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True, the world is a bit unpredictable. That said, if you’re invested in a very broad index (like VTI, VTSMX/VTSAX), you are as protected as possible. If those indexes collapse/devalue, there are far greater issues going on than money. You would be fighting to eat and survive at that point, and money would be worthless. So, other than the world ending as we know it, you can be FI and have 99.9% assurance you are financially safe.
I hate budgets and Financial Freedom is designed so you don’t need to budget. But it’s important to quickly look at how much money you spend and more importantly, the impact it has on how long it will take you to reach financial independence (when you don’t have to work for money). This calculator and spreadsheet can be used to calculate your current and future projected expenses.
– My pension will be 70K at age 55 and will get 8K yearly for retiree medical. Retiree company medical is currently $12.8K in 2018 and it increases every year. If I leave before 55 then my pension is 39K at age 55 and I would NOT get any medical coverage. I want the financial security of a higher pension and the security of having the company medical so that I don’t depend on the Obamacare which may not be around in the future.
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.
Yes is the short answer. Any time you are planing on generating money, you should have a plan. No plan means no real focus. There may be some 1/1000 percent of a chance you will succeed, but I haven't met them yet. If you have already started and have generated an income, record how. Doing so will give you material for use in expanding your business faster.
For example, we live in the burbs, the town has an average household income of 100K, average property value of $350K. That’ll cost ya $1500 a month (PI). Lot’s of BMW, Merc’s and other higher end cars, household has two cars, $1000 a month on lease. Most are both spouse working, some day care. We’re at near 3K a month with these expenses a month. If you head into FIRE with no debt allows the Basic to live like the Base. College funds, food for teenage boys, sports equipment, musical instruments, kiddie activity travel all add up.

Very useful and interesting ideas. To make a passive income is not an easy task as someone may say. It requires responsible approach and a lot of effort.I, personally, think of generating revenue from rental properties. And I was considering Queens in NY. However, I hadn’t even thought about trying index funds before your post, but now I believe it might be a good idea. Thus, thank you for sharing.

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Since I am less than 21 months away to 55, it is a mental daily struggle to get thru the day, the week and the months. It is so depressing at work since all of my co-workers have been laidoff. There is no one for “water cooler” talk. Over IT 1000 ppl were laid off from 2012 to 2017. It can be stressful at times to support the IT systems by myself. I have hobbies to help take my mind a little off the countdown clock. We take vacations so that I can get mentally away. Since I work from home, we try to go out at least once a week for lunch. I read your site and RB40’s site NUMEROUS times a day to take my mind of work.
Your freedom grows alongside your savings. Eventually, you will have enough money saved to feel comfortable switching jobs, starting a business, returning to school, traveling for a year, or any number of other activities that are impossible to achieve without savings. This stage of financial freedom might include major life changes, but they are not permanent. Your freedom is temporary because your savings will be depleted over time, forcing you to find other sources of income again.

Obviously, these are much higher than you’re going to get with most other investments. What’s more is that you can choose a plan that matches your investment strategy, whether your goal is Supplemental Income, Balanced Investing, or Long-term Growth. You can also look at different real estate projects and choose for yourself which ones to invest in.
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. 
My husband retired from the military after 20 years of service last summer at age 38 – his guaranteed income is appx $67k per year for life (tax free and subject to COLA), and he gets an additional $17k the next 4 years under the GI Bill while he’s in school. We have appx $450k invested, no debt, and guaranteed health insurance for life with no monthly premiums, $150 annual deductible and $3k annual catastrophic cap. We have one child, age 5, who will receive free college tuition if she attends a state University in our state of record. We do have appx $25k in a brokerage account for her for addtl college expenses. My husband is considering not working after he finishes school, or working a ‘fun’ part time job. We live in the Midwest, where cost of living is ok (much better than our last duty station in CA!). I work a ‘fun’ part time job bringing in about $1k/mo. Curious on your thoughts as to where this puts us. And, do we figure my husbands ‘pension + benefits’ in our networth?

Business owners represent a disproportionately large segment of the millionaire population. It's hard to believe, but there's a good chance that the biggest hardware store owner or plumber in your town has a net worth many times that of the highest-paid doctor. Part of the reason is a concept we've discussed called capitalized earnings. Another reason is one Dr. Stanley mentioned in his book. Doctors are pressured to buy status symbols to convince their patients they are successful. Not the plumber. He can put more money into his retirement accounts. Over decades, the result is millions in additional wealth for the guy who unclogged toilets instead of arteries. That's not something you learn about in school.

Also, how at the age of 24 could I even begin come close to how much money I would need for the rest of my life? As it turned out, I needed a lot less than I thought and that I was completely in control of how much I would need. While you can’t control all of the variables (like inflation and investing returns), you can control most of the variables (how much you spend etc.).


LinkConnector imposes a very rigorous and lengthy screening process, so you’ll need to prove that you have a high-quality website and established audience before being accepted. Despite its somewhat schizophrenic approach, LinkConnector does have some very happy long-term affiliates. And their “naked links” allow for direct connection to the merchant website without having to be rerouted via LinkConnector, which will give your website an SEO boost. 

