The psychological shift of a penny saved

I've noticed that, since beginning my financial indepedendence journey, my psychology around risk has changed.

Before accruing substantial savings and learned the art of frugal living, I would constantly wonder if I'd become destitute should I lose my income. This would drive me to remain in jobs I didn't enjoy, work for people I didn't like, and take whatever work came my way in order that I continue to service my status quo lifestyle.

But now, I know I'm free to walk away. I'm not driven to go get a "stable" job in order to maintain a cycle of paycheck-to-paycheck spending. The idea of taking a month, two, or three, away from client work, doesn't terrify me. It excites me because I know I have the resources to continue living normally through that time.

In the financial independence community online, there's a tendency to measure financial independence as a binary state: You're either ready to retire or you're not. I think this distinction makes sense if you work a salaried 9-5 job; in this case you don't have a choice in when you work, for how long, and under what conditions.

But for those of us who have built consulting businesses or otherwise have escaped the industrial-age idea of a 40-hour workweek, financial independence is more of a continuum. We ask the question "What percentage of my expenses could be paid with passive income from my investments?" Framed like this, it's easier to see how much freer you are if you have an invested nest egg, even if you're a ways off from true "retirement."

And those among us who pursue financial independence so fervently are, ironically, those who will probably work until we die—at least in some capacity. It requires an entrepreneurial spirit to save a million dollars. That spirit doesn't die upon hanging your spurs, but it sure feels good to know that each day you can hang them a few minutes longer than yesterday, if you so choose.

Read on: Reflections on sobriety