FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE

I worked for about 10 years in the Manufacturing Industry in Mexico, and that was enough due to the poor work-life balance, 12 vacation days per year and at least 48 working hours per week, Mexico has the highest working hours in the world. 

Maquiladoras (Foreign Manufacturing Industries) are established in Mexico to take advantage of the low wages and proximity to the USA. Mexico has one of the lowest wages in Latin America. In 1999, the net wage for the average maquiladora worker was $56 USD per week, and twenty years later in 2019 the net wage is no more than $65 USD.  

In addition to the low wages and disregarded labor standards, the living and health conditions around these factories are beyond belief. Many people live in a squalid grid of dirt streets, rotting garbage, open sewers with unsafe water, overburdened or non-existent schools, violence and crime. But do not misunderstand me about maquiladoras, any other sector is about the same or worse; in 2019 the official minimum wage is less than 9 USD per day. There is tremendous inequality, Mexico is on the bottom 10 countries on wealth distribution (Gini Index 0,49; World Bank, Taking On Inequality, 2016).

When you focus on what you want, work hard and take the opportunities life offers, there is a possibility it will improve your life overall, and it did to me. I am a chemical engineer who climbed up the organizational ladder quickly, at age 29 I got my first management position. That gave me the possibility to buy a condominium by the beach and pay it off in three years, I bought in cash a nice Audi and saved a decent amount of money; I was living a pretty comfortable life. But I was unhappy, not even a $80K job a year, at age 33 could buy me happiness. However, it did buy me something – the ability to say goodbye. 

Lifestyle design is all about changing the way we live so that we can fulfill our passions and experience life now. I am striving for early retirement from not fulfilling jobs. One of the best ways to start on that path is to substantially reduce non-essential consumption to be able to effectively retire early.

I do not want to retire from work. I just want to retire from work that no longer challenged or motivated me. I still want to continue working on interesting projects and learn new things. I want to do more good in the world. I want to tackle inequality, environmental issues and the unsustainable lifestyle of most people. Thus, I have sold my car, and got rid of most of my possessions to focus on experiences and sustainable living over consumption.

If you could live on $1000 per month ($12,000 per year) and you made 6% annually from safe investments, you would only need to have $200,000 saved to retire. ($200,000 X 6 % = $12,000 per year) Alternatively, if you only have $100K saved and could make $500 per month from passive income like rental income from your condominium, or some internet business, then you could effectively retire now. There are many countries where you can live on 1000 USD a month.

I believe this kind of freedom is at the heart of what drives my generation. No, not everyone wants to get rid of his possessions or live on 1000 USD a month, but we want to be able to do what we want to do and still provide a worthwhile product or service to society. We want to have a purpose, and when we cannot get it in our current environment, we are willing to make a change.

Tremendous inequality and disparities in access to resources are factors that pose serious threats to human rights and to the world. It is obvious something needs to be done, we need to rethink how we live and what kind of planet we want to inherit to future generations.

While there is life, there is hope for a better and equal world.

Victor

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