While I’m not normally a nostalgic person, October marked something of a major milestone in the life of Mr. Tako. This was my fifth year of freedom from the corporate world!
Although my blog was started back in December of 2015, my last day of work at a “corporate” job was September 30th, 2015. It took me a few months of unemployment before I finally decided to start writing the blog you see here today.
It’s been an interesting 5-year journey to say the least. Filled with all the ups and downs, and strange fluids you might expect from raising two kids…
My life didn’t start out “free” of course. The first 15 years of my career, I was a corporate “drone”. No bones about it, I was Mr. Worker-bee working for a paycheck. I had no idea what life might look like “on the other side”.
I only knew I was sick of the politics, the ass-kissing, and corporate back-stabbing that frequently goes on at work. Some people thrive in that kind of environment, but it sickened me to no end.
Now, after five free years, I can officially say I’ve had a decent taste of the outside world. I’ve gotten the chance to stand-up and take a look around. I’ve smelled the roses more than once, and been off the corporate Kool-Aid long enough to know the money-crazed addiction no longer has a hold on me.
After five years, I can give you a clear picture of what life is really like when work is no longer required.
Was It Worth It?
Inevitably the first question everyone asks about financial independence was, “Was it worth it?” As if in order to reach financial independence you had to make some kind of huge life-altering sacrifice in order to get there.
To hear it from the internet, you’d think limbs would need to be cut off and sold in order to achieve financial independence! Well, here I am with both arms and legs intact!
The reality is that no large sacrifice was needed to get here. The cost was almost infinitesimal. Mrs. Tako and I simply chose to live our lives in a way that was a little bit more mindful, and a little bit more sustainable than many of our peers. We lived, we saved, and we compounded.
Was it worth it to live a free life over the past five years, with a level of sacrifice that was almost unnoticeable? Yes, without a doubt! There’s no contest. Life is so much better this way! I often wonder why more people aren’t doing it.
It’s like being on vacation for the rest of your life, but instead of dreading the eventual return to work, you never have to think about work again.
So what have I been doing to fill my time during this 5-year vacation?
Inevitably when life is no longer about eking out the resources for survival, thoughts turn to leisure projects. In other words, hobbies.
One of my biggest hobbies over the past 5 years has been this blog. In total, I’ve written 432 posts, which likely accounts for 3,456 hours of writing (roughly 8 hours per post). That’s a lot of time invested into a project that barely makes any money!
The truth is, blogging is a labor of love. A passion project. I think of this blog as mostly an “online journal”. It’s the place where I keep a log of our finances, my recipes, my thoughts on investing, and if I’m researching new stock investments, I’ll probably write a post about it.
My hope is that my kids will some day read the blog and learn about financial independence for themselves. That’s going to be the ultimate payoff for me. Maybe they’ll pick up a few tips on investing as well!
Besides blogging, I love to build things with my hands. Usually I try to build useful items around the house — like a Bluetooth speaker or a sitting bench for the front door.
It was one of the first things I ever built after leaving work, which we used to mount our TV (which I scavenged). It’s still used it to this day!
One of the most common things people to do on “vacation” is to travel, and we’ve certainly done plenty of that. While I wouldn’t call ourselves prodigious travelers, we still have plenty of fun despite having young kids in school (which limits our available travel times to summers and holidays)
Where have we traveled?
In 2019, we went back to Texas to check out Austin and Dallas. Good times were had as we saw different parts of Texas, and met up with some fellow bloggers! Our annual camping trip was at Deception Pass State Park, and San Juan Island (detailed in this post).
Pandemics aside, I’m pretty happy with how much we’ve traveled over the last 5 years. Traveling with young kids is pretty tough, but our boys are just now getting to the age that they can walk several miles and carry their own backpacks with water and snacks. We’re getting there.
Here’s to hoping 2021 will be a better year for travel!
If you’ve done any reading about retirement, you’ve probably hear the horror stories of seniors eating rice and cat food in order to survive on tiny food budgets. Well, that’s no way to live! Here in the Tako household, food is important.
One of the greatest pleasures in life is eating delicious food. It’s easy to blow a lot of money on food, but we also try to be mindful about how we consume. We’re not eating a NY steak every night! We actually don’t even eat a lot of red meat. Instead, we actively chose a diet with more vegetable matter instead of heaping meat-filled platters.
Salads are much more common at our table. It’s healthier for us and considerable cheaper than wolfing down a side of climate-destroying cow every night.
We do most of our “eating-out” when we’re traveling. Cooking facilities are often not available for travelers (not many hotel rooms have usable kitchens), and it gives us the opportunity to sample more of the local flavor.
Over the years, I’ve often said that family is one of the best reasons for financial independence. I still strongly believe that today. Having enough free time to spend with your family is important. When I started this journey my oldest son was 2 years old, and our youngest was about 7 months old. We spent a lot of time together, both days and nights.
For awhile I couldn’t even sleep properly, probably because I was always “on-call” with the kids. But it was worth it to see them grow up.
Those early days seem like eons ago. Tako Jr. #2 wasn’t even walking back then, but that never stopped him from getting into trouble!
Today, the boys are now 7 and 5. They’re both healthy, happy, and probably fight with each other a bit too much.
These days we spend a lot of time together doing schoolwork (since COVID-19 has us schooling remotely). I’m thankful to have the free time to spend with them, even though I don’t consider myself a very good school teacher.
Most importantly, financial independence has given me a chance to see my kids grow up. Without it, I would have been trapped in an office for 10+ hours a day. I would have hardly had the chance to see them, except on the weekends.
Financial independence has given me the opportunity to know my kids, and it’s been worth it for that alone.
All-in-all, I’d like to believe I’ve learned a bit over the past 5 years. Hopefully I’ve gained a little wisdom. I’ve had the opportunity to see, explore, learn, and enjoy the world unhindered by the constraints of a job or “gathering resources” as my day-to-day activity.
Part of my blog is about sharing some of that wisdom with you, the readers.
I’ve been extremely fortunate, but I’ve also made mistakes and grown as a person. I’ve gotten the chance to lift myself up and look around at the world — most of which still toils away in the daily activity of consuming. As if that was the sole purpose of existing.
Most people either haven’t heard of financial independence, or they simply don’t believe it’s a real possibility. I’m here to say, “Yes, it is possible! There is another way!”
There is a way to live a very good life on “the other side”. A sustainable life, free from the pressures of work, and filled with time for fun, family, creativity, and adventure.
If I can do it, anyone can do it!
[Image Credit: Flickr]