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Creating Freedom Through Financial Independence


What Does Financial Independence Look Like?

September 15, 2018

Some of you are likely wondering, “what does financial independence look like?” on a day to day basis.

“What the hell do you do all day?”, is another common question!

And it’s completely understandable.  For people who’ve spent every week, year after year, consumed by work, it starts to destroy their imagination.

It’s like living in a kind of bubble, where you get only a day or two each week to spend as you see fit.  Given long enough, you end up thinking in very limited terms, unable to imagine what life is like any other way.

I’ve touched on life outside the confines of full-time wage slavery, when I wrote about our first year of freedom, and also looking back on 2017.


What Financial Independence Looks Like For Us…

An important thing I realised is, I really enjoy structure.  So this year, I’ve really been trying to plan my days better.

It’s more enjoyable and feels better to have a plan of what I’m going to do.  Completing things without getting distracted or lazy is another matter!

I’ll just warn you, some might find our lives incredibly boring.  There’s certainly no champagne fountains or exotic travelling going on right now.

Just a satisfyingly simple life we’ve settled into, which allows us to spend our time doing the things most important to us.

It’ll be different for everyone of course.  But here’s what early retirement looks like in our case…


Exercise & Outside Time

This is really important to us.

One of the major reasons for wanting our time back was to live a healthier lifestyle.  And it was a big factor in choosing the house we moved to.



Almost every morning, we go for a nice walk through the reserve and our dog can have a run.  We stop to look at the lake for a little while and watch the birdlife.

This is probably the best way to start the day.  So refreshing and guaranteed to put you in a good mood!


Our Dog

Usually when we come home from our walk, the dog is all revved up so he wants to play some more!  So we’ll play with him for a while until he (or us!) gets tired 🙂

Anytime we’re both outside doing something, he thinks it’s playtime lol.  So he’ll bring us toy after toy and bark, regardless of whether we’re busy or not!

When we were working, it felt horrible leaving him at home alone for 10 hours.  Having only an hour or so each day to spare made us feel pretty selfish for having a dog in the first place.



We have a home gym setup (squat rack and bench) with barbell and plenty of plates.  This allows us to benefit from some strenuous lifting sessions a few times per week, from the convenience of our home.

It also saves us a ton on gym membership, cuts out driving and saves time (future post coming).


Bike Rides

In the evenings around 4:30 – 5:30, we head out for a bike ride through a bushland/forest area of the reserve.  Usually there’s a number of kangaroos in there, so we’ll often stop and watch them for a while, which always puts a smile on our face.  Then we’ll head home and start preparing dinner.

One day during the week, we’ll ride up to the shops to get a few things from Aldi, and some fruit & veg from the Asian shop there.

Sometimes we’ll take a leisurely ride around Lake Joondalup which might take a couple of hours.  Such a beautiful place to soak up nature – I really love it.



We have an expanding veggie patch which Mrs Strong Money takes care of and nurtures during the day.  Each day she’s always checking plants for pests, trimming, feeding and weeding.  Or she’s planting something new.

Sometimes, I even help!  But admittedly, most of the time you could say I’m…supervising?

Spending time in the garden is something I’d like to do more of.  And I’ve been making an effort to get out and help (or hinder) more often.

The most exciting part is probably harvesting produce to add to our meals 🙂

Again, this comes back to our love of nature and wanting to make that a bigger part of our life each day.  Hard to do when you’re working full-time!


Productive Time / Work

Most of us will admit the best days are when we feel like we accomplished something.  I definitely under-appreciated this aspect about retiring.

Most likely, you’ll want to work on something new, whether you expect to or not.  Even if you have no idea right now what it might be, it’s almost certain to be the case.  This seems super common with people after reaching FI.

Almost every day, I spend time replying to comments and emails from readers.  While I don’t write every day (I probably should), I’m always thinking about new ideas of things to write about or how to write it.

