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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.
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!
The organizing principle behind this grouping, appropriate economic units, is relatively simple: if the activities are located in the same geographic area; if the activities have similarities in the types of business; or if the activities are somehow interdependent, for instance, if they have the same customers, employees or use a single set of books for accounting.
Of course they look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest they cut a $100+ a month cable bill. Or switch to a cheap cell phone provider like metropcs. Or drive a car that is 3 years old. Or only fill up their tank from the cheapest place according to GasBuddy. Or get $25/month budget car insurance from Insurance Panda. Or cook their own food instead of spending a hundred a week on restaurant food (or far more if they like the bar).
For example, the content on Super Weddings is useful whether you're organizing a wedding today or next year. All the content on the site is created accordingly. To make things easier for the audience, it is separated into categories to make it very convenient for the reader to find what they're looking for. This, of course, is also very good for SEO. 
- 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!
“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.”
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?
Thank for the book recommendation. I’ve not read that book yet, but I’ll check it out. My wife’s family is from the state of Colima, a small state on the Pacific coast. We probably will spend most of our time there since many friends and family are in that area. My wife still has an apartment in Mexico City so I could see us spending some time there as well. It can be a fascinating place, though it can also be overwhelming and traffic can be a nightmare. The metro is pretty good and very cheap. Though it is super crowded during rush hour. Last trip we waited on the platform over an hour waiting for the crowds to die down to just very full levels. Another town I really like is San Miguel de Allende, as well as the nearby town of Guanajuato. Both are beautiful colonial towns in the highlands between Mexico City and Guadalajara. San Miguel has a good size expat community, is famous as an artist colony, and has a reputation as a magical place. I’m looking forward to discovering more places in Mexico when we have the time to make some extended trips and to explore. You might want to check out the Kaderli’s website for their reports of their travels in Mexico and Central America – retireearlylifestyle.com. Thank you for your reply and your interest in our plans.
Nice One, I would like to add another (and very important tip, for my opinion) idea for a passive income. Annuities. you can create yourself a Lifetime Incom Plan. it’s like a privet pensions if you do it the right way. you need to find one that is safe and affordable because lots of them are NOT GOOD (to say the least). the good ones will give you a guaranteed income for life.
If you are self-employed, that just means you have a lot of “bosses” that you serve. So, periodically ask those “bosses/clients” how you can better serve them. I have done this in the past through simple surveys. I simply ask what challenges they are facing and how I can better serve them. The better you can serve people, the more value you bring to the table, the more it helps you become a higher earner.
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.

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You can invest in a total stock market or S&P 500 index fund in most employee retirement plans like a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b), as well as individual retirement accounts like a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, SEP IRA, and Solo 401(k). While I personally invest in a few individual stocks, I largely recommend that you avoid investing in individual stocks unless it’s with less than 10% of your total net worth.
I was fortunate enough to have two friends who I’ve known for quite some time who are financially free and have been since their mid-twenties. I gravitated towards them and learned from them how they make income besides running their business and where they put their money to work. We still talk about investment opportunities, real estate, and various ways to make money.

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Concepts of wealth also vary across time. Modern labor-saving inventions and the development of the sciences have vastly improved the standard of living in modern societies for even the poorest of people. This comparative wealth across time is also applicable to the future; given this trend of human advancement, it is possible that the standard of living that the wealthiest enjoy today will be considered impoverished by future generations.
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!
In the western tradition, the concepts of owning land and accumulating wealth in the form of land were engendered in the rise of the first state, for a primary service and power of government was, and is to this day, the awarding and adjudication of land use rights.[citation needed] Many older ideas have resurfaced in the modern notions of ecological stewardship, bioregionalism, natural capital, and ecological economics.
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After you start tracking your net-worth, you need to track where your money is going. Whether this is student loans, bills, food, entertainment, etc. This might not be the most exciting thing to do, but is CRUCIAL and actually does get more exciting the more money you are making (and seeing your investments grow!) Knowing where your money is going is more important than budgeting – it’s about accountability and adopting an optimization mindset. It really can put your spending in perspective.
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After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Hi Sam, interesting post as always. I’m always very curious about how you arrive at your estimates. It would be great if you could show us the math! (actually I’m very curious about this in your 401k value post) Anyway, in this post you mention: “need between $800,000 – $1,600,000 – to replicate 40,000 a year in passive income” This is a bit bigger than the standard 4% approach. I can see that you are cautious, I’m just wondering about how I could replicate some of the math too.


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I recall an article about this very topic from a long time ago (early 1990s?) in the Wall Street Journal. They also outlined three levels of retirement financial readiness that they described in food terms as “beer and pretzels”, “steak and wine”, and “champagne and caviar”. I recall their nest egg targets were 2M, 6M, and 20M in USD for these ranges. These would be much higher today after adjusting for inflation.
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. 

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“If you want to retire early, you need to have a strong ‘why,’” Hayes said. “Do you want to quit your job so that you can start that business you always talked about with your friends? Do you want to have more than two weeks per year of vacation time? Do you want to spend more time with your loved ones? Whatever your why, let that be the motivating factor to create a plan and stick to it during the tough times. Once you have that why, you want to determine your path.”

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Passive income is attractive because it frees up your time so you can focus on the things you actually enjoy. If a doctor wants to earn the same amount of money and enjoy the same lifestyle year after year, they must continue to work the same number of hours at the same pay rate—or more, to keep up with inflation. Although such a career can provide a very comfortable lifestyle, it requires far too much sacrifice unless you truly enjoy the daily grind of your chosen profession. Additionally, once you decide to retire, or find yourself unable to work any longer, your income will cease to exist unless you have some form of passive income.
I’m a South African College Lecturer and I intend on leaving my job to find a career online as I realise that I can’t continue earning an income the same way my grandmother did. So I’m on the hunt for online income generating opportunities. This article has been helpful and I have booked marked it. I have started my journey with buying bitcoins, joining a social financial community: MMM, and now am looking to add to my list Blogging, Youtubing, Creating an App/s, creating an online course, creating online guides. Your article has proven very helpful and excellent in many regards….I will use it as a reference guide. Thanks a lot.

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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 is usually a measure of net worth; that is, it is a measure of how much a person has in savings, investments, real estate and cash, less any debts. For example, let's say John Doe has a $700,000 house, a car worth $20,000, a medical practice worth $400,000, and $5,000 in a checking account. Added together, these assets may be worth a whopping $1,125,000, but if John Doe is $300,000 in debt from medical school and owes $650,000 on the house, $15,000 on credit cards and $15,000 on the car, his net worth (the assets minus these liabilities) falls to about $145,000. In other words, if he were to sell everything today and pay off all his debts, he would have only $145,000 that would truly be all his.
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In hindsight, it's obvious there have been better times to invest than others. But since no one knows what the future holds, you can't know when that will be in the future. Plan to invest no matter what the market is doing. If you're investing periodically, you'll be dollar cost averaging into the market, which will minimize the risk you're taking should the market decline.
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.
The doctor or lawyer, for instance, could use her or his income to invest in a medical start-up or buy shares of medical companies he understands such as Johnson & Johnson. Over time, the nature of compounding, dollar cost averaging, and reinvesting dividends can result in her or his portfolio generating substantial passive income. The downside is that it can take decades to achieve enough to truly improve your standard of living. However, it is still the surest path to wealth based on the historical performance of business ownership and stocks.
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