|Could this be me one day?|
Slow FI is a rather new concept to me. Until I stumbled on a post about it at Jess' blog, The Fioneers, I've been on the "traditional", Mr. Money Moustache path to financial independence - save like hell and pull the plug as early as I can.
The journey has not been a happy one. Since 2015, I've had a string of jobs with fancy titles and great pay with awful conditions that wrecked my mental health. (You've read about my ordeal with Crazy Co, haven't you?) But I tell myself to grin and bear it because that's what you do to FI. You suck it up and save.
The idea of "enjoying" the journey to financial independence seemed like an impossible, unrealistic dream to me. While I really liked the idea of Slow FI, I felt that I couldn't pull it off because:
1. I live in Asia - good part-time jobs are not in great supply. (They rather make you work full-time and milk the hell out of you. But maybe I'm not looking for these jobs hard enough.)
2. I started my FI journey late - in my mid 30s and am now almost 45. I don't think I have the luxury of time on my side. I needed that stable high income to pump into my retirement accounts.
But do I, really?
Because I have friends in my life that are showing me that life could be lived differently.
Penny was my former colleague at Ye Olde company who up and left to start her own freelancing business. ("I was only earning $2k then. I felt like I had nothing to lose!") It's been 10 years now and she's immensely happy with her decision, even if her life may not live up to the materialistic standards of metropolitan Asia. She doesn't have an expensive condo to her name, recently lost her husband (so no second income). Yet, she doesn't think much about the money in her retirement accounts - she just lives day by day. Her freelance life is made possible by her simple lifestyle - she rents a room and lives on just $1000 a month. Yet, she's the happiest and most serene person I know.
My close pal Briony always takes a mini career break every six years. One of her career breaks lasted a year, and she was able to do it because she house sat for a family for a year - so her accommodation was free for that period. Her career break wasn't planned - her contract wasn't renewed. However, she took it as a great opportunity to rest and recalibrate. So, she volunteered during that time and rested. She's currently on yet another career break. She spent a month in England, and is now slowly looking for work. It's been 4 months and she doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get another job!
After a string of bad jobs, Elaine gave up on pursuing a steady, full-time job in corporate-land and decided to freelance. She only had 2 months of savings when she did that (not a great idea, she said, but she felt like she had no choice). She said it was the best decision of her life. She loved the flexibility and the ability to call her own shots. I've always admired Elaine's entrepreneurial spirit. Elaine's back in the full-time job market because of family commitments, but she says that she won't hesitate to return to that life if given the chance.
* Not their real names
|If you could Slow FI, what would you do? Travel more? Volunteer?|
Technically, my friends are Slow FI. They are financially responsible, live mostly frugal lives but live life on their own terms. They may not have the fat corporate paychecks, but they have an abundance of time and autonomy.
Are they able to pull it off cos they are super wealthy or have rich husbands?
No. Penny, as I said, doesn't have property. Briony still has mortgage bills to pay and her previous employer wasn't a great paymaster - her pay was always late! Elaine rents a $1.8k apartment (the usual rate in the city) and recently sold her car to pay off credit card debts.
What they have is a strong determination to live life on their own terms and to put their healths, sanity and well-being first.
And I'm starting to ask myself: If they could do this, why not me? Why not now?
Some things in my favour:
- A paid-off apartment that is pulling me rental income of $1.8k a month, enough to cover my basic expenses.
- 12 months' emergency fund in the bank
- I can live rent-free for a few months
In a previous post, I said that I only wanted to Barista Fire when I'm 45 - that's about two years away. The idea was to save like mad the next two years and then step down to a slower schedule.
If you've been following my Twitter feed, you'll realise that there's something "off" about my new job at GC. I won't go into details because, frankly, I'm plain fed up by the corporate bullshit that is going on and I'm also not sure if it's my paranoia speaking and I'm jumping to conclusions.
But yes, I'm asking myself - if I have to Slow FI earlier than planned, can I pull it off?
What do you think?