I also write a few investment articles each week for The Motley Fool Australia, a share investing website.  So that takes up a bit of my time each week too.  It’ll be no surprise to readers that I mostly write about dividend-paying shares.  Some of you discovered this secret a while ago!

Then there’s blog posts of course, which usually take me 2 days to complete.  Not all day obviously, but a good number of hours in total.

Maybe I’m the slowest blogger in the world.  But I just can’t sit down and bang out a dazzlingly good post in an hour or two, like some can!

I tend to ‘work’ on the investment stuff earlier in the week and on my blog later in the week.

As I said, Mrs Strong Money spends much of her days in the garden.  But she also now works 2 days per week (Thursdays and Fridays).  She’s still enjoying it, which is the main thing.  Unfortunately, this is a terrible violation of the rules according to the Early Retirement Police 😉


Learning & Entertainment

One frustration of being at work was not having enough time to read.  With that barrier removed, I’ve been able to read all I want.  And it’s possibly turned against me!

I get sucked into reading too many things, including investment reports, articles and blogs.  It’s super interesting, but it tends to turn into a lot of time spent, for not a lot gained.  Now I try to tell myself it’s really half entertainment, half learning.

A couple of hours each day is always spent reading, which feels about right for me.  Any more and it feels like wasting time, any less and I miss it.

We both kick back and watch a bit of TV at night, while I tend to read a bit at the same time.  If nothing good is on, I might listen to a podcast.

You might remember, one of my goals for 2018 was to read more books.  That habit is improving, but it’s not perfect!



Back in our working lives, I was on night-shift half the time, so we’d only see each other for a short time each day – sometimes not at all.

Now we get to spend a lot more time together each day which is really nice.

And while it’s fun for us not having to work, it’s easy to forget that everybody else is still busy.  So sometimes it’s tricky to catch up with friends when both parties are free!

Earlier this week I caught up with a mate for a few hours and Mrs Strong Money had lunch with her Auntie.

Then on Wednesday, we went to Hillary’s Boat Harbour while the weather was nice.  We used Ola* for the first time and the trip was basically free.  We had coffee and cake, walked around chatting for a while, then had a bite to eat.

On the social front, maybe as this community builds, we can have a Perth FI meetup of sorts?  Let me know if you’re from Perth, I’d be interested to know how many of us there are!


Relaxation & Sleep

We are human at the end of the day.  So we enjoy some relaxation time whenever we feel the need.  Whether it’s sitting in the garden with a drink, or out the back with a coffee, the extra time to chill out is always nice.

Also, getting plenty of sleep is never an issue.  Looking back, I can see how bad lack of sleep is!


Food Prep, Cooking & Eating

Because health is important to us, we spend time preparing and eating yummy food.

Not only is this an important part of a solid grocery strategy, but it’s an enjoyable way to spend our time.



What does financial independence look like?  Well, that’s how it looks for us!  After reaching FI in 2017, this is how we’re spending most of our time.

It really is the weekend that never ends.  But one where you’ll also have plenty of productive energy to work on things too.

Don’t make the assumption I did, and think you’ll be happy lounging around for the rest of your days.  It ain’t gonna happen!

It’s not at all strange that we’re both doing some ‘work’.  Actually, that’s the point.  You can design your entire lifestyle from scratch and allocate your time in the most effective way for you.

Our best days tend to include a bit of each category.  Sometimes we can’t fit everything in, so we have to dial it down a notch!

As always, it’s a learning curve, and we adjust things as we go.

For us, it’s a very enjoyable and fulfilling lifestyle, despite the decided lack of Mercedes-driving and cocktail-glass-clunking, while also being void of corporate prestige or high social status!

So have a think about your life after financial independence, and what your ideal days will look like.  Write a list of the things you want to do, learn, and try.

Then, get back to working on your financial strength and building that income stream.


