This definitely embodies the saying, “There’s levels to this $h*t.” I was aiming for the middle tier of financial independence, but now I’m asking myself why not go for the top of the pyramid. Even if I don’t quite get there I will likely add a nice cushion to the baseline. My goal is to diversify my streams of passive income between market investments, rental income, and small business income. Returns from all three should make me and my future family comfortable indefinitely.

Why is financial independence important


NOTE: If you’re pursuing financial independence, you’re going to want to adjust the percentage of money you put away to savings when you implement your plan. You can choose to save around 65% like Mad Fientist suggests, or you can choose to put half your paycheck into your savings like PoF encourages. Or you could go a different route. It’s all up to you and your savings goals.
True, the world is a bit unpredictable. That said, if you’re invested in a very broad index (like VTI, VTSMX/VTSAX), you are as protected as possible. If those indexes collapse/devalue, there are far greater issues going on than money. You would be fighting to eat and survive at that point, and money would be worthless. So, other than the world ending as we know it, you can be FI and have 99.9% assurance you are financially safe.

financial freedom and happiness


Of course, it’s also important to note that money isn’t the thing that makes you truly rich — it’s the freedom that comes from pursuing whatever brings you joy and provides you will fulfillment that makes you rich. The whole point of financial freedom is that once you become financially free, you have more choices of how to live your life and spend your days. 

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As someone who has lived in Mexico City for almost 17 years, I’d personally avoid living in San Miguel de Allende after retirement. While the downtown is pretty, there is a lot of crime which goes unreported and of course it is full of tourists and expats (which to me is a big negative). Yes, I have been there. The area is very dry so it is mostly a good place to grow nopales (prickly pear cactus and not much else) so early retirees who want to grow their own veg would be have to do quite a lot of watering (hope to find a lot in town that isn’t too expensive. Most city lots have tiny or no gardens/yards in Mexico)

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Business owners represent a disproportionately large segment of the millionaire population. It's hard to believe, but there's a good chance that the biggest hardware store owner or plumber in your town has a net worth many times that of the highest-paid doctor. Part of the reason is a concept we've discussed called capitalized earnings. Another reason is one Dr. Stanley mentioned in his book. Doctors are pressured to buy status symbols to convince their patients they are successful. Not the plumber. He can put more money into his retirement accounts. Over decades, the result is millions in additional wealth for the guy who unclogged toilets instead of arteries. That's not something you learn about in school.
It doesn’t pay much, but if you’re a healthy person and want to make a bit of extra money online, the AchieveMint app will reward you for doing things like walking, tracking your food, or taking health surveys. AchieveMint works by connecting to fitness apps you might already be using like Fitbit, RunKeeper, Healthkit, and MyFitnessPal and then giving you points for certain actions. For every 10,000 points, you earn $10 with no limit on your earnings.
“We don’t promote a message of extreme frugality, he said. “Instead our message is based on ‘value’ being the guiding light behind purchasing decisions. We want to cut out the excess in our lives because it enables our monthly expenses to be lower and thus speeds the path to FI. In summary, it comes down to value, and I think it is a useful exercise to go through all the lines items in your budget and ask “Is this adding value to my life?”
Financial freedom isn’t easy, but you knew that before reading this essay. The exciting part about these five principles is that they apply to anyone, anywhere on the socioeconomic ladder. Whether you earn minimum wage or six-figures, whether you are single or have half-a-dozen children, we have seen these principles work for thousands of individuals—because it’s not about our income level; it’s about the decisions we make with the resources we have.
We set up a business and personal budget for ourselves and include savings goals. Then to keep ourselves accountable we review our budget monthly. This keeps us on track to reaching our financial goals. I'd recommend setting up a system that works best for you and your family. Just writing down your goals will help you start the process. But, reviewing them daily and having honest conversations about where you are financially will determine your success or failure in becoming financially free.
As for Sam’s levels, this is the reason I started to pursue more sources of passive income. I wanted to at least partially break the chain of being tied totally to a market return. I am nowhere near Sam’s league in terms of assets or passive income but it now represents a decent amount of our total income. I worry less about market returns and more about the viability of the income stream persisting. I use 3 fintech platforms for real estate which represents about 12% of my overall portfolio, a closed end fund designed for income, a high quality MLP and at this time a boatload of cash since I think bonds represent a bad value.
You are suggesting that because the risk free rate of return is 2.5% anybody who is not obtaining that return is not invested “properly”. However, risk is a real thing and it affects investment returns, and everybody invests with different objectives in mind. I would argue that anybody pursuing financial independence that is 100% invested in ten year bonds is not properly invested because the return from that portfolio will likely only keep up with inflation (if that). Whereas somebody who is pursuing financial independence would be better served in a balanced portfolio including stocks, bonds and maybe other asset classes. This portfolio is more than likely to return less than 2.5% in any given year, but is a more “proper” asset allocation to meet his objectives than is investing 100% of the portfolio in 10 year bonds.
Early hominids seem to have started with incipient ideas of wealth,[citation needed] similar to that of the great apes. But as tools, clothing, and other mobile infrastructural capital became important to survival (especially in hostile biomes), ideas such as the inheritance of wealth, political positions, leadership, and ability to control group movements (to perhaps reinforce such power) emerged. Neandertal societies had pooled funerary rites and cave painting which implies at least a notion of shared assets that could be spent for social purposes, or preserved for social purposes. Wealth may have been collective.

