A Financially Independent Life Is A Good Life


Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of my favorite movies from the 1980’s.  On the surface, the movie is about a trio of highschool kids who skip school one day to have a good time.  But the movie is really about living, and experiencing life to its fullest.  Carpe Diem.

At one point in the movie, Ferris quips, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”  He couldn’t be more right.

A lot of times we get too wrapped up in the details of life.  We focus on the little details — Jobs, paying the bills, commuting to work, what to cook for dinner, how much cash is in the checking account… Sometimes we forget the bigger picture that is life.

Our summer has been like that, all about the details.  It’s been extremely busy.  My writing has even reflected it lately, I’ve been totally zoomed in on the financial details, rather than the broader aspects of FI life.

Today I wanted to take a step back, and appreciate just how good life is after reaching financial independence.

I don’t say it often enough — A financially independent life is a really really good way to live.

 

Family

First and foremost in my life these days are the boys.  I spend a lot of time with my kids, Tako Jr. #1 and #2.  Time with our kids is an absolute gift that goes underappreciated by most parents…even me.

It’s one of the reasons why I wrote The Best Reason For Financial Independence post.  Kids grow up in the blink of an eye.  Blink and you’ll completely miss that precious childhood.  You simply can’t get that time back.

goofball moment
Thankfully, I’m around to capture goofball moments like this.

Sometimes I forget how involved I am as a father.  I take the stay-at-home-dad life for granted.  It seems totally normal to me…  but it really isn’t.

I was reminded just how abnormal I am last week when we took Tako Jr. #1 to the doctor (for an issue he’s been dealing with).  I was describing his symptoms and the doctor suddenly remarked, “Wow! I’m completely amazed at how involved you are.  Most fathers that come in here are just not that involved with their kids.”

That was a golden moment for me.  I was pretty proud.  It was a sudden and welcome reminder that I’m living life a little differently.

Having kids isn’t always sunshine and roses, but if I was working I’d sure miss a lot more of those “sunshine and rose” moments when they do happen.

 

Travel

This summer, the boys were a little older (ages 2 and 4), so we decided to start traveling a bit more.

Most new parents have a rough time traveling after the birth of a child.  Our family was no different.  The first couple of years with an infant are pretty difficult, and we were pretty tied down to one spot.

Even simple road trips are difficult with infants — Not only do you have to bring tons of extra stuff, but there’s the constant feeding and changing every two hours that necessitates frequent stopping.  It’s a huge pain to go anywhere.

Thankfully, things get a little better once they metamorphosize into toddlers.  This summer we started traveling more because of it — We took road trips to southern Washington, day trips to the beach, a trek to see eastern Washington college towns, and we even have a huge trip to Japan planned.

summer travelers
Now that Tako Jr. #2 has reached the toddler stage, traveling is a bit easier — He can walk reasonably long distances, and even does OK on long car rides.

The biggest disadvantage to traveling with toddlers, is the added expense.  Once they hit 2 years old, the airlines won’t let them ride in your lap for free anymore… you have to buy full-price airline tickets.

Ugh!  Even though Tako Jr. #2 only weighs 20 pounds, he still has to buy a full-priced ticket.  This seems like a rip-off.  For international travel, it ends-up being pretty expensive.

Thankfully, financial independence has big advantages here too.  We started our initial adventures into travel hacking this spring.  While that isn’t a huge amount of time to generate points, we were able to shave at least $1,000 off our Japan-trip airline tickets by monkeying around with credit cards, locations, and airline points.

To make a broad generalization, travel hacking works… assuming you have the time to monkey around with it.

Just having the time to travel is a huge advantage over my previous working life.  I usually received two weeks of vacation per year (plus a few holidays).  It’s not a lot of time to travel, but this amount of paid vacation is considered normal in the United States.

We easily spent more than those two weeks traveling this summer… and it was great!  There’s no way my previous employers would have said “yes” to that and a additional month in October.

japan trip
A month long trip to Japan would have been like an impossible dream when I was working… but now we’re leaving in only 4 weeks!  Woohoo!