42 Replies to “What Does Financial Independence Look Like?”

    1. Ahh good pickup Lance. Maybe I should have said after reaching FI!

      And thanks, glad you like it, clearly I’m not the best writer, but I try 😉

    1. Good stuff Phil. Must admit it’s really nice out there, often makes me feel stupid for being indoors reading etc. Perhaps there’s scope for another blog later on for you – papas perennials? 🙂

  1. This sounds very much like what I’m hoping life after FIRE looks like. Lots of exercise and a really healthy life, plenty of time for reading, hopefully more time to catch up with friends and the like!

    I’m planning on a fair bit of travel as well but that’s only going to be a month or two at most each year and the rest of the time there will be more like the stuff above.

    1. Sounds awesome Aussie HF, thanks for sharing!

      At the moment we’re doing a couple of country trips each year so we can take our dog with us 🙂

      Although I must admit, the urge for a ‘holiday’ massively subsides since there’s no desire to get away from anything.

      1. For me holidays are mostly about seeing new places rather than getting away from anything so I’m guessing I’ll still be pretty keen on doing plenty of travel. Having said that with two young kids the thought of all the logistics and stress involved is keeping my urge to travel at bay for the moment!

        1. Totally agree. Travel is a huge part of my current life and FIRE life. In FIRE I plan to be able to enjoy living in other countries, having different experiences and slow travelling. although I have a way to go paying off my PPOR, Investing, and raising our young daughter first.

          1. Wow, you’re far more adventurous than I am! I’m sure you’ll get there in good time Mr FMT.

          2. I was fortunate enough to have lived overseas for a while already and got to see a lot of different places. Most of it was pretty fast travel but that’s still preferable to not travelling at all to my mind.

            Good luck with your plans!

          3. That’s awesome Aussie HF, where abouts?
            Just in case I sound like a hermit lol…we’ve been to a few countries and had some memorable trips (like Africa), and I’d like to see lots of other places in time. It’s just not an immediate urge, more of a long term goal 🙂

          4. Dave we were in London and Hong Kong, so managed to see a fair chunk of Europe and Asia pretty cheaply from each place. We’ve also done a little bit of Africa as well as a lot of time in North America. It was really enjoyable, lots of different sites to see and cultures to experience!

  2. Hi Strong Money. My wife and I really enjoy reading your posts and have learnt a lot about investing from you. We are just starting out on our FIRE journey. Interesting to read how you spend your days after ‘retirement’. Totally agree getting into nature is so important on so many levels. I am lucky enough to be able to cycle to work also. Great to know you are in Perth too, as we are in the northern suburbs also. Would love to be part of a Perth FIRE meet up if you are keen……

    1. Thanks Andrew! Great to know you’re finding the blog helpful 🙂

      Nice job riding to work by the way. On a Perth meetup, that’s good to know, I think we’ll have to get the ball rolling on that one then! Seems there’s at least a few of us in the northern suburbs, so perhaps a Joondalup park would be a good spot to host it. Any thoughts?

  3. Fantastic stuff Dave! Thank you for letting us all in on your day-to-day life 🙂 I love the idea of a get together for all of us like-minded people Perth people! You can always count me in 😀

    1. Thanks mate! Ok it’s sounding like a good idea then. Will see what we can come up with. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Mr FTM! South West eh, where abouts? I’m putting an email list together for people who are interested in a Strong Money Meetup, I’ll add you to it 🙂 The big drive up here doesn’t bother you?

  4. Dave — I’m between jobs at the moment and for the first time in two decades I’ve had a pile of free time (but also looking for work as well). It’s definitely given me pause to think about what my life would/will be like if I didn’t have to go to work anymore. And actually I find that I miss it to some degree — the feeling of working on cool projects with other professionals and having that feeling of satisfaction when good work is delivered using your grey matter. So I don’t think I could be doing what you’re doing entirely, at least not at the moment. For me, it would be great to be working about 3-4 days a week max in a job I really want to be doing and have the other ones off.

    1. Great thoughts – thanks for sharing Scott! Always good to have a step back and think about things fully.

      You’re spot on – we still need to be challenging ourselves and generally getting some cool shit done. I guess it just varies how much time we want to spend on it, versus the other things that make our life so enjoyable. And that’ll vary depending on what else is going on in our lives.

