In life, you can always learn something new and at any age. Just when you think you know everything about anything, you find something new. There is no denying that learning about finances and how you can save more money is extremely important. No matter your age.
The topic of money comes married to various emotions: happiness, sadness, anxiety, excitement, confusion or even indifference. If you are like me, you love to chat about personal finance. Chances are if you are reading this, you are similar to me. Most people hate discussing finances and money. It is usually a touchy subject and the extent of people’s knowledge is that they can earn and spend money.
One of the most common feelings associated with personal finance is being overwhelmed. It can happen because of debt, very commonly actually. It’s that feeling of standing at the bottom of a mountain, staring at the summit and thinking “My god, there is a long way to go!”
What about when you wipe out debt, or are starting from a net worth of zero? You are now looking at the mountain where reaching the top is arriving at financial independence.
When I started my journey to financial independence, I was at zero and reading about all these wonderful people who were well ahead of me or some who had already reached FI. The real killer was reading the stories about people younger than you, who were so far ahead of where you are currently. You are delighted for these people but also can’t help but feel jealous or even resentful because it took you so long to figure things out. Things can get a little overwhelming, very fast.
Selfishness has been demonised and is seen as a bad word. I view it as the idea of chasing your own happiness in life and focusing your efforts on taking care of yourself. Being selfish can be great for you.
Lots of people are so focused on what other people think about them or how they might be perceived by total strangers. While it is good to be considerate of others, I think it is paramount to seek to be content with yourself. If you are happy and confident in the person you are, you’ll be a more complete person as well as prepared to face the world, putting your best foot forward. I found this article an extremely helpful starting point of how to “love yourself first.”
Financial independence is even in the word… sel-FI-sh. Terrible joke. Promise won’t be any more of those for at least a paragraph or so. Here are reasons why being selfish will make you a happier person, particularly on your path to financial independence:
You are your greatest advocate
You know yourself better than anyone else. Therefore, you are in the prime position to look out for number one. If you don’t take care of yourself, then who will? We all have to do what is best for ourselves, particularly when it comes to happiness, mental health and physical health. When any of these things are in jeopardy, being selfish is the best course of action, your own well-being takes precedence.
Trying to please others can lead to frustration, disappointment, and stress. When you place other peoples’ wish ahead of yours, it can negatively impact on the life you want to live. Take work for example, most people would love to be doing anything else. Financial independence allows for a type of selfishness, letting you choose to leave work if you are sick of doing things just to keep the boss off your back.
Things can go wrong in life. Things will go wrong in life. Selfishness will mean you are the one calling the shots, making all the decisions in your life. Therefore, anything that happens because of what you do. It teaches you to accept responsibility for the good or bad that comes from your decisions. It will teach you to be more responsible with money as you will only have yourself to blame when you go over your budget, or maybe not save as much as you should in a given year.
Quality over quantity
Being selfish will lead to you being more selective. There is always a myriad of events on, plus you might get invites to several occasions in a month. By thinking of yourself first and only doing what you want, you will narrow down those choices considerably. In turn, this makes it a lot easier to reduce expenses by not feeling the need or social pressures of having to go out all the time. You can chose those things that add something of value to your life rather than going to everything just for the sake.
It improves self-worth and self-reliance
Looking after yourself first and foremost, you learn to appreciate and value yourself. It can lead to higher confidence, which in turn allows you to be happy in your own decisions. Furthermore, you learn to look after everything yourself. When something unexpected happens, there is no questioning your own ability, you KNOW you can sort it out.
This is certainly an important trait wit FI. One of the many ways to speed up the path to FI is creating multiple income streams in order to achieve the net assets you need. But what about when you start out? If you have a selfish mindset, you don’t ask can I do this, you know you can, it is just a matter of how you get there.
It helps you create a positive world around you
One of the greatest things about being selfish is that you can cut out negativity and only focus on the positive things in life. The journey to FI can be filled with wonderful, supportive people, but also may come with plenty nay sayers who will tell you it cannot be done or put down your efforts out of jealousy. Who needs that?
Confront these people or better yet, cut those people out. Now that we are selfish, we don’t need everyone to like us, or we don’t have to be nice just to save other people’s feelings. This journey to FI is all about you and your reasons for chasing it, so why should anyone else make you feel bad about it?
Is there such thing as too selfish?
Yes. Of course, Stupid question Steve.
There is selfish and then there is selfish. I am advocating the first one. There is one of those silly jokes again, OK I’m done.
You should definitely think of yourself first when you are looking after you physical or mental health or when you are cutting out those people who aren’t supporting you. What if you have a partner who isn’t as passionate about financial independence? Probably should cut them out of your life.
Selfishness is easy when you are single, but in relationships or families, there are others to consider. You could shift your thinking from focusing on yourself to being selfish for your family. You are a team and you should do what is best for all of you. It’s a collective selfishness, rather than solitary, but the general principles still apply.
Selfish people feel better about FIRE
There are loads of interesting FI bloggers, or success stories on social media. Enjoy these stories, learn from them, support other in the community but then forget about them for a while. Your journey is YOUR journey. No two roads to FI are the same. Here’s why you should approach FI with a selfish attitude:
- Comparing yourself to others can overwhelm and discourage you. Imagine you are 35 an just starting, reading about a 35 year old who has been retire for 2 years. You can learn a huge amount from them but you are not the same person, so why compare your stories?
- Everyone is different. People who have reached FI have likely worked their asses off for years. They are at the tail end of a long slog while we are at the start. They made decisions that were best for them, so rather mimic them, be inspired by them but do what is best for you.
- Comparing yourself to others can belittle your own achievement in your mind. Imagine you increase your savings from 10k last year to 20k this year. Amazing! You doubled your savings in a year. Then you take a look at Joe Blogger and they have saved 40k. Now you feel bad and that sense of achievement has disappeared.
- Focusing on yourself can improve your emotional health, allowing you to make better decisions on your path to FI.
Be the good selfish on your path to FI and maybe you’ll enjoy the trip a lot more than you expect. How do you feel about being selfish? Let me know how putting yourself first has affected you journey or just your life in general.