I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot more about our travels in the near future…. especially traveling “on the cheap” with a family.  We’ll be “frugaling it up” in Japan… a country not generally known for it’s affordability.

 

Food

Long gone are the days of TV dinners, instant food, and takeout for our family.  Other than the occasional meal-out while we’re traveling, we make every meal at home.

For some people, cooking at home sounds like a big sacrifice.  Boy do they have that one wrong!  Not only do we save ourselves thousands of dollars per year, but we’re eating better than ever.

Mr. Tako’s tacos — You haven’t really lived until you’ve eaten my bacon-shrimp-avocado tacos with signature fresh homemade salsa.  They are mind-blowingly delicious.

Because we’re saving so much by not eating-out, we don’t skimp on quality ingredients.  Often times we splurge on expensive ingredients for our meals.  Fancy foods like shrimp, fresh fish, and the occasional tenderloin land on our table — often enough to make us feel like we live a pretty decadent life.

fresh fish
Here the boys learning how to de-head and de-scale a fresh snapper for dinner. We don’t shy away from quality fresh ingredients in our “frugal” household.

By making our own food, we know every ingredient that goes into our food.  There’s no mystery about what we’re getting.  Our economic garden also provides plenty of delicious home-grown organic veggies which are added to our meals… all for the cost of mere pennies.

economic salad
Every component of this salad was grown in our economic garden… except one. See if you can guess which!

Again, doing these things takes time — Time I now have to give, and I’m thankful for it.  I wouldn’t have had the time to cook for my family if I was working my previous wage-slave hours of 9AM to 7PM every day of the week.

It just wouldn’t have happened.

 

Projects

This summer was extremely busy, but I also found a little time to work on personal projects.  I usually get time to do this after the kids have gone to bed.

My biggest personal project is this blog — I can easily spend 8 hours writing, researching, and editing a single blog post.  It’s a ton of work!  If you look at the complete library of posts (over 176 now!), you can easily see where I spend most of my spare time.

If I was still working, my life would include NONE of these activities.  Either I’d be too stressed with work to take on personal projects like this blog, or I would just never start due to lack of time.

It’s almost as if I was using my job was my excuse — “I can’t do X because I need to get-up early for work tomorrow.”  “I don’t really need another hobby, I should probably just work harder to get that promotion at work.

Making those excuses, I never started the projects I really wanted to work on.  Inevitably I’d end-up watching TV, and wasting those hours of my life instead.  Thankfully, those days are gone.  Every spare minute I have gets spent working on personal projects.

Besides working on the blog, I also love to build stuff… usually from scrounged materials.  Yes, “scrounged” as in completely free materials.

mahogany box
This finger-jointed mahogany plywood box was one of my summer projects. You’ll see more of this in a upcoming post.  All of the materials were 100% free.

This spring the boys and I also started a new project we’re calling “The Robot Project”.  Our plan is to build a robot together from scratch using entirely recycled parts.  We’ve been scrounging parts all summer from broken inkjet printers and scanners being given away.  Printers and scanners are a fantastic source of free DC motors, stepper motors, sensors, switches, buttons, and stainless steel rods.  All of those items we’ll use for this upcoming robot project.

disassembly required
Free robot parts … with some disassembly required. Here Tako Jr. #1 is helping me scrap a inkjet printer for parts.  I have no idea why he’s wearing a cowboy hat… those aren’t technically required for this job.

Based upon the incredible number of free printers we’ve disassembled this summer, inkjet printers must be terribly fragile electronic gadgets.  The funny thing is…. once I get one of these “broken” printers home, I find there’s usually nothing mechanically wrong with it.  Either they’ve run out of ink, the print head has gotten misaligned (an easy fix), or they’ve simply gotten clogged-up.

It’s amazing what people will give away for free.  I honestly think the biggest reason people give away these printers is because they get tired of replacing the overpriced ink cartridges.  Those things are crazy expensive.

