We invest our money into four separate buckets using Betterment’s online software: Safety Net, Retirement Fund, House Fund, and Wealth-Building Fund. (For complete details, see our Retirement Planning article, in which we we break down how we, as minimalists, plan for retirement and other financial objectives, using screenshots and real-world examples, including statistics and personal figures.)
Based on a conservative 2.5% – 5% annual return, a household would need investments of between $1,200,000 – $2,400,000 to be considered financially independent. Once you’ve got at least $1,200,000 in investable assets and no longer want to work again, I don’t recommend shooting for an overall return much greater than 5%. You can carve out 10% of your investable assets to go swing for the fences if you wish, but not more. There is no need since you have already won the game.

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Today, if you're at all serious about succeeding in any endeavor, whether online or offline, you have to deliver enormous amounts of value. Yes, you have to do the most amount of work for the least initial return. This is especially true online. Why? Because it takes time to build authority and create an audience, two primary ingredients necessary to succeed in the wonderful world of commerce on the web.
I want to be solidly in the middle – i.e. comfort zone, in the next 5 years. Right now I could hit the frugal FI button likely in the next year or so, but would not be happy there. I like the idea of the continuum. My in-laws are shooting for blockbuster FI, but they both own tech businesses that are doing well…so their reality differs slightly from mine.

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Right now is the best time to start planning for your future. Whether you’re planning for retirement, wanting to start a business, saving for a home, building a larger Safety Net, or focusing on long-term wealth-building, now is the best time to begin. Not next week, not even tomorrow, today. Even if you have no money to invest, you must devise a plan to begin investing in your future self. The best way to do this is to automate your investments using an online service like Betterment, which takes the guesswork out of investing. The future won’t wait. Do it today. Even if that means 1% of your income, or even $20 a month, to start. Your future self will thank you.

I think too many people become over-focused on their number, on achieving what you call basic FI and I call independence. They’re so dialed in on that that they ignore the fact that they’re gradually achieving greater independence all the time. That’s too bad. I think folks would be happier if they could take the time to appreciate their state, you know?


Today, if you're at all serious about succeeding in any endeavor, whether online or offline, you have to deliver enormous amounts of value. Yes, you have to do the most amount of work for the least initial return. This is especially true online. Why? Because it takes time to build authority and create an audience, two primary ingredients necessary to succeed in the wonderful world of commerce on the web.


But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes. 

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I just lost my job and given my age I don’t know when or if I’ll get another job. I can’t collect unemployment because I worked for a religious institution. It would help me out tremendously to be able to make about $800 a week as you do. Can you please help me and give me some straight up and complete information on how I can do this? Thanks, and God Bless! 

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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.
Under no circumstances should any information from this blog be used as replacement for professional financial advice. DollarSprout.com is owned by VTX Capital, LLC and neither are licensed by or affiliated with any third-party marks on this website and third parties do not endorse, authorize, or sponsor our content except where clearly disclosed. DollarSprout.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
ie first you need to haul ass and do something crazy, eg write a quality 20,000 word ebook (insanely not passive hahahah), but then you get to sit back and enjoy seeing PayPal sale messages pop up on your iPhone each morning as sale after sale after sale is made…on an ongoing basis and without any additional work. That’s some seriously Pina Colada flavored passive goodness!

I think the author means well and I think his story of going from dead broke to millionaire in 5 years is awesome. As he mentions, he did that with some sacrifices, including personal relationships. I wish he would have spend more time digging into this and its importance, as I feel like many people struggle with this. I think it's a great book for him to tell his story and what worked for him, but I think he should leave the financial advice to those that are much more familiar with how this stuff works. If you're looking for a similar book, but much better, I would recommend Set for Life by Scott Trench. For those interested in real estate, the section in this book on real estate is generally weak in my opinion. I agree with the author's position on putting less than 20% down in certain situations - his examples of why on this are right on. In general, though, I would suggest checking out BiggerPockets for in-depth real estate investing info.