      The point is, as we build our investments, we get to make that choice of what is and isn’t worth spending our time on – and that’s the key to a better life I think.

  5. Hi Dave.

    Yes a Joondalup park is fine for us. We are about 15 mins away so that is great.
    How does a Saturday morning meetup sound? You are welcome to email directly to confirm details. All the best. Andrew

    1. Thanks Andrew. Will do. Putting an email list together at the moment to discuss and I’ll copy everyone in who’s interested 🙂

  6. The book Dave, the book… How’s the book project coming along?
    The Strong Money Australia Guide to Financial Independence and Retiring Early.
    Come on, you can do it!! Maybe a two-hander with Peter Thornhill??!! Some of your blog posts could be entire chapters! After a link in Pat The Shuffler’s recent post, I re-read your January 2018 post on the high costs of living vs the cost of high living…Brilliant. There’s Chapter 2 already written!!

    1. Hahaha the book? Hmm, I’m flat out making half-coherent blog posts, let alone a book 😉

      Maybe I can just copy and paste lol, though that doesn’t really simplify for the reader?

      Thanks mate! That cost of living post is one of my favourites and what this whole FI thing comes back to, but people don’t want to hear it! Realising how incredibly good we have it, how tiny the real cost of living is relative to our incomes, and how our lifestyle expectations have been pumped up so high it’s unbelievable!

      If you can get enough people to complain that the blog is too hard to read, too long, and they want a simplified version, then maybe…

  7. Dave another good post here. A big thing I struggle with is that over the FIRE journey I can think too much about it all, and it can be quite depressing, especially when work is a grind sometimes. I do wonder what it will be like though when I finally do give it all up. Will I be happy with all that free time? Or bored? We are funny creatures sometimes, we always want what we dont have and think the grass is greener. I am trying harder to just enjoy the journey, easier said than done!

    Oh and I am a Perth FIRE dude too, so there is actually quite a few of us it seems!

    1. Cheers Fireman. Yeah I hear you on that one. I used to obsess over it quite a bit. The best remedy for that is spending free time you have doing the happy stuff that you plan to do later on. We definitely succumb to the ‘grass is greener’ mentality!

      Try to remember that mandatory work is only temporary it’s simply a matter of time before you get there 😉

      If you have any hobbies or projects that you want to work, or other stuff you’re interested in pursuing when you’re FI, start looking into those things now. You might find it’s possible to do some of that stuff now rather than waiting, and it could even lead to a job opportunity in something you’re interested in for example. Dunno, just some rambling thoughts.

      Wow another one. I’m putting an email list together for the locals to discuss having a meetup, if you’re interested?

  8. Far out, got to be a contrarian here and say this really sounds like a lonely, stagnant, existence you have there. Where do you imagine your personal/social growth come from in the decades to come? I’d often do all the things you’ve said you do, but couldn’t really pick any that id want to do over and over and over again.

    I obviously have a different perspective to retiring early, and it’s probably cause of the job satisfaction and variety I’ve had. I enjoy building my career and working with a variety of people that push, challenge, and change me each day. Voluntary removal from that environment would easily be a detrimental change to the work life cycle I participate in.

    To me, the worst part of retirement is predictably. You are responsible for your daily itinerary, the people you engage with, the tasks you complete. Working gives you some sort of spontenaity and uniqueness to your weeks (unless you work on a production line I guess)

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Tim, even if they are a little blunt. It certainly does sound like we enjoy different things. I tend to think of the full-time working life as the opposite of unique and spontaneous. For some people sure, but for most of us, it’s just not like that. And I’m not sure it’s that simple to find a ‘dream job’ where this comes together. It’s fair to say that the average job means you go to the same place and do more-or-less the same thing every day.

