Over the holidays, I saw the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Yes, I know how to spell happiness, but it is spelled with a “y” in the movie. The movie is based on the true life story of Chris Gardner’s rise from homelessness to owning a multi-million dollar brokerage firm. It’s an excellent message movie for all Financial Freedom seekers. I can’t recommend it high enough.
Chris’ original dream of becoming a doctor was squashed as he became an unexpected father and had to find a job to support his son and girlfriend. Except for a few, that’s the story of our lives. We all have big dreams early in life. Mine was to be an airline pilot. However, my first job out of college was that of an engineer. In 10th grade, my guidance counselor suggested that I consider engineering since I was good in math and science. It work out well for me, but pilots are often good in math also. Interestingly in the movie, Chris found himself about to squash the dream of his son to be a basketball player. Once he realized what he was saying, he made it clear to his son to not let anyone take away your dream.
Without experience, connections or a degree Gardner began applying for training programs at brokerages. That meant that he had to live on next to nothing while he learned the craft. Once we start down a certain career path, it is extremely difficult to change course. Who wants to start over? What about the cut in pay? If Corporate America gives you the boot maybe we will consider a change, but otherwise just keep plugging away. After all, we are one day closer to retirement age.
Once accepted into the training program, Gardner’s problems escalated. He was put in jail for unpaid parking tickets. His son’s mother left them. If that was not enough – unable to pay rent as well as day care and the other bills he found himself homeless. While participating in this very competitive training program, at nights he and his son bounced from shelters and soup lines; even one night sleeping in a locked public restroom at a subway station. This makes my problems look very trivial.
It’s Not All About Money
One day while fighting his daily battles to make rent, Gardner saw a well-dressed man getting out of a red Ferrari. He asked the man two questions: “What do you do?” And how do you do it?” The movie didn’t make this clear, but the following really grabbed while reading about Gardner. He didn’t want the car, but what it represented: “freedom, escape, options.” To me that is the epitome of Financial Freedom. The money can be good – if you are lucky great, but it is the “freedom, escape, options” that enticed me to walk away from Corporate America and to pursue the world of Financial Freedom.
Making it Happen
This time Gardner was determined not to let anyone or any circumstance take away his dream. In spite of all of his trials, upon completion of the training program he was offered full-time employment. Matter of fact, he was the only one from his class offered a job. Gardner would go on and later start his own brokerage firm. Using his same tenacity, he would grow it into a multi-million dollar entity.
One of these days, I am going to come up with a better word than Financial Freedom. It has so many different meanings, but to me it means the following:
Financial Freedom is freedom to focus on what is truly important to you and your family without having to trade time for a wage. It is enabled by a portfolio of income producing assets, managed by you, which generates sufficient income to cover your yearly expenses on an ongoing basis. It provides both time and money.
In other words it enables, the pursuit of happiness.