It’s funny you mention the different psychological levels of financial independence. I read a lot of blogs and there is this one Blogger who goes on every single other blog and shouts from the top of his lungs that he is a multimillionaire. But he has no self-confidence because his wife still works. His writing oozes insecurity probably due to the lack of friends, lack of success from his site, and lack of purpose. He also likes to write about his investments, but he’ll only publish his winners and never his losers and he’ll never talk about them when he does make an investment.

How do you gain financial freedom


Great post. One thing I’d challenge you on: owning a car. I’ve had one since I was 17, and LOVE having a car to get me from point A to point B. Thing is, I want FI more. So I yesterday donated my car to charity, and am now walking/bussing/Zipcar-ing my way around. No repair costs, insurance, gas, oil changes…no saving for a new car. Goodbye Saturn SL1, Hello Carsharing


I’ve quit my $16 dollar an hour job after 15 months to be able to work from home at 24 years old, a 2 year old with another on the way. Due to following one of my mentors, telling me that work does not have to be a hassle to my lifestyle. He has given me a great method to be able to work from home to generate more than my bi-weekly paycheck. Which was around $800 dollars a week. Not bad I know, but the actual work was very harsh to any human being ha. He also told me it would only cost my time and effort, only about 3–4 hours a day. So every since I made my transition my life has become a breeze with much less stress physically and financially.


Good article Sam on fine-tuning the FI tribe. It maybe the dream among FI folks to be at “blockbuster” level – also called FatFIRE in Reddit subs- but it’s actually not necessary to kill your self in the rat race for it if one is worried. Expenses play a huge part, of which, just housing alone is a big driver in FIRE comfort scale. Saving even only $500 a month in housing costs (either downsize or move to a LCOL place) can move many people into a very comfortable FIRE position. From leanFIRE, they can move to baseline FIRE quite easily after they save this much in housing. I know folks who have done this in Asia, and no, you don’t need to move to crazy place like Pyongyang to be a king. Nice locales in Malaysia, Thailand, Ecuador, India and even Eastern Europe are all available if people are open to it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though.
My blogging buddy Joe from Retire by 40, who is six years older than me, is a good example of having enough money, but finding it difficult to overcome the fear of not working. Every year, he questions whether his wife can join him in retirement, even though he’s been retired for over five years, has close to a $3 million net worth, and has online income and passive income to more than cover their annual living expenses. Every year I tell him she could have retired years ago, but he’s adeptly convinced her to keep on working.
To escape the spending trap, you need to understand that income is not long-term wealth. What is wealth? Income is obviously a component of wealth, but wealth can have varying definitions. Many people see wealth as their total net worth at any given time. This can be paralleled to the assessment of an individual’s balance sheet. Wealth can be referred to as the part of your balance sheet that is considered equity. Your ​assets minus liabilities. The wealth you have after liquidating.

While your income, your savings rate, your investment returns, your debt to income ratio, and all those other numbers are important when optimizing your money, the single most important metric that you should be tracking is your net-worth. Your net-worth measures how much money you are worth by subtracting your liabilities (debt/what you owe) from your assets (what you own that has value, your cash, and investments). It doesn’t matter how much money you make or how much money you save if your net-worth isn’t going up. This was a big early mistake I made, so start tracking your net-worth today.
abundance, barrel, basketful, boatload, bucket, bunch, bundle, bushel, carload, chunk, deal, dozen, fistful, gobs, good deal, heap, hundred, lashings (also lashins) [chiefly British], loads, lot, mass, mess, mountain, much, multiplicity, myriad, oodles, pack, passel, peck, pile, plateful, plenitude, plentitude, plenty, pot, potful, profusion, quantity, raft, reams, scads, sheaf, shipload, sight, slew, spate, stack, store, ton, truckload, volume, wad, yard
I started a blog which I plan to monetize only through affiliate marketing and my own products, no ads. I’ve been working on building an audience for my blog, for about 1 year and a half, many people think is maybe too much time, but I just want to make sure that I build enough trust with my readers before I start to try to make them buy something.

