It’s funny you mention the different psychological levels of financial independence. I read a lot of blogs and there is this one Blogger who goes on every single other blog and shouts from the top of his lungs that he is a multimillionaire. But he has no self-confidence because his wife still works. His writing oozes insecurity probably due to the lack of friends, lack of success from his site, and lack of purpose. He also likes to write about his investments, but he’ll only publish his winners and never his losers and he’ll never talk about them when he does make an investment.

- Holding Bonds/Fixed Income in Taxable Accounts: p. 254 says [...] you will keep your tax burden as low as possible at the end of each year, since bonds typically have lower returns than stocks." Really?!? Bonds income is taxed as ordinary income. Why would you voluntarily hold bonds in a taxable account and pay ordinary income taxes? Anyone who knows anything about financial planning knows that, generally speaking, it makes sense to hold growth-oriented investments, like stocks, in a taxable brokerage account (due to more favorable taxation) and fixed income investments like bonds in tax-deferred plans (since bonds are taxed at ordinary income and all funds coming out of pre-tax plans are going to be taxed at ordinary income tax rates anyway). It's not just about returns from the standpoint of capital appreciation, but total returns, which include dividend income, interest income, etc. While stocks may increase in value faster than/more than stocks over a long period of time, that does NOT mean you should hold bonds in a taxable account!
Your freedom grows alongside your savings. Eventually, you will have enough money saved to feel comfortable switching jobs, starting a business, returning to school, traveling for a year, or any number of other activities that are impossible to achieve without savings. This stage of financial freedom might include major life changes, but they are not permanent. Your freedom is temporary because your savings will be depleted over time, forcing you to find other sources of income again.

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.
I personally have been working and investing through a couple of recessions – the tech boom and bust, and the recent Great Recession. Most people got nervous, went to cash, stopped contributing, etc., during these periods. The past investing decade has been really smooth. I’m not sure how everyone who achieved financial freedom will feel when we get back to more normal volatility.
Income is routinely mistaken for wealth. For example, if John Doe's income is $250,000 per year, some people might say John is "wealthy." However, if John's mortgage, car payments, student loans from medical school, medical bills for his child, and private school tuition for his other child consume most of his monthly income, he may not have much left for saving at the end of the month. Consequently, John may have a nice house, but he has virtually nothing saved up for retirement, college, or emergencies. That is, he may have a high income, but he is not "wealthy" because he owns little of the things in his life.
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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Sara. I would like to hear more about how you spend your travel budget. My base at home expenses are pretty low ($25k CAD a year) and I do not deprive myself. I spend $60-75k a year on travel. The major factors to get that high are taking specialized tours and the very low CAD against GBP, EU, and USD. I do not stay in luxury hotels and I rent the cheapest cars and fly economy. I avoid cruises, resorts, casinos, islands, sports, mountain climbing, snow and ice, beaches, and look for art, architecture, archeology, history, jazz, food and wine. About half the time I take a specialized tour and the rest of time I tour on my own, usually by car. Sometimes, I travel with a friend.
@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!

23. Affiliates – There are many affiliate networks, such as FlexOffers and CJ Affiliate that allow you to promote other people’s products and services. You simply put a link or a banner on your page and then you get a percentage if someone clicks through and buys the product/service. You’ll want to select products that are specifically within your blog’s category.This is an effective way to earn money once you have the traffic coming to your blog.
Domain names cannot be replicated. If one is taken, the only recourse would be to approach the owner to discuss a sale. While there are other variations you could choose, sometimes owning a certain domain (especially if it is attached to your business) can be worth the premium. Often, people will scout out domain names that are still available, buy them, and then sit on them in order to sell them down the road. Depending on who may want the domain down the road, you could sell it for a large markup.

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You could also opt to use existing websites for making money. These include both active income and passive income methods. For example, you could sell some used items or invest in creating some digital designs that then can be sold on merchandise. Again, devote a sizable portion of your time to passive income so that you can slowly build up earnings that will arrive on autopilot without any extra added effort. 