I’m 19 and I’ve been working for about 2.5 years, and I’ve saved up a good chunk of money. However, I started college this year, and I’m trying to balance tuition payments and the urge to spend my money carelessly. Do you have any tips for cutting down spending? Or how much of my paycheck I should be spending if I make anywhere between $600-$800 a month?
Create a writer website or blog. A website not only demonstrates your technical ability, but it also creates an online hub that allows clients to connect to you. Keep the design of your website clean and uncluttered. Include examples of your work that demonstrate the kind of writing you do. Make the samples easy to find and to read, and make it easy for visitors to figure out how to contact you.[23].
I personally do not consider any capital gains or paper gains as part of my retirement income. Any capital gains are one off. It’s safer this way because it’s important to focus on building recurring passive income sources. Hopefully, my gains from my rental house sale in 2017 will be properly deployed to earn future income. But I’m not touching those gains for spending.
Often, what happens is that we run into unscrupulous Internet Marketers (IMs) who have less-than altruistic intentions of extracting money from you rather than helping you to make it. However, this isn't something new. People have been falling for networking marketing, pyramid schemes, and affiliate marketing scams since before the start of the net.

That’s a pretty good breakdown. Budget financial independence is where I’m currently trying to reach. I should be there within a few years. Then baseline would be my next and final goal. I am happy with a $3 million portfolio indexed to inflation. :) Of course one way to feel like I’ve reached blockbuster level is to live abroad somewhere like Thailand. With a lower cost of living the same amount of passive income can go further.
I’m miles away from any of the three FI levels on that pyramid, but feel like I’m finally living very close to my ideal lifestyle regardless of how much money I have. Sam’s comments about going too hard and the resulting health issues resonate with me too – my priority is avoiding that and keeping a good balance today. Like to think I’m still on track for FI though – life can change very quickly!

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If my piece of content is so unique and valuable around hiking backpack recommendations, that other reputable outdoor websites are willing to link to it and build the page’s authority, then I’d have a very real opportunity to rank high in organic search for these search terms (meaning, my page will come up first when someone searches for hiking backpacks).
What many people desire is more flexibility with their schedules. Freedom of time and financial independence go hand in hand. Together, they are about leaving the rat race to follow your passion, or spend more time with family, and not going completely broke doing it. It could come in the form of more paid time off, flex time or perhaps working remotely on occasion. Not having to take a day off from work just so you can visit the dentist or take your kid to the doctor could be a huge benefit for some.
“The first step is to identify what you want to do in 5, 10, 20 years,” she said. “Where you want to be geographically, what you want to do, what you want your family to look like. Once you know that, you can mold your money to match what you want. Why do you want FI? I would write it down. And if you have a family or a partner that you live with, bring them in the conversation.”
Financial freedom is sometimes known as “early retirement”. However, since most early retirees keep working in some capacity, financial freedom is a better term. In order to do this, you need to be very focused, because your savings rate has to be 50% or higher to achieve freedom in a short period of time. Some people are able to do this, and that’s great. But many can’t.
I’ve explored for some time, made small investments over the years which I will say none of which panned out. I’m nearing the end of a long lucrative career as a hairdresser and honestly would love some peace at home and bring in a passive income. Would love to hear whats made your life as a mom better. Congratulations on your up and coming newest little member to your clan.
Financial freedom is sometimes known as “early retirement”. However, since most early retirees keep working in some capacity, financial freedom is a better term. In order to do this, you need to be very focused, because your savings rate has to be 50% or higher to achieve freedom in a short period of time. Some people are able to do this, and that’s great. But many can’t.
There are loads of resources for making money online as an affiliate. You could source products from ClickBank, Commission Junction, Rakuten Marketing, Share-a-Sale, Impact Radius and many others. Plus, many of the larger companies have their own affiliate programs as well. Do your due diligence and find the right company with a relevant product or service to your audience that you can sell as an affiliate.
If you’re willing to take on some risk and have the heart of a true hustler, you can make extra money online doing commission-only sales for startups and other businesses. While you won’t be getting a regular salary, with the right sales strategies and skills as an inside sales rep, you can make decent money for each sale you bring in. And because you’ll most likely be working with startups, if you can negotiate a little equity you could profit big time if you're pitching a solid product and the startup succeeds.
Based on a conservative 2.5% – 5% annual return, a household would need investments of between $1,200,000 – $2,400,000 to be considered financially independent. Once you’ve got at least $1,200,000 in investable assets and no longer want to work again, I don’t recommend shooting for an overall return much greater than 5%. You can carve out 10% of your investable assets to go swing for the fences if you wish, but not more. There is no need since you have already won the game.
@Palmetto - Thanks for the feedback. As far as making a pivot in my career, I just knew I needed to boost my credibility and change the path I was going on. Being in the computer science field, I was already technology driven and knew how important it would continue to be. I just looked into jobs that seem to be hiring the most and closely matched my interests, then looked at what I need to learn to be able to get that job. It wasn't too difficult because I already knew what I wanted to switch too and enjoy about some of my previous work. For other fields, I'm sure it might be more difficult to figure it out. But keep at it. Advice, really just do your research, make lists of what you enjoy/don't enjoy, what you'd like to learn more of and just dive in. Creating my own music blog was a huge stepping stone and opened more career choices. @Mrs Picky Pincher - Thanks for your point! I see where you are coming from. Agree, you shouldn't spend all your waking hours working, chasing the almighty dollar. However, I choose side hustles that are only a few hours a week or projects I know that won't consume my entire life. The reason I advocate for side gigs is because your full-time is never guaranteed. Sure you may be able to survive on some savings, but if anything were to happen to that job, you're in more of "what am I going to do" mode. I'm not in a panic for work because I have some supplement income still coming in while I continue to find the next gig. Just adds a bit less stress. And no, def don't want to think negatively about your future job, but something to always be mindful of. @Cody - Thanks! Hoping to contribute more to MM!
I actually had quite a bit saved up before I got on the journey to FI and thanks to the market run-up over the last few years and the increased supplemental income coming from my side businesses, my “passive” income and theoretical investment income (assuming 4% withdrawal rate) currently covers over 130% of my total expenses. Once we sell our house and lower our expenses even further, an even higher percentage of my expenses will be covered so although I was targeting only the essentials for FI, I’ll likely have everything covered and then some by the time I finally pull the plug on my career.

