When I was a kid, I dreamt of being a circus performer. Now my goals are a little different (although I maintain that one day I will somehow be involved with Cirque). I’ve been spinning my wheels towards a goal of Financial Independence, aka total freedom from a paycheck, but that isn’t an end-goal. It’s a step towards the end-goal. I’m very lucky to be happy in what I’m doing, with whom I spend my time, and where I am, but when I imagine my blissful future, here are the things I picture – and the steps I’m taking to get there:
1. The luxury of spending my time as I want
I think a lot of people can relate to this one. We’ve built calendars and lifestyles around the idea of a synchronous work week. How amazing would it feel to dictate your own use of time? I crave for the flexibility and freedom to pursue my goals and enjoy my life without the fairly arbitrary time mandates of a 9-to-5. What I want is the ability to volunteer, travel, work, and spend time with my loved ones as works best for me and the people I care about most.
How I’m getting there: Mostly, I’m aggressively saving and trying to be smart with my investments. That idea of financial independence is a big part of this, but it’s not a reason to stop myself from enjoying my life now.
With the help of online communities like r/FinancialIndependence and personal finance blogs, I found tools to help really plan out how and when I can “retire,” and track my progress along the way. Once I have a nest egg and passive income covering my expenses, I’ll be financially free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. In the meantime, though, I’m enjoying my spare time and filling it with the people and hobbies that make me happiest.
2. Wealth of love
I’m lucky because this is something I already have in spades. I have a very close relationship with my grandparents, both of whom are amazing role models and friends. I have a big family – some of whom I enjoy and some of whom I don’t. And of course, I have
The Lady my cat.
However, when I think longterm, I picture things growing quite a bit. I’d like a dog to shower with affection, and perhaps one day an offspring or two.
How I’m getting there: Don’t worry – I know you had “the talk” when you were a kid, so I won’t go into the details there. That said, there is some planning involved. Kids are a big commitment, and I’m not ready to devote my time in that way just yet. Mentally, I’m preparing by proving to myself that I
won’t be a terrible mother can potentially handle it through babysitting, teaching, and volunteering with kids. I’m in a 1BR/1BA apartment, and can’t give a dog the best experience here, and I’ll have to find a new home eventually. This brings me to…
3. A small, quiet home
I’m one of the relatively few people who can say I was born and raised in the large metropolis that I’ve stayed in. I grew up with The 405, tons to do (and tons of people doing them), and perfect weather year-round. Imagine my parents’ surprise when I told them I wanted to get out of the city and settle somewhere else!
I dream of a home a little bit bigger than my small apartment now – but in isolation. I want to have space for a real garden, or the ability to sing in the shower without bothering neighbors.
I have a mental wish list going: lots of sunlight, close to water, space for a dog and a garden (and maybe a beehive or chicken coup), and a small carbon footprint. I’m a big fan of sustainability and am eager to get off the grid thanks to power from the sun and wind, recycling water, and hopefully have high-speed satellite internet courtesy of SpaceX.
How I’m getting there: A big part of having a new space is financial. I originally started a house fund with Barclays because they offer a savings account with over 1% interest, but I’ve since realized that my timeline was a matter of years, not months. That down payment is still growing, now in the form of domestic and international bond ETFs, which took me from that ~1% interest to a ~3% dividend.
More importantly, I know I want to live outside of Los Angeles, but I don’t know where, and until I get out of Los Angeles and explore more of the world, I’ll only be able to guess what would make me the happiest.
4. A wealth of experiences
I want to live a full life, which for me doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a millionaire and building an empire. I want to travel to each continent and live outside myself. I want to learn more languages, actually cook decently, and absorb cultures outside of my own. I want to experience things I wouldn’t find from my daily life here in SoCal.
How I’m getting there: I’m making it a point to go somewhere new as often as possible (and actually take my vacation time). I’m putting away at least $100 each month towards travel, and building a running list of places I need to see! I’ve also found a few hacks for affordable flights, letting me hit those bucket list items without spending an arm and a leg.
5. Join the circus
Ok, sort of. I’m not actively pursuing my childhood dream and trying out for Cirque. I really just love everything about aerial acrobatics and want my body to be able to do the things I love seeing at circus performances. Unfortunately, I’m not graceful by nature, so each of my adventures in sports has been riddled with bruises, scuffs, and scrapes.
How I’m getting there: Oh, Los Angeles, where Pole Dancing classes and Aerial Yoga are actually things… I’ve been getting progressively decent at Pole and have a few Lyra (hoops) and Silks classes under my belt. I even went so far as to get a pole for home practice, which has been the best investment since REITs. Every time I get home or go from the bedroom to the kitchen in the morning, I get at least a little bit of a workout. And it’s just straight up fun.
On top of that, I’m prioritizing taking at least one acrobatics, pole, or flexibility class per week. It feels good to take care of my body, but it also appeases my inner child, even if I don’t become a world-class trapeze artist.
Will all or even any of these happen? Who knows. But at least I’m giving myself a chance to build towards the life I think I want. I’m secretly hoping these will have a domino effect, one kickstarting the next, but worst case scenario, I can always join the circus.
My favorite free financial tool I use is M1 Finance. I've previously written about M1's free trades, automatic rebalancing, and easy-to-use interface, but it really does make investing accessible and easy. If you're not already investing in some way, or if you're looking for a tool that makes it easy to manage, I recommend trying it out.
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