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.
I want to thank you for the great article. I was looking online for some inspiration to re-ignite my side-hustle and breathe some new life into my existing efforts. Your ideas here are fabulous and I’ve made notes on seven of them. I already have a lot of the concepts started, but you have given me the spark I was looking for to keep moving forward. Thanks for the help!
Has anyone ever told you you have a voice for radio? Are you great at creating original characters with just your voice? There are tons of people looking to pay for quality voice overs for their corporate videos, animation series, or educational videos. Check out Fiverr and UpWork or create a profile on a specialized site like Voices.com or The Voice Realm to get started making money online doing voice overs.
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”.

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.

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I’m 19 and I’ve been working for about 2.5 years, and I’ve saved up a good chunk of money. However, I started college this year, and I’m trying to balance tuition payments and the urge to spend my money carelessly. Do you have any tips for cutting down spending? Or how much of my paycheck I should be spending if I make anywhere between $600-$800 a month?

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.
Marxian economics (see labor theory of value) distinguishes in the Grundrisse between material wealth and human wealth, defining human wealth as "wealth in human relations"; land and labour were the source of all material wealth. The German cultural historian Silvio Vietta links wealth/poverty to rationality. Having a leading position in the development of rational sciences, in new technologies and in economic production leads to wealth, while the opposite can be correlated with poverty.[11][12]
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.
To do so, donate your most precious asset: your time. Bring your family to a local soup kitchen, foodbank, or homeless shelter. Tutor less-privileged children in your city. Help the elderly with groceries or in-home care. Work on low-income houses with Habitat for Humanity. There are more resources than ever to help you contribute beyond yourself in a meaningful way; just do an Internet search for volunteer opportunities in your area.
After you start tracking your net-worth, you need to track where your money is going. Whether this is student loans, bills, food, entertainment, etc. This might not be the most exciting thing to do, but is CRUCIAL and actually does get more exciting the more money you are making (and seeing your investments grow!) Knowing where your money is going is more important than budgeting – it’s about accountability and adopting an optimization mindset. It really can put your spending in perspective.

What is a Financial Independence Number


If you are self-employed, that just means you have a lot of “bosses” that you serve. So, periodically ask those “bosses/clients” how you can better serve them. I have done this in the past through simple surveys. I simply ask what challenges they are facing and how I can better serve them. The better you can serve people, the more value you bring to the table, the more it helps you become a higher earner.

“If you want to retire early, you need to have a strong ‘why,’” Hayes said. “Do you want to quit your job so that you can start that business you always talked about with your friends? Do you want to have more than two weeks per year of vacation time? Do you want to spend more time with your loved ones? Whatever your why, let that be the motivating factor to create a plan and stick to it during the tough times. Once you have that why, you want to determine your path.”
Upper class encompasses the top end of the income spectrum relative members of society as a whole. Since they have more wealth and privacy, the upper class has more personal autonomy than the rest of the population. Upper class values include higher education, and for the wealthiest people the accumulation and maintenance of wealth, the maintenance of social networks and the power that accompanies such networks. Children of the upper class are typically schooled on how to manage this power and channel this privilege in different forms. It is in large part by accessing various edifices of information,[clarification needed] associates, procedures and auspices that the upper class are able to maintain their wealth and pass it to future generations.[36] Usually, people of the upper class participate as partisans in elections and have more political power than those of lower classes due to their abundance of resources and influence.
High-ticket consulting or coaching: You could sell your own high-ticket consulting or coaching products from your website. You'll still need a website, merchant account, sales funnel, lead magnet and many other items. But you can easily earn a substantial amount of money from each individual customer, making it well worth the arduous setup required. 
If you have a fondness and talent for taking pictures you can make extra money online by becoming a stock photographer and selling your images to a stock photo company like ShutterStock or iStockPhoto. You’ll get royalties every time someone licenses an image you’ve submitted. To really be successful, build your own photography website to be able to showcase your portfolio and start getting higher-paid private corporate work.

All of these are great ideas to earn a little more spending (or saving) money! I agree that investing in real estate can be passive, but it also depends where you invest in! If you invest in real estate in a college town (which has many pros and can give you a nice deal of money), in my opinion it doesn’t tend to be passive! College students (even the more responsible ones) tend to cause wear and tear, making your job as a landlord non-passive.

