Financial Independence

Living the FI Life: My Time Before and After FI

Where Does The Time Go
Image credit: Manning Makes Stuff

When you’re financially independent (FI) and your time is your own, that’s living the FI-Life.  Although I’m not there yet, I’m working on it and I can’t wait to get there!

Where Does The Time Go?

Yesterday, as is the case with most Mondays, I wasn’t thrilled to leave my family and head into work.  But like I do every Monday, I get up and go to work anyway, although it quickly became apparent that yesterday wasn’t like most days; something was different.

The first out-of-the-ordinary thing I noticed was that my bus was half-full (it’s usually standing room only).  Then because the freeway had such light traffic, our commute didn’t take as long as it usually does.  Finally, once I got to the office I immediately noticed how quiet it was.

The reason for all of this is the time of year.  It’s currently late December, the week of Christmas, and many of my co-workers (and apparently lots of other workers out there) are using up their PTO days and enjoying the last two weeks of the year away from the office.  The quietness in my office building this morning was a reminder that, for now, work is still mandatory for me.  Almost immediately I began feeling jealous of my co-workers’ temporary freedom from work and began to daydream about what I’d be doing with my time right now if I didn’t have to be at work.

But daydreaming rarely leads to anything other than wasted time.  So I quickly snapped out of it, threw some numbers into a spreadsheet and and cranked out this post.  Posting on the blog is a much better use of my time than daydreaming!

I wanted to see a breakdown of how I’m currently spending my time vs. what my schedule will look like once I’m financially independent and no longer have to work for a paycheck.  I gotta admit, I really like the way my post-FI pie chart looks!


If you’re like me, your time is spent all over the place.  Life can be hectic and it’s easy to feel rushed and pressed for time.  Initially my pie chart had many slices and reflected this chaos … commuting, helping kids with homework, eating, grocery shopping, blogging, etc.  It looked messy, so to keep the pie charts clean I’ve lumped everything into four main categories: Family Time, Personal Time, Sleep, and Work.

  1. Family Time is any time I spend as a parental unit to the kids.  Helping with homework, chauffeuring to and from school, packing lunches, playing with them, etc.  The pie chart in this post represents the kids being in school.  When the kids are home during the summer months this changes a bit, but not much (because I’m still at working most of the day).
  2. Personal Time is time spent either with my wife, or alone, or working on this blog.  But it’s sans kids for the most part and comes once the kids are in bed and before I’ve called it a day.
  3. Sleep are the hours when I typically zonk out.
  4. Work Time includes everything from getting ready for work, commuting to and from work, and doing my actual work-work.  Basically any second that pulls me from Family, Personal, or Sleep = work time.

I don’t think I’m missing anything here, so now that I’ve bucketed everything into these four neat categories, here’s the breakdown.


Where Does The Time Go
As you can see, exactly one half of my day is spent working.  12 hours per day, 5 days per week I trade half of my working hours for a paycheck.  Granted, it’s a nice paycheck, and my job is pretty good. All things considered I don’t have much to complain about, but I will anyway.

This is a pretty shitty deal. No matter how good my job is, it’s not nearly so grand that I’m okay with being gone from my wife and kids for half of my day.  When you add sleep into the equation and look at only my waking hours, things look even worse.

Where does the time go

When I think about and try to label myself, I imagine a caring husband and doting father.  Yet, only 21% of my time is dedicated to areas I most identify with.  That’s not how I imagined parenthood being.  When I was dating my wife, I didn’t look forward to the day when I could leave her for half of the day – just the opposite.  I married her because I wanted to spend even more time with her than I was already spending with her.

What the **** went wrong?

Look, I get it – when I go to work I am in fact providing for my wife and kids. That’s a HUGE part of being a husband and father. I get it and understand it.  But I don’t like it and if I were designing my life from scratch I sure as hell wouldn’t allocate half of it to being a wage slave.  Screw that.

But I’m not able to start over and design our life from scratch.  All I can do is make a fresh start by finding solutions to anything that I don’t like then setting out to blaze a new path.   So that’s exactly what I’m doing, because I’m not going to be spending the next 25 years doing this crap.  We’ve come up with a plan, and once we’ve met our goals and my time is my own, this is how things are going to look.


Where Does The Time Go

Now this is more like it.  This is MUCH better!  Once I’m financially independent my ‘work’ goes from occupying 50% of my time to 0% of it.

Allow me to clarify one thing regarding work.  I still plan on working on something once I’m financially independent, I’m just not sure what that’s going to be.  Maybe I’ll keep going to an office every day (hahahahaaha!), maybe I’ll become a full time blogger.  Whatever I do, I’ll be doing it because I choose to, not because I’m forced to do it in return for a paycheck.  And because I’ll be doing what I want to do with my time, rather than trading it for a paycheck, I’m defining post-FI work as “personal time.”


In my FI-Life, I’ll have an extra 4.5 hours of Family Time.  This will come during the morning hours before the kids leave for school, and in the afternoon once they return.  I’ll also pick up and extra 7 hours of personal time and even an extra half hour of sleep.

I’m trying not to daydream about what I’ll do with myself once I’ve got all that time back!  Daydreams are fine in small doses, but I’d rather focus doing small things today that will help me buy back my freedom tomorrow.  Good decisions build upon themselves and when you stick with it, the Personal Finance Multiplier Effect kicks in and you reach your goals faster than you realize.

