Another reason to be financially independent


Working in the high tech field, I've met and worked with a number of people that I consider workaholics, who do not have any work life balance. Part of my job responsibility requires me to travel and have face-to-face meetings with customers. Through these meetings, I have met a number of people in my field of work and connected with them on a more personal level during dinner or after a few drinks. It's always interesting that personal stories begin to come out when alcohol is involved and you really begin to know the person on a personal level rather than purely business interaction. One thing that always catches me by surprise is when people start telling me that they are not living with their families due to their work. Here are some examples of that I've encountered:

Worker #1
I met worker #1 on a business trip to Japan. After a few drinks over dinner he mentioned that he dearly misses his family. He has a couple of kids less than 5 years old. His kids and wife live in Kyoto permanently while he works in Tokyo. Kyoto is about 3.5 hours from Tokyo with bullet train. Worker #1 typically works about 10-12 hours a day and visits his family once a month. He has been doing this traveling arrangement for the past 2 years and he believes he will be doing it for more years to come as he climbs up the corporate ladder within his company. His family has no plans of moving to Tokyo because Kyoto is his wife's hometown. When I asked why he doesn't just look for a job in Kyoto he said that he couldn't find a similar job in Kyoto...

Worker #2
Worker #2 works in New York and his family lives in Toronto. The only reason behind this family separation arrangement is because of visa issues. Worker #2 is not American so he's being sponsored by his company to work in the USA. Unfortunately, his wife and son were not part of the sponsorship in the original offer and he has been trying to get them added to the sponsorship for the last 3 years. Worker #2 tries to drive up to Toronto every couple of weeks to spend time with his family but admits it's hard to be living apart from his family.

Worker #3
Worker #3 works for a giant tech company. He's from Europe and is pretty high up on the corporate ladder. Recently the company had a re-structure and he was told to re-locate to California for minimum 2 years to look after part of the company division. Because his kids are in high school and university, his kids and wife decided to stay in Europe. His wife will be visiting him in California regularly but he probably will only see his kids every half year or so. His family is visiting him for 3 weeks in September and he's ecstatic to see them as he hasn't seen them for 4 months already. Unfortunately he's scheduled to fly over the US for a number of important business meetings during those 3 weeks. He doesn't want to leave his family in California while they're visiting so he's trying to rearrange these business meetings.

Worker #4
Worker #4 used to work in California while his family lived in Vancouver, Canada. He would fly back to Vancouver on the weekend to spend time with his family. He would then take early Monday morning flight to California to start his work week. He spent close to 5 years doing such travel arrangement during the tech boom. When he worked in California, he missed a lot of upbringing of his kids as they were quite young at that time. Although he did spend the weekend with his family, it was just not the same as spending time with them on a day-to-day basis. He's really glad that he now works in the same city as where his family resides now.

I have no doubt that living apart from your family is hard to deal with. When I heard these stories, part of me always wondered what made these people accept such arrangements. Why do these people let work dictate their lives? Is it because they do not want to lose their current jobs and feel comfortable in their current jobs, hence for accepting such living & traveling arrangement? Does the thought of looking for a new job cause anxiety? Are they doing this arrangement because their jobs pay well and they cannot afford to lose their jobs?

How does this relates to being financially independent at all? To me, financial independence is about bringing freedom and options in our lives. If work was to ask me to relocate and that Mrs. T and Baby T could not come with me, being financially independent means I will be empowered to say no. I can say no because I have options. I know that we will be fine financially and we can do whatever we want. We are not limited to accepting the relocation request/demand because we needed the money from my job to pay for our expenses. Having the freedom and options to determine what we want is so powerful, it enables us to determine when, where, why, and how we want to do with our life. Of course I can always say no even when we're not financially free, but that does come at a cost. Turning down relocation may mean I may lose my job and as a result we may need to tighten our belts when it comes to finances. I might be also forced to find another job in a short period of time to bring in income to our household. Having pondered for a bit on this potential situation, I'd say that whether we're financially independent or not, I would never accept such work relocation offer, knowing that I would then need to leave Mrs. T and Baby T behind and live by myself for a period of time. Living in different cities as my family is never an option for me.

