Saturday, December 08, 2018

Nuances of financial independence

When we talk about financial independence, it suggest that we are trying to stand alone and be self sufficient. It reminds me of those doomsday preppers, where they store their own preserved food, carefully canning them to hoard a stash of years to come. Self-sufficiency is the key. And for a while, I thought that model is what I aspire to become too.


After becoming a father, I saw from first principles how relationships are formed. My boy is the catalyst to forging new relationships. He is like the fire in the forge, melting hard cold steel together. I think my neighbor's place is like a second home to him. They are a couple with an adult child that had long since flew off the nest to start a new life. Hence, they welcomed my boy with open arms each time. It started from there, then my mum starts preparing some meals for them, and before I knew it, our relationship had elevated to just mere acquaintance. As my boy runs around in his whirlwind of activity, he spreads joy all around him. Strangers sometimes step in to help him when he falls while I stand there and just observe (I don't tend to help him unless it's serious; and it's seldom serious). The entire market near my home probably knows him, and because of my boy, I share with him the joy of having new found friends. This is not something I do very well, as I tend to keep to myself. Don't we all?


Humans are not meant to be isolated. And so when we talk about financial independence, we should steer away from the idea of being self-sufficient. There is value in being dependent on others, but the key is whether you have the strength to let others be dependent on you as well. That is how new relationships are formed. You treat me a meal, next time I treat me, ad infinitum. There is something to look forward to, and the relationship is sustained through such relational transactions. If you're self-sufficient, and I'm self-sufficient, and I don't want to owe favours to you because I want to maintain self-sufficiency, then the whole thing breaks down. I know I'm in a better relationship with someone if I'm getting fuzzy with money. I'm very sensitive to money and that's how my mind works, but I don't necessarily show it. If I want to strengthen a relationship from acquaintance to friends, I will get more and more fuzzy about money. On the other hand, if I just see someone as a hi-bye acquaintance, I'll pay the exact right down to the cents. I won't want to owe them any favours because I don't want to have to expend the energy and time to return it.


No relational transactions equals no relationship.


What has this got to do with financial independence? I want to be financially free so that I can have the freedom to build deeper relationships. With whom, with what? I want to build deeper relationships with my family, but more importantly, to expand my circle of what is commonly termed 'family' so that it grows bigger and bigger to encompass more people. It is NOT based on an ideology of self sufficiency, but that of mutual dependence, and hence as a result, creating deeper relationships with people. Family shouldn't be just related by blood; it should be defined by how much blood you are willing to shed for another being, and him to you.




And now I know why I dislike the idea of 'FU' money. It is so antagonistic. It implies the breaking down of relationship with a certain degree of arrogance and anger in it too. It suggest you want to flip the table and flip someone the bird.


No, that is not what I aspire to be. Someone is looking up to me as a model, and thus I must be exemplary in conduct and manner.

14 comments :

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Little butterfly,

You have stumbled onto the path of financial freedom to achieve ;)


There's always a Yin/Yang side to everything.

Of course I've been in situations where I hated my job, my boss, my colleagues. I just moved.

My job hopping phase is testimony to that! That's the strength of youth and being single without a care in the world!

LOL!


To embark on the path of financial freedom to escape, if the person is young, I would suspect the nail don't hurt enough...

And if the person is middle-aged and married with children, then I would assume there are too many "obligations" and "responsibilities" to walk away and start afresh...


We all need a reason to wake up in the moring. To some, its buyig Toto; to others, its the FIRE dream.

Both serve the same purpose ;)




hyom said...

Hi la papillion,

Indeed, it is human relationships which determine a person's happiness, assuming he has accumulated enough money for his basic needs. You have mentioned financial independence gives you the freedom to build deeper relationships. One more extra advantage of financial independence is the freedom to cut off poisonous relationships. That too is essential to be happy. The trick is knowing who is right or wrong when a relationship goes sour and having the self-awareness to admit one may be the one poisoning the relationship. If one is at fault, then "FU" money gets abused as it lets the person take the easy way out.

No matter what, using "FU" money is a sign of failure in handling relationships. Like a country going to war is a sign of poor handling of foreign relations. To be used only as a last resort.