If it’s not clear yet, information and expertise are two of the most consistent and lucrative ways to make extra money online. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can sign up to get paid to answer professional questions on JustAnswer. There are thousands of questions being asked every month from people looking for help from lawyers, doctors, mechanics, vets, and more. To apply, you’ll need to supply your professional verification, resume, and a form of identification.


While it often takes a significant amount of time and hard work to build up your affiliate income, if you have the ability to regularly publish high quality content that drives in targeted traffic to your website, this online revenue source can become quite substantial. Follow along with my experiment growing two completely new blogs—one finance blog MoneyTalk and one called SmartWP about WordPress, into additional revenue streams for my business.
​If you pay your bills with a credit card make sure it offers cash back rewards. You can let your rewards accrue for a while and possibly put the easy money you earned toward another passive income venture! (Be sure that the card you select doesn’t have an annual fee or you might be cancelling out your rewards). Check out this list of the best Cashback Rewards Cards.

Unfortunately, I can’t answer that conclusively one way or the other. It all depends on you, what you like to do, your work ethic, personality, etc. If you are a good writer perhaps you could write a book and make money that way. Or, you could start your own website and do affiliate marketing. Just because you are young it doesn’t mean you can’t make money doing at least a few of these ideas. I wish you luck in your money making efforts!

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Photos of people can only be sold for commercial use if they've signed a 'model release' that gives you permission to use their image (children need a parent/guardian to sign). Without a release, these photos can still be sold for editorial use, as long as they were taken in a public place – eg, if you submitted a 'breaking news' shot with people in the background. If there's any doubt, always ask permission.
Your capital gains tax rate depends on your ordinary income. In other words, the tax table shows what the capital gain tax is according to your income. Up to $77,000 or so the cap gains tax rate is zero, for a couple who’s MFJ. The author seems to think that you can take $77k of cap gains per year without any tax, and then you can take however much in rental income (or other income) on top. That’s not the way it works.
What do people do all week when they are retired, especially when retiring early? I retired early and struggled with being preoccupied after 3 months. It turned into boredom and slippery slope of troublesome lifestyle. I finally returned to my career part time after bucket list. I consider myself semi-retired and enjoy working more once I had balanced time off. The pros are contributing Monday through Thursday, time off, salary to pay taxes, benefits, lower stress as compared to being self-employed/ business owner, and don’t driver my partner crazy. It has taken me years to unlearn setting goals and feeling inadequate if not chasing the carrot even when I don’t need to. It surprised me. My partner enjoys working and is seeing how far she can go. It’s is probably reassuring that she doesn’t have to work, and allows her to take more risk. I have improved, but have not arrived. I guess this is a good problem to have, but I just wanted you to know retirement is not always paradise, and semi-retirement may help make the transition.
Since I am less than 21 months away to 55, it is a mental daily struggle to get thru the day, the week and the months. It is so depressing at work since all of my co-workers have been laidoff. There is no one for “water cooler” talk. Over IT 1000 ppl were laid off from 2012 to 2017. It can be stressful at times to support the IT systems by myself. I have hobbies to help take my mind a little off the countdown clock. We take vacations so that I can get mentally away. Since I work from home, we try to go out at least once a week for lunch. I read your site and RB40’s site NUMEROUS times a day to take my mind of work.
