I often hear the statement “It’s not about the money, it’s about time”. And I agree! Money is not the point, money is not the end. Money is a tool we employ for many ends.
In the FI/RE (financial independence, retire early) world, money is often used as a tool to buy our future time. By saving, investing, and creating additional streams of income, the resulting money allows us to loosen our ties to traditional employment or a life requiring an employed income.
But today, I want to take a different approach to money and what money can buy. While time (free time!) is incredible, I personally find a slightly different motivation for saving and investing.
That’s right, options. Money, to me, creates options. It creates “money options”.
What Does a “Money Option” Look Like?
A “money option”– an option created by having the money to make a change or adjustment- can come in many forms.
Money can allow one to make the money option to take a lower paying job that is better for their family, lifestyle or mental health. It may even mean stepping back from a job for a time, whether it be a break or a mini-retirement.
A money option could be taking the plunge and entering the world of entrepreneurship or freelancing… cutting ties from traditional employment to invest in a passion and build something new.
Money options allow one to make the vital decision to commit to a healthy, strong relationship (whether that be marriage, a location move, or a job change due to a relationship). On the flip side, having the means to exercise the right to leave a toxic relationship and start over is a prime example of a money option.
Parents are faced with decisions each and every day. Money can allow parents to feel free to choose the best path for their family. Working or staying at home, homeschooling, public or private schools, nomadic or stationary life.
Whether one searches for the perfect weather, the ideal place for adventure, the exciting city, the cozy small town, the greatest “bang for your buck” or just the place that feels like “home”, our location is a big part of our life. Money allows one to choose a location best suited for them and their situation.
Money allows one the option to pursue activities, great and small. From epic heli-skiing trips to attending an opera at the Dorothy Chandler to a visit to the local zoo, money creates the option to choose activities that add value or just a little spice to our life.
Charity and Volunteering
Money saved can allow one to dedicate more time, resources and money to helping others and bettering the world around us. It can be as small as donating to a local charity or as big as taking a week or two off to travel and aid the survivors of a natural disaster.
Adventure Rich Money Options
In our own life, Mr. Adventure Rich and I have exercised quite a few money options. When we started dating and discussing money, we were $55,000 in debt. We did not have a plan, but we knew that the debt limited our options. So, we worked hard to pay off that debt and save money in order to create future options… money options!
As many of you know now, Mr. Adventure Rich and I moved across the country last year. We packed up our life in California and transplanted to northern Michigan. Moving and starting anew was not easy or cheap. We sold and bought cars, rented a Penske truck and purchased plane tickets with little notice (less than 1 month from job offer to move date). Without our then-debt free status and money saved, we may not have had the money option to make this move.
Buying our House
If you had asked me in early 2016 if I would be buying a house later that year, I would have laughed in your face. I was sitting in California, watching a crazy-town housing market push prices sky-high and thinking “maybe someday we will either be able to afford a house or we will move back to the Midwest”.
Yet, even without any hope of buying a house, Mr. Adventure Rich and I diligently saved for a down payment, dumping portions of our paycheck and any spare money we could get our hands on in a savings account.
This saving paid off big time! By mid-summer 2016, Mr. Adventure Rich received a job offer in Michigan and by September, we were driving up to a house we found on Craigslist to meet the owner and take a look. If we had saved like house-buying was years away, we would not have been in a position to purchase this house. But our saving created the incredible money option that allowed us to buy our dream home.
Many people choose to take on the added time and monetary commitment to welcome a pet into their family. We recently made this decision by welcoming two adorable holland lops into our home. Sure, they aren’t crazy expensive, but they do cost money… money we were able to spend to make this change and open our homes and hearts to our furry friends.
What a Money Option Isn’t
Now that you know what a money option is, what is not a money option? A money option is not necessarily an all-out “best utilization of money” option. When Mr. Adventure Rich and I bought our house, we consciously chose to exercise a money option that would produce incredible benefits to our lives, knowing that our purchase was not an investment or the “best use” of our money from a strict numbers viewpoint.
Money options are not necessarily the most expedient path to early retirement. Choosing to be a stay at home parent, going back to school, starting a new business or moving to a big city may actually DELAY retirement. But that is not the point here. The point is that money allows one to make the choice that is best for their life overall (now and in the future)… not their “retirement-only” life.
And a money option does not need to make sense to anyone except for you (and maybe your family if it is a joint decision). Money options are deeply personal. From the outside, many friends in California could not fathom why we would ever leave a place they saw as paradise. And we’ll admit, there are many things Mr. Adventure Rich and I miss about California (I’m looking at you, authentic tacos and the PCH)!
But we desired a different life… a slower, more outdoors centric life with a vibrant community, four seasons, small towns and a better chance to become homeowners and early retirees. We still struggle to describe this desire to others… and that is okay. We made a choice, a money choice, that is best for our family and that is what matters.
What are some of the options money has created for you? What money options are you saving for?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich