Beginner’s Guide To Financial Independence & Early Retirement: How You Can Quit Your Job And Live Your Dream Life Before 40

“What’s financial independence? Retire at 30? What are you going to do? That sounds boring!”

Recently I struck up a conversation with a co-worker that went something along those lines. I’m always a bit weary to bring up the topic. You never know how people will react. Generally, people are either interested in learning more about financial independence & early retirement or strongly against anything slightly unconventional.

The notion of financial independence – never having to work another day in your life – before you’re 50 years old is a very contrarian and controversial topic these days.  And although it’s enjoyed a surge in popularity as of late and has even become a bit of a buzz word, there’s still many people out there who are unaware.

Never heard of FIRE or new to the concept? FIRE stands for Financially Independent, Retired Early.

I’m going to break down the conventional aspects of early retirement, convince you that financial independence is a position of strength, and hopefully get you headed down a life changing path. Despite all the financial talk, try to remember FIRE is about way more than that. It’s about living a happy, fun, and fulfilling life. It’s about freedom.

OK you caught me… I’ll be slightly older than 30 when I hit my Financial Independence number. Cara on the other hand will be well under. On average then, we’re aiming for 30.


Don’t Fix What Isn’t Broken

I’ve got good news and bad news…

The bad news is that the conventional way of doing things in our society sucks. If you’re a Normal Person these days, you work kind of hard, save a little bit, finance your way through life, retire sometime between 55 and 65 if you’re lucky, then squander your days away “relaxing”… or so I’m told. Most work jobs they barely tolerate and are extremely fortunate if they actually like their chosen professions. Either way, it’s typically not ideal. Most are not working towards passion projects whatsoever.  

As far as I’m concerned a Normal Person is synonymous with words like Average American, Ultra Consumer, Convenience, Consumer Debt, Poor Diet, Out of Shape, The Drive-Thru, and most of all… Unintentional.

Now it might sound like I am on a high horse, but not so long ago, I was on auto-pilot myself. Vastly unaware of the real world around me. Going through the motions.

And now I’m here to deliver the Good News: YOU HAVE A CHOICE.

I’m giving you permission to give a damn and live life how you want to.

Congrats! Does that feel good or what?

When someone tells me, “don’t fix what isn’t broken” or “working that long isn’t that bad, really”, I can’t help but to cringe on the inside. I feel bad. The current way of doing things is really screwed up for our actual modern way of living and it’s unsustainable – it’s beyond broken.

This way of thinking is typically synonymous with being content with mediocrity. In this world, there is no continuous improvement and no one is a student of life. They merely settle because they think this is the best they can do, instead of chasing their actual purpose, dreams, curiosities, and desires.

And yes, everyone, even YOU, has a purpose, a dream, is curious, and has many desires – you just may or may not realize it at this time. Somewhere between the ages of 5 and 25 you lost it. Again, the good news is that you can regain all of these and live a purpose-driven, fulfilling life.

And that’s why it’s my mission now to show you the power of the FIRE lifestyle and mindset. Read on if you’re ready to become an Abnormal Person and give the Average, Unintentional lifestyle the middle finger.


The Power of Financial Independence

Let’s start with FI. Simply put, financial independence is when you save up enough money to never have to work another day in your life again. What makes this concept different then the traditional way of thinking?

First let’s begin with the end in mind. You must be thinking right now, “well, if I’m going to retire anytime before 50, I must need to make $200k to $400k a year for the math to even add up… I need at least $5-10M, right?!”.

Wrong. You need less than you think.

Normal Society has tricked us all into believing we need to acquire an exuberant (read: a metric shit ton) amount of money before we can stop working. This conveniently is built into everything we do. 30-year mortgages, 5-year car loans (every 5 years), 10-year student loans. Ad Nauseum.

The truth is this: the fastest way to accelerate your years until FI is to reduce your spending.

Now, the trick to figuring out your real FI number is known as the 4% rule. We’ll also cover this more in-depth in a future post, but for now just take your annual spending and multiply it by 25. (Note: if you don’t have a grasp on your spending month to month, then you’re in the right place and I promise things are going to get better). I also cover this with a general overview of tracking spending in this post.

But wait! If you’re not living a fully optimized life at this very moment (like us), which if you’re reading this I doubt you are – your number is going to be grossly overinflated. How so?!

Because you’re likely able to cut out a lot of unnecessary things in your life. And once you do that you’ll be able to get a true FI number for yourself. Most people will find that this is under $1M or right at it with a reasonable mortgage.

And remember that this is all about the journey. FI isn’t the end-all-be-all. We’re still learning a ton and we will continue to learn a lot as we go through our journey. That’s the fun in all this, really.

Now that you understand how to derive your new, lower FI number…

What makes this so powerful?

JL Collins, author of The Simple Path to Wealth*, describes it as “F-you money”. Essentially, no one can make you do something you don’t want to do if you’ve got enough in the bank.

*This is an affiliate link but I highly encourage you to check it out from your local library.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to quit working… But suddenly a crappy boss turns into an ex-boss. That 30+ mile, one-way commute turns into telecommuting. That boring project becomes a more interesting one. It’s your choice now.

Or, if you choose, you can do whatever you want with your time. You can raise your children, travel, volunteer, work on that business idea you’ve been putting off, become a hobbyist, and finally have all the time in the world to do things you’ve always wanted to do.

When you approach situations with confidence and from a position of strength, you have nothing to lose. This is what financial independence does for you - It gives you the freedom to curate your life exactly how you want it to be.Click To Tweet

I believe everyone should pursue FI, period.

That’s a big reason why I started this blog: to tell more people about the Good News! Financial Independence is a powerful tool that anyone can attain, regardless of income, and will lead to a happy, fun, and fulfilling life.

