The mental attitude to save for financial freedom

If you want to reach and enjoy financial freedom, I think you really have to confront yourself with the following aspects of it.
When striving for financial freedom you will have nothing to show for it. You might save a lot of money that could otherwise buy you fancy things. But investing in stocks or other investments will not be something you can show off with and outwardly they will not increase your social status. Buying fancy clothes that always look shiny and new will most likely also not be an option.

Going against social norms might be a big challenge of early retirement.

So you will be faced with the situation that you have a large sum of money, but it will never be transformed into something physical that you can show your friends or that you can personally use. The investments in stocks will only look like they are money, because your portfolio will constantly show the price for which they can be sold. To make it easier you should look at it this way: You buy the stocks once and never expect to see that money again. You will live of the interest-gains and dividend payments. Think about the money as gone, just like you would pay someone to cook a meal for you, which buys you free time form cooking. But with stocks you buy general free time in the future when you draw from your portfolio and dividends.

Whenever you put a month worth of your expenses into savings, think more about buying a month of free time than the sum of money and what else it could buy. And if you invest those savings think of the regular passive income it will provide.

So while you are in the process of saving for early retirement or financial freedom, you are basically working more than you momentarily get back. You pay your future self. And be assured that your future self will be very thankful for your past self to have put in the effort. It will be thankful for the security and freedom you have allowed your future self to live in. I hope that future generations can say the same about our current society at large. But with the upcoming climate crisis I see it as unlikely. Still this thought of paying your future self first can be a great source of motivation. At least it is for me.

On another level, saving for the future, creates a need for efficient production. Think about it in absolute terms. What is actually happening when you save and invest a surplus? You are working today, not only for your current needs, but also for your future needs. This can only be accomplished by wide-spread automatization, or financially independent people will always rely on the full-time work of others. Therefore it is wise to invest in the companies that provide access to autonomous production. As you cannot literally produce everything you need for your future today, you will always depend on systems that continue to produce the products. The next level is that those systems become autonomous in reproducing and maintaining themselves. If this is a necessary next step we cannot know, as there will probably always be people available who are willing to work in highly skilled and creative jobs to develop new machines and products.

Motivation on your way to financial freedom will not come from consumerism and all the products you can buy. It will instead come from a developing sense of security and the knowledge that you buy freedom with every increase of your savings. If you live in a modern society you are likely to be dependent in many areas on the monetary system and industrial products. Therefore I suspect that you harbor a certain sense of anxiety around your financial situation, wondering what would happen if you lose your streams of income. This is a constant source of stress that can be lessened with financial freedom. In that case you are no longer only trading time and work for money but you will also have money (mainly machines) work for you. This alone could increase your perceived quality of life, reducing one of life’s worries. Even though this is also a form of push-motivation, it is still a comfortable place to strive for.

The financial freedom you are striving for on the other hand is great pull-motivation. Envision your work-less future as vividly as you can:
  •           Think about what you would do when you have 8 more hours each day to yourself
  •           Plan out things and activities you would like to do more of
  •           Take more time for every-day activities
  •           Meet with family and friends on a more regular basis
  •           Keep your house and immediate environment clean
  •           Build healthy routines around physical activity and move daily
  •           Cook great, healthy meals enjoying the health benefits of eating without stress – try out new recipes
  •          Care for animals, take the neighbors dogs out, offer your help to your community
  •           Find out ways in which you can serve other with your talents
  •           Make music, sing and dance more often or start doing it

These will be valuable sources of motivation at times when you doubt that this path is worth the sacrifices. But to be honest, in my own experience, it can just be as rewarding to not consume as it can be to give in to temptations and not think about how much money you are spending. And not only so, but for me, as an analytical type of person, who likes to plan for the future this lifestyle is even more rewarding, because it gives me a higher goal which makes my actions more meaningful.