 

Finances

When I first started on this Financial Independence journey, I figured our finances would be more of a challenge.  Instead, life just keeps getting easier.  I’m immensely thankful for that.  Our net worth has continued to grow without me working, and 2017 looks set to continue this annual tradition.  It’s a great new tradition I hope to repeat every year.

Don’t get me wrong, I watch our expenses pretty close.  Those frugal habits die pretty hard —

I still compile our dividends and expenses every month, and go through it with a very fine tooth comb.  If you’re curious, it all gets compiled into our monthly Dividend Income and Expense reports.  This only takes me a couple hours every month… it doesn’t take a lot of effort to maintain.

Most months, the numbers simply tell me we’re doing just fine.

There isn’t a lot of financial stress in our life — We live in a pretty expensive house that still has a mortgage (but we could easily pay it off).  We spend money on pretty much anything we want.  We eat really high-end food (basically anything we want to eat)… Yet our net worth continues to climb.  How awesome is that?

Let me say it again (because it’s worth repeating) — A Financially Independent life is a pretty damn good life.  You should try it sometime.

35 thoughts on “A Financially Independent Life Is A Good Life

  • August 30, 2017 at 2:22 AM
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    Your food photos look absolutely amazing as always! Mr. FAF is involved with raising our son, but definitely not to the extent that you are. I love being with my son too. But I have to be honest to say that there are days when I just can’t wait to get out of the house and focus on my work instead. >_<

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:50 PM
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      Some days are like that. Mrs. Tako is kind and gives me a break now and then.

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  • August 30, 2017 at 2:33 AM
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    This is such a great post, and such a great reminder! Time with your family is so precious. I agree with Mrs. FAF–that sushi roll at the top made me so hungry! 🙂

    Looking forward to hearing about the Japan trip. You guys must be so excited!

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:50 PM
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      We’re totally pumped! It’s going to be a crazy-fun trip. 😀

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:51 PM
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      Good luck! I’m sure you guys will be FI soon enough!

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  • August 30, 2017 at 3:39 AM
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    I’m with ya – I’ve been FIREd for over 5 years and the freedom is awesome!

    Children do grow up fast! My son just completed Army Ranger training and we just got back from a trip to his graduation. We found out Sunday that he passed and we needed to be at Fort Benning by Wednesday. There’s no way we could have done that if I was still working. I’m very thankful we had the freedom to go!

    I love the finger-joint box! Do you have a table saw?
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…To budget or not to budget?

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:53 PM
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      Yes, I do. Not a very good one though.

      The vast majority of my tools were free, so I have to work a little harder to get good results.

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  • August 30, 2017 at 3:49 AM
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    Awww full airfare for a toddler is a rip off. I think when we have kids, we’re grounding ourselves until they’re above 5 and can have actual solid memories. I’m not paying and taking them to Japan so they’d only know by watching the videos!

    Also thanks for the food pics. And your boys are adorableness x 2!!!

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  • August 30, 2017 at 4:37 AM
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    Are you going to post the recipe for Mr. Tako’s Tacos? I clearly see the main ingredients but we all know what makes the difference! Great food pics.

    Blogging takes me a long time because I’m very critical of what I write and I only want to write great blog posts. I can easily spend 8 hours too. I have a ton of drafts that don’t make the cut which kills me! I’ve decided that I don’t want to post for the sake of posting. If I can only produce one quality post per week, then so be it!

    We have to appreciate what’s important in our lives. I’m glad you mentioned that because I clearly saw that I was spending less time being “present” with my family.

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:56 PM
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      I wasn’t planning on a recipe post… but now that you mention it there ARE a lot of tricks to get good tacos.

      Maybe I will post one if there’s enough interest!

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  • August 30, 2017 at 5:18 AM
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    Looks like you’re sitting pretty, Mr. Tako! You’re so right about eating more at home. It’s not about eating chicken nuggets every night–when you cook truly homemade food, you eat better than ever. It makes restaurants seem much less enticing.

