This article owes a huge debt to W. Somerset Maugham. In fact, whole chunks of it were plagiarized from Chapter 50 of The Summing Up. Only Maugham wasn’t writing about money; he was writing about artists.
When the average person hears what is required to become Financially Independent, he bristles and chafes at the notion. Why should he choose to sacrifice so much for a distant goal that he might never reach?
Why should he give up certain pleasure today for an uncertain reward tomorrow?
Why should he live on half of his income when that means renting an apartment, walking to work, and never taking a vacation?
The disadvantages of this lifestyle are offset by an advantage so great as to make all its difficulties, disappointments, and (maybe) hardships, unimportant. This lifestyle imparts spiritual freedom.
The money boss is the only free man. He — or she, because let’s be clear that women too can choose this path — is no longer required to make choices based solely on financial cost. When a man is truly master of his money, costs no longer matter.
The irony, of course, is that in order to reach a place where costs don’t matter, they must first matter very much. Costs are crucial — until they no longer are.
What do I mean? Just this: If you are willing and able to manage your money carefully until you’ve reached Financial Independence then once you’ve obtained your aim, you are free to make choices as if money were not a consideration. Because except in extreme cases, it’s not.
Want to quit your job and go back to college? No problem. You worked hard for ten or twenty years precisely to make that possibility a reality. Want to take two years off from life to roam the country in a motorhome? Do it! You have the financial freedom to do so? Want to move your family to Michigan? If you’re financially independent, you don’t have to worry about the costs.
If you live modestly when you’re young, you gain the freedom to choose whatever you please before you’re too old to enjoy it.
Let me repeat: The money boss is the only free man.
Perhaps that’s why the world at large has such a profound suspicion of him. Can such a person be trusted when he reacts to the common impulses of life in so uncommon a manner?
And, indeed, the money boss, to the indignation of his peers, never feels himself bound by ordinary standards. Why should he?
With men in general the primary end of thought and action is to satisfy their immediate wants and needs. But the money boss takes a longer view. He satisfies his pressing needs, yes, but he balances his wants and desires today with the unknown (and unknowable) wants and desires of tomorrow. He looks upon the pastimes of his peers with consternation. His attitude can never be the same as theirs. He creates his own values.
Others find him arrogant because he does not attach importance to the vices and virtues that move them. He is not arrogant. But what they crave are not the sorts of things he takes any particular interest in. They are indifferent elements in the scheme of things out of which he constructs his own freedom.
Of course common men are quite right to be indignant with him. But he doesn’t care. He is incorrigible, and he is free.