Most people on this path are NOT thinking about social change. They are thinking about minimizing spending, maximizing saving, optimizing everything from travel to housing to clothes. There comes a time, though, perhaps when you are close to FI, perhaps when you are asking yourself whether how you spend money supports your purpose in life (whatever that is), perhaps after you’ve been FI for 6 months and taken a bite out of the bucket list of promises you made to yourself for once you are free.
I’ve been FI for nearly 50 years. I’ve taught the 9-step program for a decade. I’m 72, a time in your life where you naturally develop a wide view on things. So I have asked myself: what could FIers work on together once we’ve put on our own oxygen mask of financial freedom. How can we free others. What do we need to do for a financially free (of fear, of want, of insecurity, of a sense of injustice) society?
Gathering during 2017 with many people on this path, I realized that 4 policies could vastly accelerate FIers race to early retirement, and could allow everyone to experience greater financial freedom:
1. Universal Healthcare (Medicare for all). So many FIers can’t retire even when they have enough money because health insurance in the US is tied to employment – unlike so many other countries in the world! FIers would have a predictable and secure monthly amount for health insurance. People trapped in jobs that are killing them could risk transitioning to work they enjoy.
2. Universal K-16 education, restoring the system of state universities that are low cost or free, so that everyone can have the economic benefit (as well as intellectual and social benefit) of college. Many other countries do this, to their benefit.
3. Universal Basic Income (Social Security for All) or providing every citizen with a set monthly allowance that can sufficiently supplement their job income or even (with health insurance and student debt off their shoulders) enable them to live frugally and do their music, art, activism, elder care, family care, travel, learning, citizenship – whatever calls them. Debate is heating up on the merits, faults and strategies for UBI, but it’s moving quickly from the margins to the mainstream of thought.
4. Universal Service. UBI kicks in after your year of national service, be it environmental, social, internships, military, education, health worker, or community development. We already have Peace Corps, Americorp, Teach for America, Church mission work, Gap years, WOOFing, and on and on. I’m thinking you can do it any time to get it started – right after high school, when you lose a job and can’t find another, right after FI to provide for extras… all the way up to when Social Security kicks in. You are also required to do a 3-month basic training which teaches “adulting” – FI thinking, financial and personal hygiene, fitness, leadership skills, responsible communication, civics.
What i love about this set is that for each one there is already demonstrations in the US, evidence of positive outcomes in other countries and programs already succeeding. There are constituencies. It’s visible. The set, together, shows a direction for restoring our democracy. Yes, these are “left leaning” but in the current political climate we need a counter-narrative! Also, there are conservative to libertarian arguments and advocate for each of these policies.
I welcome discussion of all these ideas. Join me on this next great adventure.
These are all fantastic large scale ideas. I’ve been trying to change things in a very small way at my workplace by offering my time during lunch and creating a group where people can discuss retirement and financial planning. I also want to encourage my employer to explore offering a financial wellness program. Participation in our employee sponsored retirement plans is very low.