Being financially independent has a lot to offer and it always bring a smile to my face whenever I think about it and knowing that we're one step closer to this goal of ours every day by investing in dividend growth stocks and receiving dividend income on a monthly basis. When it comes to work, being financially independent means that work can no longer dictate what my life is going to be like. Rather, I get to dictate what I want to do with my life. Shouldn't this be something that we should all strive for? Why are some people always so worried about their job situation? Why do some people let work run their lives? Shouldn't it be other way around? We should not be defined on what we do for work. Isn't it funny that when you meet someone for the first time, one of the first few questions seems to always be "what do you do for work?" If you're a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer, you automatically get a certain type of treatment; if you're a janitor, a truck driver, or a gardener, you get a different type of treatment. Does this make any sense?

All the examples above are men who decided to relocate for work. Would women do the same thing, leaving their kids and husband behind? When this situation happens to a man, people would say that he is dedicated to his work; when this situation applies to a woman, people would say that she is selfish and doesn't think about her family. Why is it much more widely accepted for men to leave their families behind for work but not as accepted for women to do the same? Talk about equality!

When it comes to decisions in life, there are always options whether we're financially independent or not. Relax, there are always options. The options are always unlimited, as long as we're open to them. Too often we think there are no options because we force ourselves out of the options and we're not open to them, we simply don't see them. We need to open ourselves to options and stop seeing only the limitations. When we do that we may end up with an option that is completely different than our original preference. We might actually end up doing something we really love instead of just doing a job for the money...

And that's what makes life so interesting. 🙂

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  • Reply
    July 23, 2015 at 10:42 am

    It must be really hard for the workers mentioned that they have to live away from the family. I completely agree that achieving financial freedom gives us the right to decide whatever we want. Hopefully we can get there soon and not let others dictate how/where to live.


    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Hi R2R,

      I think it's incredibly hard to live away from the family. If you're single and don't have any family ties, maybe that's easier, but certainly not when you have a wife and kids.

  • Reply
    Redeemed Finance
    July 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Id 100% say it's tunnel vision. Somewhere along the way that worker prioritized work+money over the people he loves. Sometimes hard, like really really hard choices have to be made. If someone ever said I couldn't see my wife and kids because of a work arrangement... 6 months max and then out the door, and I don't have a wife or kids yet.
    Some people just use work as the excuse but maybe they never really 100% chose family in the first place. (And that's okay as long as people accept it and realize they like their job/money more than their family.)

    To the people in those spots I wish them courage, it's a tough spot to be in.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Hi Rich,

      Definitely agree this is an example of tunnel vision. Perhaps these people simply saw the dollar amount and not realizing what kind of family setback and suffering they'll go through. If these people do not have family as the first priority then I guess it makes sense to leave their families behind and work. I hope I'd never have to be in a situation where I have to pick work vs. family.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2015 at 2:50 pm


    Inspirational post.

    I couldn't agree more with what you said; the more I really think about what I am after in life I realize that it has nothing to do with wealth or fame or recognition and everything to do with control over how I lead my life. Choices, options, autonomy, are factors that motivate me.

    I've had a bit of a revelation over the past month as I've realize that financial freedom/semi-retirement may very well be possible for me within the next few years (I'm thinking by the end of 2020) so long as I continue working at this thing called investing/personal finance.

    There's so much more to life than trying to climb someone else's (corporate) ladder....

    Thank you for writing this,
    - Ryan from GRB

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Hi Ryan,

      Choices, options, autonomy are great motivation factors. Achieving financial freedom by end of 2020 would be a great accomplishment. Why climb someone else's corporate ladder when you can climb your own ladder? Isn't that better to do?

  • Reply
    Jason @ Islands of Investing
    July 23, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I don't know how people live with those arrangements, unless they absolutely have no choice whatsoever. I wonder if they just aren't that clear on what they really value, and find it the 'easier' option to just do what their employers tell them? Maybe the money is really that important to them in the short term, but it just doesn't seem like the right way to live. I think it would take a lot more courage to say no and find another way, if that time with family was more important.

    Definitely highlights the power of being financially independent, and what it could do for your life and choices!

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Hi Jason,

      I think there are always choice. I think these people made the choices because they just find it easier to follow the norm and do what work wants them to do. That's not how we should live though, we should have the choices to decide what we want to do in life, rather than having work or someone else dictating what we should do with our lives.

