Having a lot of money is never my goal. When I reach financial freedom, this in itself will not bring me happiness, joy or fulfillment. However, money can lead me to a lot of other things, such as greed, selfishness, envy, arrogance, entitlement, boasting. Lately, I’ve been pondering on some risks I see for myself in terms of money. Please, let me share some thoughts with you.
What am I afraid of when I reach financial freedom as a millionaire?
This will sound arrogant: I will become a millionaire. It’s not a question of if but when. The reason for this is simple: my attitude to saving and investing has transformed significantly over the past few years. And so can yours!
Instead of buying stuff, I now collect shares of great companies. That’s it. Doing that consistently over time will make me a millionaire. However, what kind of person will I be on my road towards that goal? In fact, what kind of person will I be when I’ve reached that milestone?
I will share some risks I see for myself personally. Obviously, these could very well differ completely than the ones that you will face if you are on a similar journey to reach financial freedom. At least, it’s some food for thought!
Living my life by primarily looking at my savings rate and net worth
That’s a big risk when you are on your way to reach FIRE! Of course, if you are not looking at these metrics you will probably not reach financial freedom early or do not retire at all.
Nevertheless, these metrics affect everything in your life. I often catch myself thinking about something I want to purchase on what impact that purchase has on my savings rate for this month. Yes, I know, I’m a bit different ?.
Although, this makes complete sense if you want to reach financial freedom as soon as possible. It may come across as very unnatural to your friends and family. But then again, that’s probably why many people are struggling to make ends meet every month.
‘Frugal’ can be different for each person
I want to have a good balance between reaching FIRE as soon as possible and enjoying life. A frugal life is different for each person.
‘Frugal’ for you could be that you do not go out for dinner but still buy your daily $4 latte at Starbucks. You know that it’s way cheaper to take your own coffee, but it’s a habit that gives you a great vibe to kick ass at work.
Don’t give up everything that makes you happy. Obviously, there are limits. Some people justify every purchase with this line of thinking. That’s why monitoring your savings rate and net worth definitely plays an important role on your way to reach financial freedom.
So what am I going to do to make sure I don’t become an ‘extreme’ frugalist?
It’s simple: I’ve married a wonderful wife that’s a lot less frugal than me ?. She pushes me to enjoy life more by spending some money on the good stuff. To illustrate this, we recently had a talk about a great deal to fly from Amsterdam to New York City for 4 days including hotel for just EUR 399.
Even though, I’ve been to NYC before, that’s a difficult one to pass! When I heard about it, my first response was WOW! My frugal response was: WOW, but what about taxes, food, sightseeing, et cetera? This will probably cost me around 800 Euros in total, leaving a huge dent in my savings rate for this month.
That’s when my ‘not-so-frugal-wife’ mentioned that I just needed to go: “Who gives a sh*t about money when you can travel to NYC with some friends for that kind of money. Are you really going to miss that 800 Euros in a few months from now?”
Naturally, I protested by explaining the concepts of FIRE again, but I was brutally interrupted ?. Unfortunately, some planning related issues prevented me from taking this trip to NYC, but at least I tried!
This example shows that my wife is a wonderful safeguard to make sure we reach not only financial freedom but that we enjoy the road as well.
Simplify your life
What really helps is to just remove the garbage and distractions from your life. Apply radical cost reduction on things or habits that do not make you happy in the short-run or long-run. However, please do not cut costs on things that give you a lot of joy or fulfillment. Life is too short for that.
Becoming a financially-free but arrogant, self-serving and terrible person to be around
I like to play golf. In The Netherlands this is (unfortunately) still considered a sport for the elite. Although I do not agree, I do understand their view when I park my car at the golf course parking lot. I just laugh at how out-of-place my mid-size family car feels between the Audis, BMWs, Porsches and Bentleys. Though, looking at the bright side: I do not have to worry about the doors their cars scratching mine ?.
All joking aside, playing golf gives me a lot of perspective. I notice a lot of wealthy elderly people spending the last years of their lives on the golf course. Many of them are enormously friendly and welcoming.
However, several of them look and act enormously arrogant. They enjoy showing off with their cars and by talking about their houses in France and Spain and how they do not have to worry about money at all. Regardless of their money, they do not look happy at all.
These people are exactly the people I really do not want to be when I have reached financial freedom or when I’m old. I want to be remembered for who I was. Not for how much money I had or how successful I was.
As a result, I’m so glad that I play golf. It shows me this important perspective on money and life as a retiree. Do I still want to reach FIRE? Yes, 100%. But more than this, I want to make sure I enjoy the road towards financial freedom and have family and friends to share my future freedom with.