NOTE: If you’re pursuing financial independence, you’re going to want to adjust the percentage of money you put away to savings when you implement your plan. You can choose to save around 65% like Mad Fientist suggests, or you can choose to put half your paycheck into your savings like PoF encourages. Or you could go a different route. It’s all up to you and your savings goals.
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).
Whatever you do to build your contribution muscle, it needn’t be grandiose; it need only contribute to someone else’s life. If you do this for a few weeks, you’ll realize that your financial problems are tiny compared to many of the problems in the world around you. By discovering the smallness of your financial woes, you’ll feel empowered to take massive action and beat the crap out of your relatively miniature problems.

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It’s hard to truly experience the pressure and know the cost of raising a kid in an expensive coastal city if you live in the Midwest. You can see the $1.4-$1.5M median home price number, but it’s hard to really know how expensive that is for how average a house you get until you go and by one. This is partly why I want to GET OUT of SF and escape the grind and the knowledge that every parent I know is indeed spending a fortune on their kids etc.
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.
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!

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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How often do you sit in your cubicle, daydreaming about what it would be like to quit your boring nine-to-five job? Do you have that one friend who always seems to be on vacation and living life to the fullest — and wonder how she pulls it off? Have you ever thought about selling all of your possessions and starting a new life somewhere else? Do you wish you could leave your husband or boyfriend, but are stuck in the relationship because he’s the breadwinner? Do you often wonder if you could somehow turn your pottery or photography hobby into a real business?
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If you are generating $250,000 – $300,000 in passive income without having to work, life is good, really good. At my peak in 1H2017, I got to about ~$220,000 in annualized passive income, but then ended up slashing ~$60,000 from the top after selling my rental house to simplify life. Therefore, I’ve still got a long ways to go, especially now that I have a son to raise.

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To me the biggest reason for not quitting my job before have close to $10M is the cost of raising kids. I don’t see how it will work out for folks retiring at 35 with $1M saved if they plan to raise a family. Providing a good life, after school activities, travel opportunities, college, etc. I assume I’ll spend at least $1M per child to raise them from birth through college. (The average is ~$250,000 to get them just through high school and that doesn’t include many of the things I hope to do as a family)

I know it can be scary to make change happen, but think about it: if you don’t take action now, what does your financial future really look like? All you need to do is take one step. Do one thing every day that will get you closer to your own financial dream — the key lies in taking action. You simply cannot have something without doing something to earn it. So, if you truly want it, ladies, it’s yours for the taking.

True, the world is a bit unpredictable. That said, if you’re invested in a very broad index (like VTI, VTSMX/VTSAX), you are as protected as possible. If those indexes collapse/devalue, there are far greater issues going on than money. You would be fighting to eat and survive at that point, and money would be worthless. So, other than the world ending as we know it, you can be FI and have 99.9% assurance you are financially safe.

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Oh I had a question you seem to be the tax guru for FI so. Can you tell me what the tax implications are if you invest in a regular stock account. So non retirement. My husband wants to know if you get taxes when you pull it out since you already get taxed on the gains. My thought was yes because it will be considered income but can you clarify. Thanks
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.

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Geographic Arbitrage – As I mentioned in The Perfect Life article, I also plan on using geographical arbitrage to bring my FI date even closer. By living somewhere like Thailand for a portion of the year, the income from my United States investments and businesses will go much further than if I lived in the States. Renting will allow us to easily move to cheaper places, as needed or desired.
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”.

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.
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