How Much Do You Value Freedom and Flexibility?

by Miranda Marquit · 12 comments

freedom
We often get caught up in the idea of making more money. And while many of us wouldn’t mind having a little extra cash each month, the reality is that money isn’t everything. In fact, there might be some things worth valuing more than money.

I know for certain that I value freedom and flexibility more than I value money. I’m willing to make less money if I can improve my quality of life.

Freedom and Flexibility

Freedom and flexibility are the two most important items for me in my life. I like to be able to set my schedule, work on different days, and have the flexibility to engage in other pursuits that I find worthwhile. This includes being involved in my community and spending time with my son.

Since moving to Idaho, I’ve been able to cut back on work a little bit. Yes, I am building my investment portfolio and looking for other ways to build passive income, but at the same time, I’ve also cut back on the amount of paid work I do. Charging higher rates helped, but a lot of it has to do with moving to an area with a lower cost of living, and wanting to be involved in a number of different projects.

Being willing to work less, and get by with less money, allows me a little more freedom and flexibility. As long as I have enough to live comfortably and prepare for the future, I’m not too picky about making a huge fortune. In fact, there are plenty of other things I’d like to do with my time and energy, and just having more money doesn’t matter to me.

How about you? What do you value?

Quality of Your Work Life

I’m not alone in valuing the quality of my work life. I like the freedom and flexibility of my work, and I like that it gives me a chance to feel as though I am doing good and fulfilling a purpose. Others feel the same way, especially people younger than me. According to a recent study from Fidelity, Millennials are willing to take an average pay cut of $7,600 if it means that they can enjoy better work life, including things like career development, purposeful work, and a good work/life balance.

I’ve long been willing to make less money if it means that I can better balance my life with my work, or work on projects that I’m passionate about. It also helps that the costs of living in the area I’m in is cheaper, and that there are plenty of outdoor activities to do here.

Not everyone has the same idea of what makes life “successful.” I know people who like making more money, and use their net worth as a measuring stick. That’s not a problem if it brings them satisfaction. I just want to be able to meet my needs, provide my son with solid opportunities, volunteer for causes I believe in, and travel. Those things require money, but not so much that I have to work all the time.

What matters to you? How do you strike a work/life balance?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Tim says:

    I deeply appreciate the amount of freedom and flexibility that I get to have as someone who works from home.
    It’s not just the benefit of having a very convenient schedule, which is great.
    I get to see my 7 month old baby boy grow up – step by step and it’s something money can’t buy.

    I believe very few dads enjoy this luxury and I enjoy every second of it 🙂

    • David Ning says:

      Good for you Tim. Working from home is a great alternative for people who can’t (or don’t want to) quit outright.

      You are right – most dad’s miss many of their babies “firsts”. Cherish your situation and may your baby grow up happy and healthy!

  • That’s a good question and I wonder the same thing about too much balance early in your career. I did the same as you, working long hours in my 20’s after getting a good education. It definitely paid off.

    I guess time will tell.

  • I am a Gen Xer. And I have to say, having managed many Millennials over the years, they seem to have figured out things much better than my generation.

    They have better work/life balance and closer connections with friends and are willing to take a pay cut to keep it.

    It’s taken me 20 years putting up with unrelenting, pressure-filled corporate jobs to realize what the Millennial generation seems to know instinctively.

    Life is too short. Enjoy it while you can.

    • David Ning says:

      I think a work/life balance is important and actively choosing to live too is the right decision, but I wonder if some of those millennials will regret spending more time on the “life” part of the equation when they grow older and they inevitably meet people with more money.

      I, on the other hand, did the opposite. I sacrificed quite a bit of life back in my 20s when I moved to the states. I came here from Canada with a clean slate (no family close by, no friends yet) that allowed me to work like nobody could. While there are some regrets when I see some of my school friends still hang out with each other back up north, I’m more than making it up now with a plenty good life. The good part is that I’m still in my 30s so I have plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

  • freebird says:

    I think you can use net worth as a measuring stick in terms of how long those savings would last if you stopped working and gained the free time. Think of it as a currency exchange, the ratio is investment net worth divided by annual expense rate to get your net free time balance. Balance is great but just making ends meet today may leave an uncertain tomorrow. If I had the chance to make a huge fortune in exchange for 80-hour workweeks for a few years, I’d go for it. But once I gained enough I would stop. At least I think I would, unless something besides more money was involved.

    What I learned over the years is there’s always something out of balance. When I was young the world seemed so interesting and I had plenty of time, but I couldn’t afford to explore. A couple of decades later money was no longer an issue but getting the time off to enjoy it became the challenge. And now that I’ve semi-retired, time and money are no problem at all, but I’ve lost interest. Perhaps an overdose of business travel. First world conundrum I suppose?

    • David Ning says:

      Definitely a first world problem. We humans are awesome at finding that last tiny speck of dust on our suits though, so that’s all just normal.

      80 hour work weeks – I bet many people actually work those long hours without getting compensated (including myself when I was working the corporate job), so yes, I would take the job that would have paid me the promised fortune too.

      Then again, the work ethic required for that particular job helped launch me into starting MoneyNing.com, so I can’t complain all that much.

  • There’s a lot to be said about having a good quality of life. As with everything, I feel proper balance is the key to success. One needs to be able to balance all things in their life (including work/play) and for true financial freedom later and a high quality of life today, this balance becomes even more important.

    • David Ning says:

      Balance is indeed key. Finding balance might even save you money. Many people waste so much money on short term comfort because they are just too stressed out. If they just slow down every once in a while, then they might actually end up saving more.

  • Connie says:

    You are so right about working just to make money. Years ago I read a book called Your Money or Your Life (first written in 1992) by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. It was interesting that the book basically said what my mother had been saying for years about work. Sometimes we spend so much money in order to work, that we do not make much money at all! If you take into consideration childcare, clothing, wear and tear on car, meals, time spent traveling to and from work, gym membership (because we do not get any exercise at work), after work cocktails (to destress), etc. our paycheck is much less than we think. Also, I think that the millennials have watched their parents and by taking the good that they saw in their parents and trying to improve on what they deemed as not working in their parents’ lives, they realize that maybe their parents spent too much time trying to make money and not enough time living and spending time with family and doing things that seem important to said millennials.

    My husband and I have just retired (at age 60) and we cannot believe all of the stress that is out of our lives. We were fortunate in that we always lived on less than we made and that we invested what we saved. We have only been married 20 years and we really only started seriously and intentionally saving and investing about 10 years ago. If only we had been saving and investing sooner!!! We could have retired 10 years ago!!!!!

    • David Ning says:

      Being able to spend more time with family is the big one I think. Many people work so much that they drift farther and farther apart from their love ones over time. Then they are so stressed out at work that they often get into arguments during the precious few minutes that they have with each other.

      What’s done in done Connie. You early retired, so you are already ahead of the game. Congratulations and enjoy the good life! 🙂

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