While we all need to make money to live—and there’s certainly nothing wrong with earning a great salary—taking control of your financial life involves much more than adjusting your income upward. It involves making repeated good decisions with the resources you have, changing your financial habits, and living deliberately. None of which is inherently easy—especially under the tyranny of today’s instant-gratification culture—but fortunately, regaining control of your finances is simple.
For example, as we were tackling our debts, Joshua sold his oversized house and moved into a tiny apartment. Ryan sold his fancy new car and purchased a decade-old vehicle without a monthly payment. We both jettisoned our cable subscriptions, satellite radio, and other superfluous bills that saved us hundreds of dollars each month. We also did “strange” things like deliver pizzas, work overtime, and find other ways to supplement our income in the short-term so we could pay off our debts faster. Plus, we sold hundreds of items—electronics, furniture, clothes, DVDs, books, collectibles, tools, yard equipment—that weren’t essential, and we used that money to further pay down our debts. Basically, anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor found it’s way to eBay. Now everything we own serves a purpose or brings us joy, and we don’t miss any of the trinkets of yesteryear.
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I will admit, I’m not a huge fan of fancy budget spreadsheets, so I just use free tracking apps like Personal Capital. Then once a month I used the data and wrote down every bill and loan I had with the numbers next to them (some obviously varied slightly from month to month) along with every time I spent money on going out, food, clothes, etc. You’d be surprised at the things you catch that has affected your spending over the last year. Slight tweaks and adjustments can make all the difference in the amount you save. This was how I was able to identify how much money interest my student and car loans were accumulating and then identified it was critical for me to start paying them down rapidly.
We invest our money into four separate buckets using Betterment’s online software: Safety Net, Retirement Fund, House Fund, and Wealth-Building Fund. (For complete details, see our Retirement Planning article, in which we we break down how we, as minimalists, plan for retirement and other financial objectives, using screenshots and real-world examples, including statistics and personal figures.)
Unfortunately, living paycheck to paycheck is the reality of millions of Americans. According to the Federal Reserve's Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017, some 40% of households could not cover a $400 unexpected expense. Most of us will have some unexpected bills pop up throughout the year such as car repairs, medical bills and nights out drinking with friends. Having an emergency fund will come in handy during those types of situations.
In this chapter I talk a lot about how to reduce your biggest expenses and that you are going to be able to save the most money where you spend the most money. I also talk a lot about traveling the world for free using credit card travel rewards. Because I’ve gotten so many questions on how to do this from readers I created an Introduction to Credit Card Rewards Guide. 

The vast majority of Ameerica will sadly never get to even the first level. Their retirement will funded almost entirely by social security. We on this blog are not representative of the country and that is sad. I have talked to countless individuals about making better decisions with their money and I can only think of one couple, in the 90’s, who took it to heart. They are now well off. The rest just kept making the same bad decisions over and over again.
We—Joshua & Ryan—know first hand. The road to financial freedom was a long trek for both us. Even though we had prestigious six-figure careers, we struggled with money back then; and we weren’t financially free for a long time. In fact, it wasn’t until we walked away from those career’s (after devising a plan, of course) that we discovered how to get out of debt, how to eliminate unnecessary expenses, how to plan for our future, how to master our finances.
Commentator Larry Kudlow pointed out one of the great truths years ago when he said that profits are nothing more than margins times revenue. The profoundness of that statement is sometimes lost by its simplicity. The only way you can have more money left over at the end of the month is to either increase revenue (your paycheck, business sales, billable hours, or whatever it is that provides funds to cover your bills) or decrease costs. That's it. Write it down. Frame it. It's that remarkable. Your choices are to increase revenue, cut costs, or both.

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.
No problem and good luck. His book is what started my quest for early retirement – although the investment advice is a bit dated. Another couple who are in the same camp are Billy and Akaisha Kaderli. Again, these are sort of the grandparents of the movement. Although in their 60’s now, they retired at 38 with $500k or so. They also spend a large portion of their time overseas – mostly southeast Asia. Both the Terhorsts and Kaderlis focus on expense management to achieve a full life of travel and fun. The Kaderlis have also written several books avaiable on their website – unfortunately, not for free. They tend to do more interviews so they would be a podcast option too.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website.  

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The easiest way to do it is by cutting back on your housing, transportation, and food costs. The average American spends 70% of their money on housing, transportation, and food, so if you can spend less on them (say 25% or so, then you can bank the difference). If you move to a smaller apartment, walk to work, and cook at home, you could realistically increase your savings rate to 25%+ or even higher.
But I have bills due! One mindset that makes saving money easier is to pay yourself first. It was a concept I first read about in Rich Dad Poor Dad and I thought it was really interesting. The author essentially stated that he would save as much as possible before any bills were due and would leave just enough to make sure he had no late payments on bills.
Almost all of these ideas require starting a personal blog or website. But the great thing about that is that it's incredibly cheap to do. We recommend using Bluehost to get started. You get a free domain name and hosting starts at just $2.95 per month - a deal that you won't find many other places online! You can afford that to start building a passive income stream.

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How to Monetize: Affiliate marketing works well when you discuss products on your blog. For our fish tank blog, we would link to all the things you need to buy for an aquarium and then when people click on that link and buy that item (and other items they purchase with it with some exceptions) you get a percentage of the purchase. Amazon Associates is the best-known affiliate marketing program, but there are others like Impact Radius, ShareASale, Commission Junction, ClickBank, and Rakuten too.
I agree with FS. I hope my $1M number is too high but it’s not unreasonable. According to the Department of Agriculture study last year the average family with an combined household income of greater than $107,000 will spend on average $372,000 to raise a child to age 18. Add in $250k of college costs (before inflation) and you’re already over $600,000 for the average. This average doesn’t include private school costs. I hope to send my children to public school but private school tuition around here is $40,000+/year if the public schools aren’t good enough. Without kids we would have a 3 bedroom house, with kids we had to go with a 4 bedroom. Adding that 4th bedroom here adds about $400,000 to the price of the house and $8,000+ extra in property taxes annually. And we haven’t gotten to any extras yet. I was fortunate enough to travel internationally with my family growing up and I want to provide that experience to my children. I believe that is valuable but it also costs thousands per year.
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.
But I have bills due! One mindset that makes saving money easier is to pay yourself first. It was a concept I first read about in Rich Dad Poor Dad and I thought it was really interesting. The author essentially stated that he would save as much as possible before any bills were due and would leave just enough to make sure he had no late payments on bills.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you only promote one merchant’s products, you are stuck with their commissions, their landing pages, and ultimately, their conversion rates. It is important to work with many different merchants in your niche and promote a wide range of products. This affiliate marketing strategy will diversify the amount of commissions you make and create a steady stream of revenue when building an affiliate website. 

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Since you’re not taking on debt, you’ll also need a savings plan for big purchases that aren’t emergencies. Let’s take summer vacation for example. It’s simple! Create a line item in your monthly budget and divide the total amount by the months you have to save. You’re not living in debt anymore, and that means you can enjoy your vacation instead of having a credit card bill follow you home.

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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Environmental assets are not usually counted in measuring wealth, in part due to the difficulty of valuation for a non-market good. Environmental or green accounting is a method of social accounting for formulating and deriving such measures on the argument that an educated valuation is superior to a value of zero (as the implied valuation of environmental assets).[32]
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