Many people are losing jobs every day for reasons beyond their control. Even if you have a great position right now, it might not be there in six months. Like the Philippine weather that could change any time and become increasingly difficult to predict, the concept of job security is becoming obsolete.
I had been a seafarer for 17 years, until one day I came to realize that my job would not serve me for eternity. That’s the time I became concerned over how to escape the rat race, stop running and start living the life of my dream.
The problem with most of the working class is a failure to grasp the reality that at any moment they could lose their earning capacity or the job itself. They have long been living comfortably a rat race of a life. And a frightening reality is that majority of them who are members of our corporate workforce right now are young people who are supposed to be the future of our country.
We enter the workforce full of dreams and aspirations and start making money. One day we wake up lured mindlessly by the desire to have a nice car, as well as a big house that requires us to sign up for a mortgage, to demonstrate our newfound corporate success. But despite all these material things we accumulate, they do not do anything to improve our lives, and happiness seems to become even more elusive.
Understanding the danger of being trapped in the rat race could be a great start in achieving financial independence. You must reach a point where you feel that having a 9-to-5 career does not intellectually nor emotionally appeal to you anymore. That’s the time you probably want to stop reporting to your abusive boss, and for the OFW, that’s when you want to start living a life without the need to leave your family.
The next logical question is HOW? Without a significant amount of savings, there is less security, and obviously, the absence of that security still hinders you from escaping the 9-to-5 job.
Many of my colleagues have criticized me for my decision to leave my high-paying job as a seafarer and become a financial advocate. To be honest, I haven’t had a single regret about my choice of a life the way I live it now, which was based on a purpose. In fact, I found proof for myself that the lesson that most spiritual gurus are teaching is definitely true—do whatever makes you happy and money will naturally follow.
If you want to regain control of your life, you must understand that living in a small house is not the primary source of your insecurity, but having a huge amount of debt. Be it a mortgage, a consumer loan, a medical bill – debt will lurk in every corner and will definitely control our happiness if we do not take care not to incur it or diligently handle its repayment. Remember, the reason we are working so hard for money is so that we can afford to fulfill two main obligations in life: to provide good education for our children (if we are parents) and have enough financial savings for our old age. Being able to cover and settle these obligations will be key to self-fulfillment; the rest will be bonus. Having a house, car, the latest gadgets, or even traveling abroad are just a bonus in life. Our problem sometimes comes when we put priority on getting the bonus first.
There are three main things you can do if you want to exit the rat race fast. First, if you cannot develop a passive income, at least find a career or build a business that has potential to sustain your living expenses. In my case, it’s not a passive income that I sought but a change of career. And since I love what I am doing now, it seems I am not working at all. Second, it’s not enough to have savings and investment; you also need to protect your wealth from long-term losses and risk. That includes inflation, sudden economic downturn, loss or collapse of a business, illness, disability, or sometimes even premature death. And lastly, you need to monitor where your money goes. Unfortunately, our money disappears not because of our big-ticket expenses but due to small financial leakages. Identify the leaks and quickly plug them up.
With “change” being hip nowadays, it may just be the best time to consider dropping that financial strategy that has not been delivering your desired results. That’s even more a reason to make sure that if you’re planning to get out of the rat race, do it well and exit gracefully, equipped with the right financial plan.
Christopher G. Cervantes is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. He is author of the best-selling book, “Financial Planning for the Fast Changing World,” and also his latest, “The Seed Money.” To learn more about personal-financial planning, attend the 64th RFP program this month. To inquire, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or text <name><e-mail><RFP> at 0917-9689774.