There isn’t just one way to get to FI either. Your path is likely to be vastly different than ours, and that’s cool. With a few simple mindset shifts and habit changes, you can now join the rest of us and get on the Path of FI.


Early Retirement Isn’t Going To Be Boring

Now let’s move on to the next part of FIRE, Retiring Early or as some call it, Early Retirement. A lot of people can understand the concept of FI and agree with it, but when it comes to Early Retirement, all hell breaks loose.

“What am I supposed to do for the next 50 years of my life?!”

Shit. I dunno. But you’ll have plenty of time to figure that out. And I guarantee that “relaxing” will get boring for most people after 3 to 6 months.

For some people, they find meaning in their work. Therefore it doesn’t make sense for them to quit their jobs. If that’s you, then screw Early Retirement and just pursue FI.

Take a look around the Financial Independence community. Most people who have achieved FI are now doing something completely different than their Day Jobs and they’re deriving some type of income from it.

I have a suspicion that most of you out there are in the other camp: you can’t wait to put in your 2-weeks and never sit in a cubicle again.

Regardless of which type of person you are, know that you have the power of choice once again on your side.

While I am not yet Retired myself, I’m already preparing myself now for what it’s going to be like.

That’s what happens when you get on the Path of Financial Independence & Early Retirement: you stop doing Normal Things, you start doing Abnormal Things, like Just Stop Spending time and money on useless shit and utilize all of that new free time to pursue something you actually give a damn about.Click To Tweet


What’s Stopping You?

It’s Excuses. Or the fear of taking Ownership of your life. That may sound quite mean but it’s the truth. And I can be brutally honest with you because I’m not trying to derive my means through this website (FI power, woo!).

Many people I’ve talked to about these concepts blame external factors such as the Economy, The President, Taxes and a bunch of other things they have no control over. Guess what you do have control over? Your spending, your habits, your thoughts & mindset, your goals, and your actions.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, then bookmark or Pin this blog and come back to it when you need a healthy dose of reality or just some simple inspiration to do better. And with all that being said, let’s go over our thoughts on this whole FIRE thing.


What Do We Believe In?

It should be obvious by now, but we’re not a huge fan of over-consumption, hence the name of the site. But in addition to that, what are some things we’ve realized on The Path? What are some things we’re constantly working towards?

This is what the Financial Independence and Early Retirement lifestyle and mindset means to us:

Our end goal is that at the end of our lives we’ll know that we lived a happy, fun, and fulfilled life. We plan to create this reality for ourselves through what we call curating your life. This is engineering your life to be enjoyably optimal.

We believe in balance- some people take their FIRE journey to some crazy extremes. And of course, to each their own! We will all have vastly different FIRE journeys, and that’s awesome. However, we want to make sure we’re still enjoying our lives and not sacrificing too much just in the name of FI.

We believe in the mantra Spend Less, Live More. That’s why we base all our decisions around the principle of simplicity. Pro tip: Consuming Shit Doesn’t Actually Make You Happy. And typically, the more you consume, actually the less happy you are.

We believe in intentionality, meaning we are mindful of our thoughts and actions towards ourselves, others, and Mother Nature. We believe what you do in life depends highly on the choices you make and the principle of cause and effect. You have the power to choose what to do with your life and the decisions you make always have consequences – good or bad.

We believe in goals. We crafted our Life Vision and now we’re doing our best to live by it. Your brain is a goal achieving machine, so don’t deprive it. We believe in planning ahead. Not just to get the best deal on something, but in order to create a curated life you have to think many years into the future.

We believe in facts, reason, logic, math, and science. Instead of basing our decisions mostly on how we feel or going along with what society tells us is correct, we try to default to these other categories. But we also believe in emotion, and the power of a mindset shift. Possessions are a very emotional thing for most people. Ever watched one of those hoarders shows and see how difficult it is for people to get rid of all their stuff? The happier you are internally, the easier all of this financial stuff is.

We believe in delayed gratification. This concept will help you to Not Buy Shit You Don’t Need, make more sound decisions, and in general live a more enjoyable life because of that (think investing in your future instead of becoming buried in credit card debit to finance your last three vacations).

We believe in acquiring as many skills as possible. The guys over at ChooseFI brilliantly call this your Talent Stack (derived originally from Scott Adams). For us it means insourcing, taking on DIY projects, reading lots of books, and getting out of our comfort zones. We believe in hard work, optimism and excellence. Earning things makes them more valuable. A positive attitude towards life will make a huge difference and make you more likable. And becoming excellent at skills is rewarding and extremely fulfilling.

We believe in continuous improvement. Never settle and never stop learning or growing.

We believe it’s about more than the money. In fact, once you’ve gotten your shit together, that frees up a ton of time to pursue other meaningful activities in life!

With all that being said…

We’re further along in some of these categories than others. And to be completely honest, we’ll probably always find ways in order to improve in each and every one of them. Because that’s how life works! And as you just read, continuous improvement is one of our core values that’s driving our journey along the path to financial independence.

Are you convinced? Or are your vehemently against everything I said thus far? Either way I’m glad you made it to the end. You don’t need to agree with us on every point to stick around and make some improvements in your own life. Heck, sometimes we don’t even 100% agree with each other. We like to stay open-minded and accepting though, so feel free to disagree with any of our beliefs!

The point is to figure out what you want to live for and then GET AFTER IT.

If you liked even a little bit of what we had to say, you should sign up for our email newsletter. We’ll keep you up to date with any new posts and exclusive content. We might be a bit biased, but we think we’re pretty interesting folk.

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Beginner's Guide to Financial Independence and Early Retirement: Quit Your Job and Live Your Dream Life by 40

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