“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.”
The underlying assumption is that we should all follow the same linear path from childhood until death, spending the majority of each day at work, trying to climb the ladder, to get a raise, to buy a bigger house, to fill it with an abundance of unnecessary possessions that provide very little satisfaction. Only after retiring is there freedom to explore, relax, or spend time with the people we love and cherish.
The second category of passive income is drawing on sources that do not require capital to start, maintain, and grow. These are far better choices for those who want to start out on their own and build a fortune from nothing. They include assets you can create, such as a book, song, patent, trademark, Internet site, recurring commissions, or businesses that earn nearly infinite returns on equity such as a drop-ship e-commerce retailer that has little or no money tied up in operations but still turns a profit.
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Categories. Identify what’s truly necessary by identifying all of your monthly expenses based on the past six months, and then divide your expenses into three categories: Essentials, Nonessentials, and Junk. Write down every expense (food, housing, utilities, insurance, cars, gas, transportation, clothes, credit cards, phones, Internet, pets, entertainment, etc.); triple-check the list with your significant other or a friend; and then use your Essentials, Nonessentials, and Junk categories to prioritize and cut wherever you can. The stricter you are, the sooner you’ll be free.
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)
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.
A reason I believe 4% is reasonable, especially for myself and for Mad Fientist readers, is because early/semi retirees will have much more flexibility than the retirees that the Financial Mentor is writing for. You’ll notice in his article that he references $2.5 million and $3.3 million nest eggs in his article. I hate to make another assumption but I assume people with nest eggs that large most likely have much higher expenses and more financial obligations (i.e. bigger mortgages, boat loans, expensive habits, etc.) so it may be harder to adjust their lifestyles when the economy changes. For me, however, if I start withdrawing 4% from my portfolio but then the market tanks, I’ll be able to move somewhere where the cost of living is less and potentially pick up part-time work that I enjoy so that I can withdraw less from my portfolio during the downturns.
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.
If you find the profession that gives you that feeling, and you are disciplined in your management of the business side of it by controlling costs, you have a huge advantage over your competition because you may continue to work 10, 15, 18 hours a day or 2, 4, or 10 years longer, not because you need to, but because you love the process and product itself.
- 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.
To save time and effort, a person can group two or more of their passive activities into one larger activity, provided they form an "appropriate economic unit," according to Publication 925 - Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules. When a taxpayer does this, instead of having to provide material participation in multiple activities, they only have to provide it for the activity as a whole. In addition, if a person includes multiple activities into one group and has to dispose of one of those activities, they’ve only done away with part of a larger activity as opposed to all of a smaller one.
As a kid, I loved reading and being able to choose a new book from the library was the highlight of my childhood. Then something changed, I got to high school and college and reading felt more like a chore. I was rarely reading, except for the occasional blog or required textbook for school. Even after graduating, I never picked up a book much, especially about finances!
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