Is Financial Independence the Only Way to Achieve “The Wild”?

When my son was seven, I remember a specific time that we drove to the grocery store together.  Our grocery store trips are very routine and usually not that big of a deal.  So, why do I remember this trip?  On the way, he said something to me that still to this day I can’t seem to get off my mind.

“Mom.  When are we going to jump into the wild?”

See, the cool thing about having a seven (now eight!) year old, is that he is at a fun age.  An age full of excitement, imagination, curiosity, and complete fearlessness.  He sometimes comes up with the wildest ideas, like the time he wanted us to build a robot to clean our house.  But, other times the ideas he suggests make perfect sense.

I stopped the vehicle and we sat in the parking lot and talked it over for a little while.  Because I wasn’t exactly sure what “jump into the wild” meant.  Full of passion and excitement, he explained his idea of a perfect life.

“We can live a life free to do whatever we want.  We don’t have to listen to anyone.  There is nobody there to tell us what to do.  We can live in the wild and in nature.  We can study animals.  And, we can choose to do whatever we want out in the wild.”

What was his plan on how to begin living this life?  Well… it was to jump right into it.

Fearlessly.

As we walked throughout the grocery store, we talked about how much fun that would be.  We discussed all his ideas and plans about living in the wild.

What does “the wild” really mean?

When I think about what my son is really saying I know there is more to it than living outdoors.  He wants to live a life full of big boundaries and open spaces.   A life with unlimited free time to explore, learn, and play.  He wants to spend more time running around out in the woods, catching fish, getting dirty and building forts.  He wants to look at the moon and the stars and watch plants grow and nature roam.

To him “the wild” means learning how things work, asking questions and searching for the answers.  A life where he is free to do whatever he wants whenever he wants.

Deep down each of us has our own definition of what “jumping into the wild” means.  And as different as each may be, they can all be amazing and beautiful pictures of how to live your dream life.

My idea of “jumping into the wild”

For me, “jumping into the wild” means waking up in the mornings to the light from the sunrise and not the sound of an alarm clock.  A self-sufficient life filled with a beautiful garden.  The days are spent with the people I love.  There is plenty of time to be outside working with my hands in the dirt and cooking from scratch.  After I wash my hands, of course.

A slow, simple life with just the necessities to get by.  Warm cozy fires in the cold evenings and cool breezes in the summer.  And plenty of time for family and community and getting caught up in good books.  I would write and pour myself into work that I loved.  I would have the freedom to follow my interests and pursue my hobbies.

Your idea of “the wild” could be completely different.  That is perfectly ok.

Is financial independence the only way to achieve “the wild”?

When I first really got into reading personal finance blogs, I started with the financial independence and early retirement blogs.  Those are the ones that will draw you right in. Reading them, you’ll discover that their stories and lifestyle choices, which helped them achieve financial independence are amazing.

Continually, I found myself in a love/jealousy mindset when it came to reading those blogs.  I devoured the information in them and found them incredibly helpful.  Especially, when we were pushing ourselves to pay off our credit card debt.  But, part of me became envious when I looked at those sites.  The writers each had the lifestyle that I want so bad for our family to have.

I went through a phase in life where I felt like reaching financial independence was the only way to achieve the lifestyle I wanted.  I created some Excel spreadsheets, ran some numbers, cut our budget down to the lowest I thought it could possibly go.  What I realized is that we still need a whole lot of money, that we don’t have in order to get us there.  I knew that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Here’s the situation that our family faces and I think many other families face also.  For our family to achieve complete financial independence my husband and I would both have to work a lot of hours for several years, saving aggressively.  We have an eight-year-old and an almost two-year-old.  Our children’s entire childhoods would consist of us working non-stop and saving non-stop.

We are still on the path towards financial independence.  We still are trying to pay off our debt and save money, but not as aggressively as we could.

So… what happens when you read tons of blogs about the idea when you believe that an extreme path towards financial independence is not a good option for your family?

Or, question number two…  What if you are already working towards financial independence and you are finding yourself discouraged because you know that you have several years left before you will start to see your hard work pay off.

You figure out a Plan B.

What if we have things upside down?

I think anyone who has achieved financial independence would tell you that the money is not the goal.  The point of working hard to achieve financial independence is because of the options and choices you get in life that otherwise are not available to you.

One of my most favorite books is Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map.  I stumbled upon it one day at our public library and I have checked it out many times since then.  In her book, Danielle tells a story about a New Year’s Eve where she was listing out a bunch of goals for the upcoming year that she wanted to achieve.

What she realized is that it wasn’t the goal itself she was chasing after, but actually, the feeling that she hoped that achieving the goal would give her.

We have a tendency to chase after goals in the hopes that once we achieve them we will feel a certain way.  It is an upside down way to think.  It’s not the goals we are after, it’s a certain feeling in our lives that we are searching for.

