A few months ago I was having one of my regular ‘what am I doing with my life’ internal debates.
I realised that I enjoyed volunteering – both for political parties and for charities – more than I enjoyed my day job.
That doesn’t mean I hated my day job. Actually I found my work interesting and I got on really well with my colleagues, including my manager. Since then I’ve moved on to a new job, which I like even more!
Still, I started to think that it’d be good to work fewer hours and have more free time to do voluntary work where I felt it’d make the most difference.
In my head the calculation was this. At the time I earned around £35,000 per year and that was giving me a pretty good lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be good to push further up the ladder until I’m able to earn about the same amount, but only do say 25 hours per week instead of 38?
At the same time I started searching online to see if anyone else had done the same thing, and work out if there were obvious problems with this bright idea.
Doing that I came across Mr Money Mustache (MMM). I read every single one of his 500 (at the time) posts in chronological order over about three weeks, even the ones about American cars that couldn’t be less relevant to my lifestyle.
Obviously this sounds culty af, and a couple of friends and siblings told me as much.
But I’ve done research since and so far nothing has convinced me that I’m being slowly pulled into a Ponzi scheme. It helps that this new geeky hobby hasn’t yet cost me a single penny.
Coming out the other side of MMM’s brainwashing tunnel I altered my initial intentions a little bit.
I saw that I’d made a mistake. I was assuming I’d always need £35,000 per year to have a good lifestyle. But that ignored two things (1) I was losing lots of money needlessly because I was being exploited by a family member (more on that another time maybe) and (2) by not taking care over all my spending I was buying things that weren’t really making me happier.
If I focused my spending only on what I needed (bills) and what made me happy (socialising, hobbies, good food) then the actual amount I needed was much smaller. I estimate conservatively that it’s around £8,000 per year. I’ll break that number down in more detail in another post, it’s way less ludicrous and more generous than it looks!
Taking control of my finances would allow me to spend even less time doing wage work, if I chose.
I also realised that my original plans weren’t ambitious enough. I hadn’t even thought about investing, which can make your savings stack up much quicker. And I hadn’t considered that there could be a sum of money large enough for me to live on it passively, if I chose to.
So that’s where I am now. My original aim, spending more time on politics and volunteering, has been complemented in two ways:
- I can save enough money to make work entirely optional; meaning I can choose whether or not I climb that ladder and only do the paid work that excites me
- I’m imagining a time in my life – probably in around 10 years – where I’m free to take risks and really commit to experimenting with what makes the biggest positive difference to the world