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:57 PM
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      I honestly prefer to eat at home these days! I can cook better than most restaurants at a fraction of the cost! 😀

      Reply
  • August 30, 2017 at 6:05 AM
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    The food does look quite delicious and you are doing all those things that I would love to do. Playing with your children, building robots and other projects, and eating….mmm.

    I am hoping to go at least part time soon so I can spend time with my son while he is still young. They grow too quick and when they are in high school I doubt he will want to hang with me anymore. Better to get the time in now when we can.

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    • August 30, 2017 at 12:58 PM
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      Absolutely. If you can’t swing FI just yet, part-time is a great option!

      You can always go back to work, but you can’t go back in time.

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  • August 30, 2017 at 7:11 AM
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    Sounds like an awesome FI life; can’t wait to get there. It’s not lunchtime yet, but I’m hungry looking at those tacos 🙂
    The best part is money back or saved via points and travel hacks. By the way, I can’t wait to see what your robot looks like!

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  • August 30, 2017 at 7:27 AM
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    Great post. I am also very involved in raising my younger daughter only 1 and a half and older son 5 years old as I am working an easy job with 4-5 months off (2 -3 months off in the summer and 2 months off in the winter). Even when working I only work 22 hours a week. My wife does not work currently so we share the housework but she does all the cooking. When she prepares the meals, I take our daughter out and she gets very interested in looking at the birds on the trees, ants on the ground and little things like that. Our older son goes off to kindergarten from 8:30am to 5:30pm and I usually pick him up as well. I know if I had continued my old corporate jobs, this extra time with my kids would never have been possible.

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    • August 30, 2017 at 1:02 PM
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      Great story JZ! It sounds like you have a wonderful pair of children. I bet you’re glad you’ve got time to spend with them!

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  • August 30, 2017 at 8:00 AM
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    You’re doing an awesome job with your kids. The robot project is really cool. We need to do something like that too. Don’t let them play games on the tablet too early. That’s what they’ll want to do all the time once they get a taste of it.
    Our kid started 1st grade today. Yippee! Now I have a lot more me time. This summer was so busy with activities and fun stuff. I’m looking forward to reading about your Japan trip.
    FI life isn’t perfect, but it’s way better than the work-a-day alternative.

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  • August 30, 2017 at 1:05 PM
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    Congrats on 1st grade! You must be excited!

    The Japan trip should be pretty awesome. I intend to blog from there as much as possible. We haven’t been to Japan in years, so Mrs. Tako and I are pretty excited!

    Reply
  • August 30, 2017 at 5:43 PM
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    Awesome post. There are certainly times in life that are amazing (like when my kids were 1 and 3 and we moved to Norway, then 3 and 5 and we moved to Dubai) and then times that get a little meh. I think MMM is in a meh phase (his family is a similar age to mine). I sometimes worry that I’m not building up toward better times like I felt I used to, since I kept having so many amazing surprises. These last 10 years since the ‘great recession’ have been unbelievable – I’m over 2x better off than my parents at their retirement and I am in my early 40’s! Still expecting the worst though, just so there is still an upside to never-ending prosperity 🙂

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  • August 31, 2017 at 12:04 PM
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    Tacos!!!! Post the recipe pretty please!!!

    Great message today! It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day minutia that you forget to look around and remember just how incredible the world is.

    Enjoy Japan! I spent six months there once upon a time. Kamakura outside Tokyo was my favorite place to go on the weekends. There are gorgeous temples everywhere. Plus, the colors in October should be fantastic.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 2:08 PM
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    The family thing is the reason I want to be FI as quickly as possible. While I don’t have kids yet, we are planning on being parents (even though I am 44). I don’t want to be working (or at least having to) when the kid is doing stuff in high school and the like.

    BTW, do you want to start a meal service and deliver to us. We will pay ;).

