Straight to the Point
- Thought Experiment proposed by Saving Ninja.
- What will I do beyond financial independence and having decided to retire early?
- Rules: “write whatever you first think of. No pre-planning or major editing allowed and blabbering is definitely encouraged! It should read like an internal monologue”.
- Blabbering allowed? Count me in!
- The hypothetical situation:
“Life is good. You finally did it!
You pulled the plug on your day job after reaching financial independence.
You never have to work for money ever again. But, you’re bored.
You need something to do… You need a project!
You grab a piece of paper and a pen and start thinking.
Now that you’re financially free, what projects do you want to complete? However ambitious, however small, you now have the time to pursue anything that you like, what will you accomplish?”
Boredom, what boredom?
To understand this post better, you’ll need to understand how I’ve got to where I am today and my background as a first generation immigrant Police Officer.
Any idea of being possibly bored does not compute for me because freedom is something I’ve thought about for a long time. The specifics of how and the various financial strategies is relatively new to me. However, the dream of not being tied down to anything, including a job is something I have always wanted even if I didn’t know what it was called.
There is, of course the usual things I could fill my day with which interests me: spending time with my wife and kids, travelling, reading, writing, learn to play piano, carpentry, photography, build our forever home, gym, hiking, learn a new language (french specifically)…the list could go on.
I could even mock up a timetable and break down hour by hour of how I would structure my day. But what fun would that be? FI is about flexibly and to try and restrict myself to a timetable just wouldn’t work for me.
I could also go into why those things above interests me and why I struggle to do them now, but it might just come across as sounding like excuses.
Instead, I am going to tell you about a project which I’ve already started, but will have more time and energy to focus on once I reach financial independence. This is something that has been a long time coming and I have given a lot thought.
Escaped, only to return once
I’ve only been back to my country of birth once since our escape. The return visit was 25 years ago when I was about 10. Old enough to remember, but too young to fully appreciate the experience.
I distinctly remember the blast of the hot, humid air that hit my face as soon as the plane door open. I’ve never felt anything like it. I wanted to rush back to my seat where it was cooler and air-conditioned.
The roads were mainly dirt tracks and I recall the journey to our town away from the capital taking hours.
It was bumpy. Very bumpy.
I threw up so many times I can’t even remember now. What I can clearly remember though is the feeling of wetness on the floor where I threw up and how my trainers kept sliding across it. It was unpleasant. For me, and for everyone else.
Once we arrived and the mini-van doors opened, I was struck by the smell of sewage. The town had open sewers. I just couldn’t understand it. I even asked my mum why it stuck so badly. My childish mind kept thinking: “Just bloody cover the pipes up. What’s so difficult about that?!”
I wanted to return back to the UK pronto. Where it was cooler and at least I would not be sweating un-controllably, where the roads were paved and where I didn’t have to see human waste floating next to my bed.
(Slight exaggeration on the last part – floating just outside my ground floor bedroom window would be more accurate.)
What I didn’t understand at the time was that it actually took my parents nine years to save up for this trip to go back and visit family.
I was young and ungrateful.
By now, it was dark outside.
Before even a chance to settle in, my mum stripped me and my younger brother butt naked out in the front porch area and proceeded to washed us with a bucket.
WTF! – is a phrase which springs to mind, but was not part of my vocabulary back then. I was just generally shocked and embarrassed.
I could see the neighbours looking out at these new arrivals. Not at the sight of me being washed, because it was normal (apparently). It was because they knew we were the ones who escaped and have now returned.
I realise in the morning that there was no shower-room or bath-room. Oh how westernised I had become; to expect such luxuries as a whole room in a house dedicated to clean myself and take a dump.
This was all so different for me.
It wasn’t until the morning that I decided I needed the toilet. With all the excitement and strangeness of the surroundings, I either forgot or my young bladder was able to hold it all in. Not something I can admit to being able to do now.
Oh, what a treat lay in wait for me.
The toilet was so low. I thought this was odd, but maybe because our people are not known for being tall so thought nothing more of it.
