This one’s going to make me a little emotional. So forgive me.
I write a lot about personal freedom and redefining its meaning. I published a newsletter recently that earned me this comment.
Tim, you keep pounding on the freedom, freedom, button, but jeesssuss.. to me you’re about as free as a caged bird.. wife, kid, in-laws living with you in a house with a huge mortgage.. where’s the freedom in that??
My heart sunk.
Are we prisoners if we choose this way of life?
The untold benefits of a mortgage
A mortgage can equal financial suicide.
…if you get into too much debt.
But I chose to get a mortgage for a few different reasons. First, I was sick of dealing with landlords and real estate agents.
At any moment some random could come around and demand to inspect my toilet while my 5 month old baby tries to sleep.
It became a huge pain in the ass. My last house was falling apart because the Australian government has relaxed the laws on building quality, so now you can build any shack and call it a home.
All the repairs created constant interruptions. And certain issues were blamed on us when it just came down to sh*tty construction.
Secondly, I got a mortgage because I want to access the financial superpower that is leverage. Leverage is where you put down a 20% deposit on a home and then borrow the other 80%. As the home and land increase in value over time, the amount of money you make compounds.
If you buy a property for 20% down, with the bank financing the rest, and it goes up in value by just 10%, your profit is 50% — Seth Godin
It’s one bizarre way to fight inflation.
I’ve also invested in riskier assets like stocks and crypto. I wanted to add some diversification and get exposure to real estate.
What’s not understood by the critic of my way of life is I borrowed less than half the amount of money the bank was willing to give me.
That’s different to being up to your eyebrow hairs in debt and feeling like you’re about to drown in stress.
Thirdly, I wanted my daughter to have a home rather than continue to be part of our traveling gypsy show that moves suburbs every 1–2 years. By getting a mortgage, I was able to buy a small home that has a garden.
Instead of looking at concrete walls and peak-hour traffic she can now look at trees, roses, and grass. She has somewhere to run around and enjoy instead of being the real prisoner trapped inside, and destined to be raised by Netflix nannies.
Call me crazy but that feels like freedom.
The high-risk gamble of marriage
Yes, 50% of marriages die.
I lived the free life this critic wanted me to live. I was a single man with plenty of cash and could travel around. I got hooked on dating apps such as Tinder. I spent my lunchtimes at my bank employer swiping away.
Not many ladies swiped back. Maybe it was my dumbo ears.
After a few months I became deeply depressed. Tinder turned my love life into this robotic, futuristic dystopian world. A world where how I look and my material possessions are all I’m worth. A world where I regularly hear friends say “I can’t find anyone good to date.”
That’s because dating apps have caused us to become surface-level.
Of course if you don’t get to know anyone properly we’re all going to seem like zombies trying to get you in the sack and bang your brains out.
Being single and dealing with this issue feels like prison to me.
I’d rather be married and spend time with my wife. Sure, we’re not a perfect match in every way. Is any couple? But we do our best to bond and share each other’s interests.
Progressing one relationship instead of having a million shallow relationships feels more like freedom to me. I guess you can always avoid dating and watch p*rn (a darker form of prison).
Living with family isn’t what you think
My in-laws moved in with my wife and I.
Every expert, comedian, Hollywood movie, and internet user will proclaim this is a bad idea. In-laws are terrible and you should hate them.
My experience has been different.
Sure, they have their quirks. But It’s been fun to get to know them at a deeper level. And it’s not permanent either. A few weeks ago I helped them buy their own home.
In their culture they feel like they owe me some huge debt. I had to explain to them through my wife that they’re family and there is no debt.
They move out of our house in a few months. In the meantime, they get to spend time with our daughter and hang out with us on weekends.
They don’t speak english so I’m helping them learn. They’re teaching me some Chinese too.
There’s something about tighter family bonds that feels closer to freedom for me than a bunch of shallow relationships with relatives you only see once a year for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
The playboy life, where you send your parents to a retirement home to die while you party with ladyboys in Thailand, feels more like being trapped on a desert island while starving for meaning.
A loving family feels like freedom.
The true meaning of freedom
I can’t imagine life without my wife and kid — that would be prison.
Every day I work hard so I can finish work at a reasonable time and play with my daughter. If I had no kid and had to come home to endless re-runs of Friends and eat deep-fried chicken, I’m not sure I’d feel free.
I’d feel more like the chicken I was eating.
All it takes is enough years of no meaning and I eventually start to drink lots of alcohol again. The downfall that leads to is well-documented.
Some believe kids trap you. My kid has set me free. She’s helped me to be creative again and dare to use my imagination. She’s allowed me to be a kid again and to see adulthood for what it is.
The takeaway here is simple:
Freedom is different for everyone.
What you’ve just read is my definition of freedom. Yours may be different and that’s fine. Just don’t hate on someone else’s way of life.
Dare to explore it, because when you do, you may discover it is you that has been living like a prisoner after all.