How do you get financial freedom in 5 years


As each new opportunity appears, you can react on a larger scale than your previous investments. That's called compounding. It's when the interest, dividends, and capital gains your money has earned begin to generate their own interest, dividends, and capital gains, and on and on in a virtuous cycle. It's how $10,000 can grow to $2,890,000 over 50 years at 12 percent.
@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!
When promoting affiliate offers, just make sure you are fully aware of all the terms and conditions attached to your affiliate program. Some programs can be strict about how they allow you to promote their products. For example, some may limit you to banner ads and links only, while others will allow you to use paid advertising, but won't allow email marketing. 
@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!
In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as catch-all coupon and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is not so much the case anymore. With consumers using long-tail keywords and searching for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-focused niche for affiliate marketing success. Influencers may not send advertisers huge amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted, and has higher conversion rates. 
Products are now put in a category. The commission will be based on the category each product has been placed in whether or not the category is correct. For instance, I had a sale for a child riding toy tractor. Instead of it being in toys category which would have only earned me 3%, it was actually placed in lawn and garden category which I then actually earned 8% instead.

Our parents grew up extremely poor, but wealthy in tradition, family, and faith.  Their nurturing frugality instilled both a tradition of resisting needless spending and the value of time over money.  Setting a goal to champion frugality has made the biggest impact in wealth accumulation in my life.  This value of frugality is a tradition that my wife and I are passing on to our kids.

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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.
​Self Publishing is mainstream today. When you purchase an eBook off of Amazon there’s a pretty good chance you’re buying a self-published book. Self-publishing is also ridiculously easy. I tried this a few years ago and couldn’t believe how simple the process was. To self-publish a book you’ll first need to write and edit it, create a cover, and then upload to a program such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Don’t expect instant success though. There will need to be a lot of upfront marketing before you can turn this into a passive income stream.
AWIN is probably best for experienced affiliates who can hit the ground running without a lot of guidance or feedback from the network. There is a $5 fee charged to apply to become an affiliate, but if you’re approved, the $5 will be added to your account. If your application is denied, however, you will lose the $5 fee. AWIN operates globally, but it is most heavily concentrated on British and EU merchants.
Affiliates discussed the issues in Internet forums and began to organize their efforts. They believed that the best way to address the problem was to discourage merchants from advertising via adware. Merchants that were either indifferent to or supportive of adware were exposed by affiliates, thus damaging those merchants' reputations and tarnishing their affiliate marketing efforts. Many affiliates either terminated the use of such merchants or switched to a competitor's affiliate program. Eventually, affiliate networks were also forced by merchants and affiliates to take a stand and ban certain adware publishers from their network. The result was Code of Conduct by Commission Junction/beFree and Performics,[35] LinkShare's Anti-Predatory Advertising Addendum,[36] and ShareASale's complete ban of software applications as a medium for affiliates to promote advertiser offers.[37] Regardless of the progress made, adware continues to be an issue, as demonstrated by the class action lawsuit against ValueClick and its daughter company Commission Junction filed on April 20, 2007.[38]
According to decades of extensive research by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D., author of “The Millionaire Next Door,” the grades one earns in school have no correlation with the economic wealth and success other than in the medical and legal professions. That's not to say education isn't important—it is! More than 90 percent of American millionaires did, in fact, graduate with an undergraduate degree.
This definitely embodies the saying, “There’s levels to this $h*t.” I was aiming for the middle tier of financial independence, but now I’m asking myself why not go for the top of the pyramid. Even if I don’t quite get there I will likely add a nice cushion to the baseline. My goal is to diversify my streams of passive income between market investments, rental income, and small business income. Returns from all three should make me and my future family comfortable indefinitely.
What do people do all week when they are retired, especially when retiring early? I retired early and struggled with being preoccupied after 3 months. It turned into boredom and slippery slope of troublesome lifestyle. I finally returned to my career part time after bucket list. I consider myself semi-retired and enjoy working more once I had balanced time off. The pros are contributing Monday through Thursday, time off, salary to pay taxes, benefits, lower stress as compared to being self-employed/ business owner, and don’t driver my partner crazy. It has taken me years to unlearn setting goals and feeling inadequate if not chasing the carrot even when I don’t need to. It surprised me. My partner enjoys working and is seeing how far she can go. It’s is probably reassuring that she doesn’t have to work, and allows her to take more risk. I have improved, but have not arrived. I guess this is a good problem to have, but I just wanted you to know retirement is not always paradise, and semi-retirement may help make the transition.
Those with the least amount of wealth are the poor. Most of the institutions that the poor encounter discourage any accumulation of assets.[36] 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.
If you reached FI by saving up $205,500, where would you invest that to guarantee it would produce $685 per month? I assume that would be in a taxable account since you’d be too young to pull funds from a tax-advantaged account, correct? But how, specifically, would you invest that amount of money to keep it safe and generating enough income to draw 4%?
We also keep our Safety Nets in our Betterment accounts. We do this for two reasons: 1) the money is liquid, which means we have instant access to our Safety Net if we need it, and 2) when the money is sitting in a separate account, it is less tempting to access than if it’s in our bank accounts (plus it earns a better interest rate in a safe, conservative way).