  • Reply
    Dividend Hustler
    July 24, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Thanks for sharing Tawcan. Those stories are hard to listen to. Damn. That's a tough spot to put themselves in. Talk about being flexible. I'm flexible but NOT THAT FLEXIBLE in living away from my family like that. I wouldn't do it even if I could. If I was told to do it, I wouldn't and stand my ground. Time goes so fast and our family needs maintenance. We gotta be there for our family. Prevention is key and so I hope we don't ever have to make that difficult decisions in relocating without our families.
    Let's continue to keep hustling and saving up and build our passive income stream bud. Each day, it's a blessing. Take care Tawcan.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Hi Dividend Hustler,

      Totally agree with you. Time goes so fast and next thing you know your little one grows up and don't even know who you are. That's why I'm so glad that we're working our ways to achieve financial independence.

  • Reply
    Mrs. Crackin' the Whip
    July 24, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Options, yes! I think we are so habitual that we get stuck in a rut and don't see the options sometimes but they are there! My favorite personal philosophy. We get to choose.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:52 am

      It's always good to be able to generate more life option. My way is through dividend growth investing. 🙂

  • Reply
    Dividend Legion
    July 24, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Hey Tawcan!

    Very interesting article, and something that I think about quite often. Many people I work with have had to live abroad for extended periods of time, barely seeng their families. The majority of them have got divorced as a result of this. They sound like the 4 workers you've detailed above, putting their work first, and fearing that they may lose their jobs if they don't comply.

    Even before I started my path towards financial independence, I already knew that I would never let my work dicitate my life, or make me live somewhere I didn't want to. That's just not what life is about, in my opinion.

    Dividend Legion

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:53 am

      Hi Dividend Legion,

      You have to wonder if money is worth it when compared to the suffering and divorces. I'd say they're not worth it. Work should only be part of your life, not the highest priority in your life.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    July 24, 2015 at 11:56 am

    Wow, I don't think I could do it. I wouldn't be able to just see my family once a month or even less. Of course, if the circumstances were dire and I was choosing between not being able to feed my family or the relocation, obviously I would do it. Life is complicated though and while it's true that there are always options, there are always pros and cons to each and you have to do that balancing act. I think that early FI/retirement would be much more possible if we move to a lower cost of living area...but that would mean leaving family and is an option, but not necessarily one that is easy to choose.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Right if the circumstances were dire I'd do it, but I'd definitely explore other options too. Life is too short and complicated to have to live far away from your family.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    It's all about having clarity on what your primary purpose in life is. There is no wrong answer. But when making decisions, you have to know what it is you want and know that there are consequences for Y if you do X.

    If yachting is your primary purpose in life, great, go do it to your heart's contempt. But don't come crying to the world that you can't spend quality time with your family and/or have a career on Wall Street.

    You have to make life revolve around your primary purpose in life, not the other way around. Clarity on your purpose makes focused decisions easier.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Hi Steve,

      Right, having clarity on your priorities/purposes in life is very important. I view these people as making the wrong choice, but they probably think they made the right choice.

  • Reply
    What I’m Reading | Adam
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  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 9:41 am

    An excellent read Tawcan, thanks. Those men have their priorities wrong!

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:55 am

      Hi weenie,

      I fully agree. Family should come first.

  • Reply
    FI Fighter
    July 25, 2015 at 10:14 am

    That must be tough, and I've seen that plenty of times myself in the high-tech workplace. Many tech workers slave away for the company year in and year out and sacrifice many aspects of their own personal lives...

    I don't think I could do it myself, which is why I've worked so hard to try and become financially independent.

    Turning down a wonderful, high-paying job might be tough, but I can't imagine it being that difficult if money wasn't that important of an issue. Family should always come first as life is too short. With your great progress towards early FI, I'm hopeful that such a dilemma will never be an issue for you.


    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Hi FI Fighter,

      That's definitely something very common in high tech. Working hard is one thing, working hard and ignoring your family life is something else. Family should always come first as we cannot buy time and life is too short to not cherish precious moments.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 9:59 pm

    Thanks Tawcan for the good read.
    Being in Alberta I am accustomed to tens of thousands of workers who head up north to work in the oil sands for a week or ten days, then board a plane and come home for the same amount of time. Its gruelling, but, in most cases your tied into your salary. I have been working shift work for 25 years and it is gruelling and you miss out on alot of family functions. However, now being so close to retirement, I can look forward to the hard work of saving and investing that will pay me dividends so I can retire and leave that lifestyle behind me.

    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Hi NRG,

      The only difference in oil sand sector and my examples is that workers in oil sand sector knows that work is going to be away from the family when they signed up. These examples they didn't sign up to be relocated when they started working (ok maybe example #1 is an exception).

      When it comes down to it, it's about having a balance and setting up your own priorities.

