For many of us we get to a stage in our lives where we have built up a series of obligations and commitments which rely on a certain level of income. We are used to a standard of vehicle that we change at a regular frequency. We have got used to a house with a certain level of mortgage; to family holidays with a certain amount of expense (maybe two a year); we have got used to a lifestyle that requires us to continually feed it with a money.
Building up a Deficit
We also persuade ourselves that the debt that we may have incurred can be paid later: when we get the next promotion or when may be our partner goes back to work or when the children leave school… So, many of us have built up debts that we think we can pay down in the second half of our working lives.
Finally, we may have deferred our commitments to investing in our pension because we believe that during our 2nd Half Career, we will be able to build up our pension pot that perhaps we haven’t thought very hard about in our thirties and perhaps early forties.
We are living in a world where many of us are at the point of financial deficit much of the time, and in fact we may well be spending more than our income at this stage in our lives. We are incurring debt, against good assets like mortgages or a holiday home, or credit card and personal finance debt, which we believe we can deal with in the future.
But what I am seeing increasingly is people sitting down and looking at what their options are to achieve financial freedom. They are beginning to realise that financial freedom does not have to come by having even more income, working even harder in a more pressurised job or wanting their partner to increase their earnings.
The new perspective is seeing financial freedom coming from re-defining my lifestyle and commitments, so you are not driven to up income again and again.
It is about making choices before you are forced to make radical changes and about re-balancing income and expenditure and savings.
As I talk to people, they start to put into place clear plans to increase their savings, to reduce some of their discretionary expenditure. As they get to grips with what is happening, they sometimes make choices about moving from a very expensive mortgage to a less expensive mortgage. They see how they can pay down their mortgage faster and look forward to a mortgage free future.
Now you can start to recognise that giving up things like expensive holidays and cars, or the second home, or new extension, or over investing in their children’s education, are releasing new opportunities for joy and freedom in your life.
Because you begin to recognise the pressure of having to get the next car, or going to a more exotic holiday location, the pressure of making sure that their children go to every possible after school club, the pressure of making sure their other half goes out to work to earn the income to pay the person who is going to be at home to look after the children when they are not there. Once you start to say you are not going to do them anymore, releases you into freedom. You can start to find pleasure in much more ordinary things, in things that don’t necessarily require you to spend endless amounts of money.
Valuing the new pleasures
You can have pleasure in relationships rather than just exotic and expensive experiences. You may realise that you are connecting to a movement that first emerged in the US where people are redefining their lifestyles so that they can, as millennials and even younger people, live a life that is not all about more stuff, more financial commitment, more expenditure.
Now, even though you may have a well-paying job, even though you may be living in a very desirable area and have the opportunities to go on holiday, you can see new choices about how and when you work are opening up.
A Sad Story
It was so sad for me to sit down with someone in their early thirties, who had had extraordinary success in investment banking in their early twenties but had spent every penny that they earnt on being part of the New York investment banking set. They had come out of it with some very unhelpful habits involving sex, drugs and rock and roll. When they lost their job they had no savings, nothing put by for a rainy day. The investment banking set abandoned them. They believed that life was never going to be so good again.
As we began to work together, he started to realise that there were some other things that could be really important to him. When he set aside the need to have this high income, high expenditure lifestyle, he realised he could enjoy having a family, giving something back, living just where he wanted to, building something for himself and no longer depend upon an employer who could sack him at a whim.
Stop being a Slave to Money
So, my encouragement is to find your own financial freedom, not by persuading yourself that you need to earn even more money, and that you need or invest in even riskier investment propositions.
Find your financial freedom by putting the money part of your life in the right place and making the money serve you rather than you serving the money.
Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.