Do you constantly come up with witty one-liners? Do you dream of the days of Mad Men-style advertising? If you’ve got some branding chops or just come up with imaginative copy, there are lots of opportunities to make money online through company naming and slogan contests. If you think you have a knack for names check out the Squadhelp platform where you can earn a little extra money online by naming brands, services, products, company slogans and even help out on the logo design front if you've got the chops.
For example, as we were tackling our debts, Joshua sold his oversized house and moved into a tiny apartment. Ryan sold his fancy new car and purchased a decade-old vehicle without a monthly payment. We both jettisoned our cable subscriptions, satellite radio, and other superfluous bills that saved us hundreds of dollars each month. We also did “strange” things like deliver pizzas, work overtime, and find other ways to supplement our income in the short-term so we could pay off our debts faster. Plus, we sold hundreds of items—electronics, furniture, clothes, DVDs, books, collectibles, tools, yard equipment—that weren’t essential, and we used that money to further pay down our debts. Basically, anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor found it’s way to eBay. Now everything we own serves a purpose or brings us joy, and we don’t miss any of the trinkets of yesteryear.
18. CraigsList – Some things don’t ship very well. Other things may make you feel uncomfortable to sell to someone across the country. Anytime you’re selling a large item or something you just don’t want to ship, Craigslist is a great place to go. It’s simple to list your item (again, take good pictures!). If you don’t like the idea of putting your phone number out there, the interested individual can send you a message to your inbox without even getting your email address.

This is what I what I hear. Sell all your stuff, except for a tent, and move to the woods so you will never have to pay rent or utilities again. Joking aside, I actually come across a blog that promoted dumpster diving for food. No thank you! Realistically, most of us will not want to do the things required to retire at 30, 40 or 50. In fact, many people who are reading this likely are not saving enough to maintain their current standard of living during their golden years, if they retired at the age of 70. It pains me to report that about 21% of people have zero, zilch, nada saved for retirement, according to the Northwestern Mutual's 2018 Planning & Progress Study.
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.

While we all need to make money to live—and there’s certainly nothing wrong with earning a great salary—taking control of your financial life involves much more than adjusting your income upward. It involves making repeated good decisions with the resources you have, changing your financial habits, and living deliberately. None of which is inherently easy—especially under the tyranny of today’s instant-gratification culture—but fortunately, regaining control of your finances is simple.

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Great article but #8 is a little light on sourcing and selling ideas for physical products: If you have unwanted clothing and/or broken/used electronics and accessories, eBay is still the top marketplace to turn that into cash. You can sell new/used electronics, toys, and books on Amazon for top dollar. If you’re crafty (get ideas from most-pinned holiday craft photos on Pinterest), you can sell on Etsy.com. Sellers on each platform can get started on a shoestring. Good luck!
I would suggest a different, commonly used, approach to calculating withdrawals with the 4% rule (I believed you’ve blogged about this in the past). What is not so often explain is that in order to achieve yearly withdrawals of 3%-4% to live off of, you need to obtain investment returns upwards of 5%-8% to account for inflation, taxes and other costs.
Great goals! It’s nice to see your journey play out. Since you are now talking about Thailand in your early retirement plan I thought I would point you to someone very interesting. When you have a minute, google “Paul Terhorst.” Since you are traveling in FI circles, you’ve probably already come across his name and read his book “Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35.” In case you haven’t, he and his wife retired at the age of 35 back in the 80’s with about $500k. They have been perpetual travelers ever since – spending significant amounts of time in Thailand, Argentina and other parts of the globe. He would be a wonderful person to feature on your next podcast if you can get him. I consider him to be one of the grandfathers of the FIRE movement.
I find it easy just to figure out what lifestyle you want, what it costs, and then make that your monthly nut. We relocated to a low cost-of-living midwest community, with excellent schools, and a medium-sized city within a 30-minute drive. My military retirement covers about half of our nut and we’re making up quite a bit more than the other half with work / contracts we’ve landed. We will save the remainder, pay off our house so that reduces our nut even further, then start jamming enough money into passive-income generating investments so that we can quit working entirely if we want, though work right now is interesting enough and is on terms that we set, so I’m not in a hurry to quit working anyway. As always, Sam, a good piece that I enjoyed reading…
These figures are partially due to a highly progressive tax code that was implemented in the mid 2000’s that really went after income levels above these thresholds. Further, I carefully observed my happiness level from making much less to making much more. Any dollar earned above $250,000 – $300,000 didn’t make a lick of difference. In fact, I often noticed a decline in happiness due to the increased stress from work.

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Having no debt during retirement is an absolute must for me but I still wouldn’t be able to deal with budget FI. Having ~$40,000 a year to pay for health insurance, property/car insurance, gas, food, utilities, internet, cellphone, etc. doesn’t leave much for fun stuff. I look at FI as the ultimate goal. Goals are supposed to be the best situation I can strive for based on my personal wants. Baseline FI would allow me to pay all the bills AND have fun. Whereas budget FI is allowing just enough to cover expenses.
“There’s a huge element of privilege to being able to do this,” said Liz Thames, author of the forthcoming book, Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living. “For many people, asking these questions is outside of the realm of their day to day life. We have a real problem with income gap and people who do not make a living wage. So I want to make sure that we recognize that the ability to put distance between your income and your spending is often a privilege.” 

