from the world's big
Why early retirement comes with one big clause
Here's why financial independence doesn't mean free time forever.
Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer, and speaker. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018).
VICKI ROBIN: Well, 'Your Money or Your Life' has a long history. It's not just "a couple of people had a good idea and decided to be famous and write a book." Joe developed the program — Joe Dominguez, my co-author — developed the program in Your Money or Your Life in the 1960s, so that was a decade in development, and it was only for himself, only for his own early retirement. He just felt like financial service was like military service: you get through it because the real stuff of life is through the other door, the door out of wage slavery or paid employment. I met Joe after he had become financially independent. He had some savings, he explained what he had done, and it made a lot of sense to me for a very different reason from him.
For me I was a recent college graduate and I'd started on a professional track. I graduated from Brown University, I had lots of good prospects, but it just didn't make any sense to me to sell all my intelligence, time, creativity, to narrow that focus down to somebody else's agenda. I wanted to be free honestly, and well I was in my 20s—and we understand that, don't we? And so I applied his tools, and it freed me up to have a minimum income but be able to have maximum adventure. So fast forward, in the early 1980s, people began to be interested in like, why was Joe financially independent? Why was I not having to work when they had to go "back" to work? They'd meet us on their vacation and they'd go back to work. "Why do we have to go back?"
And so he started to develop a, "first I did this, then I did that, then I did that." So he developed what has become the holy writ of the nine-step program, but it was just really him describing his own process.
Over the 1980s, we produced live seminars and then a tape course so that word could get out, this approach to money.
Number one, if we define financial independence as the process of liberating your mind and liberating yourself from debt and developing savings, this – everybody needs to be on this path. It's a self-preservation path. So I'm not talking about freeing your time forever, "pulling the trigger," as they say in the FIRE movement, and getting financially independent.
As a matter of fact, that becomes a problem for a lot of people because they don't know what to do with their time. It's an identity crisis. You know, suddenly your boss or your profession or your context is not defining how you spend the hours of your day. You're free! Oh dear! Now you have to do it.
So I don't think that's the ultimate goal. As a matter of fact, I distinguish between work, job, income and identity. Those are four things that all go in the category of 'job'. So if you haven't thought about who am I, what is my work in life, apart from like, my job is what I do for money, but your work is more of a social role or a spiritual calling, you know? Your work is — everybody's work is to be a good person, boom. That's a basic assignment. We all got that one, you know, to be a moral human being. That takes work. Self-education takes work.
So I would hope that people start to think about that, that somebody who's a family man and he has a sort of pay grade job gets out of debt, realizes that money doesn't buy happiness, invests a lot in being with his grand-kids. That's somebody who is becoming financially independent, in my book. So that's one part of it, is that we have to stop thinking about some la-la land thing where we're going to get out of everything, because we don't want to! We will be working until the day we die. Granny is going to be like, you know, helping out with the grand-kids. And work is actually what we love to do. We love to belong and we love to make a contribution, and we love to be appreciated for the gifts that we bring. That is a lifelong task. So I just wanted to say that, that the financial independence path really is freeing up your life from debt and from the obsessive desire, obsessive materialism.
So there are certain things—one is, I'm not saying everybody should pull the trigger and free up their time to have an identity crisis and an existential angst about "What do I do with my time?!" Because it's a process of freeing yourself. This combination of values and dreams and dollars and cents in a very pedestrian way, and a sort of a decloaking of the dynamics of the consumer culture, so people can see that the things they think they want are very often ideas that have are planted in their heads.
We're not giving people back their lives. They read the book, they get onto this program and they just like go, "I'm taking it. I'm going to take my life back, because this game is not worth the candle. This is not equal to who I really am. This is not a noble path and I am going to change."
So, long history, but it came out of just one guy, you know. When he was 12 years old at PS 81 in New York City he had to write an essay about "What do you want to be when you're 30?" He said, "Financially independent."
- Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez coauthored Your Money or Your Life in 1992, a now-classic finance book about liberating yourself from debt, waking up to obsessive materialism, and learning to be financially self-sufficient.
- Anyone interested in becoming financially independent and retiring early needs to ask one big question first: Who are you without your job? What would you do with your life if income were not the focus?
- The biggest myth? Retiring is not the end of work; it's only the end of your job. It is not free time forever. Vicki Robin warns that people who don't know what to do with their time may be headed for an identity crisis.
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- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
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