Taking the Plunge: Freedom Without Boundaries is Enslavement
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I can still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was nearly a year ago that I was freed from prison (err…my last corporate job) and it was like I won the Powerball and scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl on the same day. Seeing as we don’t play the lottery and will never play professional football I can dream, right? I remember walking to the car after tendering my resignation and Mrs. Frugal Rules said it looked like she was seeing a new man with the weight of the world suddenly off his shoulders. No longer was I miserable in my stock broker job, but the world was open with possibilities. I was free to do what I wanted, when I wanted and had only myself and my wife to answer to. It was that freedom that finally got me to take the leap and is something that I have come to cherish over the last 11 months.
Freedom Comes With a Responsibility
I’ve written before about loving being self-employed and I really do. That’s not to say it’s not hard work, because it is, but I really do love the freedom that comes with being my own boss. When some hear that we run our own business certain things come to mind. Some think we sleep in until Noon (an impossibility with three under the age of five in the house, mind you) and sit around eating Cheetos all day while watching Seinfeld reruns in our pajamas. Nothing could be further from the truth. My newfound freedom of self-employment requires much of me and comes with a lot of responsibility. If we don’t put the work in to get the business, then our kids don’t eat. We’d also not able to do things like save for retirement and thus the onus falls on us, and that’s more than okay. I learned early on that this responsibility is what drives me as I want to leave it all out on the field. Sadly, or not too sadly, depending on how you look at it, the decisions we make require action on our parts. Passively watching life pass you by will only take you so far. I learned early on in my self-employment endeavor that there are two main parts of this journey – freedom and responsibility. In order to maximize these and become efficient I have learned that the ability to set boundaries is vital, otherwise you’ll swing to one end of the spectrum or the other.
The Search for a Good Work-Life Balance
I know that I have written before about how work-life balance was one of the reasons why I hate being self-employed and that’s because it is slim to none. I have always been a person who struggles with keeping those boundaries of not working myself into the ground. Since I work from home most days this means that I am working at 5:00 am and also working at 11:00 pm, if not later. Not every day is like this, but it’s also not uncommon. What it comes down to is that I hate leaving something undone and can always find something else to do. Mrs. Frugal Rules, on the other hand, does a much better job of separating herself from work and moving on with other things going on in the house. Slowly, but surely, I am learning that balance is necessary and that my family will benefit greatly from it. I know that it’s a great “problem” to have in being busy, as that will usually result in making more money…but at what cost? Do I want my kids to think that their Dad comes with a computer? Do I want them to think that they play second fiddle to my work when they have a need or simply want Dad to be silly with them? Of course I don’t and that is what drives me to find that balance. Without that balance, without seeking those boundaries, I am allowing myself to become enslaved to that felt need of always working as opposed to enjoying life. It means that I need not look at what I have on my to-do list all the time, but enjoy some of the fruit that comes with working hard for myself. Because, after all, if I do not take the time to enjoy it with my family then what good is the freedom? Also, how good is it to run my own business if I am enslaved to it?
How Can I Apply this to Finances?
This wouldn’t be a true Frugal Rules post if I did not talk about money. 🙂 Going through this experience over this last year since taking the plunge, I have seen even more why having balance with money is vital to long term success. Regardless of where you’re at in your financial journey, balance is vital. I could be spending my money like there’s no tomorrow and end up with nothing or I could miserly save everything and not enjoy life one bit. Neither is good and both lack balance. Those that might miserly save will point to their money and say they’re doing great. I’ll cede that saving a lot of money is a valid and great thing to do, but how do you enjoy life? How do you allow yourself to enjoy the fruit of your labors? I happen to think that you can enjoy life and still save for the future without sacrificing either. On the flip side, if you spend everything you have with no concern for the future, are you really enjoying life, or are you spending because you’re trying to fill a void that you sense is present? Regardless of what side you find yourself on, it requires work and insight to find that balance and one that you individually need to be comfortable with and works best for you.
What are you trying to find balance with? Do you think too much freedom is a bad thing?
Photo courtesy of: McKaySavage
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.