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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]
Sam, I am not miserable, just less happy. I will be in the same company this summer for 31 years. I have been doing 24×7 online support for the last 29 years and it took a toll on me. It is just that I am so antsy since I am so close to retirement. I have been planning my retirement and counting down since age 30. Having no more close friends and a backup at work makes it a struggle to get thru the day. It is basically no fun at work without my buddies since they were all replaced with Indian consultants. It has been over a year being on my own and I just have to get used to it. My parents worked in a garment factory until their 60’s so I can’t complain.

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Fulfillment is the entire point of this article. Financial freedom does not require that you retire early to a life of leisure (unless that is your desire). It’s about having autonomy and independence in your daily routine, allowing you to design a better life while spending your time, money, and energy in a more meaningful way. If that includes starting a new business, great! Doing meaningful work while getting paid is my definition of a win-win.
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.
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. 
My blogging buddy Joe from Retire by 40, who is six years older than me, is a good example of having enough money, but finding it difficult to overcome the fear of not working. Every year, he questions whether his wife can join him in retirement, even though he’s been retired for over five years, has close to a $3 million net worth, and has online income and passive income to more than cover their annual living expenses. Every year I tell him she could have retired years ago, but he’s adeptly convinced her to keep on working.
@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!
To test these websites, you’ll be asked to visit the site in question and record your reactions and thoughts as you go through it. To get started making extra money online by testing websites, sign up for some of the most popular services like UserTesting.com, Userlytics, TryMyUI, Userfeel, TestingTime (for people outside the U.S), or Side Income Jobs.
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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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).

I started small, about 10% each paycheck would be taken out for my savings accounts. Half would go to my Vanguard retirement account and the other half to my savings. Then, I kept increasing it and diversifying where the money went. Anytime I go a raise or made side hustle income, I would do the exact same thing as soon as it cleared in my bank account. Now, I’m on track to save 30% this year of my overall income, which I would like to increase to 40% by next year.


Once you’ve gathered a list, put together a template outreach email (as you’ll be doing this over and over) that’s short and clear with expectations. Tell your potential interviewee who you are, what your podcast is about, and what you’re asking of them. Do a few test interviews with friends and family to make sure everything is being recorded at the quality you want and then book your first episode.
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.
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.
Upper class encompasses the top end of the income spectrum relative members of society as a whole. Since they have more wealth and privacy, the upper class has more personal autonomy than the rest of the population. Upper class values include higher education, and for the wealthiest people the accumulation and maintenance of wealth, the maintenance of social networks and the power that accompanies such networks. Children of the upper class are typically schooled on how to manage this power and channel this privilege in different forms. It is in large part by accessing various edifices of information,[clarification needed] associates, procedures and auspices that the upper class are able to maintain their wealth and pass it to future generations.[36] Usually, people of the upper class participate as partisans in elections and have more political power than those of lower classes due to their abundance of resources and influence.
Another way to generate passive income is to invest and be a silent partner in a business. This is very risky, but with risk comes the potential for high returns. For example, several years ago both Lyft and Uber were looking for private investors to invest in their companies. Today, they are worth billions - but you as an investor would only reap that benefit if they go public via an IPO, or get acquired. So, it's risky.
Take good pictures. Some of the options below don’t require you to actually take the picture and sell the product, but for the ones that do, make sure you take a clear picture that makes your product stand out from the others.  If you’re going to be taking a lot of pictures, set up a small “studio-like” area in your home with a backdrop and proper lighting to really make your pictures come across as professional. And of course, you’ll want a good camera too.
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.
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.

This can be a little easier said than done, but if you have a large social media following, you can definitely earn money promoting a product or advertising for a company. You can even combine this with different marketing campaigns if you are an influencer and have your own blog (advertisement + affiliate income). This is how many bloggers make money! Again, it is not 100% passive but once set up correctly and then scaled, can be surprisingly lucrative.

