Privilege and the Pursuit of Financial Independence

I’ve noticed a serious lack of privilege awareness in certain financial independence groups and I feel like it’s a very important topic to address.

For those of us pursuing FI through a socially conscious lens, we have to admit and own the fact that FI is a very individualized pursuit that is rooted in privilege. For many of us, our motive is to secure our independence from a system that is not built for people like us. Especially if you have a chronic illness or disability, like myself. But what about the people who are still stuck in systems of economic oppression? The ones without the privilege or ability to stockpile cash, start a second “second job” or side hustle because of any number of valid reasons, all of which fundamentally come down to a simple lack of access to resources.

Privilege is living in the desert and having water because you grew up near an oasis.

Entitlement is pointing in a vague direction and telling someone who’s dehydrated, “Water’s over there. I had to find it myself, and so can you! Chin up!”

Social responsibility is dismantling the dams that divert the water away from everyone else.

For instance, I am a white trans woman who grew up in a “traditional” middle-class home. My dad has a Bachelor’s degree in physics, and my mom has a Master’s degree in education and they both run a business together now. Because of that, I grew up going to private schools with educated parents to turn to for homework assistance. I grew up during the 90s with a PC in the home when they were still moderately expensive for the average person. Because of my early exposure to all of these factors, I was able to start a career in IT with relative ease.

Some of my LGBT peers – and especially those of color – did not grow up with those same privileges. Black trans women are being murdered at higher rates than any other LGBT group. Some of my peers were teased relentlessly and couldn’t focus on academics because they were trying to survive. Maybe they struggled in school because there wasn’t anyone around to ask, or their family couldn’t afford a tutor to help. Maybe they weren’t even aware of programs or options that could have helped them study.

The second person may eventually pursue FI, but in my case it was considerably easier for me to get started on my financial journey. Someone like myself who has the ability to pursue FI already has more of an advantage than someone who is scraping by to make rent and pay for their child’s tutor.

Now, I’m not saying we as individuals are personally responsible to pay for someone else’s tutor. But I do want to challenge you, as travellers on the road to FI, to consider creating a plan for leveraging your privilege to help lift up others to have the same access to resources as everyone else. Whether that’s advocating for social change, volunteering or donating money.

How do you plan on using your own privilege & financial independence to address economic inequality?