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Assuming you are doing pretty well and are happy with your current standard of living, what would you need to maintain your standard of living in retirement? Knowing you are on track to accumulate a nest egg to support that lifestyle is a big win. Gold medals go to those who have accumulated enough assets, or passive income streams, to be in a position to retire well.

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.
There is another re-org at work. Rumour has it that I am affected it. If I have to quit because I don’t like my new boss then my pension would be 39K at age 55 w/o any retiree medical coverage. Since my wife was laid off in 2016 with a severance, I am not eligible for a severance because of company policy that they don’t laid off both spouses. Since I am so close, Wifey wants me to work until 55 and I agree. Since life always throws a curve ball, I rather be more financially secure.

By paying myself first I was able to accomplish two goals – being able to invest and then spend less overall since there was less money in my account after the month was over. I made sure that savings were definitely happening, and I had peace of mind that money was actually being saved. The great thing is, once you get this started with the right funds, you then have it automatically taken out, which is even less work for you to manage.
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To escape the spending trap, you need to understand that income is not long-term wealth. What is wealth? Income is obviously a component of wealth, but wealth can have varying definitions. Many people see wealth as their total net worth at any given time. This can be paralleled to the assessment of an individual’s balance sheet. Wealth can be referred to as the part of your balance sheet that is considered equity. Your ​assets minus liabilities. The wealth you have after liquidating.

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The music industry might not be as strong as it was in the 80s, but there are still plenty of ways to make money online as a musician. Sites like SoundBetter let you sell your services as a songwriter, producer, or session musician to thousands of customers a month. While Musicbed, Music Vine, Marmoset, and SongFreedom are perfect for licensing your music to TV shows, movies, and web series.
If you live in an area where Uber or Lyft operate, why not become a driver? If you're looking to make some short-term cash, you can definitely rake it in by working for one of these popular car-hire apps. As long as your vehicle fits within the specifications of their program, and you have a clean license, you could do this on the side, especially if you're in a crunch for cash.
No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you'll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you'll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter. 

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To me, financial independence is being able to live how I want without worrying (too much) about money. It isn’t just about meeting X times my annual expenses and riding off into the FI sunset. Things always come up. A new roof, new septic system, etc. Also, I want my kids to go to whatever college they want and not be burdened with student loans. I want them to follow their dream careers, not be cajoled into a career because of the earnings potential. While I have a plan to retire early, I’m already struggling with the question “will that figure be enough?” If I’m being honest with myself, I won’t be able to fully retire and be completely happy and mindfully secure until I reach Blockbuster FI.

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Investing is arguably the easiest way to make passive income.  The problem is most investments sound good in theory but don’t work out so well in practice.  And if you don’t have much experience or access to capital, let alone the time to work it all out, it can seem more or less impossible.  However, there is one smart way to invest that just might work.  Continue reading >

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- Limited discussion until the end of the book (p. 290) about Sequence of Return Risk. This is something few people understand and it is flat out dangerous to lead someone to potentially believe that they can retire decades earlier than "standard/normal retirement age" with significantly less money than they would supposedly otherwise need to accumulate by age 65, immediately starting withdrawing from these funds, and that their money will likely double, triple, or quadruple by the time they're much older. Yes, this is possible IF someone can remain flexible (on taking withdrawals from their assets, on generating income in "retirement"), IF someone has alternate income sources, IF market conditions are generally favorable during at least the first decade of "retirement," etc., but there is a major risk here as well. The author does mention these items and does provide a few cautionary words, but I do not think this was stressed enough for the average reader to truly understand the complete impact/considerations. I feel like most people will think, "oh, awesome, I can retire in my 30s with $1.25M, starting taking withdrawals right away, never run out of money, and my portfolio will be worth multiples of the $1.25M in my later years." More time should be spent discussing sequence of return risk.

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I did read the Harry Browne book you suggested. Took some time to finish. Very interesting ideas, though several of the concepts were a bit much for me. Though from the author’s comments to the newer edition, he has changed some of his ideas as well – such as his ideas on marriage. Anyway, it certainly made me think and stretch my perceptions. Any new podcasts in the works?

Taxes should be negligible at the low income levels quoted in the article, assuming the income is from qualified dividends and/or long-term capital gains. There will definitely be some unplanned expenses that come up though so I should maybe bump up my “Misc.” category budget a bit more. I plan on using other passive income streams to cover my discretionary spending and hopefully that side income can also be used to cover some of the bigger unplanned expenses, if necessary.


