Financial independence is a spectrum, and our goal is to achieve abundance. Yet early retirement is not our plan: FI is only the start of something grand. We want to go beyond beyond independence.
We structure our household in a way that parallels businesses. For instance, we see financial independence as raising capital for our household business to be resilient. Most importantly, we came up with a purpose for our household business to work towards.
Our household's mission is to make the world a better place for us having lived in it.
My role as Executive and Domme is all about fulfilling that mission, relying on the support of my household. There's a lot of ways we want to concretely help, but before we can give back to society we need to secure our own resilience first.
My chief duty right now is therefore to see that we successfully raise enough capital for our household to become self-sufficient (financially independent). Then it's my duty to see that we successfully transition onto our next stage of the business life cycle, where we begin to deliver on our mission.
Before I get into that, let's cover some of the basics behind stages of wealth and phases of business.
The Stages of Financial Independence
To begin with, read this incredibly valuable Reddit post:
Loosely summarising, there are seven stages on the continuum of finances:
Dependence, solvency, stability, agency, basic security, financial independence, and abundance.
The first three stages are about surviving, and the last four are about thriving.
Solvency is determined when your income is greater than your expenses. Stability comes when you have savings. Agency comes when you eliminate debt and can influence your life.
Basic security is when your passive income can afford your basic living necessities. Financial independence is when your passive income can afford your current lifestyle. Abundance is when you have more money than you need.
My dearheart and I have achieved agency, which means that we have a semblance of control over our lives. We can choose when and where we work, though we do still need to work for a living. It's my current goal to move us into financial independence, which will free us up to focus on reaching abundance and achieving our goals.
Business Phases Within Our Executive Household
The usual stages of business look something like "launch, growth, maturity, decline." Or they might look like "idea, start-up, growth, maturity, expansion, exit."
However these stages of the business life cycle do not directly map onto our household business. Instead I find it helpful to loosely adapt the stages into the following:
The Seed Stage is when you are first developing your plans and defining your values. For me this was during my college years, when I first met my dearheart and we talked over what was important for each of us to achieve in our lifetime.
It need not always be early in your life though – some people take their time deciding on their path through life, and sometimes you may start anew. For instance if you find that your original goal was ashes in your mouth, you may want to start over and find a new goal more worthy of yourself.
Next comes the Launch Stage and Accumulation Phase, where you put the plan into action and likely begin accumulating wealth. This began with my first job, and this phase shall continue until we reach financial independence. This stage is also subject to continual refining as we validate our goals and adapt to life's changes.
It's worth mentioning that accumulating money is only one component of this stage. You should also be developing the skills necessary to achieve your goals, since money is not a cure-all panacea. Achieving independence is mostly about money, but also about not needing to rely on others to do your basic tasks.
Next comes the Operating Phase. This is the core of my life's eventual work, where we spend our time and money trying to accomplish our goal of effectively helping others.
Whereas the launch stage was all about working to secure a living, this operating stage is about working for a cause. It will take all my skills developed on the road to financial independence, and likely more picked up on the spot.
Then comes Maturity, when we hand off the reins to someone else and focus instead on retirement. Only time will tell what this will look like – perhaps leaving businesses and philanthropic organisations in the capable hands of directors whilst we work around the farm?
It's always a scary thing to hand off continuity and control of your projects to others, and it takes immense trust. At some point though, you need to prove that your projects are self-sufficient and won't crumble the instant they're out of your control. That's what maturity is all about: not needing the intensive care that start-ups need, and being able to run smoothly whilst staying on track.
Dreams for the Operating Stage
After achieving financial independence, our first order of business is to replenish our war chest with cash. We will need it to leverage our way into abundance. Passive investments are great for achieving financial independence, but to go beyond it is well worth it to take an active investment approach.
Establishing a business is one such active investment. What's great is that if you control a business, you can dictate how resilient it needs to be. Whereas if you only invest in the stock market, you're subject to the greed of profit-driven shareholders driving businesses to overextend themselves.
Obviously from the rest of my articles, you can correctly infer that I'm endlessly fascinated by the business world. However I have a problem: I don't agree with the traditional capitalistic structures that most businesses adopt.
I dislike outside investors being majority shareholders, and I especially don't like the financial elite who climb to the top via a mountain of capital they loan out. I prefer business entities that treat workers and clients/customers with more ethics.
Cooperatively structured businesses are an intriguing lure for me therefore. They meet a lot of my ethically-minded business goals, and the ideals of solidarity are a refreshing form of aid in a sometimes bleak world.
Thus one of my goals is to establish a worker cooperative.
I'd love to see the U.S. adopt more cooperatives, and if I can use my talents to lead the way, then that's a worthy way to spend my life's limited time. I'd rather empower friends and business partners than toil turning my efforts into profits that feed an already wealthy investor.
Another goal of mine is to establish a self-sufficient estate through farming and other ventures. This is a dream I share with many in my generation, as we all hope to stake out our polyamorous communes to support our friends and families.
This dream in particular is what inspired me to arrange my relationship as that of an executive household: a functional estate is a business. I watched my mother start down that path shortly before her demise, and I miss our old ranch life. I can't help but wonder what it would have blossomed into, had she lived.
There were many great parts to life on the ranch, and one of my favourites was having the space to host friends for a month at a time. As I'm a major homebody, having friends at home is an obvious solution to the quandary of needing to socialise.
Another aspect of ranch life is that I love working on projects for fun, and an estate is one endless bag of projects. Tracing water lines and figuring out which controllers map to which lines? Been there, done that. Constructing a solar array? One of the coolest introductions to construction ever! Pressing grapes? Why not build your own press?
Yet another goal for our operating phase is charitable work to help out my fellow queers. I intentionally keep this goal loose, because I don't know what the future needs of the community will be. I just know that I can serve better when the time comes.
In fact, I don't really know what form all these dreams will take, as part of the journey is determining what works and what is infeasible.
In the words of my parents: "Plans change, but planning is essential."
That's why we dream: because we need to start somewhere.