  • Reply
    No More Waffles
    July 26, 2015 at 3:39 am


    Wow, these are some extreme cases of people that don't really have a work/life balance. Even though I don't really have a family of my own, I can't imagine having children and not seeing them for four months because I work on the other side of the planet.

    All the more reason for us to make financial independence work!


    • Reply
      July 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Hi NMW,

      Definitely more reason for us to make financial independence work. I'm so glad that we are on the path to FI.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Dividend Gremlin
    July 28, 2015 at 6:59 am


    I totally agree. FI is the freedom to say no in many cases. I would also never move, I'd just double down to find something new. One of my brothers had a similar thing going on for a little while, his fiancee lived in Los Angeles and he was in New York, so he'd fly out every other weekend to see her. Just nuts I tell you, but after they got married at least they decided to live in the same place. Still, to miss out that much on family life is terrible. Here's to never going down that road.


    • Reply
      July 30, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Hi Gremlin,

      Living apart is tough. Must have been hard for your brother to do something simliar before getting married.

  • Reply
    Fervent Finance
    July 28, 2015 at 9:32 am

    No offense to those people (too each his own) but those stories just sound like they suck! I had a parent that worked strange shifts when i was growing up and I didn't like it at all. I actually plan on moving out of the city in the next year or so to be closer to friends and family, and have more space to entertain.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Hi FF,

      I suppose we all have our own reasons to do things in our lives. I'm sure these people had their reasons too. However I do agree that these situations suck and I wouldn't want to be in this situation myself.

  • Reply
    Even Steven
    July 28, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I like that you can look through the fog of individuals missing their family and/or living in different locations for work and the goal of climbing the corporate ladder and making more cheddar (just wanted to use cheddar and it felt good) to realize that FI and financial security is the light at the end of the tunnel for you. Cheers to financial freedom!

    • Reply
      July 30, 2015 at 8:32 am

      Haha cheddar. Perhaps we just need to realize that making more cheddar isn't the most important thing in life.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    I don't know whether their choices is wrong or right. Nobody would know for sure. My Dad was in the military. In fact, my whole extended family, all the men would join the war from 1954-1975. Either you volunteer or you'd get drafted anyway. Who would want to be on the front line? Who would want to die or lose limbs or get injured? Desperate time calls for desperate measures - everybody make their choices.

    You'd think it only happen to the older generation? No, it happens around me too. Some of my classmate didn't have the grades to get scholarship, and their parents couldn't afford for them to go to college, so they join the military hoping the government will pay for their college education after 4 years.

    Most people think they can do it for "short term", the definition of "short" is different for everyone. I do have compassion for them, such sacrifice to put food on the table. Such strong mind and will to get through hardship for better life.

    • Reply
      July 30, 2015 at 8:33 am

      Hi vivianne,

      From my point of view I think their choices are wrong, but it's easy to judge when we're not in their shoes. I'm sure they have their reasons for living away from their family. You're right, "short term" definition can be different for everyone.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Respect to them for being able to cope with staying away from their family. Not sure I'd choose money over family

    • Reply
      July 30, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Hi dividendsfordummies,

      Agreed, I wouldn't choose money over family either.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm


    I live a way from my kids 24/7 , I only see them every other weekend for less then 24 hours, this is a life of a divorced dad - and it is very very HARD, no matter if i'm financial independente ot not.

  • Reply
    July 30, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    It's completely a waste of time to work so much. Unless you are the owner of your own company and hope to take a passive management approach or sell it someday, then I think it isn't worth killing yourself so others can get rich.

    A lot of bloggers in the personal finance/lifestyle space realize this. I've seen many posts in the past few months about relaxing and letting their money do the work for them. It's simple and awesome.

    Thanks for the post and have a great day,

  • Reply
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    July 31, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    I worked with several engineers that would work with me and stay at hotels all week then go back home on weekends. Often doing that arrangement for several months. One eventually quit. I had a previous boss ask if I wanted to go to California for a year. I looked at him like he was nuts. Lately I've wised up and stopped chasing the corporate ladder because I care more about my home life. I Think chasing after becoming top dog is just so expected in our culture people do it without any real thought of what they're giving up. Most people also just do what they're told without much fight.

    • Reply
      August 3, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Hi Kyle,

      Climbing the corporate ladder seems to be an endless pursuit. You'll just end up working more and more hours as you climb up the ladder. Is it worth it?

  • Reply
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