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“Most of us are shocked to realize how much we actually spend,” Hester said. “After you’ve started tracking, figure out how much your lifestyle costs per year, look for what you might be able to cut out to shrink that number, and then start working on increasing your savings rate. Those are the hardest parts of the journey, and the rest is just a matter of waiting for the money to add up and compound.”

@Palmetto - Thanks for the feedback. As far as making a pivot in my career, I just knew I needed to boost my credibility and change the path I was going on. Being in the computer science field, I was already technology driven and knew how important it would continue to be. I just looked into jobs that seem to be hiring the most and closely matched my interests, then looked at what I need to learn to be able to get that job. It wasn't too difficult because I already knew what I wanted to switch too and enjoy about some of my previous work. For other fields, I'm sure it might be more difficult to figure it out. But keep at it. Advice, really just do your research, make lists of what you enjoy/don't enjoy, what you'd like to learn more of and just dive in. Creating my own music blog was a huge stepping stone and opened more career choices. @Mrs Picky Pincher - Thanks for your point! I see where you are coming from. Agree, you shouldn't spend all your waking hours working, chasing the almighty dollar. However, I choose side hustles that are only a few hours a week or projects I know that won't consume my entire life. The reason I advocate for side gigs is because your full-time is never guaranteed. Sure you may be able to survive on some savings, but if anything were to happen to that job, you're in more of "what am I going to do" mode. I'm not in a panic for work because I have some supplement income still coming in while I continue to find the next gig. Just adds a bit less stress. And no, def don't want to think negatively about your future job, but something to always be mindful of. @Cody - Thanks! Hoping to contribute more to MM!

However, if you're looking for realistic ways you can start earning money online now, then it really truly does boil down to seven paths you can take towards profit. Some will provide you with immediate results, helping you to address your basic monthly necessities such as rent, utilities and groceries, while others have the potential to transform your life by revolutionizing your finances in the long term.
I am very disabled by a genetic collagen integrity condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Ht (EDS-HT)and it effects all tissue, joints, GI Tract, my heart, nervous system and much more, which creates huge challenges for me physically. I was disabled at a young age, had to quit work at 40 years old and I am eligible for $600 month. Due to the progressive syndrome, all work I have tried I could not physically sustain within only a few days.

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Another way to utilize your talent and business skills is to run corporate workshops online. Businesses are always looking for unique ways to help educate their workforce, and if you can package your talents into a day or half-day long session, you can sell that to companies all over the world to make money online. Start by building a portfolio and then reaching out on LinkedIn to influencers at relevant companies to see if they would be interested in you teaching their team.

If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.
While I was nervous and scrambling to figure out what to do for full-time work, I began looking into digital marketing (I already had a blog about music that got me into SEO, analytics, etc.) and how I could improve my overall career worth. I wanted to find a job in something that I was really starting to enjoy as well as improve my future salary options. Here are the best skills to learn for the future.

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The music industry might not be as strong as it was in the 80s, but there are still plenty of ways to make money online as a musician. Sites like SoundBetter let you sell your services as a songwriter, producer, or session musician to thousands of customers a month. While Musicbed, Music Vine, Marmoset, and SongFreedom are perfect for licensing your music to TV shows, movies, and web series.

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Now you’ve got many different options to start earning online. If you saw something that really interests you, try it out and learn more about it. If you’re really wanting to make a full-time income online, you need to be dedicated to learning how to do what you want to do. There are tons of free resources out there. You just have to search for them!
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.
If you’re already contributing 15% of your income to retirement and you want to start saving for your kids’ college fund, you can start by investing in an Education Savings Account (ESA). Like a Roth IRA, the money you contribute to an ESA grows tax-free, which means you won’t pay taxes on it when it’s used to cover college expenses. Currently you can contribute up to $2,000 per year for each child in an ESA. Income limits do apply, and your investing pro can help you know if those impact you.(1)

