Most people believe the key to wealth is a high-paying job. Yes, it's easier to amass assets if you have more money coming in each month, but one key to increasing your net worth is to spend less than you make. Ultimately, spending habits are the reason a professional athlete making $20 million a year can quickly go bankrupt while a bus driver can retire a multi-millionaire. It can be a cliche but it is a fundamental reality of money.
I would argue that, if you can increase the value of your full-time gig, it's probably not necessary to get a side gig. I do think people need some free time to enjoy themselves. Sometimes we get so caught up in raking in an extra $200/mo from side hustles that we don't realize they're not always worth the time. So know the most efficient way for you to earn money, first of all. Slashing expenses like a madman doesn't hurt, either! That's what enabled us to pay off our debts so quickly.
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My wife continues to work a really good sales job. I retired from corporate America in 2015 to work and consult with startups. I’m currently a co-founder of a healthcare software and services startup. I also have a pension that kicked in right after I turned 60 last October. Our combined incomes/pension are around 250K with our only debt being our mortgage which still has 7 years left @ 3.5%. I’m also thinking about paying a little extra toward principal to shorten the term to 5 years and coincide with when I turn 65.
“The first step is to identify what you want to do in 5, 10, 20 years,” she said. “Where you want to be geographically, what you want to do, what you want your family to look like. Once you know that, you can mold your money to match what you want. Why do you want FI? I would write it down. And if you have a family or a partner that you live with, bring them in the conversation.”
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.
The vast majority of Ameerica will sadly never get to even the first level. Their retirement will funded almost entirely by social security. We on this blog are not representative of the country and that is sad. I have talked to countless individuals about making better decisions with their money and I can only think of one couple, in the 90’s, who took it to heart. They are now well off. The rest just kept making the same bad decisions over and over again.
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I share this with to let you know how much your expertise and your creating this information means to me. I will now put this link to your site on the Inspire-EDNF (Ehlers Danlos National Foundation) site to help so many others like me. Living with this condition, I can become a hopeless mess. Today, THANKS to you, I can begin planning how to contribute not only to my family and savings but also to causes very close to my heart.
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.
Late to the game, Sam, but I like where you, J.D., and others are going with this line of reasoning. Understanding levels of financial independence and financial security are very much needed. I worry that our main message is a turn off to a lot of people because they can’t possibly fathom saving 25 times their annual living expenses or more. For a lot of people, just being able to spend slightly less than they earn and having a modest emergency fund is their idea of financial nirvana. It would be nice if we could somehow champion these people and show them that they are welcomed members of our community. Cheers.
Unfortunately, living paycheck to paycheck is the reality of millions of Americans. According to the Federal Reserve's Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017, some 40% of households could not cover a $400 unexpected expense. Most of us will have some unexpected bills pop up throughout the year such as car repairs, medical bills and nights out drinking with friends. Having an emergency fund will come in handy during those types of situations.
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Those with the least amount of wealth are the poor. Most of the institutions that the poor encounter discourage any accumulation of assets. Lower class members feel more restrictive in their options due to their lack of wealth. This could lead to complications in solving their personal dilemmas, as predicted by the Class Structure Hypothesis. There are many societal standards and designs intentional sabotage and shortcomings to explain the persistent state of yearning and want the lower classes generally experience with their lower quality and quantity of assets. Typical causes are persistent unethical/harmful mentalities and criminal tendencies: misguidedly similar to the upper class in some cases. Many individuals that are in the lower class stay in that class and very few move up in class. Many people in the lower class group believe there isn't such a thing as equal opportunity.
It’s important to add up all of this time and factor it into your compensation, so you can get an accurate picture of how much money you are trading for your time. Remember that money in infinite, but time is finite. You can always go out and make some extra money, but you’ll never get back you time. How much are you willing to trade your life for?
@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!
I’ve always considered $10M to be a pretty decent goal that could fund a lifestyle + raising children without worries. Unfortunately I’m 32 right now so I won’t be able to hit that by 35. With some diligent saving, reasonable investment returns and some good performance at work that might be possible by 40. If I hit $5M at 35 I would start considering quitting my job more seriously. I grew up in the midwest, if I went back to somewhere with a lower cost of living, $200k on a 4% withdrawal rate would probably be sufficient for a pretty good life. Especially if combined with a less stressful side job even if it only made $30k-$40k/year. I’m just very risk averse and even though I save far more than I spend, I’m motivated by money (yes I know that sounds terrible but it’s honest). So it would be hard for me to quit a highly lucrative job just as my earnings are really ramping and exchange it for the unknown of semi-retirement.
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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.
You’re right though that $50 per month probably won’t be sufficient in perpetuity. The numbers in this article serve as a baseline for what I need to survive. This is how much I’ll need to quit my job and live the life I plan on living immediately after FI. If 5 years after FI I decide that I really want to live in America full time again, I’ll have to increase my health insurance budget by either decreasing some of my other costs or by earning more money through part-time work that I enjoy. The main message of this post is that you don’t necessarily have to wait until every possible future expense is covered…just make sure you can survive in a lifestyle you want to live and then if you need to earn more money to change or enhance that lifestyle, you can do so. A lot of people think, oh I need $2.5 million to retire so that every possible expense that I could incur will be covered. That may be true for someone retiring in their 70s but for someone in their 30s, I say, cover your essentials, start living a free life as soon as possible, and earn more if you want to change your lifestyle later.
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