There’s a ton of organic traffic you can get from search engines if you do SEO properly. The days when Search Engine Optimization was about cheating Google are gone. Today, it is about making your website better for visitors. People naturally look for information online. That’s why you should learn the basics of on-page SEO, keyword research and link building to be the information source they find first. Who wouldn’t want to rank #1 for terms such as “best product” or “product review” in Google?

Wealth is usually a measure of net worth; that is, it is a measure of how much a person has in savings, investments, real estate and cash, less any debts. For example, let's say John Doe has a $700,000 house, a car worth $20,000, a medical practice worth $400,000, and $5,000 in a checking account. Added together, these assets may be worth a whopping $1,125,000, but if John Doe is $300,000 in debt from medical school and owes $650,000 on the house, $15,000 on credit cards and $15,000 on the car, his net worth (the assets minus these liabilities) falls to about $145,000. In other words, if he were to sell everything today and pay off all his debts, he would have only $145,000 that would truly be all his.

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."

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JVZoo works exclusively with digital products, primarily e-commerce, online courses, and internet marketing offers. Because there are no limits placed on the number of links, buy buttons, or calls to action on a website, JVZoo can sometimes be somewhat low quality both in terms of offers as well as products. Nonetheless, it has proven itself to be a fierce competitor to companies like ClickBank.
Some advertisers offer multi-tier programs that distribute commission into a hierarchical referral network of sign-ups and sub-partners. In practical terms, publisher "A" signs up to the program with an advertiser and gets rewarded for the agreed activity conducted by a referred visitor. If publisher "A" attracts publishers "B" and "C" to sign up for the same program using his sign-up code, all future activities performed by publishers "B" and "C" will result in additional commission (at a lower rate) for publisher "A".
As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.
Cost per action/sale methods require that referred visitors do more than visit the advertiser's website before the affiliate receives a commission. The advertiser must convert that visitor first. It is in the best interest of the affiliate to send the most closely targeted traffic to the advertiser as possible to increase the chance of a conversion. The risk and loss are shared between the affiliate and the advertiser.

When beginning your affiliate marketing career, you’ll want to cultivate an audience that has very specific interests. This allows you to tailor your affiliate campaigns to that niche, increasing the likelihood that you’ll convert. By establishing yourself as an expert in one area instead of promoting a large array of products, you’ll be able to market to the people most likely to buy the product.

It’s hard to truly experience the pressure and know the cost of raising a kid in an expensive coastal city if you live in the Midwest. You can see the $1.4-$1.5M median home price number, but it’s hard to really know how expensive that is for how average a house you get until you go and by one. This is partly why I want to GET OUT of SF and escape the grind and the knowledge that every parent I know is indeed spending a fortune on their kids etc.
The formula-lover in me wonders about doing something like this for defining these levels based on the avg income of cities. Your definition of “blockbuster FI” is being able to live anywhere in the world, which could be the point – but the low end of blockbuster could be wherever in the world you want to live. I like that idea of planning for options.

Hi Deanna – That’s always a possibility, but you can’t spend too much time worrying about it. After all, it’s common for people to read a book, then pass along to someone else. If your work can benefit someone else all the better, it isn’t all about making money. And on the brighter side, you can gain a new fan in the person on the receiving end of the ebook. It’s a problem, but not as big as you might think.

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“Financial independence ultimately means that you can shape your life without taking money into consideration,” said Tanja Hester, a recent FIRE graduate and founder of the website Our Next Life. “Most of us have to consider our finances in nearly every decision we make, or maybe even make decisions solely based on money. But once we reach financial independence, we get the freedom not to be bossed around by what we earn or what we have saved.”
Next, there’s independence, which is what most people think of as FI (and what you call basic FI). Your investments can support your CURRENT lifestyle for the rest of your life — in theory. Lastly, I suggested that abundance was the level at which you can essentially do whatever you want without ever again worrying about money. Redditors would call this fatFIRE. You call it “blockbuster FI”.
In April 2008 the State of New York inserted an item in the state budget asserting sales tax jurisdiction over Amazon.com sales to residents of New York, based on the existence of affiliate links from New York–based websites to Amazon.[45] The state asserts that even one such affiliate constitutes Amazon having a business presence in the state, and is sufficient to allow New York to tax all Amazon sales to state residents. Amazon challenged the amendment and lost at the trial level in January 2009. The case is currently making its way through the New York appeals courts.
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.

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“Retiring early because you don’t like your job is a bad reason to do it, and is a recipe for being bored or aimless when you get there,” she said. “Achieving FIRE is a big deal, and it takes a lot of focus and determination. It’s not for those who want to get rich quick, or for those who just hate their job. The better solution then is just to find a new job, or a new career path. I’m a huge believer that you can love your job and still want to retire early or just achieve financial independence! That was true for us. We loved our work, the people we worked with, and our clients, but we didn’t love the pace of it, the pressure or the constant travel.”

