A common man’s journey....
From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom
The story all around us is the same. It does not matter whether you are in a job, run a shop or you are a small, medium or a big entrepreneur. Each one of us is stuck in a mindless rat race. I was no different. I was running, not knowing where I was headed. Worst, even though I realized that this was a mindless race, I did not seem to have any solution or a way out of it. Was there a need to come out of this race? Was there a way to come out of this race? What would I do with my life if I could somehow manage to quit this race? These were some of the questions crisscrossing my mind through the first half of my 20 year long career as an Electrical engineer and then as a IT professional working for the best of the companies across the globe.
It took me 10 years in some of the high profile jobs to crystallize my dreams and reach a conclusion that life has to be much more than competing by pulling others down, just getting salary increments, promotions, progressions and raising a family. I was somehow able to convince myself that God did not send us on this lovely planet just for this. While earning money was as important as raising one’s family, this cannot be the end of your life’s achievements and goals. I did spend enough time and effort on myself to crystallize my life goals – goals that could give me true happiness. Whatever be my goals, the fundamental question that lay in front of me was that how am I going to achieve these goals if I am stuck in a race which never seems to have an end. From where I would get the time and money to accomplish these goals?
I was in a job, a job that keeps becoming more and more demanding every day. Yes, I get a better position, better salary each year but guess what; I still cannot seem to save enough. Where is it all going? What is happening? I do have a better car, better house, and better furniture but why am I less happy than what I was when I was younger? Where is my happiness going? How long can I continue to do this? What if something happens to me and I am forced to be out of job for a few months? How will my family survive? Why am I struggling to survive today after so many years of a “successful” career? Why is everything becoming more and more unstable as I am growing higher in my career? How will I ever be able to come out of this trap and even think about my life goals – goals that go beyond 6 individuals in my family and expand beyond?
As all these questions were haunting me, I realized that the first logical step to achieving my true life goals has to be coming out of this trap of spending my time to earn money. There had to be a way. And once I am out of this trap, then I can truly pursue other cherished goals of my life. These cherished goals can be very different for each individual. But for sure, a life without these goals, only ends in frustration and unfulfilled desires.
The book takes off from here and takes you through my journey of how I managed to break this trap and become a financially free individual. The book documents all my learning and experience across this beautiful journey. Only 1% of the people in the world are successfully able to finish this journey and I know I am one of those fortunate ones. Is this journey difficult? Is it too technical? Does it need special skills and knowledge to go through the journey? Do you need to be lucky to scrape through to the end of this journey? Do you need to be having some financial degree? One would realize while reading the book that the answer to all these questions was a big “No”. All these things may give someone an edge at some stage of this journey but are absolutely not mandatory and neither guarantee successful completion of the journey. Then what was it? What makes 99% unsuccessful and only 1% successful in this journey of financial freedom? As with most great things in life, I realized that the answer to this was a set of very simple steps and change of some fundamental habits that I need to bring in me to break this deadly trap. Was it easy? No. It is never easy to change yourself and my case was no different. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
It took me 7 years from the day I initiated a financial freedom plan to reach close to financial freedom but each learning, every change; every sacrifice was worth its weight in gold. It is definitely worth when I know that I am not dependent on anyone in the world to take care of my family. It is worth when I know that true happiness comes from “giving” and not “taking” from others and I am capable of “giving” now. It is worth when I know that I can now spend time and money on fulfilling the “real” goals of my life. It is worth when I know that I can spend time doing what I love doing rather than what fetches me more money. Each and every moment now is worth living.
The book will hand hold the reader on a step by step journey on how I achieved it. It will also tell the reader under what circumstances I took specific financial decisions so that the reader can map them with their circumstances and take a decision that is more appropriate for them. Anyone who does not have even an iota of knowledge about financial planning and financial freedom can take advantage of my experience in this book, since I started from Ground Zero.
The financial planning exercise in the book will start with some fundamental definitions and terms one must know. It will take a dig at few illustrative examples to explain those definitions. Once the basic understanding of the financial terms are developed, the book will walk the reader through all the financial investment options available today in the Indian market with relative merits and demerits of all such options. All views expressed are based on my personal experience and hence are illustrated with actual examples from my journey. I do not expect the reader to start investing just by reading these examples and investment tools. This is to bring the reader’s knowledge at par as well as set the right perspective for him and give him a broader and wholesome view of things.
Once you become technically sound, the book starts to dwell onto the most critical, and often the most neglected part of the journey. I realized that this is where 99% of the people fail. This section of the book is about the habitual changes that we need to bring in ourselves if we have to successfully complete the journey. The book lists all healthy habits that I had to inculcate in myself and how I did that. Success principles never change with time. Most of the habits may have been heard earlier but the key is how to implement them in one’s own life.
Once you have the technical expertise and know what are the habitual changes needed to be successful, the much awaited section of the book opens up. This is something I never found in any book that I referred to on my journey to financial freedom. This is about the entire financial planning for my own self, based on my income and expenses today, my assets and liabilities that I have in life today. How do I actually plan my own journey step by step? How do I make month on month goals? What goals are right for me? How do I document them? Once I have documented them, how can I track them month on month to make sure that I am staying on track till I reach financial freedom? What kind of tracking mechanisms can be adopted to make sure that my freedom nest stays healthy?
After going through the financial planning section of the book, the reader must walk through the investment tools and habits multiple times before he starts building his financial nest and portfolio. Financial Freedom is not far away.
I often compare financial freedom with a nation’s freedom. Why is it so important for a country to be free? Perhaps because a country wants to take certain decisions which it feels are in its best interest under the given circumstances for its future. It wants to take those decisions and wants to be free to be able to take those decisions. Similarly, it is a fundamental trait of a human being to be able to take his or her own decisions in life and then apply those decisions and experience the results. The reader can take those decisions if he is out of the rat trap and enjoy what is popularly known as “financial freedom”. That is the reader’s personal freedom which is no less important than the freedom of the nation to which he or she belongs.
The good news is that this freedom is not that hard to achieve and the best news is that it is all in the reader’s hands. The book gives the reader a direction and illustrates how a common man like me has done it. The ball is in his court now. !! Go for it…..