I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. My brain has been struggling, trying to figure out how to put into words how much I’ve changed over the past year or so. There have been many mental twists, turns, and discoveries in my personal journey to financial independence. There is a lot that I want to say and tell you that I cannot do in a blog, let alone a single post. Yet at the same time, I realize there is much much more that I do not know about finance, and by no means am I an expert in this area. All I know is what I’ve been through and that I am passionate about the topic of financial freedom. The whole point of this blog is to share with you what I have learned and what has transformed me in my journey. Hopefully what I share with you today and in the future will make a difference and encourage you to take action to get your financial house in order.

Financial Literacy Isn’t Enough

One of the crazy things that I’ve discovered is that financial literacy is not enough. Why? No matter how financially literate you are, there are larger forces at work in our society that are deliberately working against you to stop you from reaching your financial goals at this very moment.

The Three Horseman of Your Financial Apocalypse

In the last year I’ve identified three forces that we all battle with when it comes to maintaining our budget and building our wealth:

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In the Western world, we live in an economic and cultural system that values the acquisition of stuff over savings. We, as a culture, use our stuff as an indicator of our values and social standing. This leaves us very vulnerable because our sense of self is no longer based on who we are as human beings, but on the things we have (property, vehicles, clothing, hairstyles, etc).
Companies of all sorts are heavily invested in marketing their products and services to us. Marketing is the work they do to make us aware and convince us to hand over our money to them. They play on our insecurities and give a false sense of urgency to purchase things we don’t really need.
What happens if you don’t have the money now to purchase the thing you’ve been convinced by marketing you really need? Don’t worry - credit is there to help you out. It’s nice to have access to other people’s money (i.e. banks/credit unions/credit card companies), but it all depends on what you spend it on. Those caught up in the consumerist lifestyle use credit to buy things that don’t add value. This comes at a great cost to their financial life - debt.

These three forces play on our limited knowledge, human frailties, and lack of understanding of personal finance toward one sole purpose: To convince you to transfer your income and wealth into their accounts. And you know what? It’s working!

The Financial Enlightenment of Mr. Prairie FIRE

If you’ve read my story, you will know that the discovery of financial independence and the FIRE Community has changed the trajectory of my life. But it is not just that I learned some neat budgeting and investing techniques. I actually feel transformed. I call this financial enlightenment.

What is Financial Enlightenment?
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  1. the way in which money is used and handled; especially: the way in which large amounts of money are used and handled by governments and companies
  2. money available to a government, business, or person
  3. matters relating to money and how it is spent or saved
  1. freed from ignorance and misinformation
  2. based on full comprehension of the problems involved

The term financial enlightenment is something that is very personal to me and my process. It is the story leading up to and including a moment I received a revelation about myself, finances, and how the world really works (both good and bad).

A moment of financial enlightenment is a sudden, insightful, and profound discovery of truth that once you understand it, you cannot ever go back. It cannot be unseen and the impacts cannot be undone. My enlightenment was not immediate and has not changed me as a person. I still hold the same values and I still engage with my family, friends, and community with love. Nothing was ever taken away, but something was added to my life. Evidence of these types of revelation can be seen in one of my earlier posts: Lessons from Investing – How I am living a Compounding life.

From a Consumer to an Investor Mindset

The true transformative outcome for my life is that I moved from a consumerist to an investor mindset. Below are some of the changes that I’ve made in my approach to life, work, investing and personal finances.

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Income

I only need one source of income to make it in life: exchanging my labour for money with my employer. All I need to do is work hard and move up the corporate ladder, and I’ll eventually make enough income to make it to retirement.
Having only one source of income is very risky. I need to have more than one source of income and I can only do this by purchasing income-producing assets (e.g., stocks/bonds/real estate).

Money

Money is something I get for working hard at my job. When I get it, I will spend it on the things I need and the things I want. If I am lucky to have some money at the end of the month, then maybe I will save it in my bank account to spend later.
Money is really a store of value that can be used to build your wealth. But money should not be stagnant. It flows in and out of your life. The question is really abut controlling where it goes. The best thing to do with it is to have a set of money priorities that reflects who you are and where you want invest it over time.

Investing

Investing is super intimidating and really risky. I’m happy to just keep working and saving leftover cash in a simple savings account.
Investing is not easy and it can be risky. But it is no more difficult than writing a book, playing fantasy football, getting a 4-year degree, or making a beautiful painting. Being an investor takes effort and I only invest in things that I truly understand and am comfortable with.

Time

For a big chunk of the last 5-10 years, I’ve focused my free time on being entertained. This included binging on TV, being entertained, and being on social media. I was not wise with my time and did very little to prioritize my time to include the people I most value in my life.
Time is THE most limited and non-renewable resource I have. I’ve become more frugal with my time and have given up filling my time with TV or entertainment. Instead, I prioritize relationships, family, educating myself, reading, and maximizing my time with the people I care most about.

With my new investor mindset, I have taken more care and effort to understand and steward the money, resources, and time that I have been entrusted to oversee with my partner, Mrs. Prairie FIRE, based on our values.

It’s Time for Financial Enlightenment

Though my story is unique, I do not think the result is out of the ordinary. After my financial enlightenment, I can never go back to my consumer mindset. I think enlightenment is possible for all of us, but we need to put in the time and accept that that enlightenment is a continuous process. So moving forward, I am going to share with you my transformative process and some of the unique truths and financial understandings that have changed my life for the better.

Don’t worry. I am actually going to share with you how I learned to create, calculate, and track my net worth, how the Prairie FIRE Family set our budget, and even how I invest our savings. Except that for each technical piece I share with you, I will also share how educating myself and engaging with a budget, net worth, and investment plan impacted my mindset and put me on a path to financial enlightenment and freed me from financial ignorance.

Ok, I better get started! Until next time!

Sincerely,

Mr. Prairie FIRE