Why do you call yourself Bully the Bear? Doesn't sound nice leh. It reminds me of bad experiences in the past that made me strive for financial independence. I married young and have kids early, so have to endure at that time.

la papillion said...

Hi SMOL,

Hmm, initially I didn't link this post to using financial freedom as an escape or achievement. Now that you mentioned it...

But you're definitely right. I'm not into this to escape. There is no need to escape as I'm already very happy with my status. It could be happier of course, and I'm totally fine not achieving it haha

Feels like trading, but not to trade for a living!

la papillion said...

Hi hyom,

That's true - cutting off poisonous relationship. I'm getting quite good at that these days haha, and we don't need to be financial free to do that. Building relationship, however, requires some resources that I might not have (like time & money, especially time) right now.

Why do I call myself bullythebear? I didn't. That's the name of my blog. Why do I name it as such? No rational reasons - it just feels right on the tip of my tongue. Whatever meaning ascribed to it as done after I've named it. I come to like the duality and ambiguity of the meaning "Bully the bear". Is the bear who is named Bully? Or do we bully the creature called the bear? Which one is the one I prefer? I don't know. I'm not easily classified and I'm as ambiguous and flexible as I choose to be :)

hyom said...

Hi la papillion,

Cutting off poisonous relationships is the easy way out. Something I am wary of myself. When I cut off poisonous relationships in the past, I viewed it as a sign of personal weakness because it means I cannot handle relationships well. However, there has to be a trade-off somewhere. If a person has to work on every single relationship in his life, that person's mental health will crumble. It will drive him crazy. It is hard to draw a line what is right, what is wrong when it comes to human relationships. Dealing with machines and markets are much easier in comparison but the latter two don't bring as much happiness as good human relationships.

One needs to be financially free to cut off poisonous relationship with his boss. However, even the richest man cannot suka suka cut off certain relationships. Some people have family members who are gamblers, refuse to work and have bad habits of burdening their family by asking for money. How to cut off this kind of blood relationship? The least contribution one can make towards family and friends is not to be a burden. That is the minimum target I set for myself. Cannot reach FIRE, ok. Become burden, definitely not ok.

Let me take a guess for the name bullythebear. Bear markets like today make one lose money. So, everyone hates the bear. So, naturally, bully the bear! Did you create this blog during a bear market? Maybe you chose this name subconsciously. Haha. Actually, bears are good. Bear markets create the conditions for bull markets to be born later. When bull turn to bear, it is time to cut off this poisonous relationship. LOL.

la papillion said...

Hi hyom,

I never see cutting toxic relationship as a sign of personal weakness. It's strength to me, haha! Time is too short to spend time dwelling with people who are not aligned to my values. I wish them well and may our paths never meet.

That's a good guess for bullythebear haha!

hyom said...

Hi la papillion,

Good point. Cutting toxic relationships is usually a good move, particularly when there isn't much at stake. More tricky is to know who's right, who's wrong. When relationship is toxic, there's a tendency to assume I'm right and he/she is wrong. I write this as a reminder for myself.

You have a nice weekend.

Sillyinvestor said...

Hi LP,

When I think FI, I am thinking FI for whole nucleus family.

Actually my wife is FI le.

So maybe its just a wishful dream

But like what u say, as long as retirement is decwntat old age

la papillion said...

Hi SI,

I am thinking FI for myself only. Whole family not very likely, from current projection. But it's okay lah, if I can save myself, I can save others too haha

Createwealth8888 said...

Cutting off uncomfortable (or toxic) relationship when we have the option to do so is agood move.

It doesn't matter who is right or wrong. After cutting we are likely to be at ease as tension has been removed.

Persistent tension is bad for health!

hyom said...

Hi Createwealth8888,

Hard to argue with that. Freedom to cut off poisonous relationships is one of the benefits of financial freedom.

I warn my sons to be very careful in their choice of wife. No matter how rich, if a man marries the wrong woman, cutting off that poisonous relationship will cost him a bomb, thanks to Woman's Charter. Don't cut, bad for health. Cut, bad for wealth. Open eyes big big before marriage. Marry wisely.

Anonymous said...

Very well written!

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