Is the Point of FI Social Enterprise?
The point of FI is social enterprise. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
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I just recently completely my coursework to be a Certified Financial Educator through the the National Financial Education Council. The Council recommends starting any financial education endeavor with the Financial Literacy Pyramid. The pyramid provides a framework of financial topics with the bottom layer being the foundational layer of Financial Psychology, Budgeting, Credit/Debt, Accounting/Budgeting, Skill Growth, and Income. The layers after that build on top of each other until we get to Social Enterprise.
I was frankly surprised to see Social Enterprise as the end goal that I hadn't think twice about it until I was re-reading the material. This of course brought into my mind parallelisms with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. In that diagram, Maslow has the foundational layer as our basic needs. Once our basic needs our met of food, water, shelter, rest, we can then move towards the other layers with the final layer being self-actualization.
Why did this surprise me? I guess this is from years of thinking about money as something to fear. It wasn't until recently that my money mindset starting to shift and today to me money is neither good or bad, but a tool. How you use it and what values you assign to it will make it something to fear or something to celebrate.
The term financial independence can mean many ways to different people. In the conventional world, retirement at 65 is financial independence. It's the idea that you have enough saved up to pay for your expenses without needing to work. It's the hope of many people around the world that their pensions, their government assistance and their personal savings all add up to provide that freedom. Of course, in the FI community, we want this way before 65. The second idea of retirement is not needing to exchange our time for money (via jobs). This may mean not working at all. This may mean working part-time. If you ask someone what they plan to do in retirement, the answer will probably range from: spend time with grand kids, travel and volunteer.
Perhaps, I am being idealistic with thinking that the point of financial independence is social enterprise, but what is the point of putting yourself in a position of financial security, of having time to do what you want? Is the freedom that we all crave all for the sake of building our own islands, separate from everyone else? I would think such a life to be boring and unfulfilled.
So then to the idea of social enterprise. Whether we are starting one, working for one, or volunteering for one, social enterprise is about the promotion, encouragement and making of social change. This feels like to me the goal of FI. It's not easy and if we look at the many layers of the Financial Literacy Pyramid, it takes many steps before we get there. My Financial Psychology took years to cultivate as I had to shed some of my past conditioning. I spent years learning, failing and succeeding in the world of Credit and Debt.
So we may not be thinking of Social Enterprise just yet, especially if we are too busy building that foundational layer, but I have hope that financial education will be the key to building that pyramid on your own terms. What you do with your money and your freedom in the end is up to you, but I encourage you to consider giving back once FI is reached.
What is the point of FI? Do you think it's Social Enterprise? What are we looking to do if we retire early?
I do have a complimentary post coming up about How to Get to FI By Being Socially Conscious.