If you are a doctor or lawyer, you need to put in long hours after years of specialty training and higher education to get a paycheck. However, in any occupation, as discussed, your annual salary does not necessarily translate to wealth. With long-term thinking, helping to ensure your job’s security, taking initiative to achieve a promotion, or taking steps that will result in higher sales commissions can all be factors for wealth and ways to help ease your anxieties over financial independence.
No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you'll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you'll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter. 
I hope to end up somewhere in the “Blockbuster FI” category eventually, only because I am a worker. I like starting businesses, and making sales, so I’ll probably always be doing something creative. I just want to get rid of the fear and pressure that comes with being dependent on money. The fear of losing a big client, or the pressure of having a competitor undercut me with prices, and always being on edge. Once I am FI, I can just have fun running businesses and really not care about the money I make. That’s the dream I am striving for. My first quarter-million is in the bank, and generating me $1000 passive income a month, so I think the hardest stage of getting it going is over. Now I just have to keep building it. Always enjoy stopping by. Billy B.
The 4% rule has a failure rate based on overall market movement and time in the market. If you need to cover 20 years the 4% rule is extremely safe. If you need to cover 40-50-60 years because of early FI it starts to get riskier. Why not arrange your investments so you achieve a 4% yield, then you will never need to sell shares and can live an infinite amount of time without working? To boot, invest in some dividend growth stocks and you will get an inflation-busting 6% average annual raise on your income as well!
I started small, about 10% each paycheck would be taken out for my savings accounts. Half would go to my Vanguard retirement account and the other half to my savings. Then, I kept increasing it and diversifying where the money went. Anytime I go a raise or made side hustle income, I would do the exact same thing as soon as it cleared in my bank account. Now, I’m on track to save 30% this year of my overall income, which I would like to increase to 40% by next year.
When was the last time you went to a new restaurant without looking it up online beforehand? Or bought a product that didn’t have at least a few 5-star reviews? It seems like more and more our world is run on reviews. And you can make money online by writing them. Get started by creating accounts on sites like Vindale research, Software Judge, FameBit, CrowdTap, Influence Central, and Modern Mom. However, before you run off and start writing, be sure to check the small print on each of these sites. Writing reviews isn’t a huge source of guaranteed income and you want to make sure that it’s worth your time before you get going.
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.”
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.

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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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The wealth of households amounts to US$280 trillion (2017). According to the eighth edition of the Global Wealth Report, in the year to mid-2017, total global wealth rose at a rate of 6.4%, the fastest pace since 2012 and reached US$280 trillion, a gain of US$16.7 trillion. This reflected widespread gains in equity markets matched by similar rises in non-financial assets, which moved above the pre-crisis year 2007's level for the first time this year. Wealth growth also outpaced population growth, so that global mean wealth per adult grew by 4.9% and reached a new record high of US$56,540 per adult. Tim Harford has asserted that a small child has greater wealth than the 2 billion poorest people in the world combined, since a small child has no debt.[23]

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Acorns: Acorns is a great way to start investing and building wealth. As it turns out, Acorns will pay you $5 to start investing with them for as little as $1. That’s a 500% return, plus it’s probably time you started investing for your future. They even have features like round-up and found money that allows you to get free money from places you already shop at. 

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The audiobook industry is booming, yet only 5% of books ever get made into audio format. If you’ve got a background in acting, or if people have said you’ve got a voice made for the radio, you can make extra money recording audio versions of independent and popular books. Sites like ACX connect authors with audiobook performers. So, whether you’re an author looking for more ways to sell your book, or an actor/voice actor looking to make some extra income, you can sell your services online.

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The easiest and best way to shield your income from taxes is retirement plans. If your employer offers a 401(k) plan at work, put as much of your income into it as you can afford. At a minimum, invest up to the amount that will get you the maximum employer matching contribution. For example, if your employer offers a 50% match (3%) up to a 6% contribution by you, you should contribute at least 6% – and of course, more is always better.
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.
A reason I believe 4% is reasonable, especially for myself and for Mad Fientist readers, is because early/semi retirees will have much more flexibility than the retirees that the Financial Mentor is writing for. You’ll notice in his article that he references $2.5 million and $3.3 million nest eggs in his article. I hate to make another assumption but I assume people with nest eggs that large most likely have much higher expenses and more financial obligations (i.e. bigger mortgages, boat loans, expensive habits, etc.) so it may be harder to adjust their lifestyles when the economy changes. For me, however, if I start withdrawing 4% from my portfolio but then the market tanks, I’ll be able to move somewhere where the cost of living is less and potentially pick up part-time work that I enjoy so that I can withdraw less from my portfolio during the downturns.

