Early FI Is Saving My Life

When you put your life on the internet, you will be subjected to ridicule. If you can’t deal with that, then it probably isn’t a good idea to put things out on blast. This blog documents one person’s journey to early financial independence and the steps they are taking to get there. Never should it be implied that each and every single move made along the way is the correct one.

For the most part, I believe I am very forthcoming with my early FI plan. Not only do I freely share reports such as Net Worth and Cash Flow statements, I also put out regular Goals lists and Progress reports. Every stock transaction is documented, along with all real estate investments.

I don’t do so in order to brag, or compete with other people. Rather, I believe these actions add more value to the blog as it allows me a way to share the financial aspects of the early FI journey in real-time. Sure, I don’t have to do that… If I didn’t want any backlash, I could just do things behind the scenes and wait until I became a millionaire… Then, I could emerge from the shadows and offer “financial advice” to other people… You know, act like those know-it-all financial gurus who only know how to criticize and direct other people on what to do… but will NEVER reveal a lick about how they made their fortune themselves…

I choose NOT to be one of those people…

I truly believe that many readers have benefited from my transparency, and I have received a good number of e-mails thanking me for my openness. Of course, I always appreciate the support I get from this site, and those kind words only increase my desire to keep this blog going. I sincerely want to help as many people as I can on their own journey to early financial independence.

However, when you put things out on the spotlight, you will also have your fair share of critics who will scrutinize and ridicule your every moves. That’s all fine and dandy, and I learned to deal with those things a long time ago…

But that all pertains to finance… When it comes to other aspects of my life, I have been very reluctant to share certain parts of it. I do prefer to keep certain things about my life private.

Health used to be one of them. When I elected to disclose to readers my recent battle with Adrenal Fatigue, that opened up a whole new door for critics and speculators to walk through.

I’ve been reading all sorts of things spewed about my situation on the internet, so I think it’s time that I set the record straight — My situation and condition are NOT the result of me pursuing early FI! I’m NOT sick because I chased early FI too hard! I’m NOT unwell because I got way too caught up in the investing game…

Let me step back and tell the real story…

I’ve been a hard-worker my entire life. Part of that stems from the fact that I grew up in a poor family and never had much attached to my name. As a kid, there were no music lessons, or science camp, or any of those fancy things that many kids got to experiment with… So, you could say that I’ve never had an entitlement mentality for a single second of my life. Even today, I still feel like the odds are always stacked against me and that the only way I will succeed is to work harder.

When I was in high school, I grinded weekends my entire 4 years just to have some spare change to toss around. It was in high school that I really learned to hustle… I got so used to being busy all the time that it started becoming ingrained into the very fabric of my being.

I didn’t miss a beat in college and worked my ass off to graduate on time, in 4 years, with two degrees in engineering at a top-tier university. Luckily, my health was vibrant back then, and I could handle all the stress and abuse without incident.

I wasn’t so lucky post-college. For whatever reason, I thought it was a good idea to work a full-time 40+ hour/week job and to attend graduate school full-time (3 courses each semester in Electrical Engineering) concurrently. Being the Type A personality that I was, I didn’t want to make a compromise and have to choose between a full-time job and graduate studies. I said, “I’m going to do both. No sweat.”

Well, that turned out to be a terrible mistake. About half-way through my first year of graduate school, I started to notice a change in my body. I was starting to observe pain that I could not shake, and I was beginning to feel more tired than usual. But being young and naive, I thought nothing of it and kept on grinding… That’s all I knew how to do.

Looking back, of course it was a stupid decision. I would go from work to school and then spend all night doing homework and studying for exams… On weekends, I would sometimes even volunteer to work overtime so that I could learn more… sigh… On top of that, I even found the need to throw in guitar lessons in there… There was just never any downtime… I didn’t budget any time in my schedule for rest and relaxation!!

Days quickly became weeks and months and then years… Until, one day, you wake up, and realize that you are no longer the same person that you once were… The differences are imperceivable from day-to-day, but they gradually add up over the course of the long run. I was hurting myself… but too stubborn to stop.

Why? Because I was scared for my future… Like I mentioned above, I grew up poor and was conditioned to work hard. Further, I was brainwashed into believing that a good paying 9-5 was my path to salvation in this world… So, there was no way in hell that I was going to jeopardize losing that. I didn’t know another way out existed!! When the economy crashed, I worked even harder… sometimes until midnight just to prove my worth. Again, I was young, stupid, and impressionable… I was a company man and thought they had my back and my best interest in mind. I followed the lead of some of my older co-workers, and it pains me so much to know that to this day, these people still don’t know any better and are STILL slaves to the corporate system… But I digress.

I became sick not because of early FI… but because I didn’t know about early FI!

