For as long as I can remember my biggest fear was entering and getting stuck in the rat race. I never wanted to be a slave to a 9-5 job ever. As much as my career choices evolved as I grew there was always a constant, flexibility. I love the choice of not been stuck in one situation. I love the feeling of working without having to worry about the next pay check. However, that is usually not the reality for most people.
Growing to be my own individual has forced me to step up and observe the wheel in action. You are constantly told finish school, get a job and settle down. Many people start experiencing financial freedom from their parents after they get their first job. That is also when your parents breath a sigh of relief as you are no longer their problem, at least not financially. You can buy whatever you want. There are no restrictions or limitations. Well, there is one the amount you make is sadly a big factor.
As you are indoctrinated into the world of consumerism you do not notice that your purchase behaviour has turned for the worse. You were not been frugal before, you were just broke. As you step into this world that has been fancily dressed up as adulthood you do not realise the increase of adverts that bombarded you now seem relevant. You just “must have” everything. Without realising you are now a slave to your money. You find yourself constantly spending everything that you have earned.
I, for example was an impulse buyer . I love spending. I loved how I felt after spending. I loved the feel of new things and the rush of trying it out. But, like every other high, it never lasted and I was back looking for money to spend. Here is how my cycle went, I got a little money and went out to look at what that money can buy and I spent 100%. I was told I should save. Given a piggy bank and everything but, I have always been a instant gratification consumer. Once my money was over, I would go back home sit broke and plot of how to get money again and the cycle continued.
I grew up noticing that the more people made the more their expenses increased. You get a raise at work, you decide to buy a car or you move to a bigger house. You may start going out more because you have more money to splurge. Combined with our millennial immortality perspective of life and our incredible inability to be able to plan we never seem to plan for the future. As a result it ends up happening to us. Children happen to us, a spouse happens to us, taking care of our parents pops up from no where, growing old seems to just creep up to us and we are constantly caught unaware of the natural progression of life.
Our current customs is to live young, to enjoy life now. That somehow somewhere like our parents we will figure it out. You do not see how much your parents have sacrificed to pull financial resources together? Could it be possible not to walk the exact same path they did? Can it be a possibility for us as the next generation to learn from their financial journey and improve on them?
The answer is no. As a culture money is not discussed between children and parents. As a result children only see the superficial surface of their parents’ money. Many do not know how much work goes into providing for a family. Many of us do not know how much debt our parents are in. Something that if we are not careful as a next of kin we can inherit. The conversation is never had. It is always veiled. It is not your parents’ fault as they are wired to protect you from seeing struggle. It is up to you to start that conversation with them.
It is a fear that has plagued me over the years. The question what does financial freedom mean to me? and most importantly what do I have to do to achieve that? I shall be talking about that in part 2.