    Reply
  • August 31, 2017 at 3:45 PM
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    I think the trust/bond you build with your kids when they are young will pay off during the difficult teen years. Hopefully making robots, etc with them will be a hobby you can continue as they get older so that they don’t spend too much time playing video games. There seems to be a lack of motivation to be independent and get out and ‘do’ things in a lot of teen boys these days. I feel like it’s connected to teenagers and video games.

    Autumn is one of the best times to be in Japan. It’s just getting too hot and humid there in the summer these days! Hope you have a great trip.

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    • August 31, 2017 at 10:37 PM
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      I do hope it “pays off” in those later years, but even if it doesn’t I think I’ll be glad I spent the time to do it.

      The last time we visited Japan (years ago) it was summer. I’ll agree with you, it was really darn hot! The humidity always surprises me too. I’m expecting temperatures in the low-to-mid-70’s for our trip. It should be fairly pleasant for walking around.

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  • September 3, 2017 at 9:02 AM
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    Paula Pant at Afford Anything just did a good post about the Good Life too. My good life includes escaping the flood in Houston with only about 100 bucks in damage to roof and drywall.

    The robot project sounds like fun! I’m going to show this post to a friend in CA who is doing some nonconventional schooling stuff. She could probably duplicate this as a class project.

    I’m coming up on my five year FIRE anniversary on 5OCT2017. I’m amazed how much easier it is than I planned on. People I know are even starting to tune in to the possibilities. My good life calls for lots of eating out because I’m a terrible cook. Dad is coming over for lunch shortly so I gotta go.

    Also, I am human or cephalopod and have checked the appropriate box.
    Financial Velociraptor recently posted…Damp

    Reply
  • September 3, 2017 at 11:38 AM
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    Completely agree. FIRE life is a freaking good life! One other advantage I could add to the list is having the time to reflect and have more empathy for others. Back when we were working, I was barely keeping my head above water. No way did I have time to think about how to save the world, help other people, or be empathetic. I was super stressed and angry all the time. Now, I actually have time to think about other people. It’s an amazing gift.

    I’ve heard comments from people who say FIREing is selfish, and they have a right to their opinions, but what I discovered is that after leaving the rat race, for the first time ever, we could spend time with family and friends, volunteer for non-profits, donate to worthy causes, be there for friends who are going through a hard time, meet new people and learn to to see things from other people’s perspectives, work with other FIRE people on projects that will help the world, etc etc. It’s been very transformative. Back when I was working, all I cared about (and had time for) was making money and helping the company make more money. There was no time to care about anyone or help anyone. I’m super grateful for my change in perspective and it’s all due to FIRE.

    Glad you are enjoying the FIRE life!

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    • September 3, 2017 at 6:12 PM
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      Totally agree! Having the time to spend on things that matter to us is what makes FIRE fantastic. For some people, that’s raising a family. For other people, that might be volunteering for non-profits or creating amazing artwork.

      Each has their own unique value to society. If that’s selfish, then I think being selfish is awesome! 😀

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    • September 3, 2017 at 6:19 PM
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      FIRECracker, I really like your comment here. One of my biggest concerns lately is that I am, much more often than I’d like, a douchebag. Forgive my French. I don’t spend enough time caring about my extended family (I rarely take the time to think about my brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, parents, and think about how well they’re doing, etc…), let alone people I don’t know. I’m rarely smiling (although I try to make it a habit), and am constantly thinking about “what I have to do next” to stay afloat, at work, or with chores at home, etc…

      I really hope that having extra free time will in particular help me becoming a better person, by finally taking the time to think about how I can help others. But maybe I’m just lying to myself, and someone who doesn’t take the time to empathize while they’re busy, won’t take that time either once they have more time?

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      • September 4, 2017 at 9:11 AM
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        The fact that you’re even self-aware enough to say this means you are a good person. I honestly believe that when we don’t have to be running around, trying to keep our heads above water, we can take the time to help others. I think, unless something really traumatic happened in the past, human beings naturally want to care about each other and help each other out.

        So don’t worry, I think once you have more time, you will naturally think about your family and feel empathy for others.

        Reply

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