Arguably all people, even those who refuse to admit it, want a happy life filled with purpose. I would go further and say that for people fortunate enough to have their primary needs satisfied, a major source of stress is allotting time between things that bring them joy and bring them purpose. For those of you who find joy in your purpose in life, my guess is that spending too much time in pursuit of that purpose may cause stress in the relationships in your life, which also are intended to bring you joy. 

For me, the solution is the concept of financial freedom. Financial freedom is generally defined as earning more income from investment assets then you spend, allowing you to use the time that you would spend at work instead pursuing what brings you joy. This is generally the idea of retirement, but some choose to work harder or sacrifice short term enjoyment to save enough to retire earlier than the majority of the population. This is the general idea followed by the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement.

This isn’t to say that you can’t, or don’t, find joy from your professional work. In fact, many people who are financially independent still choose to work because they enjoy their work. However, I think that introducing the concept of happiness and joy at the same time as FIRE helps illustrate the links between our work, our happiness, and our freedom. 

Dear Ney Ney,

We all need certain things: the food we eat, the house we live in, the clothes we wear to protect us from the cold and rain, and most importantly the relationships that we have with each other and our sense of purpose. A scientist named Maslow created the list of human needs after studying happiness. Grownups use the money that we make at work to pay for things like houses, food, and clothing to help us feel happy. Doing fun things also makes us feel happy, and money helps pay for things like toys that help us have fun.

How happy we are depends on all of these things, but the most important part seems to be our family and friends, which grownups call relationships, and how we help other people, which grownups call having a sense of purpose.

The more you work as an adult, the more money you will make, but the less time you will have with your family and friends or doing fun things.

Some grownups enjoy their work because it lets them earn more money, and they use that money to buy things they think will make them happy, like big houses. Other grownups like their jobs because it gives them a sense of purpose. Some grownups don't like their work because it is boring, or hard, or they don't make very much money at it, or they don't get any sense of purpose from it.

What most adults and kids agree on is that they don't like "having" to do something. Even adults who love their jobs, like me, still don't like to have to go to work to make money to buy things like food and clothes.

Believe it or not, not everyone has to go to work to make money. Some grownups who are smart take some of the money that they make at their jobs and instead of buying things with it, they save or invest it.

You can think about saving and investing like giving your money a job. That's right, you can give your money a job. When you give your money a job, it earns money, but you get to keep that money. People who save or invest enough of their money don't have to work because their savings and investments make enough money for them to buy all the clothes or food they might need.

Freedom is the idea that people are able to choose what they do with their time and who they spend their time with. Adults call the idea of not having to go to work to buy the things you need to be happy financial freedom.

I hope that when you are bigger you saving and invest so that you are free to spend your time doing things that are fun and give you purpose.

I love you.