5. Fiverr – Fiverr is a great place to make a few bucks or spend a few bucks if you need some of the services people offer. Basically, everything is $5. You either pay $5 or charge $5. They call them “gigs.” You can offer your services however you choose. If you sell art and you’re fine selling pieces for $5 each, that’s a gig. If you’re a graphic designer and you want to offer your services for $10/hour, simply offer a 30 minute gig. If they need two hours of graphic design, they pay you $20, or $10/hour by buying four gigs.


@Palmetto - Thanks for the feedback. As far as making a pivot in my career, I just knew I needed to boost my credibility and change the path I was going on. Being in the computer science field, I was already technology driven and knew how important it would continue to be. I just looked into jobs that seem to be hiring the most and closely matched my interests, then looked at what I need to learn to be able to get that job. It wasn't too difficult because I already knew what I wanted to switch too and enjoy about some of my previous work. For other fields, I'm sure it might be more difficult to figure it out. But keep at it. Advice, really just do your research, make lists of what you enjoy/don't enjoy, what you'd like to learn more of and just dive in. Creating my own music blog was a huge stepping stone and opened more career choices. @Mrs Picky Pincher - Thanks for your point! I see where you are coming from. Agree, you shouldn't spend all your waking hours working, chasing the almighty dollar. However, I choose side hustles that are only a few hours a week or projects I know that won't consume my entire life. The reason I advocate for side gigs is because your full-time is never guaranteed. Sure you may be able to survive on some savings, but if anything were to happen to that job, you're in more of "what am I going to do" mode. I'm not in a panic for work because I have some supplement income still coming in while I continue to find the next gig. Just adds a bit less stress. And no, def don't want to think negatively about your future job, but something to always be mindful of. @Cody - Thanks! Hoping to contribute more to MM! 

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You can sell your ebooks through Amazon's Kindle program or Apple's iTunes Connect, which gives you access to a large majority of the digital-book reading market and the barriers for entry are incredibly low. You don't need to invest lots of money to make this happen, but you do need to invest lots of time, not only in writing the ebooks, but in marketing them as well.

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For those of you looking to retire early with financial freedom, think about what your bare minimum retirement would look like. Could you move to a place with a lower cost of living? Would you give up going out to dinner? Work towards a nest egg that will support this bare-bones lifestyle. You probably will decide against moving to that cabin in the woods without running water, but it might be nice to know you could. Considering your bare minimum retirement, and knowing you have enough money saved to at least cover some standard of living in your early retirement, will also influence other life choices you may make along the way.
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.
The first follows the startup path we outlined above: You have a disruptive idea for an app or piece of software, you validate the idea with real customers, and then raise money to hire developers or a development studio to build, launch, and scale your software. If you’ve done everything right, your software will be accepted to the Apple and Google Stores and you’ll make money every time someone downloads it or pays for a premium feature.

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Many of us, especially women, lose sight of who we once wanted to become, because we are so busy putting others first. As we play the various roles of parent, spouse, employee, friend, and more, we watch our dreams slip away. Even if you find these roles rewarding, there may still be an underlying foundation of resentment that leaves you wondering, “what if?”

While I was nervous and scrambling to figure out what to do for full-time work, I began looking into digital marketing (I already had a blog about music that got me into SEO, analytics, etc.) and how I could improve my overall career worth. I wanted to find a job in something that I was really starting to enjoy as well as improve my future salary options. Here are the best skills to learn for the future.

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All of these are great ideas to earn a little more spending (or saving) money! I agree that investing in real estate can be passive, but it also depends where you invest in! If you invest in real estate in a college town (which has many pros and can give you a nice deal of money), in my opinion it doesn’t tend to be passive! College students (even the more responsible ones) tend to cause wear and tear, making your job as a landlord non-passive.

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Financial freedom isn’t easy, but you knew that before reading this essay. The exciting part about these five principles is that they apply to anyone, anywhere on the socioeconomic ladder. Whether you earn minimum wage or six-figures, whether you are single or have half-a-dozen children, we have seen these principles work for thousands of individuals—because it’s not about our income level; it’s about the decisions we make with the resources we have.
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