“Be yourself”. But what if I don’t have the time to think about who I am?
Saving up money to achieve financial autonomy and thus live however you want has no secret: earn as much money as you can and spend as little as possible. We could add a little bit more colour to the recipe: move to a smaller and less central place, do grocery shopping at wholesalers… All of it theoretically simple, as much as in those magic formulas that assure you’re going to get thin: eat only two carrots a day and lose 10 kilos a week.
Whoever wants to lose weight will have no hard time in finding an adequate diet. Analogously, methods to spend less or tips on how to invest abound on the web. The tough thing is to understand why one can’t eat less. Likewise, it is far from trivial to understand why we attach “desire” to some “objects” and then allow ourselves to spend so much on them. The rationality of generic methods for saving inevitably bumps into the subjective irrationality of anyone willing to implement them.
Financial autonomy doesn’t initiate with numbers. In fact, too much calculation may be problematic in the beginning. Let’s explore the idea. “How much money do I need to stop working?” is quite an appealing starting point: quantify the problem in order to overcome it in a measurable way. Nevertheless, it may be but an artful way of covering up the fear of taking the big leap.
Financial autonomy doesn’t initiate with numbers. In fact, too much calculation may be problematic in the beginning.
Without a regular income, it is likely that a prohibitively high amount of money will be necessary in order to keep a spending standard that was defined by a position one wants to get away of – that initial state where time is so scarce. That initial situation where pleasures need to be condensed: expensive dinners and exquisite wines. Luxury hotels. Everything money can buy in that short break we occasionally have. If we are working hard, there is no time to waste on thinking about what matters and what does not. Saving is not the difficult part of the story. The hard thing is to escape the golden cage and to become responsible for our own flight. It is easier to just ratify the impossibility of accumulating money enough to buy freedom, thus questioning financial values before questioning the moral ones.
When I started this process, I actually worried too much about the numbers, probably because there was no way I could know, beforehand, how much things would change after quitting my job. The first example were the steps I planned to take right after leaving the financial market, which ended up being disastrous. A slap in the face of my control-freak mind. At least it showed me that it is not all about good planning. After all, I did not leave an unpleasant routine to fall into another one. Else, I was surprised with the good feeling of having time to think about all those personal questions I never had the time to deal with. If you have 8 meetings in a day, forget that doubt that popped up in the morning, suck it up and go to work. Then in the evening you buy something nice to make the day worthy. And if anxiety kicks in, clonazepam is easy to find.
Saving is not the difficult part of the story. The hard thing is to escape the golden cage and to become responsible for our own flight. It is easier to just ratify the impossibility of accumulating money enough to buy freedom, thus questioning financial values before questioning the moral ones.
Having the luxury of waking up without an alarm, managing to prolong a trip, being available for friends, rediscovering the pleasure of cooking. Reading, reading a lot and seeing the world from different angles. Literally. Good pleasures that cost nothing. Life became simple, and my consumption spending fell drastically, without big efforts. As a matter of fact, as a result of choices that have put me closer to what makes sense to me. Saving has been, in a way, a pleasant effort. Obviously, not without some bumps in the road. Obstacles or resistances? Reasons to look back or opportunities for reflection? Keep them coming! There’s no such thing as a steady state.
I hope the response to the horrible attacks in Barcelona will be more freedom to people. Europe has been through worse moments than the current one, and this principle has proved to be the best way out.