The discovery of FI is, for me, the equivalent of writing out your life plan as a young adult, following it pretty steadily for thirty years and then scrunching the whole thing into a ball and throwing it into the bin. No, not even that. Setting it on fire – no pun intended! Hearing those Choose FI podcasts started the blazing epiphany that has literally stopped me in my tracks, life-wise.
That sounds a bit dramatic but there are lots of times in life where you’ve been doing something forever then someone or something tips what you’ve been doing on its head, and you can’t believe you didn’t know it before. Here’s an instance of that – I’ve seen umpteen life hack memes on the internet on how bobby pin hair fasteners are not designed to be used the way everyone uses them (smooth side to the head) but the other way up with the wavy side to the head – FOR MORE GRIP! Who knew?!
So FI did the same with my life plan… but we’re not talking about hair here, we’re talking about life. Basically, everything I had lined up in my life as a goal or important started to look a bit silly. I was definitely freaked out.
Mr FU MON CHU and I consider ourselves pretty money-savvy (well, he is – I just do as he advises – I have little interest in money apart from spending it if I’m honest. I just know that he reads about it all the time and has worked out good pensions, knows all the money-saving bonuses and researches the best savings rates, etc. I just trust him to sort these things, and he’s done a lot better job than many of our peers so I have just relied on his ongoing research.) Savvy or not, neither of us had even heard of FI until this past year.
Why hadn’t we, though? Why isn’t it all over the tv, press, taught in schools? Who doesn’t want to retire early? I know we always did, and we had a general idea that it might be possible if everything went ok and we worked our socks off. By ‘early retirement’ we were thinking 55-ish. We didn’t think it possible to do it any earlier (without getting lucky in the lottery or getting a cash windfall from a rich old uncle, which neither of us has). It was just a matter of running like hell on the hamster wheel of life, as some call it. I prefer to think of it as a roundabout. Things come round again and again, you’re not really going anywhere but the whole experience is dizzying. It’s certainly not a slow ride. The roundabout goes so fast it’s really hard to see anything from on it, never mind get off. No wonder we never realised there was a different view. It’s actually too exhausting just keeping up with the revolutions – repayments for this, replacements for that, endless school trips and opportunities not-to-be-missed. They keep reappearing almost as soon as the last fades. It’s impossible to look out, only in.
If we are honest MR FU and I both feel a bit stupid that we were tricked into getting on the roundabout from the day we set out as adults, maybe before. We were sold on the idea of getting a good job, buying a nice house, filling it full of stuff and keep updating it, having expensive but very worthwhile children, buying a nice car to transport them in, having holidays to create memories, putting some money by for our pensions. Away we went, just like all our contemporaries, embarking on busy and hardworking life where everyone just jollies along bravely because the reward will (hopefully) be some time in our twilight years where we’ve enough cash in the bank to maintain the comfortable lifestyle we’ve slaved to build. The years fly. Decades of them.
And then, suddenly, out of the blue, someone on a podcast said something that stopped me in my tracks…. We don’t need to be on the roundabout.
WE DON’T NEED TO BE ON THE ROUNDABOUT.
We listened, pretty-much open-mouthed. Cynical Me initially tried to pour scorn on the ‘far-fetched’ ideas but to be honest they don’t seem like scams or pipedreams and it’s difficult to be cynical about them when people are doing this – have done it.
It works …and I want it for us.
So right now we ARE still on the roundabout, but it feels like we are scuffing our shoes to slow the spin enough for us to hop leap off.
This past 12m has actually already been a year for leaps into the great unknown, so what’s another one?! I’m pretty sure most of our friends think we’re insane already, so wait till they find out about FI!
More about our other ‘Great Leap’ in the unknown next time.