FREE stands for becoming Financially Resilient and Economically Empowered. For most people, it means we have our lives designed so that we can relax a bit because our financial needs are met, and we are empowered to live beautiful, abundant lives where we’re in control, we can live the way we want, and have a lot of flexibility and free time.
FREE was inspired by the FIRE movement, which stands for becoming Financially Independent so we can Retire Early. For many FIRE folks, the goal is to retire ASAP.
The big difference between FIRE and FREE are the sort of goals we might have.
While those pursuing FIRE sacrifice in the present for the sake of an early retirement, those pursuing FREE may be more interested in gradually transforming their lives in a positive direction, starting as soon as possible.
FREE is more about living in the present, instead of living for the future. FREE folks may focus on finding good work, rather than no work. They may prioritize having more free time and self-determination right now and forever after, rather than sacrificing their free time now for the hope of having more free time later. They may want to find rewarding, meaningful ways to contribute to their communities that feel good, rather than just “retiring early.” They may seek the challenge and growth of doing something constructive to make a better world, rather than joining the leisure class in permanent vacation status, while living off corporate profits.
Beyond the goals, becoming FREE is a more personalized and flexible pattern-based process of gradual life transformation, when compared to FIRE, which is like a plan based on the 3 main steps: Reduce costs, Save, Invest.
But as with FIRE, we could still say there are a few main steps to FREE:
- Reduce our costs of living as much as possible while also raising our quality of life.
- Grow our “Transformation Funds.”
- Invest in creating joyful, highly fulfilling “right livelihood” and “hammock income” (income you can make while spending a lot of time in the hammock) from spending our time doing the things we most love to do.
- Invest in regenerative and transformative assets (assets that are good for the world AND appreciate in time making us wealthier) until our financial situation is regenerative, highly resilient, flexible, and we feel fairly resilient.
- Keep investing our time, energy, and resources in things that transform our lives and communities for the better.
But beyond those main steps, FREE is more like an individual recipe you cook up for yourself. Your own recipe may omit some ingredients, or use them in different amounts, but here are some common ingredients:
- Compared to FIRE’s philosophy of deferred satisfaction for future retirement, a FREE plan has to put the emphasis on the present and the path, and raising our quality of life. It’s about being more FREE now!
- FREE prioritizes developing Right Livelihood, rather than joining corporate tyranny for an early retirement.
- FREE might prioritize stacked, personalized income streams and regenerative enterprises over corporate salaries.
- The ability to take space from work when opportunities arise, rather than slugging it out for the end game.
- Having a life and work plan where we’re open to opportunities that arise, rather than being locked into a high paying job for early retirement.
- Being debt free, or only using debt to invest in our FREEdom.
- Creating a holistically supportive environment, community, and landscape that makes us feel wealthy now.
- Investing in “regenerative assets,” and more importantly, what we’ll call “transformative assets.”
- Reducing the harm of our traditional investments, rather than just investing in corporate supervillains.
- Learning valuable DIY skills to become a producer rather than a consumer.
- Community organizing, so that we build resilient villages of mutual aid and support.
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