Find an audience for your passion or hobby and you’re all set to make money online doing something you love via a niche website. That of course, is easier said than done. Creating a profitable niche website takes time and is not intended for the faint of heart. But, if you can hurdle the steep challenges and positively answer a few key questions on whether the website business idea you’re thinking about is profitable, then you can begin building it and eventually monetize through advertising, affiliates, or other relevant products.
Next, there’s independence, which is what most people think of as FI (and what you call basic FI). Your investments can support your CURRENT lifestyle for the rest of your life — in theory. Lastly, I suggested that abundance was the level at which you can essentially do whatever you want without ever again worrying about money. Redditors would call this fatFIRE. You call it “blockbuster FI”.

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. 

In fact, the FIRE community seems to focus less on the “retire early” aspect of the movement and more on the financial independence component, “which is a powerful aspirational goal that is readily achievable if people are willing to make some small, but important, optimizations in their lives,” said Jonathan Mendonsa, co-host of the ChooseFI podcast.  

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Well said Illidi. There are more ways than ever, mostly because of the internet. I think the secret is to put out a product or service that’s unique. Not that you have to invent a whole new business, but take an existing business concept, and add something unique to it. Because you’re absolutely right, everyone is getting into the game, making it harder to succeed.

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The easiest and best way to shield your income from taxes is retirement plans. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan at work, put as much of your income into it as you can afford. At a minimum, invest up to the amount that will get you the maximum employer matching contribution. For example, if your employer offers a 50% match (3%) up to a 6% contribution by you, you should contribute at least 6% – and of course, more is always better.

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I guess I’m in the Blockbuster Category, but living in the Midwest I’d have a hard time figuring out how to spend $300k/year even though the math says it is not a problem. I think the reality is most people who are super savers are going to get to Blockbuster eventually assuming they don’t inflate their lifestyle along the way. There is a lot of truth to more money not bringing you more happiness…I spend less in “retirement” than I did while working and I’m exponentially happier. I checked my taxable account for the first time this year and it in the first 11 days it is up more than I’ll spend this year, interesting times indeed.
Additionally, in developed countries post-agrarian society (industrial society) this argument has many critics (including those influenced by Georgist and geolibertarian ideas) who argue that since land, by definition, is not a product of human labor, any claim of private property in it is a form of theft; as David Lloyd George observed, "to prove a legal title to land one must trace it back to the man who stole it."
I retired at age 56 with budget/baseline FI, but I am now in blockbuster category (age 69). My investment accounts have done well and the house has increased in market value. Renting part of the home covers housing and transportation expenses, and my small pension covers basic living expenses. I withdraw money from investments for travel but reinvest most of the gains. I too am faced with heavy income taxes once I have to withdraw from tax deferred accounts. I have run spreadsheet projections for income, net worth, and income taxes to 2035 with various withdrawal plans and estimated net returns. Always come back to deferring tax as long as possible, spending down the taxable accounts first, while building up the tax-free account agressively. What I would do differently is learn to invest my own money at a younger age, buy a bigger better house at a younger age, and retire earlier.

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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?
If you upload photos of yourself, or friends/family with consent, it's worth going for the 'rights managed' licence option – otherwise you'll have little to no control over how your images are used (eg, you could star in an ad for haemorrhoid cream). See Alamy's page on understanding stock image licensing for more on the different types of licences.
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…

“A good reason to retire early is that you have an alternate vision for your life that you are eager to pursue, but which you can’t pursue while employed full time,” Hester said. “Achieving financial independence allowed us to leave that career chapter of our lives from a place of gratitude and appreciation, and move onto our next chapter that we’re in control of.”


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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Wow! What an awesome list Jeff! My favorite is the stock photography as I love photography. I have some success there, particularly with one photo I make some decent income from. I think the key with stock photography is finding a shot that is high demand then find a new unique way to frame that shot. This is the reason my St. Louis Arch photo is a top 10 on both of the platforms you mentioned above. Thanks for the awesome ideas above!


Do you love getting refunds? How cool would it be to get money back on stuff you’ve already bought? Paribus is a service that lets you find out if stores you’ve shopped at online owe you a refund.  It’s free to sign up. Paribus connects to your email account and checks your receipts.  If they find out a retailer has dropped their price they file a price adjustment claim for you.  Try out Paribus.
Age and existing wealth or current salary don't matter – if someone can generate enough income to meet their needs from sources other than their primary occupation, they have achieved financial independence. If a 25-year-old has $100 in expenses per month, and assets that generate $101 or more per month, they have achieved financial independence, and they are now free to spend their time doing the thing they enjoy without needing to work a regular job to pay their bills. If, on the other hand, a 50-year-old earns $1,000,000 a month but has expenses that equal more than that per month, they are not financially independent because they still have to earn the difference each month just to make all their payments. However, the effects of inflation must be considered. If a person needs $100/month for living expenses today, they will need $105/month next year and $110.25/month the following year to support the same lifestyle, assuming a 5% annual inflation rate. Therefore, if the person in the above example obtains their passive income from a perpetuity, there will be a time when they lose their financial independence because of inflation.
“Most of us are shocked to realize how much we actually spend,” Hester said. “After you’ve started tracking, figure out how much your lifestyle costs per year, look for what you might be able to cut out to shrink that number, and then start working on increasing your savings rate. Those are the hardest parts of the journey, and the rest is just a matter of waiting for the money to add up and compound.”
This might be one of the most important tips when it comes to financial success. Find a mentor or mentors and really pay attention to everything they do. Even if you are unsure if they will work with you, reach out and ask as many questions as you can. You will likely be really surprised by how much older experienced people are willing to teach and help you.
The tradeoff in this scenario is clear. You can continue working to build a bigger pool of savings, which will provide additional income and flexibility for the remainder of your life. Or, you can leave your job as soon as possible and hope that a smaller portfolio will provide sufficient income. It’s all about finding the right balance given your personal situation.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
I actually read the Charles Long book you recommended but forgot to send you a message about it. I ordered it from my library when you recommended it to me and it came in just a week later. I enjoyed it and the conserver lifestyle he described is very appealing, albeit maybe not to the extreme that he described. I haven’t read the Steven Catlin book yet but it is still on my reading list so I’ll hopefully get a chance to read it this summer. I’ll let you know what I think afterwards.
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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Wow! What an awesome list Jeff! My favorite is the stock photography as I love photography. I have some success there, particularly with one photo I make some decent income from. I think the key with stock photography is finding a shot that is high demand then find a new unique way to frame that shot. This is the reason my St. Louis Arch photo is a top 10 on both of the platforms you mentioned above. Thanks for the awesome ideas above!
Robin, I was reading through the comments and saw your post. I don’t know if you will see this since it is so much later. I am a small animal veterinarian in Eastern Washington State. I was privileged and had support with education but still had about 70k in student loans. I will easily reach blockbuster level by 40. I am nearly 37 now. I did it through ownership. That increases income dramatically. Additionally, it is an investment, my biggest, that you can sell when your done. Essentially, it allows you to earn income twice, once through dividends and then secondly through capital gains when you sell. I am also currently investing in real estate and downsized my primary residence. I had to transition my mentality about money and define wants vs needs but I did it. I still see other associate vets I work with that will barely scrape enough by the time they are 65. If you want to talk more please feel free to reach out to me.

Adjust. You’ll have some slip-ups along the way. That’s all right, it’s part of the process. At first, you and your family should scrutinize your written budget daily, and then eventually weekly, adjusting accordingly until your whole family is comfortable with your set monthly allocations. The first month is the most difficult, but by the third month you’ll curse yourself for wasting so much money during your budget-less days.
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