Today’s post features a guest post from Mike Ballew. He is the creator of the Freedom Path Blog and a fellow engineer.
We are fortunate to live in a different time and place where we are free to do whatever we want, whenever we want. Anyone today who puts in the time and effort to get a good education can make something of themselves and rise above the circumstances of their birth.
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My first job as an engineer was with a large chemical company. The union plant where I worked was sprawled out over several city blocks. The smokestacks rose above a spaghetti mess of piping down below. The air was thick with a toxic mix of chemicals, and we had to wear hearing protection everywhere we went.
The company was organized like most any other, with a cast of characters that included a CEO who I never met, a plant manager who I rarely saw but was on my best behavior when I did, countless managers and supervisors, maintenance people, administrative staff and of course the union workers.
As I took all of this in, it occurred to me that maybe we hadn’t progressed as far from the Dark Ages as I had once thought. I could see the traces of a caste system in corporate America. Sure, there was no king or queen, no court jester or anyone yelling, “Off with his head!” But there were powerful people there who held my fate in their hands. If I had an off day or did something wrong, I could be shown the door.
So let’s get real for a moment. Can we really do whatever we want whenever we want? If that were true, why did I get up at the crack of dawn this morning and fight my way through traffic to get to work on time? Why am I chained to my desk every day instead of burying my toes in the sand at the beach? What I discovered in my first real job right out of school was the truth: the power had just shifted, from the monarchies to the big corporations.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut with our way of thinking. It’s nice to open the windows and let in some fresh air in. What is my point in all of this? Where is the recipe for financial independence you were looking for?
Financial independence is more than just a number on a bank statement. Financial independence is your ticket to freedom. When you achieve financial independence, you don’t have to work anymore. You don’t have to get up and go to work every day, you don’t have to bow and scrape to stay in management’s good graces.
I am not going to put a dollar figure on financial independence because it’s different for everyone. There are many who have tried to quantify it but suffice it to say that financial independence is having enough money so you don’t have to work anymore. It’s not a new concept, 40 years ago Johnny Paycheck summed it up in these six words: “Take this job and shove it.”
My objective with this article is to get you to see the world in a different way. I want to motivate you to reach your goal. If you want it badly enough, you will achieve financial independence. If freedom from work is more important to you than spending money on things to impress people who don’t know you, then you will achieve financial independence.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I would encourage you to do something today to put yourself on the path to financial independence. Drive past that pricey coffee place, stop daydreaming about McMansions and expensive European sedans, and increase the percentage you put into your employer’s retirement plan. Get serious about financial independence and you will achieve it.
Guest post by Mike Ballew, author of the Freedom Path Blog. Mike’s background in engineering serves him well as he dives into the number-crunching world of personal finance and retirement planning. Mike is passionate about making wise life decisions and achieving financial goals.