First, What is Slow FI?
A recent post by The Fioneers defines Slow-FI as being "when someone uses incremental gains along the journey to financial independence to live happier and healthier lives, do better work, and build stronger relationships." I've been going on for a seemingly long time about how important it is to feel good in connection with our money. Feeling good breeds inspiration. Inspiration leads to inspired action. Inspired actions create the positive outcomes we desire. Slow FI does exactly that!
What's really interesting to me is that many people in the FI community are focused on a destination. A place in the future where they've reached the so-called "golden number," and ride happily off into the sunset with freedom in hand. Actually, it sounds great! I don't have any problem with it, as I too have a destination in mind. But this is where my path diverges with theirs. Many of the FI focused have cut pretty much all of the excess and diverted all of their additional funds to fueling their investments and eliminating excess financial baggage (debt). In the process, much of life seems to be on pause.
I am very mindful of my spending, and pretty much every dollar has a job. That being said, some of those dollars have the specified job of keeping the journey wonderful. I need a little magic in my life and I am not willing to eliminate it in order to reach a destination faster. I want the journey to be every bit as beautiful as the destination. I believe that Slow-FI provides that.
Let me tell you a secret:
I still have federal student loan debt, AND I traveled to Italy last year. How dare I!? I'm not supposed to go anywhere until I've eliminated those student loans and reached the golden number (note: dripping sarcasm)! But really, in all actuality, I think that's a move that would get mixed reviews in the personal finance community. There are two parts to that choice. Regarding the student loan debt, I am a teacher and eligible for some loan forgiveness. I've been trying to make a decision about which forgiveness program to utilize, and have been waiting for the action to be inspired. I won't pull the trigger on that until it feels right. In the meantime, I can keep saving money. Also, I don't know how many years of overseas travel are in the cards for me. I have a beautiful sister with Cerebral Palsy, and she may eventually come to live with me. Now, this might be in twenty years; it might be never. If that situation does come about, at that point traveling long distances by airplane becomes more difficult. I can't afford for my life to pass me by while I'm white-knuckling my finances. While unlikely, it is possible that in ten years my sister could live with me. If I spent the next ten years focusing on achieving the number (dollar amount to reaching financial independence) to the exclusion of everything else, I might never see Thailand, Australia, or Japan. I am actively working with my partner in pursuit of full financial independence, but we're absolutely Slow FI because the journey is worth enjoying.