Regardless of whether you believe in following your goals or creating habits instead, deep down inside we are all just looking to fulfill a deeper desire.  Maybe it’s a lifestyle change we are searching for.  Or a specific feeling we want in our lives that we are now missing.

Maybe it’s a simple desire that we just want to be able to call our own shots, do our own thing, be our own boss, and not have anyone tell us when to clock-in to work every morning.

Is there a core desired feeling behind trying to reach financial independence?  Maybe.

What could it be?  Freedom.  The feeling of having options.

I understand that there is a difference between the feeling of having options and actually having options because you are financially independent.  But, what I have come to realize is that all of us have options, whether or not we choose to believe that.

If you feel stuck in a work situation you don’t enjoy or a lifestyle you aren’t thrilled about, then I am proposing the idea that maybe it’s possible to achieve the dream life you want without being fully financially independent.

You might have convinced yourself that you are trapped, but I believe that the gate is wide open.  You just have to get up and walk through it.

Sounds great and all, but I have bills to pay

Don’t get me wrong here.  I am not saying quit your job with no savings account and travel the world with no plan on how you will be able to buy food or pay for housing.

But, what I have noticed in the financial independence community is that a lot of people who achieved financial independence at a really young age, still do something they enjoy which earns them an income.  Even after they retire.

Why in the world would they do a crazy thing like that?!?  Because they enjoy what they are doing and they just so happen to make money from it.  Our Next Life wrote a post not too long ago which talked about this.  You can check that out here.

The question is… what if on the way to achieving financial independence you go ahead and start living your “wild” life in the mean time.  You start earning money how you want to earn money.  Most of all, you start living how you want to live.

So…can you achieve your “wild” now even though you aren’t financially independent?  (aka, introducing Plan B)

Just the other day I was reminded of an episode of Joshua Sheat’s Radical Personal Finance called Why Wait Until You’re F.I. to Live Like You’re F.I?  I had forgotten about this episode until I read Millennial Boss’ article discussing the same topic.

Please take the time to listen to both Joshua’s episode and read Millennial Boss’s article.  Both are really good and will make you think about the pursuit of financial independence in a different way.

So, I ask the question?  Can you achieve your “wild” without fully reaching financial independence?

YES!!!!  I think it is possible.

In order to make this happen, you will need to do a few things.  Change isn’t going to happen on its own.  You will have to take control of your own life and do this for yourself.

The good news is, I think it’s doable.  And, for our family, Plan B is the new Plan A.

(If you are still on Plan A, then maybe you can have a side of Plan B with your Plan A) 🙂

The steps to get you to your “wild”

  1. Figure out what you want your life to look like.
  2. Save up some money.
  3. Make any changes necessary to move from the life you have now to the one you want.

Are there really only three steps?  Yes.

The steps to get you to where you want to go aren’t magical in themselves.  The fact that you take action and make things happen is where the magic kicks in.

Moving from thought to action will help you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. 

So, bring on the steps!

Step 1: Figure out what you want your life to look like.

Imagine what your ideal life would look like.  Be very specific with this.  Ask yourself what you want an average day to look like.  Where would you like to live?   How would you feel on a daily basis?  Where would you go?  What would you do?

Also, include any way you think making money would fit into this dream life.  This can include your idea of a dream job working for someone else, or a dream job working for yourself.  Maybe this includes making money from something you are passionate about.  You might be looking to find a low-stress job to pay the bills which in return gives you a flexible schedule and more free time.

Maybe you want to run a profitable eBay store or make money as a photographer or start a farm growing vegetables.

Write down all the details.  If you are a visual person, then create a poster board filled with pictures and inspirational quotes.  You could even use Pinterest to make an online board to keep any images you want that remind you of your dream life.

The fun thing is, this is your dream, your life.  There are no wrong answers.

Get this nailed down because all the other steps build upon step one.

You first have to know what you want to know how to get yourself there.

Step 2: Save up some money

I don’t believe you have to be debt free to pull this off.  If you can be, that would help.  But, you will need to save up some money.  How much, is up to you and it depends on what you are trying to do.  If your dream life involves switching jobs or moving, you will need the money to get you through these transitions.

If you or your spouse wants to quit working and stay home with your children, you will need some money saved up to make that switch easier.

Maybe you want to change to a lower paying job because it’s one that you will enjoy more than the stressful job you have now.  A nice savings account will help you feel safe enough to make this change.

If you desire to take some time off work to travel and figure out your next move in life, then saving up money will open up the door for this to be possible.

Step 3: Make any changes necessary to move from the life you have now to the one you want.

For the most part, you can undo any financial decisions you think you are stuck in.