      Much of it will come down to me being an introvert, so really enjoying quiet time and working on things at my own pace – where you sound like an extrovert who gets energy from others and being in a highly stimulating environment. We’re opposites here I guess!

      I believe most people are better suited to building up their war chest of investments which allows them to decide what’s really worth spending their time on (including work!). For many it might even be the same role they’re in, but on a part time basis. Nowhere have I said you don’t work again or do challenging things. It does not mean removing themselves from society and living in a cave. Anyone who thinks or fears this is missing the point.

      The point is they can decide exactly how to spend their time in a way that they enjoy, while working on things that mean something to them. Clearly that will look different for everyone. I certainly wouldn’t make judgements over how others want to spend their time. It’s completely up to them, because I understand their happy life will look different to mine.

      I know some share similar worries of retirement being boring. But in the worst case, they can choose to go back to work. I think the best part is the choice over the things you describe.

      Early retirement is as enjoyable as you make it for yourself 🙂

      1. Definitely see your point Dave. I think it all comes down to everyone’s expectation of ‘retirement’.

        From my perspective though I think there is a lot more preparation required beyond simply having the income/finances ready. Our mental health is impacted severely.

        Is this because people see early retirement as a way to escape an existing problem (like a job)? If the average job is a continuous cycle of the same place and same thing every day, then wouldn’t your restlessness for change eventually repeat itself once you develop a continuous cycle to replace it in retirement?

        Without getting too deep – what I’m getting to is that we tend to grossly overestimate the pleasure brought forth by new experiences or lifestyles and underestimate the power of finding meaning in current ones. Reading, like you said, is a great way to ensure constant wonderment and adventure . It allows us to be captivated by the minds of others – and this also happens when we share stories with each other (one of the reasons why your blog is building great sentiment).

        Could write all day about this, but don’t want to distract anyone from their FIRE dreams – keep up the good work.

        1. Thanks Tim. You make good points. I agree we should try to find more enjoyment in the lives we already have (for those at work). Though I’m not sure people’s dissatisfaction at work is a result of restlessness (though it could be).

          From my observations, it’s sometimes because they’re part of a business/company doing things they don’t necessarily believe in or care about, where their opinions often aren’t appreciated and they have little say in what happens. Office politics and bureaucratic bullshit comes to mind as a reason.

          At the end of the day, some feel their contributions are not really being valued (other than getting a paycheck for it). I guess it comes back to being a small cog in a big machine type of thing, where people feel like a number, rather than achieving something that’s satisfying to them.

          It’s about finding things to work on that we’re actually interested in and feel like we’re making some kind of difference. Some jobs have this ‘tangible results’ aspect to them, but many don’t. Or the job itself is mundane and the employee doesn’t share the same goals as the organisation. Finding things we’re passionate about is not easy. But I honestly think that with money behind us, we get to remove money from the thought process and start to think about what work is worth pursuing, for satisfaction rather than salary or status. Anyway, I’m just rambling now! Yes it’s a pretty deep topic that we could discuss all day, but let’s leave it there!

          Thanks for opening up the conversation 🙂

  9. Hey Dave,
    Sounds like a great lifestyle. I’m looking forward to trying it out! 😉
    Please add me to your email meetup list. I reckon I’m only a few kms from you.
    I tried to post this from my phone before, but it blocked me as a suspected bot. I’m totally human, though, honest10100110111

    1. Haha sorry about that!

      Well we certainly enjoy it, even though it clearly doesn’t appeal to everyone judging by a recent comment 😉

      Ok you’re on the list. Will be in touch soon 🙂

  10. Hi Dave,

    Interesting post again, thanks for sharing it!

    I’m another Perth resident who is keen to meet up. South of the river but happy to travel up North.

    1. Cheers Jonny. Ok no problem, I’ll put you on the list too…jeez maybe we’ll need to hire a venue or something 😉

    1. Hey Mish. Thanks for reaching out. Good to see yet another reader up this way! Keep an eye when new posts come out, I’ll be announcing a meetup date in the next few weeks.

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