One aspect of financial independence often overlooked is that your path will look different compared to others. What works for me might not work for you. The best thing I have found on my journey may not add any benefit to you.
Experimentation is an important tool on your path to financial independence. It allows you to try different techniques and systems to find which ones bring value to your journey.
My Way Isn’t Your Way
Budgeting is often seen as the gold standard working towards financial independence. People who stick to a budget help keep their costs lower and be more intentional with their spending.
They don’t work for me.
My wife and I are frugal by nature. We don’t spend a lot each month. We talk often about purchasing things that bring value or happiness to our lives. We tend to spend more on experiences and things that we are able to enjoy as a family.
Our mentality acts as our monthly budget, not the numbers on a spreadsheet. To us, the idea of a set budget brings stress. So we skip it. As long as we still hit our savings goals, we are fine with where our spending ends up.
But this doesn’t mean our way of thinking works for everyone. Many people would spend every dollar each month if they didn’t set up a budget for themselves. A budget becomes fundamental to their ability to achieve financial independence.
Everyone needs some sort of structure in their financial lives. Your structure doesn’t need to be my structure – but we all need it.
We are a family of three living in the Midwest making a combined six-figure income. The strategies we use to manage our financial life won’t necessarily work for a family of five making $50k a year.
But there is something that everyone can learn from seeing how others pursue FI: ideas.
Experiment with Financial Independence
You may not have much in common with certain people pursuing financial independence. You spend different amounts. You have a different career. You don’t have consistent income. Your family is a different size. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have things you can learn from others that you can apply to your own journey.
With the number of people doing different things in the personal finance community, you are sure to find ideas you can experiment with.
Invest an index funds.
Try out a new app that can help you save extra each month.
Try using the debt snowball and debt avalanche methods to see which helps you pay off your debt.
Maybe a robo-advisor can help save you time by automating your investments.
Or try a blogger’s budget spreadsheet that helped get their spending under control.
It doesn’t matter what you do or what you try. What is important is you develop a financial plan that works best for you. And the best way do that? Experiment!
Many experiments will be duds. An idea will seem like it will work only to fall flat and not provide the benefits you hoped for. Other times, you will find the perfect fit for your journey – something that will add value or save time. Find enough of those ideas, tools, and strategies and your journey to FI becomes that much easier.
No one’s journey to financial independence is the same. This provides us all with an abundance of ideas, strategies, and tools we can try. Take the time to experiment and find the items that can add value and save time on your journey. Find enough and you will quickly be on your way to financial independence.