In hindsight, it's obvious there have been better times to invest than others. But since no one knows what the future holds, you can't know when that will be in the future. Plan to invest no matter what the market is doing. If you're investing periodically, you'll be dollar cost averaging into the market, which will minimize the risk you're taking should the market decline.
Assuming you are doing pretty well and are happy with your current standard of living, what would you need to maintain your standard of living in retirement? Knowing you are on track to accumulate a nest egg to support that lifestyle is a big win. Gold medals go to those who have accumulated enough assets, or passive income streams, to be in a position to retire well.
What does financial independence mean
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.
Grant Sabatier, called "The Millennial Millionaire" by CNBC, is the Founder of MillennialMoney.com, which has reached over 10 million readers. He writes about personal finance, investing, entrepreneurship, and mindfulness and hosts the Financial Freedom podcast. Sabatier graduated from the University of Chicago and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Money Magazine,and many others. When not traveling in his VW Camper, he lives in New York City.
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Why do you want financial freedom
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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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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. 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. 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!”)
Will I ever be financially stable
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An affiliate marketing program is a lot of work, and in most situations there's a lot of competition so you're not going to be bringing in money immediately. Business owners and entrepreneurs suppose that all you need do is setup a site and choose an affiliate to associate with and then just let it run its course. But according to Three Ladders Marketing, only 0.6% of affiliate marketers surveyed have been in the game since 2013. That means that affiliate marketing takes time and effort to build and make money.
I think it is hard for the majority of those who are seeking/building towards financial independence, to essentially turn the switch off. What I mean by this is that it is hard for them to ever feel “financially secure” because their whole life’s financial habits have been based on constantly earning/saving/growing their money. Based off of those deep ingrained habits, it is extremely difficult for that individual to suddenly change course and tell themselves they no longer need to keep growing their money.
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”.
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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.
In fact, the FIRE community seems to focus less on the “retire early” aspect of the movement and more on the financial independence component, “which is a powerful aspirational goal that is readily achievable if people are willing to make some small, but important, optimizations in their lives,” said Jonathan Mendonsa, co-host of the ChooseFI podcast.