Sick of trading your #personaltime for a #Paycheck? When your #time belongs to you, that's livin the #FiLife. #FIREMovement #FinancialIndependenceRetireEarly

Chime in!

Are you living the FI-Life?  What does your time look like today?  If you’re not happy with your current situation, what are you doing to change it?  Please leave a comment with a link back to your blog and let me know!

By Ty Roberts

Ty Roberts is the founder of Camp FIRE Finance, and a husband and father of four living in the Seattle area. He's a fan of the 4% rule, 80s movies and music, dad jokes and cast iron cooking.

22 replies on “Living the FI Life: My Time Before and After FI”

The FI life is new to us but we’ve settled into somewhat of a routine. During the mornings we work on posts and other blog-related stuff including making comments. We walk either late morning or early afternoon. Then we get cleaning and other errands done. Today was haircut, library book drop off, Walmart for gift cards, and drive up banking. Returned home and made some phone calls. I’m about to get dinner ready while Mr. Groovy is writing and then later we’re scheduled to talk to Fritz from Retirement Manifesto.

I totally get the frustration, especially about not spending time with your family. But you acknowledged a super important point which is that by working, you are providing for your family. Some men (and women) are unable to do that. Or even worse, they’re too lazy to even try to do that. You’ll be 49 when you FIRE which is pretty good in my book. In the meantime maybe you can plan some stay-cation rather than vacation time with your family?

I have yet to chart out my time. I’m afraid to do it because I spend a lot of time using technology 🙁 Hard to believe working can take up so much time!

I have to say, this post brought tears to my eyes!!! I never really sat down and figured out how many hours a week Rick is spending away from us, but it’s close to what you spend away from your family. More committed than ever to FI!!!

Wow! What an interesting way to look at your time, Ty! That really does put things into perspective. Of course, after reading, I decided to run the numbers for my husband (since he’s the main earner). After commute time and getting ready in the morning, he’s spending 39% of his time on work. It’s actually a bit less because he takes our daughter to school every morning on his way to work. I think he would still agree, it’s more time than he’d like to spend on “work”. 🙂

I second Mrs. Groovy’s suggestions for staycations. My husband is taking next week off (and he took Thanksgiving week off) and we just relax and go out to do a few random things. Sometimes we go climbing, out to eat, see movies and just hang out at home with a fire and games. Pure bliss.

I’m almost upset that I ran these numbers because thus is all I can think about now. Haha!

But tomorrow will be my last day of work this year … can’t want to hang with the fam and enjoy Christmas & the New Year. I forsee lots of movies, board games, late nights, snacks and plenty of good food!

Nice pies, Ty… a sweet complement to the GRQ PFME charts!

It’s hard to objectively look at the time issue without some amount of depression creeping into things. But time’s just one axis by which we can measure our resource allocation – energy or engagement in the things we’re doing count for a lot. So, yes, the quantum of time matters, but what we do with those hours (or minutes) I think matters at least as much. Hours of personal time zoning out in front of Apprentice reruns probably doesn’t lead to a better life like five minutes of quality interaction with the fam does. So, even if we can’t change the hours in the day, we can the day in the hours.

Nice post as always, Ty – very happy holidays to y’all.

At face value Time at work < Time away from work. But let's say I hit FI on March 14th, have a bit of pie, then slip into a Netflix binge watching coma. Is that livin' the FI Life? Probably not. You're absolutely right (again) that it's what goes into those hours that matters. So for now I'll keep repeating to myself "quality over quantity! quality over quantity!" and I'll keep saying that until I can have both: quantity and quality!

This is good motivation to keep our noses to the grindstone, but I hope you keep daydreaming too! You’ll have to plan for all the fun you’ll have in FI.

After calculating how much time I spent away from home with my previous job and realizing my wife would be a single mom is one reason I changed careers two summers ago. It means we will not be able to get Financial Independence as soon, but, I can spend time with the family on weekends and most evenings now instead of just one day a week. I like your drive and goals.

Wow, the chart blew my mind. I’ve never thought of my hours that way and the
Visual really drove it home. Unfortunately, work/sleep make up an alarming % of my time; I am not ok with that. It’s great that you are striving for a healthy balance in FI. Keep it up

Great post, Ty! It’s an interesting way to look at it. Just like you, I consider myself a family man first but I’m afraid what my pie charts will look like. Something has to change! I’m looking forward to FI and having plenty of time with my kids while they are still young and appreciate it.

Your charts are AWESOME Ty. And also made me feel a little sad because I know my situation is similar. Why or why must work take up so much of our precious time on this earth? All the more motivation to achieve FI I suppose!

Nice charts!
I would plan for a bit of work time after FI. I bet you’ll find that there are a ton of things you need to do – chores, home repair, taking kid to doctor, etc…
My waking time is probably about 30% work, 40% family, 30% personal. Something like that. 🙂

Thanks, Joe! Yeah, I fully expect to work once I’m FI, but the difference will be that I’ll be calling all the shots at that point. That’s why I’ve categorized post-FI work as “personal time.” Your allotment of time looks great – can’t wait to get there myself!

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