Finance Stoic 24 – What limits have I placed on myself?

The person is free who lives as they wish, neither compelled, nor hindered, nor limited – whose choices aren’t hampered, whose desires succeed, and who don’t fall into what repels them. Who wishes to live in deception – tripped up, mistaken, undisciplined, complaining, in a rut? No one. These are base people who don’t live as they wish; and so, no base person is free.

Epictetus, Discourses, 4.1.1 – 3a

Incredibly deep. Epictetus was describing FIRE almost 2,000 years ago and it still isn’t as popular as it should be.

While many people focus on the retirement aspect of FIRE, many of us simply focus on the financial independence portion, because we want what Epictetus describes in those first two sentences. To live as we wish, neither compelled, nor hindered, nor limited.

The daily stoic meditations talked about how sad it is how much time each day we spend on things we have to do, while not recognizing that we have made ourselves slaves in ways that we ought not to have.

Today’s question was how many of my limitations are really self-imposed? 

At first, I wanted to say that I don’t have too many limitations at this stage of my life, nor are they self-imposed. Then, I took a step back. I placed a limitation on myself that is massive in scope and at the time, I thought nothing of it, though my wife protested heavily.

Two years ago, we were living in a townhouse in one of the nicer areas of the city. We’d managed to buy it many years ago at a downtime in the market so we did not have a significant mortgage. We had flexibility. Effectively, we were getting close to a FIRE # at that lifestyle level.

I could not erase my cravings though, my desires for a single family home, so I continued to push my wife, challenge her, reconcile how we could achieve my dreams and, unfortunately, she acquiesced to my desires.

Our home is under construction and the costs are increasing beyond our expectations. Our mortgage will be at least 4x as large as what we were carrying on the townhouse, increasing our time to FIRE. The house, effectively, has become a noose around my neck. My wife and I agreed that, but for the house, we would have been able to do option three in the choices I outlined yesterday versus two to three years from now. With the house in the cards, we cannot afford the uncertainty of income that would come with making the decision to strike out on my own.  Dammit, I did impose a limitation on myself.

Today, I read a lot on twitter, interacted with fellow FI writers, and spent time trying to learn social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and automation software options. This took away time from reading, learning and developing myself. Was it time wasted? No. Was it time well spent? No.

Why those answers? Learning how to interact with social media automation and all that comes with it can only be positive in the future. Building relationships with other FI bloggers is beneficial for me to learn more about FIRE. That said, my wife is taking courses on how to use wordpress, how to use social media with wordpress, etc. and, hence, I did not need to spend the time on social media automation right now, because she’d be much better at it than me in short order and I could have simply waited to learn from her.

A great example of limitations we place on ourselves is from DocG of Diverse FI who wrote Who Owns the Keys to Your Golden Handcufs today. That is two days in a row it feels he’s written an article that is straight out of the Daily Stoic meditations and journal. I will have to ask him.

Until next time,


Finance Stoic

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