What is keeping you from a life of financial independence?
My goal has always been to work for ten years and then have enough financial freedom to do whatever I want to do. Whenever I tell people this they seem to be rather incredulous and sometimes say things like, "sure, you could try." Even though I am quite young, I have met enough people to see what keeps them from quitting their jobs and living a life of financial independence. Here are a few of my observations over the years.
1. The places they live - I have met a handful of people who are tied down to their jobs because of their mortgages. There is also a couple I know that could retire right now if they just sold one of their houses and invested the proceeds in government bonds. However, many people toil on to feed their houses not realizing that they could live in so many other nice places. Oftentimes, the location of our homes is based on our jobs, and places with an abundance of jobs generally have higher costs of living. Once the need to live close to work is eliminated it is easy to find a cheaper place to live. Another observation I have is that people generally have bigger homes when they have kids, but once the kids are grown up and gone they do not downgrade their homes. Having two to three rooms that are never used is an extravagance in my opinion.
2. The societal norms - When you try to break away from the norms of society you will get naysayers. Unfortunately a lot of financial advice we get in America is based on this notion that we should retire at age 65 and collect Social Security. When I say that I want to retire when I am 35 I feel that some people think I am a lazy and crazy weirdo. Even though there is no law that says you can retire only if you are 65 I think a lot of people subconsciously believe that is the right and normal thing to do. There are laws that state you can collect certain government sponsored benefits at age 65, but that should not prevent you from living the life you want before arthritis sets in. I think many people are just a bit afraid to step out and be different.
3. Pure and simple greed - Some people I know just want more and more every single day. If their greed is never quenched then they will never be free from working. Here in the Silicon Valley there are many multi-millionaires or even billionaires who could retire in the blink of an eye, but quite a few of those I have met still work 12 to 16 hour days. I just do not understand that mindset because it seems that they do not have much time to enjoy all that money. It may be that they enjoy working, but I think a lot of people just cannot stop working because they feel the urge to accumulate more wealth.
4. Insufficient funds - Most people including myself fall into this category. Basically we still need a bit more in our nest eggs before we can comfortably live in our retirement. I think a small retirement fund is an issue that is by far the easiest to pinpoint. The problem is that many people I know do not try to do resolve the issue at all. If one wants to retire early, he or she needs to start saving early. It is a very simple concept, but many of my peers feel that retirement is so far away that they do not need to save. The truth is that we all could be financially free so much sooner if we start saving earlier.
5. Familial responsibilities - I do not have kids yet, but I know they are pretty expensive. I respect those who start and support a family, and it is a huge financial burden. Family is only a problem when people use it as an excuse to why they cannot succeed. I think a family that works together towards financial independence can achieve it. A real life example is the cheapest family in America . This is a family of seven that never had too much income, but still managed to save quite a bit of money. If more people treated their family as their strength rather than a burden I believe they can achieve their goals even faster.
I could go on, but I think all of the rest of my observations have to do with people who are kind of stubborn and do not really want to change their lives. It is curious to me that some of them say that they want to retire early, or even right now, but take absolutely no action. I think what most of them need is to change their mindsets and believe that it is possible to achieve financial independence, and start doing something about it right now. So what about you? What is your one big obstacle before you are free of the daily grind?