“Whatt?? Why would you want to retire early? You just gonna sit around all day doing nothing?” This is the common response I am met with whenever I talk about financial freedom or “retiring” early. People wonder why I would ever want to stop working and contributing to society. I always explain the same thing over and over, but alas, it has no use: financial freedom misconceptions persist!
That’s why today’s article is all about what financial freedom really means to me. In it, I will talk about what I think financial freedom is all about, the various benefits it can bring, and my own personal reasons for wanting to be financially free.
What Does Financial Freedom Really Mean?
To me, financial freedom simply means to be able to do what you want with your time. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? Nowhere did I mention money. But then again, money is all around us, so let’s examine that statement again but with a monetary lense.
“Ability to do what you want with your time.”
When you ask someone what consumes most of their time, what is the number one response? Work! Work takes up a large part of most people’s lives in the form of time AND energy. Now, this is fine and good if you love your work, but surveys show that most people are unhappy with their jobs. That leaves only one possible reason why so much of people’s time is tied up in work: money.
In order to cover basic living costs, you need money, and in order to get the money, you need to work, and in order to work, you need to sacrifice your time. Being financially free simply means breaking free of this chain. This is usually done in two ways:
- Amassing such a large fortune that you can live off it for the rest of your life
- Building enough passive income streams that your expenses are consistently covered month to month
Here’s the real kicker: being financially free doesn’t mean that you’re never going to work again. It means that you can do work that’s meaningful to you, without worrying about money. Indeed, most people who “retire early” don’t lounge around on the beach, but rather join activist programs or start charities or pursue life coaching. Financially free people are still contributing to society. Just on their own terms.
The Benefits of Being Financially Free
There are many personal benefits that being financially free brings along with it. Here are just a few to consider:
- Don’t have to answer to a boss
- Freedom to pursue passions
- More time to spend with loved ones
Answering to a Boss
I was listening to this podcast (BiggerPockets to be specific) and this guy was talking about why he started real estate investing. He used to work as a bank teller and his main reason for starting to invest was that one day when he had already made other plans, his boss asked him to come in. When he refused his boss said “then you’re fired,” and that was the moment that triggered his passion for investing. He never wanted someone else to be able to say to him “I got you under my thumb” ever again. I think that sums up pretty well the benefit of not having to answer to a boss (or anyone for that matter) when you’re financially free.
Too many people spend too much of their life doing stuff they don’t like to do. The reason? “Oh you know how it goes… you start working and relying on the money and then the kids rely on it and I can’t quit now.” Financial freedom liberates you from working a job you don’t love. It gives you the option to choose what work you want to do. EVEN if you truly love the work you’re doing, isn’t it a possibility that in your 40 working years of life, one day you might wake up and go “dang I really want to change my career path.” When that day comes, you want to have the ability to go “I’m already financially free so yeah! Let’s change careers!” Rather than “aww crap, I need the money… might as well grind out a few more years.”
Time With Loved Ones
Finally, spending time with loved ones should be a self-explanatory cause. Being financially free eliminates the possibility of having to choose between family and money. At my ripe young age, I know very little about death. But I’d be willing to bet that on your deathbed, you’re more likely to wish you spent more time with your loved ones than at the office.
The Benefits to Society
Have you ever thought to yourself “hey I’m feeling a sudden urge to wash the dishes – I’ll go do that right now!” Then your sibling, mom, or significant other says something like “HEY, go do the dishes!!!” and your motivation just dissipates? We, humans, are weird in the way that we like to feel as though we’re in control. Even if we’re forced to do something we might otherwise like, we usually despise it. Oftentimes, the last place we feel we’re in control of our time is at work. And yet, that’s the place we’re supposed to be the most productive.
A common financial freedom misconception is that after “retiring” early, people just sit around all day and do nothing. I’d like to argue that the OPPOSITE is actually the case. People who have control over their time choose to do things that make them passionate. Their productivity is oftentimes wayy higher than those of their “non-retired” counterparts because they CHOSE to do it instead of being FORCED to do it.
In the end, I feel like financially free people contribute to society at least as much as everyday working people if not more. But hey, that’s just my humble opinion.
What Financial Freedom Means to Me
I’m going to be honest: I haven’t truly found my mission in life yet. That being said, I’m still quite young and have some time to figure it out. When I do figure it out, I want to have the option of actually being able to pursue that dream of mine. I DON’T want to say “gaahhh, I wish I figured out my direction earlier!!! It’s too late now: I’ll just stick to my 9-5 job for the rest of my life.” That is why I want to achieve financial freedom sooner rather than later.
Currently, I have a passion for spreading personal finance knowledge. I am always baffled whenever I remind myself that money isn’t taught in school, so hope to motivate as many people as I can into learning more about personal finance and financial freedom. Who knows, maybe that will be my life goal. Whatever it is, I know that being financially free will only help me to achieve it.
A lot of people have financial freedom misconceptions. That is, they think that to “retire” early means to do nothing for the rest of your life. Hopefully, as shown in this post, you realize now how blatantly untrue that statement is. There are many benefits to being financially free as well as various positive societal implications.
I hope that you have been inspired by this post in some way or another to start thinking about your own personal finances, and considering whether or not you want to pursue financial freedom. I promise that if you do, your future self will only thank you. ?
Thanks for reading through Financial Freedom Misconceptions and thank you for following along. If you’re still working on your first paycheque and want to learn about how to build income opportunities as a student, head over to this post here. If you want to learn more about me, head over to this link here. Finally, if you want to get exclusive updates and tips, drop your email in the “get updates” box (might have to scroll up a bit.) Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!
Jeff is a Harvard 2025 student passionate about making smart financial decisions both in school and in the workplace so that he can spend more time doing what he loves (like playing golf, spending time with family, and travelling). He has experience working in the financial industry and enjoys sharing all things personal finance, academic, and golf-related. Outside of blogging, he loves to cook, read, and golf in his spare time.