You might have noticed that we have not posted in a while. Not only do we have a little daughter to keep us busy now but up here in Canada, summer has started and we are fully enjoying our free time! For now, we have made it. We are experiencing what is wealth and are truly enjoying it.
What is wealth?
For us, wealth is not calculated by the size of your yacht or the number of cars in your garage. Free time is wealth.
Being able to spend a year full-time with our daughter is wealth. Walking in the park at 1 p.m. on a Monday is wealth.
In a lot of cases, people have the resources but they do not allow themselves the luxury of free time. Our American culture highly promotes the workplace, long hours, and little vacations but even if you are earning a lot, being stuck in the rat race is just not worth it.
Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it. – Benjamin Franklin
Being able to relax and enjoy summer is our wealth. We created our own riches by allowing ourselves to enjoy some time off with our newborn, travel the world, and spend time with our family.
We are wealthy in that we have a loving family and that makes us happy. Happier than money.
We created our own wealth
In Canada, new parents get paid parental leave but not everyone allows themselves to enjoy this benefit.
Parents can share the time off or take it together. However, few are actually taking full advantage of it. Various social factors like the stigma faced by fathers at work might be keeping dads at the office but it should not be so.
Some might think they are indispensable and that their office will not function without them. Nevertheless, you should still take full benefit of time off. This goes for vacation days too. You are not that important, business will go on, enjoy the luxury of time off.
It is such a shame that in the United States, only 54% of employees use all of their paid time off in the last 12 months, according to Glass Door. The average American worker leaves almost half of there vacation days on the table and a whopping 2 out of 3 employees report working while on vacation.
You are not indispensable, unplug from work and enjoy the luxury of free time.
Typically, dads get only 6 weeks fully paid by the Canadian parental leave program. In my case, my employer offered to top-up my first 6 weeks and I then extended the governmental leave to the maximum. After the 9 months at partial coverage, we decided to extend my paternity leave a few more months at our own cost.
After the 6 weeks I get covered at 100% my salary, my income dropped but the math checks out. We will be able to cover our expenses without touching too much of our savings. Since we saved so much in the past few years and we are living a simple lifestyle, we have the flexibility to take more time off even on a lower paycheck.
That flexibility is our true wealth.
If we had a lavish lifestyle, living paycheck to paycheck, we simply could not afford to take a pay cut for an extended period.
Things are slowly getting better. In Quebec, where we live, 86 percent of recent fathers claimed or intended to claim parental-leave benefits in 2015. That is a huge jump from 28 percent in 2005. Similar results were seen in other countries when they introduced paid paternal leave such as in Sweden where fathers get 480 days of 80% paid paternity leave and Norway where they get 49 weeks fully paid paternity leave.
In the States, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, mandates a minimum of 12 weeks unpaid leave to mothers. However, the guidelines are strict and only 59% of American employees were eligible as of 2012. On the bright side, four states currently offer paid family leave: California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. California is the first state to offer six weeks of partially paid paternity leave to fathers.
It is really to the employer discretion to shape their own maternity leave policy. Alternatively, you can create your own wealth with diligent savings and flexible careers. Having a healthy emergency fund, maxed-out retirement accounts, and a flexible budget is the key to freedom.
What is Financial Freedom?
It is not the digits in your bank account that counts.
The days off are the real gold.
You might think that a raise is completely out of the question. Your employer might not even be open to the conversation but negotiating more vacation days is always an option. Allowing you more time off does not cost them anymore but increases your total compensation.
Think about it, if your employer has a budget for your position, giving you more time off will not affect the company’s budget whatsoever. You will simply do less work for the same salary and, therefore, increasing your freedom.
Don’t be the 54% who do not even use their vacation days, enjoy your freedom.
Salary is not the only raise you can ask for. When times are tough, sometimes intangibles are the best option. The best opportunity to negotiate for intangibles is once you have a job offer but it is also appropriate to bring them up when negotiating for a raise.
To help you achieve a healthy work/life balance, ask for things like:
- Flexible work hours
- Ability to work from home
- Shorter work week
- Condensed week (like four 10h days)
Feel wealthy with less
Wealth is all relative. You will never feel wealthy if you expect to have the biggest yacht or nicest house on the block. With that attitude, even if you do get the biggest yacht, you will want something else once you do. Even billionaires can feel unaccomplished. If you can find content with that you have, you can be wealthy.
He is the richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature. – Socrates
We are fortunate to live a minimalist lifestyle and live on only half our income. This allows us to take so much time off now without feeling the hit. We might not save as much as we used to but we can still live the same, simple, lifestyle we used to even on partial salaries,
Take the time to enjoy what you have, the freedom you have, and appreciate wealth.
Being wealthy is simply a state of mind. Once you feel wealthy, you are.