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Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. As with active income, passive income is usually taxable. However, it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Portfolio income is considered passive income by some analysts, so dividends and interest would therefore be considered passive.
Choose your niche and check for demand: The golden course combination is when you can find an in-demand niche that aligns with your skills and unique experiences. A great way to do this is to use Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Planner to look for average monthly search volume for keywords related to your proposed course content. Are people actively looking for high-quality information about this subject? Of course, if you’re already creating content for a blog, coaching service, or a site like Medium, you can test demand this way for free just like Bryan did.
However, like anything else truly worthwhile, apps require a significant investment of your time or money upfront. If you don't have the skills, then you have to hire someone who can assist you in creating a great app. But first you need to come up with an idea that will sell. Do the proper market research and analytics to come up with the right app.
Awesome article. I am personally a fan of affiliate marketing. It’s a great way to leverage someone else’s business and start your own. I’ve been a part of an affiliate program for a while now where I’m earning 25% commissions on sales and it has truly been a blessing as far as my finances are concerned. Passive income is definitely they lifestyle to live. I’m hoping to upgrade soon to the 35% commission tier so that I can make enough to quit my 9-5 and really be free to live the life I want. Check it our here if your interested (queensmarketclothing.com); it’s only $10 to get started and the company is super helpful in helping you get started and marketing the products.
The author is opposed to charging a fee for assets under management (AUM). For a lot of beginning investors, AUM doesn’t work because they don’t have enough in assets. He makes the point that the manager will make money even if the assets go down. True. But the manager’s incentives are lined up with yours: the more your money grows, the more they get paid. That’s not necessarily the case with other way that fees are charged.

Safety. Shit happens, so it’s best to create a Safety Net savings account with $500–$1000 for emergencies. Now listen: do not touch this money unless there is a true emergency (car repairs, medical bills, job loss, etc.). Your Safety Net will allow you to stay on budget even when life punches you in the face. Over time, once you’re out of debt (step 3 below), your Safety Net will grow to include several months of income. But for now, worry only about the first $500–$1000 to start, which you’ll want to keep in a separate Safety Net account to avoid temptation (more on that below).
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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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.
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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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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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.
I moved to a remote tropical Island once FI. This idea was not spontaneous, and I had planted seeds for years working off and on as an expat in the medical field. I worked with royalty and even had the life changing experience of using a gold toilet. The toilet was not really life changing at all, and somehow sad. I also had opportunities to work with orphanages literally in the tree tops and cultures who thought their medical issues were caused by spirits. There were amazing times, but I also suffered through cholera. The remaining time I worked for years in high stress, high salary, with little time off. It made me sick.
My main point was that financial independence isn’t a single point or event. It’s a continuum. Each dollar we save grants us greater financial freedom. There are a variety of major milestones. For instance, achieving positive cash flow (earning more than you spend) brings one type of financial independence. Getting out of debt brings another. And so on.
Sara. I would like to hear more about how you spend your travel budget. My base at home expenses are pretty low ($25k CAD a year) and I do not deprive myself. I spend $60-75k a year on travel. The major factors to get that high are taking specialized tours and the very low CAD against GBP, EU, and USD. I do not stay in luxury hotels and I rent the cheapest cars and fly economy. I avoid cruises, resorts, casinos, islands, sports, mountain climbing, snow and ice, beaches, and look for art, architecture, archeology, history, jazz, food and wine. About half the time I take a specialized tour and the rest of time I tour on my own, usually by car. Sometimes, I travel with a friend.
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 audiobook industry is booming, yet only 5% of books ever get made into audio format. If you’ve got a background in acting, or if people have said you’ve got a voice made for the radio, you can make extra money recording audio versions of independent and popular books. Sites like ACX connect authors with audiobook performers. So, whether you’re an author looking for more ways to sell your book, or an actor/voice actor looking to make some extra income, you can sell your services online.
We—Joshua & Ryan—know first hand. The road to financial freedom was a long trek for both us. Even though we had prestigious six-figure careers, we struggled with money back then; and we weren’t financially free for a long time. In fact, it wasn’t until we walked away from those career’s (after devising a plan, of course) that we discovered how to get out of debt, how to eliminate unnecessary expenses, how to plan for our future, how to master our finances.
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