Since launching my blog, it’s been a struggle sometimes to do things right and to get the Prairie FIRE family’s financial house in order. You’ve read my story about how I got here and how I discovered and fell in love with the FIRE Community. You’ve also realized that I am far from perfect (i.e. I’ve made several mistakes with my financial and personal choices in life.) But one thing I’ve forgotten to add to the discussion is what motivates me to achieve my financial independence in the first place.
It’s About Freedom
The idea of Financial Independence (FI) is not new. It is the ability to have enough wealth (i.e. passive income) that it covers you basic costs of living. For example, having a large enough investment savings portfolio (e.g., stocks and bonds) that the interest earned from that portfolio over one year is enough to cover your next year’s costs. It is important to understand that FI is not about retirement, though it can be. FI is reaching a point where you do not necessarily have to work to earn income to live. It is a form of freedom. But a freedom from what? What good is freedom without a reason for living?
Finding Your Why
As much as I love all things FI, it is not the reason for my existence. Far from it. It is important to look beyond the numbers, your budget, and your FI number. You are more than your net worth. In order to stay motivated and in order to find meaning, we all need to dig deep and reflect on our own personal beliefs, values, and goals in life. This is what I like to call the “Why to My FI”.
It has been a difficult journey for me to discover my why. During financial and personal troubles, my instinct was to take control when I should have been stepping back and reflecting. My journey to FI has been interesting and it has created the opportunity to think about the big picture and ask myself why am I doing all of this? What’s the point?
What I discovered is that my faith and relationship with God has manifested in me a deep and meaningful love for my family, my friends, and my community. My relationships matter and my finances play a role in supporting and taking care of my family and my community going beyond my own selfish needs.
My Five Reasons for FI
I found five main reasons I am working to FI:
- Serve My Family: I was able to discover the reason I am doing all this is to serve my family. As a parent and husband, it is important I really think through the financial implications of our decisions, to make sure that our current and future needs are taken care of. I do this with my partner, Mrs. Prairie FIRE, so we can steward the money in our care.
- Do Good Work: Doing good and impactful work means a lot to me. For 14 years I’ve been working in the non-profit world, addressing some of the toughest situations in my community. I want the freedom to be able to continue working in a field I care about and do good work. I do not want money to be the main driver in this part of my life.
- Take Care of Our Children’s Future: What can I say about my kids? They are such an important part of my life. I am their steward and I relish the chance to engage, teach, and take care of them. Finances play a big role here, and being able to handle money, budget, and hopefully be a good example for them to follow is a heavy load to carry. But, it is so so worth it. My hope is to help them fully understand what money is and how it is a tool to achieve goals and reflect your values. If I just get this one thing right, my legacy in this world will be complete, as I will have played my role in creating loving, caring, and responsible human beings who work hard, make money, and give back as much as possible.
- Leave a Legacy: When I am old and grey, I want to be able to leave a legacy for my kids and grandkids. This can be a in the form of money, but also the legacy of leaving the world a better place than when I arrived. A lot of my work and giving is focused on 10-15-25 year chunks of time. Similar to compound interest, my investment now will hopefully continue to gain dividends in perpetuity.
- Die With No Money: As much as I talk about FI and money, I do not love money. I love people and hopefully I can use money to love others. My hope is to die penniless and that the money I do have is distributed and spread out to my family, my community, charities, and movements I believe in.
Connecting Values with Finances
When you are caught up in the daily grind it can be hard to put your values at the centre and connect them with your finances. I think I am off to a good start with my Financial Independence Policy Statement and I encourage you create something similar for yourself. It’s a great tool that has kept me on track so far. Check it out and maybe it can get you off on the right foot towards having a values first path to financial freedom.
The Hard Path to FIRE
The journey to FI is a hard one, but it is so worth it if you have your eye on the big prize – your why. If you have not yet taken the time to step back and reflect on what is important in your life and ask yourself, “does my financial life match my values?”, I suggest you do this before you do anything else on your path to financial independence. When you do this, you will have achieved something not many people in all of human history have been able to do. If you are like me and still working your way there, don’t worry, we can do this together.
All the best my friend and please, if you want to talk more about finding your why and matching your finances to your values, please leave a comment, subscribe to my email newsletter, shoot me an email, or reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook.
Mr. Prairie FIRE