I sometimes wonder whether everyone in the financial independence blog-o-sphere are not doing a Donald Crowhurst on us all?
Knowing human nature there are sure to be a large percentage of copy-cats blowing their own horns and exaggerating their own importance and achievement.
Even if they are all actually, truly FI, many seem to have adopted a classic flock-like follow-the-leader approach. Just the way they refer to themselves online -> names like Mr Freedom with Mrs Freedom and Junior Freedom tagging along. On the one hand I guess one always wants a little bit of anonymity, but sometimes I honestly feel there is no differentiation or uniqueness at all.
I don’t want to be another of them. Always remember the Wooly Masses Creed: Be on your guard! The flock WILL swallow you up and consume you.
Sitting where I am on the FI-road it’s sometimes quite hard to read all these “wonderful” tales of ‘very successful’ FI’ers who all happily retired from the rat race in their early 30’s and are now all living happily ever after with absolutely no cares in the world.
I don’t doubt that there are many of them out there . I also don’t doubt that it is possible for most (or most) people to achieve regardless of where they live; but lets be honest – America is not South Africa.
Here in Mr Big’s neck of the woods we don’t have the same social safety nets available to the citizens of finely tuned, working 1st world economies (despite all their own numerous challenges and failings). No useful medical aid, no social security, no strong USD, no “move to a cheaper country” if the money runs out. Nope. Over here we really are on our own.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not throwing my hands up in despair and conceding It can never work for me here on the dark continent. All I’m saying is that this is not the USA or Europe . This is Africa and it’s a whole lot different out here.
That said, this is not Zimbabwe yet, so for now it is a free market economy, with some kind of democracy and pretty decent personal freedom. Much of what is suggested by the FI world can be taken on board and made to work here in a similar fashion. (But there does appear to be an opportunity for a South African MMM )
One of the most difficult things for me at present is the knowledge that I didn’t start this FI path much, much sooner. Sure, I’ve always saved, courtesy of my frugal-by-necessity parents, but now that I’m really close to severing these golden handcuffs I’m realising I could already have been free, had I only saved more!
Coupled to this are commitments we have made to C & B. Commitments to pay for their studies even if it means borrowing). I’ve had debt my whole life and while I have a job at least I can deal with it better than they are able. Their prospects of a standard corporate role (especially B) are almost non-existent. Starting out with a quarter of a million in student debt is not something I wish for them. (Perhaps this is our legacy to them?)
So yes, I bitch, I moan, I want out sooner rather than later, but I also want to honour these commitments. We’re fortunate that we can honour them without going upside down on our loans. We have the ability to sell up & settle and that’s more than can be said of many in this modern world.
So for a little while longer we need to remain in this ratty race, running along on the sidelines and under the radar. It’s another four years. We’ve made it this far, we can make it to the finish!