The value of free before and after F.I.

Before Financial Independence, free was a side hustle for me. I always worked on increasing my income by asking for raises every year, but I wasn’t committed to taking the extra time from my life to work another job. So free was the way I ensured the money I made, stayed in my pocket. I prided myself on my resourcefulness, I felt clever for they many ways I made do. It was like a secret weapon, when others were buying new clothes; I was at garage sales getting a bargain. I’ve only been F.I. for 3 months, but my perspective on free is not as comfortable as it was when I was struggling to get here.

Today I went to get free firewood. This firewood was open to anyone and there was a lot of it. I can afford my own firewood, but since free is built into my side hustle DNA, I just had to go. Once there, I wondered, was I taking wood from people who might really need it? But I argued with myself, there is enough wood for many people, those who hustle, get it and it’s environmental because the wood will go do the dump if not claimed (mill ends). Free required 2 and ½ hours of my time to load the wood and then stack it. However it was a good 2 ½ hour workout. Back and forth I argued with myself, should I take free firewood? (I did.)

I do not consider myself rich because I don’t have millions in the bank, but I do consider myself lucky, because I have more than most and the freedom to live my life the way I want. But with this feeling of wealth, I am acutely aware of those around me who have less. I just don’t feel as clever with my free side hustle as I used to.

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