If your expensive car is holding you back.  Sell it.  If you are living in a big house and you are struggling with the payment.  Move to a less expensive place.

Credit card debt can be paid off.  Expensive eating out habits can be done away with.  Monthly cable plans can be canceled.  Cell phone plans can be switched.  Student loans can be refinanced.  Two car families can become one car families.  The possibilities are endless on ways to cut back your monthly expenses.

Maybe the change you are looking for will happen once you start living on a budget and watching what you spend.

This is usually the point where people get stuck.  It’s easy to dream, it’s not too difficult to save up the money, but people doubt themselves when it comes time to make their dream happen.

Don’t hesitate.

Once you know what you want, and figure out a plan to get you there… then, by all means, get there.

The question is… how bad do you want the life you are dreaming of?  

Final Thoughts

The transition doesn’t have to happen overnight and it more than likely won’t.  Planning, saving, and making changes in your life will take some time.  Start your side hustle now while you are still working full-time.  Work on your business in the evenings after your kids go to bed.

Do what you can today to move you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.

What you’ll find is that working towards living your dream life can bring you hope and encouragement.  Especially if you feel stuck or unhappy in your current situation.

Or, if you are on a path towards financial independence, the path will be a much more pleasant one if you are already living a life you are calling the shots on and loving.

Once you believe that you have the power to control your future and influence the outcome of your life, you will start getting things done, start being more successful and feel better.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life. -Mary Oliver

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.  Are you currently working towards financial independence?  Have you made any changes in your life to get you closer to the lifestyle you want to be living?

16 comments On Is Financial Independence the Only Way to Achieve “The Wild”?

  • I love the positivity in this post. I really love that it’s based on the wonder and innocence of a 7 year old. Sometimes kids have the best ideas don’t they? They just keep it simple by removing all the layers of “logic” and expectations that we adults have brought to bear.

  • Great post, Brittany! Sounds like I should check out Danielle LaPorte’s book.

    We are working towards financial independence and I try to move a little bit closer to the lifestyle we desire every month.

    Thanks for sharing your story and plan B. Love the idea of finding your “wild.”

    • Thanks, Amy! That’s AWESOME that you are moving closer to the lifestyle you desire every month as you are working towards FI! I think Danielle’s book is a great read and I really recommend it. 🙂

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  • If you wait until Fi to live your life you might never get there. Life is a journey and Fi/retirement is just one more mile marker on that trip. We don’t know where the end is. We have to plan for the next day but we also have to enjoy the now as there is one thing money can’t buy… yesterday

    • Those are very wise words! I agree with you 100%. Planning for the future is important, but living your life in the present is just as important. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • This is awesome, Mr. Adventure Rich and I were just talking about how we are living our “retirement” in small ways while nowhere near FIRE! Its something we have to remember to do so we don’t get stuck in a routine, but we try to embark on adventures and “jump into the wild” several times a week, despite a full work schedule 🙂

    • Thanks! I love how you are being intentional with having weekly adventures and not letting yourself get stuck in a routine. 🙂 What a great way to make some awesome memories and enjoy life. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

  • Nicely done. Our boys are now 6 & 8 and we’re getting that same itch for some family adventure. We’ve arrived at financial independence and are likely a year or two away from moving into an RV for the better part of a year and exploring this great nation.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Thanks so much PoF! Moving into an RV and exploring the US with your family sounds like an amazing adventure. I would love for our family to do that together one day. Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂 (And congrats on reaching FI!)

  • Pic looks like Zion NP to me.

    I totally agree that you need not be debt free nor financially independent to begin transitioning your life from what you have now toward your ideal life. Many will actually realize their ideal life actually includes some paid work!

    This guest post by Live Free MD on my site discusses the idea of FI being a continuum:
    https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/financial-independence-is-not-a-number/

    • Thanks for sharing this post with me. I love how he said the path to financial independence was a process, not a destination. I agree with you too. I think many people will find that an ideal life actually includes some paid work. Thanks so much for reading my post and taking the time to comment!

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  • We moved to Northern Cali in an effort to improve our lives. More out door living. More hiking. More diverse and open minded people. The downside is the cost. Even living an hour from a major city, we are living in a house that is too expensive.

    For me, since I am one of the lucky few with a pension, it will be to take a sabbatical for 6 months to 1 year when my son is in middle school to travel. Then come back and work 60% of the time (take every afternoon off!) for the remainder of my servitude (I mean work life!)….all in all I like my job. I am a doctor, but there are stressors that come with it and late nights going into the hospital.

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog! I live in Arkansas and where I live the cost of living isn’t very high, but the trade off is there isn’t much to do around here in terms of outdoor living and exploring. Taking a sabbatical and eventually working 60% of the time sound like great lifestyle goals to work towards! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂

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