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Passive income differs from earned income and portfolio income in a variety of ways. Passive income is generally defined as a stream of income earned with little effort, and it is referred to as progressive passive income when there is little effort needed from the individual receiving the passive income in order to grow the stream of income. Examples of passive income include rental income and any business activities in which the earner does not materially participate during the year.
Sam you did it again, you can tell a world class post when it generates so many comments that it takes five minutes to scroll to the bottom of them! I’m trying to wrap my head around how I could ever spend $300k. I could afford to spend that much, even more, if I wanted to now but the fact is I can only find about $100k worth of stuff to spend money on annually. I have no debt, very profitable side gigs and a big portfolio so the money is there but I just tap out of things to spend on right about $100k. I’ve done this for over two years now and my spending is very consistent. And if another several millions of dollars dropped out of the sky into my lap I still would buy not a thing extra. So I like your concept but I kind of think that once you feel completely free to buy anything or go anywhere or do anything you want to do then you are at your own version of Blockbuster FI. I love visiting DC, New York and San Fran but there simply is no reason I’ll ever want or need to fund an existence in one of those cities. I’m sitting on 800 acres of wooded wetlands with mink, deer, otters and foxes so why would I ever leave paradise? Maybe we need a flyover state FI category?
Since you’re not taking on debt, you’ll also need a savings plan for big purchases that aren’t emergencies. Let’s take summer vacation for example. It’s simple! Create a line item in your monthly budget and divide the total amount by the months you have to save. You’re not living in debt anymore, and that means you can enjoy your vacation instead of having a credit card bill follow you home. 

Build your audience on a course community: If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.
The middle class encompasses individuals whose financial situation falls in between those of the upper and lower classes. Generally, the population of America associates themselves as middle class. Lifestyle is a means for which individuals or families decide what to consume with their money and their way of living. The middle class places a greater emphasis on income: unlike the upper class, the middle class measures success and potential in the form of money rather than influence and power. The middle class views wealth as something for emergencies and it is seen as more of a cushion. This class comprises people that were raised with families that typically owned their own home, planned ahead and stressed the importance of education and achievement. They earn a significant amount of income and also have significant amounts of consumption. However, there is very limited savings (deferred consumption) or investments, besides retirement pensions and home ownership. They have been socialized to accumulate wealth through structured, institutionalized arrangements. Without this set structure, asset accumulation would likely not occur.[36]
Since I am so close, I won’t ask for more money or be aggressive because I don’t to jeopardize my retirement at 55. Losing 31K less pension plus 8K for medical is a total loss of 39K passive income. It takes $975,000 at 4% to generate 39K. With a better pension of 70K instead of 39K means that both pensions of 132K (70K+52K) will more than cover expenses. Then we can stop buying munis and that 2M of principle can be used to buy a decent place in Hawaii if we choose to. Wife said NO to buying so I have to work on her.
While I was nervous and scrambling to figure out what to do for full-time work, I began looking into digital marketing (I already had a blog about music that got me into SEO, analytics, etc.) and how I could improve my overall career worth. I wanted to find a job in something that I was really starting to enjoy as well as improve my future salary options. Here are the best skills to learn for the future.

Budget FI sounds kind of like an oxymoron, but I get what you’re saying. I’d be happy to be there. We have a long way to go but I like how you placed parameters around the pyramid. There should be a projected lifestyle in mind already when one decides to retire. And the projection should be based on the amount in your accounts and the ways you’d like or need to spend it.
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Take surveys. You can earn $50 to $100 per month in cash and products by taking online surveys. Find survey sites by searching for “paid survey sites” online. Sign up for several survey sites to increase your chances of being selected for higher-paying surveys. Register with an email address, and check your email often so you can respond quickly to survey offers.

