Being financially secure is different than being financially independent

It is official. I have left my day job and have two months off before starting my next day job thanks to being financially secure. As many of you know, the Tubb’s Fire has led to many changes in my life over the past year. We had many decisions to make and now, 13 months out, are putting those plans into effect. The biggest of these decisions was to move back to my home state of Tennessee.

This was not an easy decision. Having moved our family cross-country just 2.5 years ago, neither my wife or I am looking forward to actually moving. Luckily, due to the loss of our stuff in the fire (silver lining?) and my journey on moderatism and buying nothing, we have a lot less stuff to move. There are many positives to moving again which I outlined here, but briefly, these include proximity to family, the cost of living, and an improvement in my job. I was fortunate enough to find a job and will be starting in January.

Which leads me to today’s post.

The benefits of being financially secure

We had been working towards financial security since my first year out as an attending. We made consistent progress towards paying off our debt and building our nest egg. Even before the fire, we had a hefty positive net worth. The fire was a catalyst, growing our net worth even more over the last year (here is to being well insured for catastrophes!). Over the last 13 months, we went from financially doing well to being financially secure.

Being financially secure is different than being financially independent. I could not stop working for the rest of my life. I do not have enough passive income or investments to replace what we currently spend as a household. Thus I am not financially independent.

I do, however, have enough money to where I can take a few months off and do not worry about running out of money. This is new for me. This is freeing. When I switched jobs two and a half years ago, we were doing fine, but I was not comfortable enough to take more than two weeks off in between jobs. In my mind, it was irresponsible due to the debt we owed. Sure I could afford it, but I would not be making progress towards our goals.

Now, however, everything is different.

Being financially secure is freeing

How is being financially secure truly freeing? Here are some ways:

  • I do think about our finances, but I am not stressed about our finances.
  • I am able to buy quality over quantity. I have not been buying much this year, but when I do buy something I will spend a little more and buy a higher quality item.
  • By being financially secure and debt free, I can start to focus on investments instead of just paying off debt. I started and have grown my taxable account this year. When we had a drop in the stock market this past month, I took the chance and did my first ever tax loss harvesting. I felt like I was had entered a new level in the personal finance game.
  • I am able to take two months off between jobs.

Time off

I am able to take two months off. Halleluja. I was thinking about it, and I do not think I have had two months off since 6th or 7th grade. Somewhere in middle school, I had started volunteering at The Cumberland Science Museum (it’s changed since I worked there and now even has a new name) in my summers and weekends. Since then I have worked consistently through both school years and summers.

I have held quite an array of jobs. In no particular order I worked:

  • At the Gap, Express, and Staples as a stock boy and retailer.
  • Stuffed envelopes in a mail room.
  • As a server at the Macaroni Grill.
  • Tattooed rats and placed them in containers to receive cell phone radiation. I even worked on rats with heart failure.
  • As a babysitter one summer for 7 different boys.
  • I was an RA at my university.

Even with all of those jobs, I am sure there are some I am missing. The point is, I never took more than 1 to 2 weeks off in between jobs. So for the first time since I was in middle school, I am taking off two months. I may be missing out on two months of salary, but that is OK , and it is worth it.

What am I doing with this time?

Well, I am sitting in Cambridge, New Zealand on the second day of our trip. We will be here until Thanksgiving seeing both islands. After that, I am going to take the month of December to be with my son, my wife, and take some time to write, read, and relax. Then come 2019, we will be living a new life, in a new town, with a new job. I am excited and grateful.

I guess the point of this article is that we never know what life brings. Planning to be financially secure and even better, financially independent, will allow us to take full advantage of the opportunities life brings you. So get on it!

“Dads Dollars Debts” is a cardiologist who blogs at his self-titled site, Dads Dollars Debts.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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