In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.
Shopify has three different account types as well as standalone third-party products like themes and apps. Commissions are paid for sales of any of these products, including users who sign up for a 14-day free trial and then convert to a paid account. Shopify also has a wide range of blog posts, webinars, and video tutorials that can be linked to with the standard commission paid on any sales that are generated.
Affiliate marketing is a very large industry and has become a key source of online income for many thousands of professional bloggers. With more and more online businesses becoming involved in affiliate marketing, more opportunities have arisen for bloggers, like you and I, to make money with their blog. and to ultimately create passive income streams.
In the last 10 years, ShoutMeLoud has inspired millions of lives around the globe to help them earn passive income via affiliate marketing.  It would not have been possible if I had not quite my call-center job to pursue my passion. When I think about this, I find it amazing as for how my life unfolded when I took the courage of starting something of my own.
StudioPress is a WordPress hosting service and framework that is designed to make setting up and running a WordPress site much simpler and easier. StudioPress comes with its own unique themes and SEO tools, collectively known as the “Genesis framework.”. Their affiliate program is solely for referrals to pay for a StudioPress framework account or buying a StudioPress theme. Previously, the affiliate program also included web hosting, but this is now managed separately by StudioPress’s owner, WPEngine.
When money is lent to a partnership or S-corporation acting as a pass-through entity (essentially a business that is designed to reduce the effects of double taxation) by that entity’s owner, the interest income on that loan to the portfolio income can qualify as passive income. According to the IRS's Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules: "Certain self-charged interest income or deductions may be treated as passive activity gross income or passive activity deductions if the loan proceeds are used in a passive activity."
Age and existing wealth or current salary don't matter – if someone can generate enough income to meet their needs from sources other than their primary occupation, they have achieved financial independence. If a 25-year-old has $100 in expenses per month, and assets that generate $101 or more per month, they have achieved financial independence, and they are now free to spend their time doing the thing they enjoy without needing to work a regular job to pay their bills. If, on the other hand, a 50-year-old earns $1,000,000 a month but has expenses that equal more than that per month, they are not financially independent because they still have to earn the difference each month just to make all their payments. However, the effects of inflation must be considered. If a person needs $100/month for living expenses today, they will need $105/month next year and $110.25/month the following year to support the same lifestyle, assuming a 5% annual inflation rate. Therefore, if the person in the above example obtains their passive income from a perpetuity, there will be a time when they lose their financial independence because of inflation.

