I hold my hand up and say that I’m one of the odd ones who would be content with enough. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with those striving for more than enough. For me, I’m not convinced it is worth my time and effort, nor will it give me much more satisfaction or happiness in life. The term ‘enough’ is interesting in itself. It’s all relative. One person’s enough is another person’s ‘plenty’. Even at Budget FI, without a car finance or mortgage, I consider that to be a very healthy financial position to be in. I might change my mind in 7 years time when I reach my number, but that’s okay. Everyone’s idea of FI will be different and we all reserve the right to adapt our plans to suit our changing needs.
My main point was that financial independence isn’t a single point or event. It’s a continuum. Each dollar we save grants us greater financial freedom. There are a variety of major milestones. For instance, achieving positive cash flow (earning more than you spend) brings one type of financial independence. Getting out of debt brings another. And so on.
“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.”
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
The doctor or lawyer, for instance, could use her or his income to invest in a medical start-up or buy shares of medical companies he understands such as Johnson & Johnson. Over time, the nature of compounding, dollar cost averaging, and reinvesting dividends can result in her or his portfolio generating substantial passive income. The downside is that it can take decades to achieve enough to truly improve your standard of living. However, it is still the surest path to wealth based on the historical performance of business ownership and stocks.