me was that some of these people could easily cut back and still live a nice life. That is not as easy to do if you make closer to median household income. There just isn't as much pad to cut.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:38 PM   #11
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This is probably what motivated many of us starting not long after we first got the reality of the working life.

In my case, the particular jobs, bosses, etc. were ok, but the profession was stressful. Just a bad fit for me, a dumb choice by a 20 year old. Then I felt I had too much sunk cost to just change horses. Another poor decision.

Ha
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:45 PM   #12
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Achieving FI is what drove me to leave the USAF (which I liked very much but was not going to get me to my FIRE goal at 50) and work overseas. Do not regret it one bit, even if I do miss the comradery and sense of purpose sometimes. I now know that if things got really bad I could always leave and call it quits and that is a great comfort. 3 years left to FIRE and counting every day of it!
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:46 AM   #13
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This is probably what motivated many of us starting not long after we first got the reality of the working life.

In my case, the particular jobs, bosses, etc. were ok, but the profession was stressful. Just a bad fit for me, a dumb choice by a 20 year old. Then I felt I had too much sunk cost to just change horses. Another poor decision.

Ha
My career was similar. I was not miserable with work but I wasn't happy with the stress and the rewards (such as they were) never compared with the alternative of not working. Like Ha I was too invested to back out - the path to ER was clear if I stayed the course. But part of that calculation was that I could not see a reasonable work alternative. People talk about finding your passion and fashioning a career around it but I never could imagine such a career. Things I did and loved (e.g. Windsurfing, SCUBA) were great as avocations but would have been miserable vocations. Bottom line I don't view my choices as mistakes but I do envy those who are able to fashion a career out of their passions.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:48 AM   #14
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As many of you know, I was laid off from Megacorp in April 2013 when I was 47. Had we not been diligent about saving and investing for many years to reach a point where I no longer needed my j*b to keep a roof over our head and food on the table, we would have been up the creek without a paddle. As it is, because we did prepare for many years, once I was over the initial shock of getting whacked it became, and remains, one of the best things that ever happened to me.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:54 AM   #15
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A layoff would mean 64 weeks of severance. plus 8 weeks of accrued vacation...fingers crossed!
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:57 AM   #16
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A layoff would mean 64 weeks of severance. plus 8 weeks of accrued vacation...fingers crossed!
Nice. I only got 6 months of severance. Still, that was more than one full year of our living expenses. Like I said, one of the best things that ever happened to me.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 08-26-2014, 05:09 PM   #17
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A layoff would mean 64 weeks of severance. plus 8 weeks of accrued vacation...fingers crossed!
wow!

no way I would see anything like that. Best case would be a week/yr of service and the ability to collect UEI plus Cobra (which might not be a great deal). I got 6 months when they closed the plant I worked at 13yrs ago which paid for my kitchen remodel

I would still love to be laid off too as it would be a step down retirement as opposed to an eject button but I've asked to be fired too many times over the last 10 yrs so they won't give me the satisfaction (really it's more punishment to keep me here unless I do something illegal)
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Old 08-26-2014, 06:20 PM   #18
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A layoff would mean 64 weeks of severance. plus 8 weeks of accrued vacation...fingers crossed!
My buyout package would have been for 78 weeks + accrued vacation. Sadly, I was not picked.
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Old 08-27-2014, 05:41 PM   #19
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I was intrigued by the idea of financial independence when I first discovered this forum 4 years ago, but over time my intrigue has shifted to "this is a necessity". It isn't necessarily rooted in "I hate w*orking" (even though I do) though.

My last job was such a weird dynamic for me. I made many good friends there. I got great experience, and for the most part liked the company. However, moving into a management role I saw so much going on that the average employee wouldn't see that I walked out the door disgusted and convinced that megacorps (both the one I worked for and likely all others) are filled with sociopaths. People were just completely dehumanized and devalued in the name of impressing one's boss to try and get a bigger bonus check. At year end the money allocated for raises was given only to our SVP's closest allies at work, while many people who worked hard long hours were given nothing (all in a year where the company made record breaking profits).

Add in the non stop competition and backstabbing that went on behind the scenes, and I would come home at night, look in the mirror and say, "Is this the environment I care about being a part of for the rest of my life?"

The answer was no. I know not all companies are like that, but my own experiences and hearing my friends talk lead me to believe the arbitrary deadlines, running employees into the ground, and cut throat backstabbing is common enough that I want to be free of it when I can.

Senior management at my new firm is much more grounded, and while I have issues with the job itself, I am appreciative of the culture they have created compared to what I came out of. It isn't perfect, but it appears better than some other places I've been.

There are more important things in life than work in my opinion. As others have said, financial independence gives you options and the ability to walk away when the cost of the pay check is outweighed by all the other BS that comes with working for a company.
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Old 08-27-2014, 05:48 PM   #20
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Senior management at my new firm is much more grounded, and while I have issues with the job itself, I am appreciative of the culture they have created compared to what I came out of. It isn't perfect, but it appears better than some other places I've been.
"The people you work with can make or break a job".

That's a valuable lesson that I was fortunate enough to have learned at age 18 when I took a job unloading trucks at a department store. Never before or since have I worked in an environment that was so petty, mean, bickering, and backstabbing as that one. I lasted about three months.

Gee, I wonder why they are no longer in business?
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