I’m on the road to early financial independence. I’ve been working for the man for seven years and want to stop taking orders when I’m 30. That’s right, I’m tired of working in a corporation and no longer want to tolerate being told what to do on a daily basis anymore. I’m an adult, after all. I’m old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. I’m old enough to vote. I’m actually getting so old that the military probably doesn’t want to recruit me anymore. 😉
Are You Ready?
So, how come I’m not old enough to direct my own life between the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday-Friday? Truth of the matter is, I’m plenty ready for early financial independence. I’ve been working like crazy these past two years, trying to save up as much money as possible to fund investments. I’ve demonstrated my ability to handle money responsibly, and the discipline to avoid wasting it recklessly.
I believe the proof is in the pudding. The growing passive income stream is strong evidence that I don’t need to go through life taking any more directions. I’m ready to be my own boss. Now.
Too Conservative We Are
Due to human nature, and the need to feel safe and secure, I’m hesitant to cut off the cord effective immediately. I’ll admit, I have my own doubts and fears about the future. I am not yet 100% convinced that I have enough saved up to be able to ride off into the sunset and never have to look back.
But even if I were forced to go crawling back to my employer… it wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world. After all, it would just mean is that I would be back where I started from. Since most of my co-workers are pushing 50+ and still have the intention of working many, many, many more years, I would be no worse off than these people.
One thing I’ve learned, though, is that if you are ALWAYS trying to plan for the safest escape route possible, you’ll ALWAYS just be postponing the event until next year.
A Startling Realization
At some point, you just have to stop planning and start executing. I want to retire at 30, and I’m going to do everything possible to make sure that happens.
Quite honestly, the more that I think about it, the more I am starting to realize just how little money I actually need to pull off early retirement.
When I attack expenses from the angle that I’m living in the U.S., it means I’ll probably need $1500/month to $2000/month to live comfortably. Yes, I realize that the term “comfort” has a different meaning for most everyone, so I am not trying to speak for anyone else other than myself.
Over the years, as more and more time slips by, I’m constantly redefining what it is that I even want out of life. When I was younger, I loved exploring California and always wanted to make road trips to see different places. As I get older, I’m starting to feel the need for a change of scenery. This is no knock on this great country at all, but I do feel the need to explore outside my realm of understanding in order to grow as a person. After traveling for a few years, I believe I’ll be able to return to this country and appreciate it so much more.
I can’t say I have much experience dealing with life outside these borders, but I have worked with many co-workers who hail from much poorer countries.
These people make peanuts compared to what most U.S. employees makes. I’ve chatted with some co-workers from the Philippines who make less in one month than I do in one day. If these folks can make do with so little, and still live each day with a radiant smile on their faces, why should it be so impossible for someone like me to do the same?
It’s All Relative
So, just how much money does a person need before they are ready to call it quits? I believe that no one else, except you and your family are in position to answer that question. When it comes down to it, everything is relative.
When I talk to more experienced real estate investors, many will scoff at my idea of retiring off of ONLY ten rental properties. In their eyes, I need to accumulate 20+, as a bare minimum. Further, they also feel like I need $100,000+ in cash reserves to weather any potential storms. Otherwise, I will be inclined to a pretty crappy life. 😉
Like my bosses, these people will tell me what I need to do like they know what’s best! But they don’t live in my shoes… They don’t know my own unique situation. Just because they think that’s what they’ll need to declare financial independence does not mean that the same will apply to me… or for anyone else!
To put things in perspective, I also know friends from college who are still barely scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck, and have NOTHING saved for retirement. Yet, these folks still somehow miraculously get by just fine… At this point in time, my monthly passive income might even exceed the monthly wages of a few of these people.
Going back to my foreign co-workers, a lot of these people might work from now until 65+ and still not accumulate as much money as I’ve already made in my lifetime… Again, it’s all relative.
The reality is, not everyone needs $10,000/month in passive income to get through life. The best thing you can do is analyze your own situation and filter out any extraneous noise you might get from your peers, friends, co-workers, etc. They don’t know what’s best for you… and neither do I.
For myself, I’ve learned that life doesn’t have to be so complicated. Human beings require just a few basic necessities. Everything else is just excess… and it’s only through continuous brainwashing that causes us to believe we really need so much more.
Just Do It!
When the time comes, you just have to do what is right for you. I know that I don’t require the latest flash to be happy. I just want free time to enjoy the simple human experiences:
- Eating breakfast at a slow pace.
- Building friendships and relationships with people.
- Exercising and working out regularly.
- Getting fresh air.
- Reading books, newspapers.
- Learning a new language and culture.
- Volunteering and charity work.
As you can see from the above, most of my interests aren’t expensive. They are even less expensive to do in a cheaper country. That $1500/month passive income that I need to “survive” here in the U.S. might only require $500/month, elsewhere.
Again, to play it safe and conservative, I’m going to try and hold off for another year or so. But I really don’t anticipate myself needing too much in early retirement.
When you are young and full of energy, it’s a good idea to work hard and make a lot of money. When you start to get older, money becomes significantly less important. It starts to take a back seat to free time… With enough years, there will come a crossing threshold when the value of free time exceeds that of earning a few more bucks.
I’m getting to that point. The intersection is very near. I can always play the “just one more year” game forever, in perpetuity. But I refuse to.
I want out of this cave. I want my life back. Sooner rather than later.
And quite frankly, I’m realizing that the price of freedom doesn’t have to cost so damn much.