Flex is the best lifestyle choice for all.
It seems that everyone is on some sort of mission when it comes to money. Most of these missions require hardship in the form of working too much, working at jobs they hate, missing special occasions, feeling stressed out, and drinking a lot to cope with the demands of meeting your goals by a specific time.
Author, Annie Auerbach, defines flex as a manifesto for working and living on your terms.
The traditional way of doing things isn’t working for most anymore. People are spending too much time indoors. Our bodies ache because of all the sitting. To escape the rate race most have turned to pursue some sort of Financial Independence (FI). No matter which of the 5 FI’s you choose, you are sacrificing something to get there. Oftentimes it is your health.
Here are the FI’s that people are striving for to achieve freedom.
Being able to pay for all essentials should you lose your income, but not fund vacations and entertainment. Essentials include health care, home, food, utilities, and transportation.
This approach takes the longest to achieve because you are trying to live a grander lifestyle than what you are currently living once you stop working. You want more in retirement.
Originated by the idea that one can qualify for health care benefits by working part-time at Starbucks. This FI is for those who don’t have enough to completely retire but want to stop working at their stressful job full-time. They have a good amount saved and invested to not feel the pressure to make a certain amount of money. However, they still need to work.
One has to invest early and often so that by the time they reach a certain age they can stop investing and let it grow via compound interest.
Having the income streams and funds to sustain one’s lifestyle should one decide to stop working. Enough money to not have to give anything up or ever work again. This is what a lot of people are pursuing.
Of these 5, my two favorites are Barista FI and Coast FI. I believe that to stay healthy, you need to work. We need to keep building our brain muscles for life. Use it or lose it.
Living to a certain age is not guaranteed. How many times do we hear that people wait until retirement to do what they wanted to do and then die suddenly? Or they get sick and are limited in their abilities. That is my biggest worry with pursuing FI. How much energy are you sacrificing on reaching FI that you put everything else on the backburner?
Let’s go back to Flex.
Focusing on flex allows you to focus on the life that you and your family want now.
When I look back at my own life, I believe that my husband and I have lived a flex life. We had 9-5’s for a long time, he still does because he loves his job. Even when we worked these jobs. We only accepted jobs that aligned with our values: our children, our relationship, and time. We always got out early which gave us the afternoon to spend time together and have our children enrolled in extracurricular activities. We also had the flexibility to take time off often to volunteer at our kid’s school and attend school events for them as well.
He will continue working at his job until he is eligible to receive his full pension from the school district. That is his flex. He is looking forward to that. That will also include full medical insurance for both of us for life.
I decided that I wanted a flexible life following the pandemic. I had unfulfilled career dreams. We reached a point where we no longer had to pay for childcare. I had been saving in my 401k for over 10 years, so I had a good cushion. We also had a fully-funded emergency fund in place and a bit of extra savings for home repairs. Most importantly we had no debt, and our cars were in good condition.
Flex includes work, but you’re working on what you want. It can be a high-stress job, but it doesn’t feel like work if it is something that you enjoy. Flex is being in control of your time. It also is having time to do the other things that you love. Flex is working the job that best suits your personal needs, whether that is completely independent or something that involves interacting with others.
The goal with Flex is to not worry about your retirement number. How much do you need to save to retire? That doesn’t matter in a flex lifestyle because you will be working a job that you never want to quit. Your lifestyle will allow you to take breaks when needed and come back when you feel refreshed. You can keep designing your job to meet your lifestyle preferences as you age, but you keep working because it gives you a purpose and you have the flexibility to do anything you want to do so there is no reason to quit.
Stop focusing on numbers. Live a well-balanced life. Save. Travel. Work. Invest in yourself, your home, and your relationships.
If you do all of this consistently you will live well at any age.