Today I’m happy to introduce the first guest post on this site with a very special guest: Sam from the norwegian blog Balansere. The blog Balansere is absolutely one of my favorite blogs, and special to me because I really can relate to how she writes.
Sam writes deep meaningful posts that really makes you think.
She is writing about the art of balancing life with a touch of personal finance, career, leisure and family.
In this guest post I asked her to write a post about financial freedom, minimalism and the importance of solitude. What do you think of the end result?
Let’s dig in to the post!
I seek freedom.
Because freedom will provide the possibility to shape my life as I want it. Freedom to get what I refer to as a balanced life—a life that balances my desires and needs with the requirements I face in a good way.
To reach this goal I must be as financially independent as possible.
I must build my own private fund.
The money I save won’t necessarily be spent.
Most of the time the money will just be in the fund, saved and invested.
As an insurance against unwanted situations.
Situations I may want to buy myself out of.
One example of an unwanted situation for me is being stuck at a job that I am not happy with.
I dread being forced to go to a job I dislike every day, just because I am dependent on the next salary.
For several years my job took up most of my time.
I worked hours and hours of overtime, and spent a lot of my spare time ensuring I stayed up-to-date in my field.
Even though I like my work, this is a situation I don’t want to go back to.
I would hate ending up like this career woman I heard on a podcast recently, who said she was proud if she found the time to bake a cake from an instant cake mix.
There is nothing wrong with cake mixes. Most of the time the cake tastes good. But barely having the time to bake a cake with a mix is not my desire. To me it is much more enjoyable to have the time to actually bake a cake from scratch.
Situations I desire
Being more financially independent also enables me to achieve situations I desire.
An example of a desirable situation I have already “bought” is the possibility to expand my maternity leave, so that I can spend more time with our little ones.
I have also been able to accept a job with lower pay for a few years, just because I found it interesting.
I would do both again, no doubt!
In the future I consider working part-time, to be able to spend more time with my family and on personal interests.
A desirable situation would also be to take a year off to follow a dream I have, eg. writing a book, travel or volunteer for a good cause.
Or obviously retire early, even though that is not my goal at the moment.
Seeking Breaks From A Busy Life
Financial independence enables me to introduce small and big timeouts in my life.
Taking timeouts is a hot topic these days. The Swedish writer and priest Thomas Sjödin highlights in the book “It happens while you rest” the positive effects of resting.
He discusses how we need to alternate between being “on” and “off” in our lives.
His suggestion is that we make time in our lives for longer sabbaticals as well as shorter shabbats, even if we are not Jewish.
During the Jewish shabbat, that lasts from sunset Friday to Saturday night, you are supposed to engage in restful activities to honour the day.
Such as spending time with your loved ones and enjoy nice meals.
You should refrain from activities like working, doing household chores, writing and, in modern life, using electronic devices.
Even though I am not religious, the thought of the shabbat appeals to me.
The Norwegian writer, lawyer, publisher and adventurer Erling Kagge also stresses the importance of stepping out of the noisy everyday life and inviting silence into our life.
The continuous cacophony we experience disturb our thinking.
As Kagge points out in the book Silence, however, finding silence in our modern world is not easy. We must seek it deliberately.
For example by meditating or going hiking in the woods.
The writer and researcher Cal Newport has a similar argument. In the book Deep Work he discusses the negative consequences of the continuous flow of stimuli many of us experience at our work. Such as emails and constant notifications.
These disturbances make us lose our ability to concentrate and prevent us from making deep thoughts.
In his most recent book Digital Minimalism Newport describes the distressing consequences of always being connected in our private lives.
Social media makes us more lonely and unhappy, and has caused the number of people with anxiety to increase.
Newport proposes disconnecting and allowing yourself to be bored.
A similar advise is given in a recent New York Times article, that makes a case for doing nothing.
Or rather “to take conscious, considered time and energy to do activities like gazing out of a window or sitting motionless”, referred to as niksen.
Such boredom and daydreaming makes us more creative and better at problem-solving.
Newport also highlights that to thrive as human beings we must alternate between solitude and spending time with others.
Solitude allows time to reflect and think deep thoughts, while spending time with others lets you engage in good conversations and make you feel part of a social group.
Both requires that you have available time.
Following the suggestions of Sjödin, Kagge and Newport become easier if you are not bound to payed work, but rather are financial independent to a certain degree.
Financial independence is not a certain amount of money saved or a specific point in time.
Rather it is a continuum.
You can be more or less financial independent.
If you have enough money to never having to work for money again, you are 100 % financially independent.
This will enable you to pay yourself out of most unwanted situations and realise many of your desirable situations.
But also having a small buffer makes you a little financially independent, and prepares you for unexpected unwanted situations.
I currently find myself in the situation that I could take 3-4 years off work and live off my savings, if I wanted to.
That is not my current plan, but having the possibility is very comforting.
The last two years I’ve saved around 50 % of my net income.
Continuing with such a high savings rate may not be realistic for me, given that we now have two kids and soon want to buy a bigger place to live.
However, I will still strive to save a substantial amount each month.
Unless I decide to use the obtained financial independence to realise my longing for working less or taking a lower-paying and more purposeful job.
There are obstacles on the way to maintain a high savings rate, though. Lifestyle inflation is obviously the biggest threat.
Today we live in a small apartment close to where we work. With limited space we don’t have the possibility to buy a lot of stuff.
Will we be able to maintain a minimalistic lifestyle if we move to a bigger house?
To be able to buy a bigger place without getting an enormous mortgage means that we probably will need to move further away from our workplaces.
Will we be able to live without a car?
As the kids grow bigger, I expect to feel more of the pressure to buy them stuff and take them to costly activities.
Will we be able to resist when they tell us all their friends have or do something?
Time will show.
But I hope I will be able to withstand, so that I can continue my quest towards the ability of going in and out of situations.