I needed a number two and proceeded to sit down on it.
My mum went looking for me and found me on the toilet and dragged me up mid-way trying to do my thing.
There is a reason why the toilet was low. It was a squatting one, made out of concrete and old bricks. Not one of these fancy ceramic ones!
The stick picture below illustrates exactly my position. Note how relaxed I was and 100% not squatting!
My mum dragged me because she was worried for health and hygiene reason. How was I to know? I’ve not seen such a contraption before.
The trip for me was such a culture shock.
With the physical differences being one thing, but the way my parents had to carry cash with them for when we need to bribe law enforcement officers so they will leave us alone was just something I did not expect. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, those who escaped like we did are seen as traitors by the authorities.
I must stress that not every officer treats us like this.
It can get so bad that there are people I know who have to slip money into their passports at border control after landing so that immigration officers won’t pull them to one side and make up spurious allegations.
I’ve not returned again since then. This was due to money. Me and my siblings were getting to an age where my parents were trying to save what little money they made for our education.
For me personally, I’ve not returned despite travelling elsewhere because I knew that I will return one day. I want my return trip to be something extra special. A two or three week ‘holiday’ just isn’t going to cut it for me.
For me, the trip a second time round is going to be more than a holiday.
I need more time. Much more time.
FI, only to return again
Like I’ve said previously. This blog is not about retiring early. It is about making work optional. I honestly don’t know if I will leave the Police once FI, go part time or take a career break. I really want to hit the 20 year mark as a Police Officer before leaving, even though I’d probably be FI before then.
What I do know, is that we plan on spending extended periods of time back in my birth country and document in detail from my parents’ perspective the life growing up there and our escape. There are three main reasons for this.
First, I want to understand the history and culture of where I am from.
Secondly, I want to get to know my relatives better.
Finally, I want our children to understand our roots and have a better grasp of my mother-tongue.
I don’t speak to my children in English and although my eldest is only two, it is clear that he understands me. It is hard work to mentally switch-off my English brain and instantly switch it back on when I speak to Mrs. CC (she only speaks English) but it is totally worth it.
Mrs. CC and I joke that the kids and I could talk about her in front of her without her knowing. We won’t! That will be just mean and rude.
I might even write a family book so that it is passed down the generations. In it, I want to also document how I ended up using my policing skills to track down our rescuers. If I had not joined the Police then there was no way I would have been able to find them. It is funny how life works out.
Another thing I’d like to do once FI is to spend time doing charity work over in my birth country. There is a particular charity which helps children get out of poverty, funds their education and continues to support them as adults to find their first jobs. Their work is personally meaningful to me.
I would look for a more active role with the charity in the future, particularly around introducing an element of financial literacy.
I’ve been lucky enough to have all the opportunities in the UK and I would not be close to FI if we did not escape.
It feels right for me to help those less fortunate who remained.
FI = Even Busier?
Mrs. CC knows my personality. I like to keep busy and she has her concerns that once we are FI, I will take on even more projects. There is the risk that I get completely absorbed into trying to do my small part to help others that I end up actually spending less time with my family.
This is a fair worry of hers and something I need to be conscious about.
As much as I would like to get more involved in charity work, my family will always come first. Is that a selfish thing to say? This is where remembering my values will ensure that I won’t lose my way once FI.
How sad would that be for us to navigate our family to financial independence, only to then potentially drift apart or become unhappy because my priorities change.
There you go. This is how I envisage life beyond FI.
Mrs. CC shares this vision and as much as we are looking forward to it, we actually don’t want it to come too quickly because our boys are growing up too fast!
What are your plans?
- I know that a ‘numbers’ or more directly related to finance post is over-due. I have a few lined up.
- I think that’s enough about me for now. There won’t be any more posts about my history and background for a while. I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I have decided to share this much so far because someone much wiser commented recently:
“If we knew everything about someone’s past, the actions of the present would make perfect sense.”
- Stay tuned for a guest post from no other than Mrs. CC herself. She’s understandably tired at the moment but has agreed to do one. No idea when though 🙂