The Voluntary Life: 183 Financial Independence Part 3: Buy Status Symbols or Buy Your Freedom

29 November 2014

183 Financial Independence Part 3: Buy Status Symbols or Buy Your Freedom

This episode is about the main barrier to financial independence: consuming for status instead of investing for wealth. You have a choice: you can either buy status symbols or your can buy financial freedom, but not both. Topics covered in the episode include:

  • Why everything you think about "the rich" is probably wrong
  • How most high income people blow their chance at financial independence
  • How you can buy financial freedom instead of getting caught in the culture of capital consumption

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 183


  1. Hello Jake, thanks a lot for this podcast. I think it covers a few very important aspects, and I also learned a few things, e.g. that not only does the consumption of the aspiring wealthy cost a lot of money, the hours and hours spent on that consumption are on top of that unproductive, e.g. learning all about expensive wines to show off -- completely unproductive for 99% of the population.

    Financial independence is really undersold and underappreciated. Not only does it give you stability and piece of mind, it also allows you to take more risk in your business life, increasing the odds of getting ahead. Be it speaking up in certain situations, making changes in your work environment, stepping on people's toes without fear when need to, or jumping on apparently risky opportunities as they come up. I know this because I think I would have behaved differently and would have been more risk averse in the past, but with financial independence I was more comfortable to take risks and enable me to be where I am now.

    I've been financially independent for a while now, having lived a similar lifestyle that you describe in the podcast for a long time, while earning a good salary and saving most of it. Since becoming FI, I've kept working (I really like my job -- most of the time, and it pays surprisingly well) and gradually adjusted my spending habits to keep below the 4% SWR. I am currently at a position where I can finance a solid upper-middle-class lifestyle though my investments in perpetuity, and it can only go up. I have no fear of losing my job because it would have zero impact on my lifestyle. It's very liberating.

    To all your readers and listeners, just think about what you would do different at your job if that was the case for you. Would you be of more or less value to your employee, your business or society?

    Keep up the good work, Jake!

  2. Thanks Jake, enjoyed that one. Interesting to hear about the quantitative validation of "fur coat no knickers". To partly echo the previous comment, for me FI means freedom from anxiety, status anxiety and financial anxiety. Both of these things crept up on me gradually from my mid twenties, there wasn't a defining moment when I became entangled with work for status or when I accepted that unless I remained in work I couldn't support my children.
    The sad thing is that I didn't realise what a weight these things are until I figured out I was FI and the anxiety just lifted, like taking off a lead overcoat you didn't remember putting on. Unfortunately my desire for work didn't survive the transition, a huge loss to the dark satanic mills industry I'm told.
    Look forward to hearing about the nomadic lifestyle.


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