Fear has been on my mind lately. I’ve been fearful of actually launching this blog. And that brings us to today. A decision to sit down and write about fear. The best way to overcome it is to face it, Right? I grew up in a sometimes challenging environment that didn’t provide me with the tools needed to reach financial freedom, especially teach me how to manage assets that produced income greater than my expenses. But one thing it did provide me with was the skills to survive in the face of adversity. Today I choose to test my limits and open myself up to the possibilities the universe has in store for me.
As I reflect back on my FIRE journey so far I have noticed a pattern of decisions or lack of decisions based on fear. Each of these situations taught me lessons and provided me with experiences that I continue to build on. I still find myself thinking limiting thoughts, like right now I am thinking about the fact that I am not a writer and questioning if I can write something that other people could find useful. But I will remind myself that writing about my experience is as much for me and it is for others. Below I will share some of my biggest fears and try to explain how they manifest in my life and what I do to overcome them.
Fear of life after FI. I know to some this will sound silly but I am afraid of life after I reach FI and walk away from work. I have worked 9 to 5 almost daily for years and now I have the ability to design my own day and schedule. So what’s to be afraid of? Well for starters all the planning I’ve done up to this point will need to work in order to remain retired or financially independent. So no pressure! No one in my immediate family has retired from work so for me this will be a new concept. I don’t have a frame of reference or role model to guide me through the transition. That’s where all of the other FIRE’d individuals will come in to assist by being examples and teachers.
Fear of geoarbitrage. In the FIRE community we all talk about moving to a lower cost of living location as a way of decreasing expenses. Makes sense. But what we don’t always talk about are the challenges like language barrier, bureaucracy, and social networks. I’ve moved to lower cost of living areas within my own city but that wasn’t that challenging due to having established relationships in the area. We are considering a bigger move like to Mexico or Portugal and that is where fear tightens its grip. I have fears that sound like “what if it doesn’t work out” or “what if we feel isolated.” I’d like to think that I am an intelligent person and can think through those fears but for some reason when I think about it I begin to question if it is the right decision. Don’t get me wrong I want to move to experience the culture and learn a new language plus reduce my expenses. So the current plan is to test it before actually quitting my job and going through the immigration process. I will take a leave of absence to live like a local for an extended period of time. Then if I like it I can make arrangement for a more permanent move. That way I know I have my job to come back to should it not be what I expect.
Fear of really looking at my spending. We half-heartedly thought about our spending when we began our FI journey because we knew we spent less than we earned. So we thought a budget wouldn’t help us. Also we’d tried to budget before with no success due to creating too strict of a budget or stopped putting the effort of tracking our transactions. I think the truth is we didn’t want to look at what we were spending our money on for fear the alternative would be no fun. Then I discovered the idea of a yearly budget and it all made sense. I could then see how my spending affected my savings in the big picture. Once I was able to take an honest look at how we spent our money, I could then determine whether it fit with what I wanted from life. Did I really need to spend $1,000.00 on dining out? Was it that enjoyable? For us the answer was no because we did enjoy cooking for friends at home so we decided to spend more on hosting at home. For us the delay in really getting honest about budgeting held us back probably by years on this journey.
I think a healthy amount of fear is important to help push a person to improving themselves. For me when fear does pop up I am learning that that is me experiencing something outside my comfort zone. I can promise you that if you take a chance on something new the possible awards are endless. We all know this or we would’t be on this FIRE journey. Fear has held me back from doing things sooner or taking on that risk because the outcome would be unknown. So creating this blog is my way of sharing so you know someone who has paved the way for you.