financial freedom with real estate investing


The media often portrays financial freedom as an insurmountable task that requires decades of saving and investing. That’s sometimes true, but it’s beneficial to focus on each victory along the way. For example, most people could pay off all non-mortgage debt, and accumulate enough savings to find a new career that is enjoyable. Those are huge accomplishments on the journey to financial freedom that should be celebrated.
First off, I’m a blogger so it seems wrong not to mention it, but more importantly, it’s a legitimate way to make money. It’s quite possibly the least straight-forward way on this list, but it’s very doable and it’s also quite possibly the funnest way on this list. I love blogging and I know hundreds of bloggers who feel the same. So let’s talk about making money blogging and what it really means.
Teamwork. Everyone in your household—even your children—must have a say in the written budget. This is the only way to get every person’s buy-in. Working together means taking from one category to fund another (e.g., extracting money from, say, your clothing budget to fund your entertainment budget) until each person is on the same page. Once everybody is on board—once everyone is committed to financial freedom—it is much easier to gain the traction you need.
Good article Sam on fine-tuning the FI tribe. It maybe the dream among FI folks to be at “blockbuster” level – also called FatFIRE in Reddit subs- but it’s actually not necessary to kill your self in the rat race for it if one is worried. Expenses play a huge part, of which, just housing alone is a big driver in FIRE comfort scale. Saving even only $500 a month in housing costs (either downsize or move to a LCOL place) can move many people into a very comfortable FIRE position. From leanFIRE, they can move to baseline FIRE quite easily after they save this much in housing. I know folks who have done this in Asia, and no, you don’t need to move to crazy place like Pyongyang to be a king. Nice locales in Malaysia, Thailand, Ecuador, India and even Eastern Europe are all available if people are open to it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though.
The figures are very optimistic! Even though I technically could “retire” with only $200K saved up, I’m going to continue working until 2015 and should have quite a bit more than that, when all’s said and done. I just wanted to compute the minimum amount it would take to cover my essential expenses to see how little I would actually need to survive. You’re definitely right that it’s a great feeling seeing how attainable FI really is!
Thank for the book recommendation. I’ve not read that book yet, but I’ll check it out. My wife’s family is from the state of Colima, a small state on the Pacific coast. We probably will spend most of our time there since many friends and family are in that area. My wife still has an apartment in Mexico City so I could see us spending some time there as well. It can be a fascinating place, though it can also be overwhelming and traffic can be a nightmare. The metro is pretty good and very cheap. Though it is super crowded during rush hour. Last trip we waited on the platform over an hour waiting for the crowds to die down to just very full levels. Another town I really like is San Miguel de Allende, as well as the nearby town of Guanajuato. Both are beautiful colonial towns in the highlands between Mexico City and Guadalajara. San Miguel has a good size expat community, is famous as an artist colony, and has a reputation as a magical place. I’m looking forward to discovering more places in Mexico when we have the time to make some extended trips and to explore. You might want to check out the Kaderli’s website for their reports of their travels in Mexico and Central America – retireearlylifestyle.com. Thank you for your reply and your interest in our plans.
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I think it is hard for the majority of those who are seeking/building towards financial independence, to essentially turn the switch off. What I mean by this is that it is hard for them to ever feel “financially secure” because their whole life’s financial habits have been based on constantly earning/saving/growing their money. Based off of those deep ingrained habits, it is extremely difficult for that individual to suddenly change course and tell themselves they no longer need to keep growing their money.

How can I get money to cope financially


I hold my hand up and say that I’m one of the odd ones who would be content with enough. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with those striving for more than enough. For me, I’m not convinced it is worth my time and effort, nor will it give me much more satisfaction or happiness in life. The term ‘enough’ is interesting in itself. It’s all relative. One person’s enough is another person’s ‘plenty’. Even at Budget FI, without a car finance or mortgage, I consider that to be a very healthy financial position to be in. I might change my mind in 7 years time when I reach my number, but that’s okay. Everyone’s idea of FI will be different and we all reserve the right to adapt our plans to suit our changing needs.


It can take time to build up your personal freelance business. Yet, there is more demand than ever for freelancers. So, if you want to kick start making money online through freelancing you can join one of the top freelance networks, such as Flexjobs, SolidGigs, Contena, Upwork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour. Sign up, build your profile, upload some samples of your work and start making extra money by doing small freelance jobs.
The figures are very optimistic! Even though I technically could “retire” with only $200K saved up, I’m going to continue working until 2015 and should have quite a bit more than that, when all’s said and done. I just wanted to compute the minimum amount it would take to cover my essential expenses to see how little I would actually need to survive. You’re definitely right that it’s a great feeling seeing how attainable FI really is!

