Waking Up to the Idea of Financial Independence: Nancy's Story
Throughout my life and as long as I can remember, I had always done everything exactly as I was told to do. Early on I completely bought into the “get good grades, go to school so you can get a secure, high-paying job for 40+ years” and live happily ever after according to society.
It wasn’t too hard for me to buy into this concept - I’m a bookworm and nerd, my curiosity never satisfied, and naturally gravitated towards doing well in school. I was an exemplary future employee - doing what I was told so that I would be taken care of.
Fast forward to nearly age 34, and while I don’t completely disagree with that path (it’s fine for most people) I started to struggle with the idea of doing a job (or series of jobs) for 40+ years to retire and live happily ever after.
It was a combination of factors that led me to question everything that I had been taught and indoctrinated with. I picked Accounting as my choice of study in college, graduated, studied for the CPA exam (and passed the whole thing years before some friends in the same boat), took a job in public accounting (highly propagated where I went to school), and worked.
While I enjoyed earning a living income consistently for the first time in my life, I was perpetually discontent with my chosen profession. I eventually went on to work as a staff accountant at a hedge fund and then a fund accountant at an investment bank (always in the pursuit of more money). Unlike the majority of people in my age group, I was more responsible with money. I lived with my parents for nearly 3 years after college to save up for the down payment on my first apartment (which I still own) and did the whole “investing for retirement in mutual funds” bit.
I was better financially than most of my peers but I found myself missing out on some of the fun that many of them were having. I wanted to go out and be more social (especially mid-week) but my commute was long enough that I didn’t do this as much as some of my friends. And when I finally did move into my own apartment less than 2 weeks before my 25th birthday, most of my friends started pairing off into what were the beginning stages of their long-term relationships. All of a sudden that single life that I envisioned now that I had a place of my own close to my friends didn’t materialize the way I thought it would.
Back to the career side of things, I was ultimately dissatisfied with my career and wasn’t liking how my life was unfolding. I found myself starting to devolve into one of the many in the masses who do the “same s***, different day”.
The big difference between me and most of my contemporaries is that I started waking up to this and was compelled and motivated to change all of that.
A year into my 3rd job in the 6 years since leaving school, it finally occurred to me that there truly wasn’t (nor is there) anything wrong with the jobs that I took (which would be well-suited for many people), it’s just that I knew in my bones that my heart wasn’t into them. I yearned to do something on my own and be completely self-sufficient as a self-employed entrepreneur. I don’t believe in “job security” and being dependent on one source of income via your job is very risky indeed.
At the age of 29, and after the devastating losses of both of my parents, I came across the idea of “financial freedom” (a concept I previously had never heard of) which is what you have when your income from your passive investments (in the form of rents, royalties, dividends, option-writing, and a multitude of other varieties that don’t require the 1:1 time for money trade-off such as a job) is equal to or exceeds your living expenses.
What an amazing idea! After being burned out by jobs I wasn’t suited for, and personal setbacks, what I wanted more than anything was to work smarter, not harder (and for my money and investments to work harder for me than I worked for it).
This is not a story that’s complete nor a journey that’s been straight-forward easy, but this is just the beginning. I’m looking forward to sharing more as we go.