The Four Pillars of Freedom

I can’t remember if I’ve shared this before, but one of my favorite new’ish money blogs on the scene is a site called

This guy’s always getting me to stop and think with his short and concise posts, and the infusion of data visualizations he sneaks in with every other article just sucks me in even further.

Here’s one of my favorites to give you an idea: The Early Retirement Grid

early retirement grid(Print it out and put it on your fridge! :))

At any rate, I was poking around his Twitter page earlier (@4pillarfreedom) and was reminded of his “four pillars of freedom” which his site – and name – is based on:

  1. Philosophy – identifying your “why”
  2. Psychology – reducing your spending
  3. Work Ethic – increasing income
  4. Finance – growing wealth

Pretty clear and true!

But I thought we’d break it down a bit further today or else this would be a pretty short post :)

Pillar #1: Philosophy – Identifying Your “Why”

By far my favorite of them all because it is very VERY hard to stay motivated with this stuff (or any stuff, really) when you don’t know THE POINT of why you’re doing it to begin with! Is it to feel more secure? Provide for your family? Travel more? Quit your stupid annoying job? Be the richest person on the block??? Doesn’t matter *what* your reasoning is, just so long as you know it to keep you forging ahead (although spoiler alert: you’ll never be the richest person around as it’s a never-ending pursuit!)

My personal “why” is to be able to wake up and do whatever I want without having to think about money once… Which is ironic, since you need to deal with it every single day until reaching that point :)

Pillar #2: Psychology – Reducing Your Spending

Another great pillar! And 1/2 of the overall strategy as there really is only two ways to grow your money: spend less or earn more. You’ll see opponents of both sides battling for which is the most important, but true rock stars (or should I say, Wonder Women?) nail down both sides of the equation simultaneously. I’ve only been able to do that in short spurts (I tend to veer one way more than the other at any given point in time), however like everything this is a work in progress…

Pointing back up to that chart up above though – you’ll see how drastic the time gets cut down the less and less you spend. Especially as you keep earning more over that same period of time.

Pillar #3: Work Ethic – Increasing  Your Income

The 2nd half of the financial equation! And one with unlimited potential unlike that of cutting back since there’s only so much you can do if you still want to enjoy your life. The caps are completely removed with how much you can make, though, and if you’re REALLY good at the game you’ll manage to earn more while still working the same amount of time as everyone else!

I’m not such an expert that area as yet so I can’t share any examples, haha, but I *was* good at working 20 hours a day once to help make up for it ;) My desire for freedom overrode everything else for a handful of years back then, and really jump started my finances as I started sprinkling in elements of pillar #4 below.

Pillar #4: Finance – Growing Your Wealth

The *turbocharging* part of the equation! And the most fun one as it requires a fraction of the effort involved compared to cutting back or earning more ;) This is the area where you *invest* all of that cash you’ve been saving so it can keep compounding over and over and over again – thereby speeding up the process so you can do less cutting back/earning more later!

This part’s usually the most tricky as it can be a learning curve to get into it all (do you invest it into the market? CDs? Real estate? BITCOIN???), but once you land on what makes sense and fits your personality, you can just pour it all in from there without needing to give it much additional thought.

For me, personally, you know it’s all index funds, all the time!, but many people (smart people) will diversify it up and have their money tucked away in all kinds of different areas and risk levels. (Another post I liked from Four Pillars is this one that talks about investing in general – “A Dollar That Experiences an Investment Loss is Still Worth More Than a Dollar Spent.” How true that is!!)

So there you have it – the four pillars to freedom :)

What do ya think? Missing any here? What would YOUR four (or five/six/seven) pillars look like?

Might make for a good exercise this week, particularly nailing down that first one – the “why.” Having money is nice, but the LIFE it brings you is the more important piece to the puzzle! Use that mission as your guiding light, and it’ll make all other pillars easier to accomplish as you go…

Happy Monday!

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  1. Lily | The Frugal Gene May 14, 2018 at 5:55 AM

    I know my 5th one is going to be legacy or giving something to the world/man. And 6th would be to leave life and die fulfilled. Shouldn’t be too hard! *Hold my beer*

    1. J. Money May 14, 2018 at 10:29 AM

      Haha – I do like the legacy stuff for sure. Especially with all my kids!

