Are You a Member of the In Crowd?

As a child I always cleaned my room before starting my homework. Even now I typically fold the laundry, empty the dishwasher and straighten up my children’s odds and ends before sitting down to work.

I function better when horizontal spaces are free of clutter and vertical spaces are empty. I relish the sight of our newly painted living room. Beautiful, blue walls with bright white trim; completely free of pictures or paintings.

There is nothing to dust, clean or organize. My mind is free to wander without responsibility. Oh to be in a room with minimal visual distractions. there is something to be said for the quiet created by the blank walls that surround me.

Most people do not understand this concept. To many a house without tchotchkes isn’t a home. To some extent I agree and I will not leave the walls blank forever. I will soon cover them with artwork and photographs. After all, I also love bright colors and pictures of my children.

At heart I am a minimalist, but I am not part of the minimalist movement. My closet is not filled to the brim with personal possessions, but I haven’t discarded all but 100 items either. I could jump on the minimalist bandwagon, but I choose not to do so.

I don’t expect others to understand my choices and I don’t wish to judge the way other people live either. Perhaps you find great comfort in your belongings. Who can argue with the desire to be comforted?

I’ve often stood on the outskirts of a crowd. I listen to what others have to say, but I am rarely swept up in the momentum.

Although I write about personal finance I am not a cog in the FI or FIRE movement. I am a forty-year old, financially independent, married, life-long saver.

When I was younger I thought there was a specific path to follow in life. I now realize we each travel on a unique and personal journey.

Sometimes you want to get caught up in the wave of excitement. You want to stand on a soap box and shout proclamations from the top of your lungs.

The problem is we don’t all come from the same starting points. Some of us are natural savers, some graduated without any debt, some secured a high paying job before they walked out of college.

Can I stand here proclaiming you should live with roommates? Buy a rental house? Attend a state a college? Graduate with a STEM degree? If you haven’t done these things have you done it all wrong? Should you feel bad that your net worth didn’t reach $1,000,000 before age 30?

All I can do is tell my story. It’s the only story I know. I can also comment on my favorite blogs and provide support and encouragement to those who choose to strive for financial independence. For those who save to the best of their ability and spend wisely.

Reaching financial independence at an early age is an incredibly difficult goal. We need to spread the word for those who want to forge their own path, but also be mindful of those who can’t get there so quickly.

I’ve written before about changes in the personal finance blogging community. I feel a shift in the momentum. A desire to be the loudest voice in the crowd. The desire to be the most popular blog, podcast and forum.

When you are young everything seems easy. It’s easy to say you will never get divorced, never have children, never get stuck in a dead end job, never work in a cubicle for thirty years.

It’s easy to think those things, but reality can be tougher than you ever imagined. For now I will stay on the outskirts of the FI and FIRE in-crowd. I will forge my own path and stay strong but quiet.

Remember that you will hear many voices in the FI community, but very few have actually reached financial independence. If you haven’t reached your goal then perhaps you should lower your voice.

I have reached FI and I see no reason for shouting.

2 thoughts on “Are You a Member of the In Crowd?”

  1. “If you haven’t reached your goal then perhaps you should lower your voice.”

    *sips tea*

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing your journey. The problem comes when you start writing from a stance of “my way or the highway” or dismissing the challenges you’ve faced / ignore the hard parts that other people have to deal with.

    • Yes, yes, yes! I love sharing my journey through this blog and listening to the stories of others who are striving for FI. But it’s easy to say “I’m doing it right” or “I will never do it wrong” or “life will never throw curve balls at me.” The truth is life gets in the way of our best intentions. It’s important to be kind and to raise others up along the way. Heck, that’s exactly what you do for the FI community! We all could use a little more kindness and a little less absolutism.


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