Pursuing Financial Independence to Meet My Life Goals
Obtaining financial independence is one key way to meet major life goals.
Jan 09, 2023
With a whole week under 2023’s belt, goals are on my mind. I’m embarrassed to admit that even though I’m always emphasizing the importance of goals in my professional life, they’re incredibly difficult for me to personally manifest. I try to take my life day by day and intuit decisions, which is in no way a sound approach to life management. “Feeling” for the right choice is also becoming harder the older I get as opportunities grow but consequences become riskier. Spurned by entering my 30s in the last few years, I’ve become more invested in my long-term life goals:
- Semi-retire by the time I’m 40
- Buy a few acres of property
- Be able to easily support my family
- Have the choice to do that which I love
The underlying basis for each of these goals is, of course, money. Even the last goal requires a certain level of privilege and financial security. More importantly, I get stuck on how I make these goals happen. In my research, the answer is financial independence. My short-term goal for this year is to continue exploring, practicing, and learning how to make smart financial choices as a millennial with very few safety nets.
The prospect of building wealth is intimidating and relies on so many external factors. According to a Washington Post article I read during the pandemic, “The Unluckiest Generation in U.S. History,” millennials have experienced significant socioeconomic tragedies like 9/11, the Great Recession, a global pandemic, the ensuing recession, a stagnant minimum wage, exuberant housing costs, and so many other factors that will impact millennials “in the form of lower earnings, lower wealth and delayed milestones, such as homeownership” for the rest of our lives. The younger generations, like the Zoomers, may be even worse off. This means that the overall financial success millennials and younger generations can achieve is and will be significantly lower than previous generations despite the exorbitant rise in costs and expenses.
Anecdotally, I’m living the acute difference between the economic access of my parents as Baby Boomers and my own as a millennial. My parents married in their late 20s. Soon after they were married, they were able to buy a house and have a few kids (my brother and I). Both my parents graduated high school, but neither went to college. Starting from a young age, they worked in various jobs in agriculture. At some point in their 40s, my parents decided they needed to find work with better hours and better benefits, and they both ended up at the local school district. Because of these great moves, my mom still made more than me (with a master’s degree) until recently. My dad did too, even though he died in 2009. I’m unmarried, don’t own a home, don’t have kids. In many ways, I see myself in these statistics and feel “behind” both socially and economically.
In the pursuit of financial independence, a few options to build wealth I’ve found for those without the privilege of a familial safety net like myself is generating multiple income streams and investing. I’m ethically torn about actively participating in capitalism, but when only 48% of women invest compared to 66% of men, it’s also a way to use the tools of the system by individuals it didn’t intend. The amazing thing about the internet and social media is that a lot of financial information is accessible online. I’ve made sure to invest in my employer’s investment options, like a 401k, and I also invest on my own in a Roth Independent Retirement Arrangement(IRA) and a brokerage account. However, financial experts, like financial advisors, are definitely a good option to help get one’s finances on the right track—something I’m working on at the moment. With the rise of investment apps like Robinhood, Fidelity, and Vanguard, we actually have access to personally managed investment opportunities, which can be risky but can also save money in the long run. Money stuff, especially for those of us who haven’t had much or any financial education, can be really complicated. So, learning and getting help is crucial for success.
Over the last few years, I’ve determinedly developed my long-term goals, have started following money folks, and have been reading as much as possible in the pursuit of financial independence. I’ve calculated my F.I.R.E. number, and, now in 2023, I’m working to keep in control of my budget, maintain my emergency fund, and invest what I can—especially with another recession looming. Hopefully, within the next 10 years, I’ll have carved a visible path to life this me has envisioned. Building wealth and achieving financial independence is a slow process. With consistency, determination, and hope, it is possible.
Some of My Favorite Financial Resources
Along with traditional investing resources linked throughout the post, some of my other favorite investing resources are: