Having no debt during retirement is an absolute must for me but I still wouldn’t be able to deal with budget FI. Having ~$40,000 a year to pay for health insurance, property/car insurance, gas, food, utilities, internet, cellphone, etc. doesn’t leave much for fun stuff. I look at FI as the ultimate goal. Goals are supposed to be the best situation I can strive for based on my personal wants. Baseline FI would allow me to pay all the bills AND have fun. Whereas budget FI is allowing just enough to cover expenses.
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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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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!
“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.”
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Living in the moment often brings financial woes because the long-term goals of saving takes thought about tomorrow. I have seen people who just had the knack for putting $$$’s away. A friend of mine has a son who started taking his lunch when in school and saving that lunch money. He put it in a sock, when he graduated from high school he had saved all of the sock money which included birthday gifts, and etc. that amounted to about 20g. His mom was a banker. LOL However, today, he has his own business, has real estate he has… Read more »

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I hope to end up somewhere in the “Blockbuster FI” category eventually, only because I am a worker. I like starting businesses, and making sales, so I’ll probably always be doing something creative. I just want to get rid of the fear and pressure that comes with being dependent on money. The fear of losing a big client, or the pressure of having a competitor undercut me with prices, and always being on edge. Once I am FI, I can just have fun running businesses and really not care about the money I make. That’s the dream I am striving for. My first quarter-million is in the bank, and generating me $1000 passive income a month, so I think the hardest stage of getting it going is over. Now I just have to keep building it. Always enjoy stopping by. Billy B.
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Budget FI sounds kind of like an oxymoron, but I get what you’re saying. I’d be happy to be there. We have a long way to go but I like how you placed parameters around the pyramid. There should be a projected lifestyle in mind already when one decides to retire. And the projection should be based on the amount in your accounts and the ways you’d like or need to spend it.

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Our plan is to continue on until I hit 65 when I can transition my healthcare to Medicare, our daughter will be out of college and almost finished with grad school and close to transitioning to her own healthcare plan which just leaves the need to cover my wife for another 3 years, unless she wishes to soldier on a little longer on the company plan.
Of course, it’s also important to note that money isn’t the thing that makes you truly rich — it’s the freedom that comes from pursuing whatever brings you joy and provides you will fulfillment that makes you rich. The whole point of financial freedom is that once you become financially free, you have more choices of how to live your life and spend your days.
This is probably the most exclusive level of financial freedom. Hopefully, your financial freedom plan will allow you to outlive your money. Having more money than you expected to spend is great. Building enough wealth so that you could not possibly spend all of it is another. This group will likely be filled with people who either won the lottery, inherited a fortune or are founders of companies – think Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Even if they went on a spending spree buying planes, yachts and automobiles; they would still have a hard time spending all of it. I should note that both Gates and Buffet have pledged to give away a vast majority of their wealth when they pass. I would be unfair to count that as “spending all their money.”

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Paying for a car repair without stress is just a small part of the picture. It’s more than just being able to afford emergencies. It’s knowing you don’t have to worry about retirement because you’ve worked with your financial advisor to invest consistently for decades. It’s the freedom to quit your J-O-B to do something you love, even if means getting paid less.

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Living in the moment often brings financial woes because the long-term goals of saving takes thought about tomorrow. I have seen people who just had the knack for putting $$$’s away. A friend of mine has a son who started taking his lunch when in school and saving that lunch money. He put it in a sock, when he graduated from high school he had saved all of the sock money which included birthday gifts, and etc. that amounted to about 20g. His mom was a banker. LOL However, today, he has his own business, has real estate he has… Read more »
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I want to be solidly in the middle – i.e. comfort zone, in the next 5 years. Right now I could hit the frugal FI button likely in the next year or so, but would not be happy there. I like the idea of the continuum. My in-laws are shooting for blockbuster FI, but they both own tech businesses that are doing well…so their reality differs slightly from mine.
Geographic Arbitrage – As I mentioned in The Perfect Life article, I also plan on using geographical arbitrage to bring my FI date even closer. By living somewhere like Thailand for a portion of the year, the income from my United States investments and businesses will go much further than if I lived in the States. Renting will allow us to easily move to cheaper places, as needed or desired.
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I moved to a remote tropical Island once FI. This idea was not spontaneous, and I had planted seeds for years working off and on as an expat in the medical field. I worked with royalty and even had the life changing experience of using a gold toilet. The toilet was not really life changing at all, and somehow sad. I also had opportunities to work with orphanages literally in the tree tops and cultures who thought their medical issues were caused by spirits. There were amazing times, but I also suffered through cholera. The remaining time I worked for years in high stress, high salary, with little time off. It made me sick.
In Western civilization, wealth is connected with a quantitative type of thought, invented in the ancient Greek "revolution of rationality", involving for instance the quantitative analysis of nature, the rationalization of warfare, and measurement in economics.[11][12] The invention of coined money and banking was particularly important. Aristotle describes the basic function of money as a universal instrument of quantitative measurement – “for it measures all things […]” – making things alike and comparable due to a social "agreement" of acceptance.[25] In that way, money also enables a new type of economic society and the definition of wealth in measurable quantities. In the Roman Empire, just as in modern colonialism, the main force behind the conquest of countries was the exploitation and accumulation of wealth in quantitative values like gold and money. Modern philosophers like Nietzsche criticized the fixation on measurable wealth: "Unsere ‘Reichen' – das sind die Ärmsten! Der eigentliche Zweck alles Reichtums ist vergessen!" (“Our 'rich people' – those are the poorest! The real purpose of all wealth has been forgotten!”)[26]

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Those who choose to focus on passive income will need either family money, funds from investors, or the nerve to borrow large sums by taking on debt to fund the purchase of assets. Consider someone who takes out substantial bank loans to build an apartment building or buy rental houses. Although this can turn a very small amount of equity into a large cash flow stream, it is not without risk. When using borrowed money, the margin of safety is much smaller because you can’t absorb the same degree of setback before defaulting and finding your balance sheet obliterated.
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.
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?
Marxian economics (see labor theory of value) distinguishes in the Grundrisse between material wealth and human wealth, defining human wealth as "wealth in human relations"; land and labour were the source of all material wealth. The German cultural historian Silvio Vietta links wealth/poverty to rationality. Having a leading position in the development of rational sciences, in new technologies and in economic production leads to wealth, while the opposite can be correlated with poverty.[11][12]
All of these are great ideas to earn a little more spending (or saving) money! I agree that investing in real estate can be passive, but it also depends where you invest in! If you invest in real estate in a college town (which has many pros and can give you a nice deal of money), in my opinion it doesn’t tend to be passive! College students (even the more responsible ones) tend to cause wear and tear, making your job as a landlord non-passive.
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