For the past 3 years I was afraid of something. And I’m not talking about being afraid that spiders will crawl into my mouth at night while I’m asleep (though that’s still a pretty big fear of mine).
I’m talking about a fear that was so real it affected a lot of my life choices. A fear that can be summed up by just one word…unemployment.
After I graduated university I was lucky enough to get a 4-month contract job with a great organization. To this day it was still one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had, but at the time I was more concerned with learning the ropes and getting along with my co-workers than I was with looking for my next gig. What happened next, which I’ve written about before, was 8 long months of unemployment. I was 23, had hardly any money to my name, and still lived with my parents. To say the least, I was very bored and very depressed.
Through sheer luck, perseverance, and a bit of networking, I finally landed my first permanent full-time job where I remained for 3 years. Now, 3 years may not seem like a long time to stay at a job for, but seeing as most Millennials leave their first jobs after only 2 years it felt like a pretty long time to me. That being said, the idea of leaving my job during those 3 years (especially without another one lined up), made me incredibly anxious. I still vividly remember how I felt during those 8 months of joblessness, and once I started my first real job I promised myself I would never to let that happen again.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Didn’t this girl quit that job and move from Vancouver to Toronto without any job prospects in sight?” Yes, yes I did. And you know why I finally faced my fear and took that leap of faith? Because I could afford to! I had no idea before I started this blog how money (or the lack thereof) could have such a big impact on my life choices. To me, unemployment equated living in my parents basement being incredibly depressed. To prevent that nightmare from ever happening again (no offence to my parents or their basement), I just couldn’t be unemployment again.
But after 3 years of budgeting, investing, and saving, that fear started to dissipate. It was as if the voice in my head that used to tell me “Without this job you’ll be miserable!” took a big chill pill. Around the time I started planning to leave my job last Spring, I felt less afraid of being jobless and more excited about what new opportunities lay ahead of me.
Although we are still all living in very uncertain economic times (as made obvious my Canada’s current unemployment rates), the fact that I’m prepared financially if I were to lose my job is incredibly comforting. I’m telling you, if you’re battling a mountain of debt or are having trouble sticking to your budget, just remember that the best part of financial freedom is the freedom part! Financial freedom doesn’t just mean being able to afford more things. It also means being able to afford more choices based on what you want for yourself, not based on fear.
What are your biggest fears when it comes to money? What does financial freedom mean to you?