How much money do I need for financial independence


I personally do not consider any capital gains or paper gains as part of my retirement income. Any capital gains are one off. It’s safer this way because it’s important to focus on building recurring passive income sources. Hopefully, my gains from my rental house sale in 2017 will be properly deployed to earn future income. But I’m not touching those gains for spending.
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.

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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Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception. The e-commerce website, viewed as a marketing toy in the early days of the Internet, became an integrated part of the overall business plan and in some cases grew to a bigger business than the existing offline business. According to one report, the total sales amount generated through affiliate networks in 2006 was £2.16 billion in the United Kingdom alone. The estimates were £1.35 billion in sales in 2005.[19] MarketingSherpa's research team estimated that, in 2006, affiliates worldwide earned US$6.5 billion in bounty and commissions from a variety of sources in retail, personal finance, gaming and gambling, travel, telecom, education, publishing, and forms of lead generation other than contextual advertising programs.[20]
Many affiliate programs will often run promotions with good discounts or giveaways that might be attractive to your audience. For example, if you're an Amazon Associate and the site have a big Holiday Sale, it would be the perfect opportunity for you to promote discounts to your website visitors. This is a great way to promote your offers while also providing good value to your audience. 

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​Network marketing, or multi-level marketing, seems to be on the rise. Companies such as Young Living Oils, Avon, Pampered Chef, and AdvoCare are all multi-level marketing companies. You can earn passive income through network marketing by building a team underneath you (often referred to as a down line.) Once you have a large team you can earn commissions off of their sales without having to do much.
Upper class encompasses the top end of the income spectrum relative members of society as a whole. Since they have more wealth and privacy, the upper class has more personal autonomy than the rest of the population. Upper class values include higher education, and for the wealthiest people the accumulation and maintenance of wealth, the maintenance of social networks and the power that accompanies such networks. Children of the upper class are typically schooled on how to manage this power and channel this privilege in different forms. It is in large part by accessing various edifices of information,[clarification needed] associates, procedures and auspices that the upper class are able to maintain their wealth and pass it to future generations.[36] Usually, people of the upper class participate as partisans in elections and have more political power than those of lower classes due to their abundance of resources and influence.
Affiliates were among the earliest adopters of pay per click advertising when the first pay-per-click search engines emerged during the end of the 1990s. Later in 2000 Google launched its pay per click service, Google AdWords, which is responsible for the widespread use and acceptance of pay per click as an advertising channel. An increasing number of merchants engaged in pay per click advertising, either directly or via a search marketing agency, and realized that this space was already occupied by their affiliates. Although this situation alone created advertising channel conflicts and debates between advertisers and affiliates, the largest issue concerned affiliates bidding on advertisers names, brands, and trademarks.[39] Several advertisers began to adjust their affiliate program terms to prohibit their affiliates from bidding on those type of keywords. Some advertisers, however, did and still do embrace this behavior, going so far as to allow, or even encourage, affiliates to bid on any term, including the advertiser's trademarks.
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.
I am very disabled by a genetic collagen integrity condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Ht (EDS-HT)and it effects all tissue, joints, GI Tract, my heart, nervous system and much more, which creates huge challenges for me physically. I was disabled at a young age, had to quit work at 40 years old and I am eligible for $600 month. Due to the progressive syndrome, all work I have tried I could not physically sustain within only a few days.
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.
I love the Pyramid. I have this discussion with my wife all the time. While it’s certainly possible to live a lower middle class lifestyle, we don’t do so now so it’s not really our retirement goal either. My goal is to get to baseline FI before losing a regular income and hopefully have hobby income and investments take me to Blockbuster (remember them?) FI later on.
Hi, Jamie! Very good list. I needed something like this for 2018 so that I know what to target in the future blogs I create. As for now, I’m comfortable using SiteGround affiliate network and it’s pretty good actually. Their hosting service is pretty much the best considered its price. I’ve tried others but SiteGround stands out. I’ll also try new affiliate networks, something from the list you have just provided. I think Amazon is too saturated at the moment, and I need a better network. 2018 will be interesting indeed.
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