Woohoo! What do financially-savvy and frugal people like more than free things? How about free things that make you better with money? Then don’t miss the details about the giveaway at the bottom of this post.
I’ve had an advance copy of Tanja Hester’s Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way for several weeks now. And for several weeks, I’ve struggled to find the right words to explain why this book feels so necessary. While Tanja is one of the most vocal advocates that FIRE isn’t just for six-figure salary tech bros, I would be lying if it didn’t feel that way when I first started blogging.
I would also be lying if it didn’t still feel that way every once in a while even today.
For years, I’ve wrestled with my place in the personal finance and FIRE communities. Not just because it will take actual decades to crest the six-figure mark as a teacher. Not just because my husband’s salary schedule doesn’t even go that high. Not just because we haven’t even bothered calculating our official FIRE number.
But even more so because I like this life.
Let me explain.
When people talk about FIRE, it often sounds like an escape. A frantic race to stuff a box full of desktop knickknacks and exit a cube farm. A countdown to an opportunity to finally find your purpose, lives your dreams, do what you want with your days.
But we already have those things.
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If money were no object, I would still choose this life. I would still choose to work as a teacher. Could I live without some of the red tape and some of the meetings? Absolutely. That isn’t even a question.
But I love my coworkers–they feel spending my days with a cross between family and friends because they are my friends, and they have become a second family. They’ve stood next to me on my wedding day. They’ve hugged me when they found me sobbing in the hallway at 5 in the morning when I came to work to put together sub plans after saying goodbye to my nana unexpectedly at 2 AM in a hospital an hour away. They have been with me through so much good and so much bad.
More than them, though, I adore my students, and I treasure the fact that I get to spend all day showing people the utility and the creativity behind my talents and interests. It’s pretty fantastic to spend your hours surrounded by words and young minds.
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So no, I don’t want to leave this right now, and I’m not sure I want to leave this ever.
That feeling right there that had me believing that I was destined to sit on the sidelines of the personal finance and FIRE communities is exactly why Work Optional speaks to me, and it’s no surprise that the message comes from Tanja. Years ago, when I was a fledgling blogger, I joined a blog series in a rare moment of online bravado. I had read the posts on Our Next Life, Think Save Retire, and other sites run by people I really respect…and considered so far beyond the bounds of my little blog.
When I penned my version of a next life, Tanja was quick to reach out, quick to reassure me that FIRE doesn’t have to look any particular way. She–along with dozens of other online friends–reminded me that FIRE is all about having options, and I am reminded of that again years later by this book.
FIRE isn’t about stopping.
It isn’t just some career-long math problem.
It isn’t about retreating to a beach and sending a message in a bottle to all of your loved ones, bidding them adieu.
It’s about building a bridge to a life that you enjoy, one in which work is optional. Maybe that comes in the form of true retirement, semi-retirement, mini-retirements, or sabbaticals. The book presents them all as viable options and gives you the opportunity to step your way through the different processes you might need to take to make them your reality.
Does this book make FIRE a possibility for anyone and everyone? No. Will a single read change the landscape of your finances or the trajectory of your working life? Of course not.
But this book is an excellent reminder that the more options we have in our lives, the better, and that there isn’t only a single personality or a single path to get there.
So Tell Me…What does work optional mean to you? Are you pursuing it?
If you want a chance to win a copy of the book, leave a comment below. To snag an extra chance, leave a comment on my Instagram post about the book. The giveaway closes on Sunday, February 24, and I’ll announce the winner after that in a new installment of my money wins series.
Note: Tanja was kind enough to provide an advance copy of the book for me to read, plus a copy of the book for me to give away. If this giveaway is as popular as I think it might be, I’ll probably pony up to send another copy to someone. So drop me a comment! Good luck!