Late to the game, Sam, but I like where you, J.D., and others are going with this line of reasoning. Understanding levels of financial independence and financial security are very much needed. I worry that our main message is a turn off to a lot of people because they can’t possibly fathom saving 25 times their annual living expenses or more. For a lot of people, just being able to spend slightly less than they earn and having a modest emergency fund is their idea of financial nirvana. It would be nice if we could somehow champion these people and show them that they are welcomed members of our community. Cheers.
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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.
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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.
To me the biggest reason for not quitting my job before have close to $10M is the cost of raising kids. I don’t see how it will work out for folks retiring at 35 with $1M saved if they plan to raise a family. Providing a good life, after school activities, travel opportunities, college, etc. I assume I’ll spend at least $1M per child to raise them from birth through college. (The average is ~$250,000 to get them just through high school and that doesn’t include many of the things I hope to do as a family)
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.