Is a car an asset


When a taxpayer records a loss on a passive activity, only passive activity profits can have their deductions offset instead of the income as a whole. It would be considered prudent for a person to ensure all the passive activities were classified that way so they can make the most of the tax deduction. These deductions are allocated for the next tax year and are applied in a reasonable manner that takes into account the next year's earnings or losses.

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True, the world is a bit unpredictable. That said, if you’re invested in a very broad index (like VTI, VTSMX/VTSAX), you are as protected as possible. If those indexes collapse/devalue, there are far greater issues going on than money. You would be fighting to eat and survive at that point, and money would be worthless. So, other than the world ending as we know it, you can be FI and have 99.9% assurance you are financially safe. 

financial freedom and happiness


Since you’re not taking on debt, you’ll also need a savings plan for big purchases that aren’t emergencies. Let’s take summer vacation for example. It’s simple! Create a line item in your monthly budget and divide the total amount by the months you have to save. You’re not living in debt anymore, and that means you can enjoy your vacation instead of having a credit card bill follow you home. 

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Since you’re not taking on debt, you’ll also need a savings plan for big purchases that aren’t emergencies. Let’s take summer vacation for example. It’s simple! Create a line item in your monthly budget and divide the total amount by the months you have to save. You’re not living in debt anymore, and that means you can enjoy your vacation instead of having a credit card bill follow you home.

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Hi Suba, I’m glad you brought up health insurance. I decided to leave off my explanation for why my health insurance costs will decrease after FI, in order to keep the post a bit shorter, but it is important to note why. Our plan after FI is to live for 6 months in Scotland (my wife’s home), travel around for 1-3 months in America (visiting my friends and family), and live for 3-5 months somewhere else in the world (Southeast Asia, South America, or another low-cost destination). Since we’ll be based in the UK, the majority of our year will be health insurance free (thanks to the NHS). The other six months of the year, we’ll be able to cover ourselves with a travel insurance policy. These policies can usually be purchased for £300 per year in the UK, so $50 a month seemed like a conservative estimate for half-a-year’s worth of insurance (this UK-based travel blog article discusses travel insurance costs).

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Well I do when its cold…spent 5 weeks last year visiting Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island, 2 weeks sailing in the Bahamas, a week driving the French Riviera, a week hiking the Tetons, and spent Christmas through new years in Costa Rica. Off to Florida next week, then Turks and Caicos next month…haven’t thought too much farther ahead than that. Still no better place on earth to spend summers than on a big lake in the Midwest surfing everyday, anchoring on the sandbar for some sunshine and sunset boat rides or just sitting on your dock watching perfect sunsets over the water…and $100k a year spends like $300k on the coasts. Hopefully people don’t figure it out I’d hate for it to get spoiled with the crazy crowds.

Thank you for the article, jlcollinsnh. I’ve always been a firm believer of making smart decisions in purchasing property, however, after doing further reading I am beginning to believe in renting instead of owning. The flexibility would be prized, but I believe the fixed cost is the best aspect. Planning my expenses for the future is troublesome at times, but this change would take out a large variable.
If you don’t mind doing other people’s chores, then TaskRabbit is a great option for making money online. Earn extra income by walking your neighbor’s dog or mowing Mr. Smith’s lawn. It might seem like not the most lucrative option, but the top taskers reportedly earn as much as $7000 a month, making this a full-time way to make money online for some.

Awesome article! I realized that we all need money but investing is the only way to earn money without having to do any work. Finally, I realized that this is the fundamental difference between the financially independent and those who work. While workers live off of their labor, the financially free live off of income generated passively. The passive income frees up their time to allow them to pursue more financially rewarding endeavors or to spend that time with family or whatever they find fulfilling. I realized that there is a fundamental difference in mindset between the financially independent and… Read more »
Considering that you have a finite amount of time, passive income should make up a large part of your work. If you're serious about generating any semblance of income online, then passive income should be one of your sole goals and ambitions. Why? Wouldn't you prefer to do the work one time and get paid repeatedly as opposed to relying on your time to generate that income? Invest the time at the front-end so that you can reap the benefits on the back-end. This means putting in a bit of sweat equity and not getting paid today. Rather, you'll get paid somewhere down the road. And you'll continue getting paid whether you keep building that passive income stream or you stop. 
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Domain name trading has been around for the last couple decades, and while most slam-dunk names have long been sold off, there’s still plenty of others that you can get your hands on for relatively cheap and broker as a way to make money online. Before you dive in, however, beware that some experts doubt the long-term viability of this idea for making money online. However, there’s always the chance you might just land on a lucrative domain name for a future billion-dollar company. To get you started, here are some tips from GoDaddy, arguably the world’s largest and most famous repository of domain names.
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