4 Barriers to Financial Independence

Today’s post tackles the 4 barriers to Financial Independence, otherwise knowns as FI.

For anyone unfamiliar, FI is where your assets will cover your expenses for the rest of your life, providing an individual with more freedom to pursue different career paths, pursue passion projects, or simply enjoy their life without the fear or stress of a dried up bank account.

Much of today’s post draws inspiration from The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks. I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone who feels stuck in their current routine and looking to go to the next level. I had a coaching call last week where the book led to some significant breakthroughs, so I’m sharing below the same pieces of information I shared over the phone.

Enjoy the topic and let me know in the comments below if you’ve experienced any of these barriers on your FI journey.

4 Barriers to Financial Independence

In short, there are 4 barriers to financial independence:

  • Not Being Smart Enough

For anyone familiar with Distilled Dollar, you already know what I’m going to say next.

You don’t need a high IQ to excel at money, you simply need to avoid very stupid mistakes.

  • Pursuing FI will go against my family values and upset their expectations of my lifestyle.

If you, like me, grew up without millionaire parents, then chances are you weren’t exposed to outstanding money habits as a kid.

When we step back, we realize taking radical control of our financial lives is part of the current money revolution. I wrote a short piece on Huff Post on this same topic. Money is no longer being seen as taboo, but rather a tool to gain experiences, skills, and stability in our lives and within our communities.

Pursuing FI goes against the grain.

It creates friction.

Move forward with what you value and remind yourself: Personal Finance is Sexy, despite what parents or friends might say.

  • Having all this financial success will create a larger burden.

Have you ever heard this quote?

“The enemy of the great is the good.”

In other words, sometimes it’s easier to be average, or merely good, because it’s easier to fit in.

If you’ve ever hidden your talent or been overly modest about your achievements, then you know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve been in a money conversation and bit your tongue, when you know you had a useful piece of information, then you, like myself, have experienced this barrier.

Simple advice I’ve seen that works is remind ourselves, we are free to liberate ourselves from the opinions of others.

Easier said than done of course, but then if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be a common barrier.

  • All this money for me is too much and would better serve others I know.

Money corrupts, and having too much money will make me a bad person…or so I’ve heard.

Absolute nonsense.

Yet, we live within a culture that often views money as evil, or at least, the root of evil.

Related to blogging, I felt making 6-figures in one quarter, was wrong at first. Only after revisiting Gay Hendrick’s book did I begin to accept this larger responsibility in a positive, healthy way.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Many people shy away from pursuing Financial Independence altogether, despite a deep rooted desire to get started. I answered this question from a reader on our latest YouTube video we posted on Sunday:

My wife’s video editing skills are showcased as she got the the latest video down to 60 seconds, so let us know what ya think in the comments or leave us a question for an upcoming video!

Each video answers one reader question we received – so we’re always looking for more questions on money, investing, FIRE, or any topic you can think of related to distilling down personal finance topics.


Which barrier is holding you back (or previously held you back) from pursuing FI in a meaningful way?

For my wife and I, it took us three years of failing to double our savings rate, until we finally overcame our barriers. 2016 was the year we woke up and started to give a damn, which is of course my 1st strategy from our 17 strategies to save $50,000.

Being aware of a barrier is often the first step to overcoming it.

If you enjoyed this post, leave a comment below to the question I asked above — which barrier is holding you back (or held you back) from pursuing FI in a meaningful way?


P.S. Today’s post was inspired after a coaching call I had last week. Despite having success on a recent product launch, this individual held themselves back from enjoying the benefits of their financial success and began to feel guilty for having the extra money. They felt lucky and undeserving of the fruits of their labor. I shared my takeaways from The Big Leap and they found it extremely helpful, so I wanted to share the same insights I shared with them over the phone. For a copy of the book, check out this Amazon link..

6 comments… add one
  • Financial Shaper Jan 29, 2018, 7:50 am

    Hi Matt
    Very good read. While the math is quite simple when it comes to pursuing FI, there are several psychological and social factors holding us back.
    I wish I had begun to invest in quality stocks or ETFs much much earlier. I knew the success business models of Mac Donald’s, PepsiCo etc., but it did not come to my mind to participate in their success.
    For almost a decade I had the weird idea, that investing was only for rich people and/or extreme risk takers.
    Good bless Warren Buffet and his annual letters to shareholders I startet reading 10 years ago. It changed my (financial) life to the better.
    Take care and all the best.

    • Distilled Dollar Jan 29, 2018, 2:03 pm

      Warren’s shareholder letters are gold! So glad to see you’ve read them as well. For a diligent person looking to get started learning about money – those letters are one of the best resources to get started…and all for free online. 🙂 Frugal & effective – just like Warren would want.

      Well said on the math to FI being easy, but the other factors providing the real obstacles. Stepping up and getting outside our comfort zone is difficult, but luckily there are sites such as this one devoted to going against the grain, and pursuing FI in a meaningful way.

  • [HCF] Jan 29, 2018, 8:35 am

    Good post, Matt. This one resonates with me the most: “The enemy of the great is the good.” just from a different point of view. When you aren’t in big debt, your finances are on track and you are relatively satisfied with your life it is easy to just go with the flow and don’t try to achieve more. I see as a huge barrier in my life, but I am working on it.

    I like the video series, please keep sharing them 😉

    • Distilled Dollar Jan 29, 2018, 2:13 pm

      Glad to see you are enjoying the videos! My wife will be glad to hear her video editing skills are being appreciated. 🙂

      Similar to you, once you’ve got a comfortable job it can be easy to float in the flow and not shift out of our comfort zone. Thanks for the comment all the way from the heart of Europe!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Jan 29, 2018, 3:40 pm

    You know, as far as the family judgment goes, I think people are touchy about FIRE because your alternative lifestyle seems like a judgment against theirs. For example, when I told a family member we’re paying off student loans this year (woohoo!), she got mad. I mean, irate. I didn’t even bring up the loans – she did!

    Remember that you have to run your own race. If that means putting on your blinders and not worrying about other people, do that. Everyone will always have something to say about your lifestyle.

    • Distilled Dollar Jan 29, 2018, 4:01 pm

      Agreed! Although, some folks don’t like putting on blinders cause they still know the judgment is there and they feel guilty, or bad about saving money, building wealth, and pursuing FI. This was the goal of the article, to discuss these major hurdles and how they keep popping up and preventing less brave folks from taking that leap on their own.

      If you’re able to ignore it, that’s great, but I think the more general solution (after reading the book) is to transcend the disagreement/barriers and see the benefits when that happens. Especially when it comes to close friends and family, it can be especially tough to ignore their opinions. It isn’t about judging others or ignoring the judgement of others, but rather living our lives with less fear, less guilt and less negative emotions acting as anchors to our decisions.

Leave a Comment

View the Best Finance Blogs