  2. Accidental FIRE May 14, 2018 at 6:07 AM

    Like Lily, my fifth would be a charitable or giving pillar of some sort. I hope to start a foundation one day that will live on. But like a company I have to plan that carefully to do something that will succeed.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2018 at 10:30 AM

      YES! I like!! I’ve been thinking about foundation stuff for YEARS now and haven’t quite found the right path yet myself…. but in the meantime just been doing my best to do small acts of kindness where I can :)

  3. Brent May 14, 2018 at 6:25 AM

    Why = never again be some employer’s meat sack bitch
    #5 = for who – I’ll work every day so my loved ones never have to be some employer’s bitch

    And this doesn’t mean being rich – just enough to keep the entire family off the fucking commute
    and spending their days pursuing their creative whims – when you’re creating you’re alive and vibrate – whether baking a cake, writing a post, providing a service (self employment), tying flies, *collecting coins* ;-) – doesn’t matter what as long as it’s something you have a passion for.

    But that’s just my opinion. I’ve seen Wal-Mart greeters who seem to be doing exactly what they want – simply smiling at people and wishing them a good day can be an art form. Any job could be an art form if you loved the work.

    Digression –

    1. J. Money May 14, 2018 at 10:37 AM

      Oh yeah – those greeters in their 70s and 80s are always so happy and sprightly!! I can totally see myself doing that down the line, haha… And while I’m not 100% “self employment or die” , I do agree with being passionate about what you do, whatever that is for you. Lots of people are just as happy in a 9-5 as they are self-employed :)

  4. Menard Solve May 14, 2018 at 7:13 AM

    For me it’s just three pillars. You miss one pillar and it won’t stand by itself.
    1. Be wealthy. You should strive for financial independence
    2. Be healthy. You can’t enjoy #1 if you don’t live long enough.
    3. Be spiritual. You may be as wealthy and healthy as Arnold Schwarzenegger was in his prime, but if you’re such an a-hole someone could just shoot you in the parking lot and everything will be game over.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2018 at 10:38 AM

      HAH! Good points… especially on the healthy.

  5. Jason@WinningPersonalFinance May 14, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    I think that giving can easily fit into the first pillar. If that’s your purpose, it’s your why.

    I think it’s important to point out that money is not the end goal. The life you want is. Money is just a tool to get you there.

  6. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 14, 2018 at 7:50 AM

    I rem seeing the title somewhere. Maybe the post was featured on rock star Finance.

    I think I’m pretty solid with pillars 2-4. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it every day.

    The only thing I’m not so sure about is the philosophy. I just know it’s great to be financially independent, but I don’t know for sure what I will be going all day when retired except for traveling and eating which can get tiring fast for me. But yes I’m all for FI.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2018 at 10:39 AM

      What do you do on the weekends right now? I’ve heard from early retirees it’s pretty much just like that – only compounded :)

  7. Mike @ Balanced Dividends May 14, 2018 at 8:02 AM

    Zach’s site has also been one of my favorites since I came across it last summer (although it’s been around longer).

    His graphics and data visuals are impressive. His content is well written. And he lives in Chipotle.

    Great stuff all around. – Mike

  8. Jason Vitug May 14, 2018 at 11:06 AM

    The “Why” is why all the stuff we do matters. Love that this is #1. I have seen how often this is overlooked in our quest for FI. The tunnel focus to reach financial numbers without truly understanding why that matters.

    1. J. Money May 14, 2018 at 4:41 PM


  9. Young FIRE Knight May 14, 2018 at 12:41 PM

    I’d like to think another one could be something like living life to the fullest. Gotta make sure while doing those first four that you enjoy it!

  10. Kris May 14, 2018 at 5:32 PM

    I like the four pillars and what they stand for! If you need a fifth one, I think it would be legacy. What do you want to pass on to your kids who would tell stories about you. In other words, how do you want to be remembered? I think you want to create something where everyone knows you set the standard for future generations.

  11. Bryan May 15, 2018 at 7:53 AM

    1.God. 2.Love. 3.Health. 4.Freedom.

  12. K Batt August 4, 2018 at 4:11 AM

    I loved the ‘why’ of these pillars. I thought I didn’t know mine, but as something with the over educated stomach that absorbs every molecule of stress I encounter, this article made me realize that I long to wake up every morning and take a full and complete breath that does not have my stomach wrapped in knots. The day when I can do this continuously through my day is the one where I know the freedom I have been seeking through FI has truly been realized!

    1. J. Money August 6, 2018 at 6:42 AM

      And I hope that day comes much sooner for you than later :)