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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.


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.
Some advertisers offer multi-tier programs that distribute commission into a hierarchical referral network of sign-ups and sub-partners. In practical terms, publisher "A" signs up to the program with an advertiser and gets rewarded for the agreed activity conducted by a referred visitor. If publisher "A" attracts publishers "B" and "C" to sign up for the same program using his sign-up code, all future activities performed by publishers "B" and "C" will result in additional commission (at a lower rate) for publisher "A".

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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?
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.
Financial freedom is sometimes known as “early retirement”. However, since most early retirees keep working in some capacity, financial freedom is a better term. In order to do this, you need to be very focused, because your savings rate has to be 50% or higher to achieve freedom in a short period of time. Some people are able to do this, and that’s great. But many can’t.
For anyone thinking of renting out their place via AirBnB, just check to make sure that it is legal where you live. I live in NYC and AirBnB is illegal here because a short-term rental for under 30 days is only allowed if you are a legal hotel. If caught renting or even advertising your home within the five boroughs of NYC on AirBnB, you could incur heavy fines for running an illegal hotel. Plus, most neighbors in apartment buildings don’t want strangers tramping in and out of their buildings all the time, so there could be trouble from people making complaints. So, check the laws where you live if that’s what you want to do!

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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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Passive income is earnings derived from a rental property, limited partnership or other enterprise in which a person is not actively involved. As with active income, passive income is usually taxable. However, it is often treated differently by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Portfolio income is considered passive income by some analysts, so dividends and interest would therefore be considered passive.
Building trust with your audience is paramount in affiliate marketing, and the quickest way to lose trust is to recommend products either you haven’t used before or that aren’t a good fit for your audience. Also make sure you never tell anyone to directly buy a product, you are simply recommending the product. The more helpful you are and the more you make quality recommendations, the more likely your web visitors will come back for your expertise. 
PeerFly only has a limited number of products at the moment, but they have tremendous momentum and are growing by leaps and bounds. Their payout rates aren’t spectacular, but everything is upfront and transparent, and affiliate satisfaction is very high. PeerFly is perfect for authentic marketers who want to offer high-quality products to their visitors as opposed to “get rich quick” schemes and opaque offers.

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Adjust. You’ll have some slip-ups along the way. That’s all right, it’s part of the process. At first, you and your family should scrutinize your written budget daily, and then eventually weekly, adjusting accordingly until your whole family is comfortable with your set monthly allocations. The first month is the most difficult, but by the third month you’ll curse yourself for wasting so much money during your budget-less days.

There are three main categories of income: active income, passive income and portfolio income. Passive income has been a relatively loosely used term in recent years. Colloquially, it’s been used to define money being earned regularly with little or no effort on the part of the person receiving it. Popular types of passive income include real estate, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and dividend stocks. Proponents of earning passive income tend to be boosters of a work-from-home and be-your-own-boss professional lifestyle. The type of earnings people usually associate with this are gains on stocks, interest, retirement pay, lottery winnings, online work and capital gains. 

He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
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.

While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
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.

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You might call it the time-money paradox. Most Americans trade the majority of their available time for a paycheck, and then spend the majority of each paycheck on depreciating material possessions. As the spending snowballs, many individuals desire a larger paycheck, which requires even longer hours and more responsibilities at work, leaving even less time to enjoy the income or possessions. It’s a vicious cycle that often continues in perpetuity until retirement or death.
It’s insane how much money you can make flipping items (buying a deal and then selling at a big profit). You know all those people who are selling things on eBay? Well, some of them are making tens of thousands of dollars a month doing it. Sound like a lot of work? It’s really not. The key is building a good strategy for finding, buying, uploading, and shipping items.
I am a small animal vet in the Washington DC area. Vet school loans and housing have taken their toll. I would like to retire at 60 (I just turned 52), and reach budget or baseline. Blockbuster isn’t a reality. Choose your career well– I love what I do, but sometimes wish it paid more. Semi-retirement may also be an option. Thank you, Sam, for a great post (as always).

Your domain is the address for your website (e.g., www.affilorama.com) so this is the first thing you will need to do when setting up your site. Considering there are millions of websites on the internet, it's possible that the domain name you want may already be taken by someone else. So make sure you have several options in mind. Be sure to read our advice on how to choose a good domain name. 
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).
Well said Illidi. There are more ways than ever, mostly because of the internet. I think the secret is to put out a product or service that’s unique. Not that you have to invent a whole new business, but take an existing business concept, and add something unique to it. Because you’re absolutely right, everyone is getting into the game, making it harder to succeed.

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If you are new to the financial planning process, it’s important to remember you don’t need to go from zero to sixty overnight. Just like a fitness trainer would be hesitant to recommend an all-out body straining routine on your first day in the gym, I wouldn’t expect someone to start implementing advanced planning techniques in the first week. Pick a reasonable and attainable goal, and get used to achieving small wins on your track to financial independence.
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