What if a budget of $2,000/month would provide a significant increase in satisfaction? Perhaps the additional $500/month could be used for hobbies, entertainment, and travel, all of which make you far happier in your life. But $2000/month in expenses is more than your portfolio can support, which means you’re headed in the wrong direction (back to temporary freedom).
If you are new to the financial planning process, it’s important to remember you don’t need to go from zero to sixty overnight. Just like a fitness trainer would be hesitant to recommend an all-out body straining routine on your first day in the gym, I wouldn’t expect someone to start implementing advanced planning techniques in the first week. Pick a reasonable and attainable goal, and get used to achieving small wins on your track to financial independence.
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.
Remember, once you’ve reached financial independence, you no longer have to save. Everybody striving for financial independence tends to save anywhere from 20% – 80% of their after tax income each year on top of maxing out their pre-tax retirement accounts. Therefore, if you’re able to 100% replicate your gross annual household income through your investments, you’re actually getting a raise based on the amount you were saving each year.
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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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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.
"Grant Sabatier is a bold, new voice for this country's next generation -- a generation that chafes at mounting debt, rejects traditional modes of work, and longs for financial freedom. In this comprehensive money manual, Sabatier blends deep wisdom with proven action steps. He shows how to mold your mindset so that you can make the most of your dollars *and* your hours. Best of all, he provides a blueprint so that you can build the rich life you've always wished for." J.D. ROTH, Creator of Get Rich Slowly and author of Your Money
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.