No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you'll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you'll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter. 
Just because you have money does not mean you have financial freedom. In my book, It’s Rising Time, I talk about how people like Ed McMahon from The Tonight Show and Nicole Murphy, the ex-wife of actor Eddie Murphy, had millions of dollars and lost it all. Nicole Murphy spent her $15-million divorce settlement in less than four years. And toward the end of his life, Ed McMahon faced foreclosure on his Beverly Hills home and owed $747,000 in credit-card debt.
To escape the spending trap, you need to understand that income is not long-term wealth. What is wealth? Income is obviously a component of wealth, but wealth can have varying definitions. Many people see wealth as their total net worth at any given time. This can be paralleled to the assessment of an individual’s balance sheet. Wealth can be referred to as the part of your balance sheet that is considered equity. Your ​assets minus liabilities. The wealth you have after liquidating.

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I love the Pyramid. I have this discussion with my wife all the time. While it’s certainly possible to live a lower middle class lifestyle, we don’t do so now so it’s not really our retirement goal either. My goal is to get to baseline FI before losing a regular income and hopefully have hobby income and investments take me to Blockbuster (remember them?) FI later on.
To graduate into the temporary stage of financial freedom, you must spend less money than you earn and create a pool of savings. Otherwise, you will be forced to continue working indefinitely because your lifestyle depends on your employment income. As you begin to save a portion of your income, you might invest your savings in a diversified investment portfolio to produce a regular stream of income. Or, you might start a passion business on the side, creating another stream of income.
I share this with to let you know how much your expertise and your creating this information means to me. I will now put this link to your site on the Inspire-EDNF (Ehlers Danlos National Foundation) site to help so many others like me. Living with this condition, I can become a hopeless mess. Today, THANKS to you, I can begin planning how to contribute not only to my family and savings but also to causes very close to my heart.

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Commentator Larry Kudlow pointed out one of the great truths years ago when he said that profits are nothing more than margins times revenue. The profoundness of that statement is sometimes lost by its simplicity. The only way you can have more money left over at the end of the month is to either increase revenue (your paycheck, business sales, billable hours, or whatever it is that provides funds to cover your bills) or decrease costs. That's it. Write it down. Frame it. It's that remarkable. Your choices are to increase revenue, cut costs, or both.
Then once you’ve got your domain name and hosting sorted out, it’s time to pick a CMS, or Content Management System, that will let you update pages, build your blog and integrate with all the other services you need. It’s hard to go wrong with WordPress—the CMS powering close to a quarter of the internet. Keep in mind that eventually as you start growing traffic to your blog, you'll be wise to invest in a managed WordPress hosting plan from a company with great service like Kinsta, where all of the settings are custom-tailored and optimized to work particularly well with WordPress-powered websites.

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No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you'll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you'll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter. 
Hey, great to hear from you again, Jeff. I definitely agree some of the concepts in the Harry Browne book were a bit much but the book as a whole changed my mindset quite a bit. As someone who is pursuing early financial independence, I was already challenging the norms relating to work/career/money/etc. but after reading the book, I now find myself challenging everything. I don’t just do something because I’m told to anymore or because that’s the way it’s always been done. I definitely agree with you when you said it made you think and stretch your perceptions.
The book’s ideas about using your 9-to-5 as a launch pad are good. He recommends maximizing all the benefits you can get from your job, which will definitely help you save money. Also, use the day job to diversify skills, which makes it easier to side hustle. Take advantage of those conferences your manager send you to, so you can network and learn new things. He advises understanding what your actual hourly rate is, so when you’re making purchases you can think how much work you have to do to pay it off. Or how it will slow down reaching financial freedom. Invest early and often!
To do so, donate your most precious asset: your time. Bring your family to a local soup kitchen, foodbank, or homeless shelter. Tutor less-privileged children in your city. Help the elderly with groceries or in-home care. Work on low-income houses with Habitat for Humanity. There are more resources than ever to help you contribute beyond yourself in a meaningful way; just do an Internet search for volunteer opportunities in your area.
Hi Sam, interesting post as always. I’m always very curious about how you arrive at your estimates. It would be great if you could show us the math! (actually I’m very curious about this in your 401k value post) Anyway, in this post you mention: “need between $800,000 – $1,600,000 – to replicate 40,000 a year in passive income” This is a bit bigger than the standard 4% approach. I can see that you are cautious, I’m just wondering about how I could replicate some of the math too.

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

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You might call it the time-money paradox. Most Americans trade the majority of their available time for a paycheck, and then spend the majority of each paycheck on depreciating material possessions. As the spending snowballs, many individuals desire a larger paycheck, which requires even longer hours and more responsibilities at work, leaving even less time to enjoy the income or possessions. It’s a vicious cycle that often continues in perpetuity until retirement or death.

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I was fortunate enough to have two friends who I’ve known for quite some time who are financially free and have been since their mid-twenties. I gravitated towards them and learned from them how they make income besides running their business and where they put their money to work. We still talk about investment opportunities, real estate, and various ways to make money.
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