Wealth may be measured in nominal or real values – that is, in money value as of a given date or adjusted to net out price changes. The assets include those that are tangible (land and capital) and financial (money, bonds, etc.). Measurable wealth typically excludes intangible or nonmarketable assets such as human capital and social capital. In economics, 'wealth' corresponds to the accounting term 'net worth', but is measured differently. Accounting measures net worth in terms of the historical cost of assets while economics measures wealth in terms of current values. But analysis may adapt typical accounting conventions for economic purposes in social accounting (such as in national accounts). An example of the latter is generational accounting of social security systems to include the present value projected future outlays considered to be liabilities.[30] Macroeconomic questions include whether the issuance of government bonds affects investment and consumption through the wealth effect.[31]
My wife continues to work a really good sales job. I retired from corporate America in 2015 to work and consult with startups. I’m currently a co-founder of a healthcare software and services startup. I also have a pension that kicked in right after I turned 60 last October. Our combined incomes/pension are around 250K with our only debt being our mortgage which still has 7 years left @ 3.5%. I’m also thinking about paying a little extra toward principal to shorten the term to 5 years and coincide with when I turn 65.
In this chapter I talk a lot about how to reduce your biggest expenses and that you are going to be able to save the most money where you spend the most money. I also talk a lot about traveling the world for free using credit card travel rewards. Because I’ve gotten so many questions on how to do this from readers I created an Introduction to Credit Card Rewards Guide.

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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.
26. Services – You can offer a paid service, such as life coaching, blog coaching, goal setting or financial planning. Just be sure to investigate all the legal implications and make sure you’re not claiming to be a professional if you’re not one. With a service like this, you’re basically using your blog to sell yourself. You’ll need to convince people that you’re worth buying and then be able to back up your claims once they purchase your service.

My wife continues to work a really good sales job. I retired from corporate America in 2015 to work and consult with startups. I’m currently a co-founder of a healthcare software and services startup. I also have a pension that kicked in right after I turned 60 last October. Our combined incomes/pension are around 250K with our only debt being our mortgage which still has 7 years left @ 3.5%. I’m also thinking about paying a little extra toward principal to shorten the term to 5 years and coincide with when I turn 65.

I am a small animal vet in the Washington DC area. Vet school loans and housing have taken their toll. I would like to retire at 60 (I just turned 52), and reach budget or baseline. Blockbuster isn’t a reality. Choose your career well– I love what I do, but sometimes wish it paid more. Semi-retirement may also be an option. Thank you, Sam, for a great post (as always).


But most importantly, Sabatier highlights that, while one's ability to make money is limitless, one's time is not. There's also a limit to how much you can save, but not to how much money you can make. No one should spend precious years working at a job they dislike or worrying about how to make ends meet. Perhaps the biggest surprise: You need less money to "retire" at age 30 than you do at age 65.
Even though I passed the point where my savings could cover my essential expenses quite a while ago, I’ve decided to keep working and pad my balances a bit more. Since I’ll likely have plenty of buffer by the time I actually pull the plug on work, I plan to just maintain my current portfolio, which consists primarily of low-cost, stock market index funds. Since I could always work again if necessary, I’m happy to take on a bit more risk for higher potential returns.
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