By paying myself first I was able to accomplish two goals – being able to invest and then spend less overall since there was less money in my account after the month was over. I made sure that savings were definitely happening, and I had peace of mind that money was actually being saved. The great thing is, once you get this started with the right funds, you then have it automatically taken out, which is even less work for you to manage.
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.
That’s a pretty good breakdown. Budget financial independence is where I’m currently trying to reach. I should be there within a few years. Then baseline would be my next and final goal. I am happy with a $3 million portfolio indexed to inflation. :) Of course one way to feel like I’ve reached blockbuster level is to live abroad somewhere like Thailand. With a lower cost of living the same amount of passive income can go further.
I retired at age 56 with budget/baseline FI, but I am now in blockbuster category (age 69). My investment accounts have done well and the house has increased in market value. Renting part of the home covers housing and transportation expenses, and my small pension covers basic living expenses. I withdraw money from investments for travel but reinvest most of the gains. I too am faced with heavy income taxes once I have to withdraw from tax deferred accounts. I have run spreadsheet projections for income, net worth, and income taxes to 2035 with various withdrawal plans and estimated net returns. Always come back to deferring tax as long as possible, spending down the taxable accounts first, while building up the tax-free account agressively. What I would do differently is learn to invest my own money at a younger age, buy a bigger better house at a younger age, and retire earlier.

Hey. Yes you can use just one website to promote multiple affiliate programs, but I’d say that your website should focus on just one niche. So you mention, SellHealth, that would lead me to believe your site is about health and fitness. I would then advise you to stick to that niche rather than promoting unrelated products like dog leashes and fashion accessories.
But, think about your mortgage. Your car payment. Your credit card bills. Student loans. If you stopped paying those, you’d be sent to collections, your credit score would plummet, and you’d be in financial ruin. Your financial obligations are like a weight around your neck — and for many, this weight gets heavier and heavier as your financial burdens become larger and larger. That sure doesn’t sound like freedom. In fact, you are probably tied to many financial commitments that prevent you from living up to your true potential — to achieving financial independence.
For some reason, I’m not stressed about it. Maybe because he’s the most important thing in our lives, and we’d therefore spend everything we have to help him learn and grow up to be a kind, motivated, and good adult. Perhaps it’s because I’ve also run some pro forma financial numbers to see how much we’ll have in 20 years, and it seems like it could be a nice chunk of change.
Thus, your level of wealth can also be measured by your long-term thinking and potential sustainability. Working with a financial adviser can help you to set a goal for wealth accumulation that allows you to maintain your standard of living without an additional paycheck and achieve the financial independence of your dreams. This goal can be lofty, however, as most people’s annual spending includes a long list of budget items, such as mortgage payments, car payments, clothing, college tuitions, music lessons, entertainment expenses, and more.
We invest our money into four separate buckets using Betterment’s online software: Safety Net, Retirement Fund, House Fund, and Wealth-Building Fund. (For complete details, see our Retirement Planning article, in which we we break down how we, as minimalists, plan for retirement and other financial objectives, using screenshots and real-world examples, including statistics and personal figures.)

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I will admit, I’m not a huge fan of fancy budget spreadsheets, so I just use free tracking apps like Personal Capital. Then once a month I used the data and wrote down every bill and loan I had with the numbers next to them (some obviously varied slightly from month to month) along with every time I spent money on going out, food, clothes, etc. You’d be surprised at the things you catch that has affected your spending over the last year. Slight tweaks and adjustments can make all the difference in the amount you save. This was how I was able to identify how much money interest my student and car loans were accumulating and then identified it was critical for me to start paying them down rapidly.

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.


The media often portrays financial freedom as an insurmountable task that requires decades of saving and investing. That’s sometimes true, but it’s beneficial to focus on each victory along the way. For example, most people could pay off all non-mortgage debt, and accumulate enough savings to find a new career that is enjoyable. Those are huge accomplishments on the journey to financial freedom that should be celebrated.

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.


@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!
Social class is not identical to wealth, but the two concepts are related (particularly in Marxist theory), leading to the combined concept of socioeconomic status. Wealth refers to value of everything a person or family owns. This includes tangible items such as jewelry, housing, cars, and other personal property. Financial assets such as stocks and bonds, which can be traded for cash, also contribute to wealth. Wealth is measured as “net assets,” minus how much debt one owes. Wealth is a restrictive agent for people of different classes because some hobbies can only be participated in by the affluent, such as world travel.
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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