When I finally discovered the concept of early FI in late 2011, the damage had already been done. With or without early FI, I wasn’t going to survive much longer in the rat race without some downtime to repair my messed up body. If anything, being on the journey to early FI these passed four years has been a blessing.

My mind has never been more free. The prospects for my future have never been brighter. And even now, I’m able to take time off of work without fear of repercussion. Even if I was forced to go on unpaid leave, I would be able to weather any storms and make it out ok.

If anything, early FI has given me my life back… The journey to get to this point wasn’t easy but it definitely isn’t to blame for my current situation.

I can’t even begin to imagine the stress I would be going through right now had I never discovered the concept of early FI and decided to act on it.

Early FI was probably the best decision I ever made in my life. Both financial and health. I only wish I had known about it at the beginning of my working career.

That’s the honest truth…

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16 Comment authors
FI FighterInvesting On TrackElroyNo Nonsense LandlordJosh Recent comment authors
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JC @ Passive-Income-Pursuit
Guest

I completely agree. While our situations are different I can’t imagine what kind of stress I’d be under right now if I hadn’t started saving for FI. Possible job loss on the horizon depending on how the oil field shakes out and of course my son still being in the hospital. My dividend income isn’t anywhere near close enough to cover my monthly expenses but knowing that if the worst happens and I lose my job I still have the underlying capital of my portfolio that I can draw on. That’s around $180k of capital resources which is more than enough to get my family through at least 2 years probably closer to 5, if we absolutely had to, of full household expenses as well as elevated medical expenses for my son. That’s a huge burden lifted. Get well soon!

Dennis
Guest

FI.

I wish you the best for both your trading as well as your health. My only advice (and I rarely like to give out advice) is to not worry about what anyone else thinks or writes about. Just execute your plan and then learn from your successes and mistakes. My best advice comes from my own website. I am my best teacher.
Respectfully,
Dennis McCain

FFdividend
Guest

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” – Bernard Baruch.

Do what you have to do for yourself. I love your blog. Best of luck.

FerdiS
Guest

Thanks for sharing your story. Hang in there and keep on keeping on…

Spencer
Guest
Spencer

You the man FI. Let the haters hate. Underneath it all they’re just jealous.

Elroy
Guest

Even though I believe you are at times a bit over dramatic, a bit over the top implicitly saying “I rule” and a bit naive (you’re a millennial after all). I do think what you have done is impressive, sacrifices have been made and pretty solid decision making can be seen a long the way.

Certainly, I hope you a speedy recovery, and good luck to executing your plan. I do enjoy reading about it.

mark
Guest
mark

your a man not a machine.

Debt Hater
Guest

I think the best part about many of these blogs that detail the journey to financial independence (including yours) is the transparency and the ability to go back through and read through from the beginning the progress that has been made. I thank you for sharing all that information and I do not see it as a brag!

Hard work is extremely important, but I think you also need to take the time to recharge and relax. Too much stress is never a good thing. I’m glad to hear that FI is able to help you with that.

Even Steven
Guest

Even if FI is only a mindset it’s something that gets you focused on your journey, the fact that it has a real goal at the end is like seeing the view after an 80 mile hike.

Paul
Guest
Paul

There will always be haters, generally they are jealous of what you have achieved in such a small amount of time. People get criticised all the time, does not matter where you are from, what you do, how you act, what clothes you where, some people will always find an excuse to have a dig. You can be confident and proud of what you have achieved, so fingers up to the haters and onwards to new, pastures green.!
I’ve followed your blog more than any other FI bog (well I do read MMM quite a bit lately) can really relate to your story and strategy, it’s very similar to mine, and has helped with my motivation..so thank you..hovever you are slightly ahead of me..you chief!!!

Edward
Guest
Edward

Thanks for this article. Very inspirational. I am also looking to retire early and this blog definitely gave me the right push to pursue the FI that I’ve been dreaming of.

Josh
Guest

FI Fighter,
You are well on your path towards achieving your dreams. I can tell just by reading this post. You have a drive that is inextinguishable. You seem to be well on your way towards FIRE.

Popping your head up from digging in the trenches for years at a time is a great thing. It allows you to redirect as needed and assess your progress. You’ve come quite a distance from the sound of this post.

Better days are ahead,

Josh

No Nonsense Landlord
Guest

I came from pretty humble beginnings myself. It does show that anyone in America can be a millionaire if they work hard enough, have the ambition and determination to succeed.

Keep up the great work, time is on your side. In 20 years, it will not be.

Investing On Track
Guest

Sometimes you just have to sacrifice some of your health to achieve your dreams. My parents built a pretty successful business, which is why they retired before they turned 50. But it took a serious toll on their health: my mom’s hair went gray in her early 40’s. But now that they’re pretty well off, they’re using their money to buy back their health. It’s funny: in our youth, we “sell” our healthy for wealth. But as we age we use our wealth to “buy” health.

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