Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The 4 Freedoms for the Perfect Life and How to Create Each

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Most people drift along life’s current. They work 9-5 jobs, live within 30 miles of where they grew up, and don’t change careers often, if ever. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that—if you’ve considered all your options and then intentionally chose that lifestyle. The problem, of course, is that most people living that lifestyle just fell into it. 

I love the notion of lifestyle design, but it suffers from a bad “brand” image. People either find it pretentious or they don’t understand what it means. But it simply means choosing every aspect of your life proactively and intentionally. 

So let’s scrap that term for today and instead dig into four types of freedom that most of us want and how to achieve them. 

1. Financial Freedom

This is the big one. It is so big, in fact, that we have to address it first, even though it really belongs last. 

There are a few ways to think about financial freedom. You can think of it synonymously with financial independence (FI): the ability to cover your living expenses with passive income from investments. Everyone on Earth shares this goal—it’s how we fund our lives in retirement, after all. 

But that’s too big of a goal for most of us to wrap our heads around in our day-to-day lives, which is why so few people pursue FI at a young age. It takes a high savings rate for the average person to achieve within a decade or two. 

Consider another, shorter-term way to think about financial freedom: the ability to cover your living expenses free from financial stress. That goes beyond clocking into a 9-5 and living on a budget. 

It means having multiple streams of income that you control. For me, that includes my business, SparkRental, and passive real estate investments that generate income. Our investment club gets together every month and goes in together on new passive real estate investments. That lets us each invest small amounts in many projects for diverse passive income streams.

Short-term financial freedom also means being able to change jobs or careers at any time. It means not living paycheck to paycheck. And ideally, it means being able to take full advantage of the other three types of freedom.

2. Location Freedom

When you can earn money remotely, you can live anywhere in the world. I should know—I’ve been doing it since 2008 and have lived on four continents. I currently spend most of the year in Lima, Peru. 

When you can earn money from anywhere in the world, it frees you up to travel, of course. But it also frees you to intentionally choose your ideal home city

Perhaps you’d choose to live in another state or country where each dollar stretches further. I live a comfortable, even luxurious lifestyle on a modest budget (under $50,000/year) in South America. 

Perhaps you’d ditch the high taxes in your current state in favor of a lower-cost state. Or skip most income taxes altogether by moving overseas and taking advantage of the foreign-earned income exclusion. Or you could move to live closer to loved ones. 

The point: You make an intentional choice where you want to live out of all 200 countries in the world. 

3. Time Freedom

Whoever said that 9-5 was the ideal work schedule? Maybe you’d rather work 7-3 or 11-7 or work a few hours before your kids wake up and then another few hours when they’re napping or have gone to bed.

For that matter, maybe you’d rather work 55 hours one week and 25 the next. 

Or imagine taking a “red month,” where you cross through that page in the calendar with a giant red marker and say, “I’m not available this month; schedule all my calls for the following month.” 

I took a red month in December 2022, traveling around Patagonia with my wife and daughter. We hiked around Fitz Roy in El Chaltén, saw the Perito Moreno glacier in El Calafate, tasted wines in Mendoza, and ate at amazing steakhouses in Buenos Aires. 

Time freedom involves being able to earn money on your own schedule. That could mean owning your own business, or it could mean doing freelance or other self-employed work. Or it could just as easily be negotiated with an employer. 

4. Work Freedom

If money didn’t matter, what kind of work would you do? In other words, what’s your ideal work

Sure, for some, that might mean taking a $40,000 pay cut. But for others, it might only mean taking a $5,000 to $10,000 pay cut. You could bridge that gap through better budgeting, taking on a fun side gig, or adding some passive income from investments. More likely, it would be a combination of two or even all three of those strategies. 

Too many people in the FIRE movement slave away trying to reach full financial independence, dreaming of a life on the beach. But here’s the reality: Everyone who retires young goes back to work. There’s only so long you can sit on a beach sipping daiquiris. 

Yes, everyone goes back to work—but they do so on their own terms. That’s great news for you, because it means you can skip all those years of slaving and scrimping, and you can just make the career shift now. 

After interviewing dozens of people who reached financial independence, I’ve noticed a pattern. Yes, they go back to work, but they incorporate all four of these freedoms. 

Combining the Four Freedoms for Your Dream Life

I don’t consider myself financially independent. I couldn’t afford to sit on a beach for the rest of my life doing nothing at all. And that doesn’t matter one bit because I’m living the exact same lifestyle that I’d be living if I were already FI. 

I do work I love, on my own schedule, from anywhere in the world, and I don’t worry about bills or my next paycheck. I have all four freedoms, which means I have full control over my life. 

Start with brainstorming your ideal work. Then start researching how you could start doing that work, with time and location freedom. Only after writing out this ideal lifestyle should you allow yourself to look at the financial side of the equation. How much could you earn? Is that enough to cover minimal living expenses in your dream city, state, and country? 

If not, start looking at ideas to supplement your income. Research fun side hustles that allow location and time freedom. Invest for passive income streams. We aim for high returns on passive real estate investments in our Co-Investing Club, typically 15% or higher. And we go in on them together, so each member can invest small amounts. I own fractional shares in dozens of properties across the country. 

There’s no right or wrong ideal lifestyle—it’s unique to you. But chances are, it involves all four freedoms, and a healthy dose of passive income from investments.

Ready to succeed in real estate investing? Create a free BiggerPockets account to learn about investment strategies; ask questions and get answers from our community of +2 million members; connect with investor-friendly agents; and so much more.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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