Money is an interesting thing. While it is an amazing tool to help you reach your dreams, it is also the root of suicide, homicide, divorce, and family divisions. If you want to bring out the absolute worst in people, buy them a winning lottery ticket. It turns out winning the lottery is a horrible thing for most people. Money makes us crazy.
I just got an email from work that said that one of the mid-level managers has been fired for secretly accepting a position with a rival company (while still working for our company) and channeling them all the intel from our company. It was a warning to not disclose information, and to cease all proprietary conversation with this individual. When I got this email, I felt ill. Physically. I knew this guy. I mean, I only periodically go to the office, but I’ve been to lunch with this guy, and chatted with him on several occasions. I knew about his kids. He was nice. How could a seemingly nice guy do such a horrible thing? He didn’t just decide to be evil. For one thing, he started working with a friend at the rival company. He wasn’t approached in a back alley by some strange men offering him loads of cash. He just realized he could help out a friend and get a leg up in the process. I’m going to assume it didn’t seem so bad.
Financial Independence is the goal around here. Independence means freedom. And for us, freedom does not include feelings of guilt for choices we made to get there. This is an important topic. While everyone would argue my co-worker was in the wrong, there are a lot of business transactions that are in a grey area. We don’t want any part of those either. And sometimes, in the thick of hoarding cash for financial independence, we forget about others. We’re only able to do this because we already won the birth lottery. Others aren’t so fortunate. We don’t want to make this a selfish journey either.
Since money can make us all crazy a little bit at a time, we keep several things in mind constantly along our journey to make sure our ethics in finances are not compromised:
- Stay Out of the Grey Area – In our business dealings, we never want to be in a situation where we wonder about if our behavior is ethical. Luckily, we both work for companies where we haven’t noticed any grey areas. We work with pretty great people. But we’ve heard stories from so many others about things they’ve been asked to do or witnessed happening at work they don’t know how to deal with. We hope to never find ourselves in that situation. I have no friends in rival companies. We also firmly believe that the company deserves the work we’ve promised to give them. For me especially, since I work on an hourly wage and keep track of my own hours, it would be easy to slip in some extra hours here or there or charge time doing other things. That’s not what they pay me to do. I bill only time I’m actively working. No grey area.
- Put Family First – We also don’t want to get to early retirement and wish we had spent more time with our children while they were young. This is one reason we’re taking the longer road. Mr. T’s job is great with flexibility and time off and we use every single hour of his six weeks of vacation annually. We want to do the same things we hope to do full-time in our next life, rather than wait to do any of it until then. Seven years is a long time in kid years. My 7 year old will be a snarky 14-year old by then! We want to enjoy her cute little self now!
- Give – I’m constantly trying to find ways to give and teach my kids about giving and sharing and serving. This is also a mindset. If we don’t think we can afford it now, we won’t be able to afford it later. We currently pay a 10% tithing and monthly donations to other philanthropic causes, but we are seeking to make this more of a lifestyle. We want to serve more. And include our children. And there are awesome people out there doing amazing things with their money. Mr. Firestation is currently working his last year before early retirement as his “one more year fund” where he plans to save his entire salary for charity. Think about how awesome that would be and what a way to kick start a lifestyle of giving knowing you have that much money to figure out how to use best for the benefit of others!
What things am I missing? How do you make sure your journey to financial independence is an ethical one?