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Financial Independence: Two Years Ago (November 27, 2011)

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Two years. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but in many ways it feels like an eternity has passed since then. A lot has changed… I’ve changed. However, it was only two years ago that I first embarked on this journey to early financial independence. I still vividly remember flying back to the Bay Area to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. On the flight there, I remember looking out the window, pondering what my next moves in life were going to be.

You see, I had just moved to Orange County for a new job just a few months earlier in July 2011. At the time of the move, I felt reinvigorated and excited for all the possibilities that existed. After just 4 months on the job, my optimistic outlook started to disintegrate. Even though I was working in a new environment with new co-workers, the luster soon faded. I was putting in even more hours than I was at my previous job, and even had to come in on weekends on occasion. The new city, Newport Beach, was lovely and possessed beautiful weather, just like what you see in the movies. The beaches were gorgeous, and everything I could have ever hoped for.

But all of that didn’t matter because I never had time to enjoy any of it!Β It was that weekend, on Sunday, November 27, 2011 that I first started googling “ways to retire early”. I was fed up with my lot in life and wanted something better. I wanted more.

It was on that day that I first discovered Early Retirement Extreme. I read the forums… bought the book. It was on that day that I finally woke up and opened my eyes. I could now see for the very first time… in a long while.

And now, here we are two years later… Below, you’ll find a private journal entry I wrote to myself two years ago. This was very personal, but I feel like now would be an appropriate time to share:

Two Years Ago (Written December 05, 2011)

For Thanksgiving week, I decided to give myself a vacation, and asked for a week off from work. At my current company, paid vacation is no longer given out, so an employee must ask for time off. This granting of discretionary time off can be seen as both a good thing and a bad thing. Depending on your boss (and their mood), you could, in theory, ask for and be granted as many days off as you want. Or on the other hand, you could be granted nothing. This type of policy seems to favor the company if you ask me. I find that most employees are conservative when it comes to asking for time off (always afraid of upsetting the apple cart), and in a year probably ask for less time off than they would have been granted if they worked for another employer (typically 2 to 3 weeks in most U.S. corporations).

As for myself, I knew I needed a break to relax and recharge the batteries. So although the rest of my peers were planning on working all the way up to Thanksgiving Thursday, I went ahead and put in the request. Since I now know that I want to get out of here, I no longer care so much about pleasing upper management and giving off this constant aura that I care more about the company than my own personal health (I don’t). I was granted this week off, and I must now say, it was probably the best week I had in all of 2011. I got to sleep in, take mid-day naps, eat dinner at a casual pace, sleep some more after, watch TV at a relaxing pace, and then slumber off for good afterward. It was great! It was refreshing! It was everything I dreamed it would be and more… more… that’s exactly what I was craving.

During this down-time, I also began browsing the web on investment strategies, and other short-cuts to raise more money. I stumbled upon two websites that really got me thinking:

Early Retirement Extreme

Retire by 40

After reading the posts/blogs, and forums, a lightbulb soon went on, and a surge of energy instantly rushed through my body. I’ve been so burned out from work for so long, that I rarely ever experienced sensations like this. I soon realized that this was exactly what I ought to be aiming for. For the longest time I’ve been questioning the meaning of life, and whether everything I was doing would even matter in the end. I’ve drifted through years of my life (my peak years; the early 20’s stage of my life is over), never finding any answers. All I knew was that time was passing me by at a rapid pace, and I had accomplished very little outside of going to work and collecting a paycheck.

I knew there had to be more to life! But sometimes it’s hard to find answers when you look around, and everybody else is doing exactly the same thing you are doing (and complaining a hell of a lot less too). But I just knew that working 9-5, 5 days a week wasn’t natural. I don’t believe human beings are meant to live like this. I felt handcuffed, bounded and controlled. But since everyone else was, or at least I thought, then these thoughts wouldn’t linger for too long. My “logic” would eventually win over, and I would continue slugging along, even though my body and mind were simultaneously breaking down.

Reading Jacob’s Early Retirement Extreme About Me section really has changed my perspective on life. When he mentioned how he was able to do it in just 5 years of full-time work, and without ever commanding a salary greater than $50,000, my interest (skepticism) were sparked. I didn’t think this was possible, but it all sounded so good, that I couldn’t turn away. I kept reading, and reading. And then I soon realized how so much of what he was saying was resonating with my own thoughts.

I’ve never enjoyed spending money. That is, I’ve purchased expensive things (big screen TV, electronic gadgets, a collection of mostly unused $1000 guitars, etc). But at the end of the day, these purchases did not contribute more happiness to my life. If I could quantify happiness, I would say that the initial purchase was a 10/10, which would fade to a 3 or 4 over time. But I could also purchase a new book to read, and that would hold a value of 3 or 4 over time as well. When I think back to times of true happiness, they almost always involve friends, laughter, and experiences. The material goods just never really mattered. But I kept purchasing them because I thought I was supposed to. Wasn’t that the whole point of getting a good job after college? To make more money, spend more money, and live the “good life”? Boy, did I so not have it figured out…

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • JC @ Passive-Income-PursuitNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:11 am

    Loved the look back to the start of your journey. I think ERE was a common starting point for a lot of us. I know it was one of the FI/ER blogs that I first started reading. If anything it was an example that it can be done. Now I wouldn’t go about it the same way as he did, but that’s the beauty of living your own life. You have options to do whatever it is you want. You and I want to be able to retire early to really live the good life instead of slaving away until *gasp* retirement age or worse yet our grave. Getting laid off is what really inspired me to try and find another way. Having no control over whether I had a job the next day really sunk in and then going through the mess that was my time out of work. The only thing I’d want to change is getting back to work earlier just because every month back earlier at work would mean less time that I’ll have to work later.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 10:58 pm


      Totally agree. Yes, ERE was the starting point for myself as well, but like you said, the path will branch off into different directions for all of us. For me, ERE opened my eyes and let me know that another path even existed. And I’m so grateful for the awakening experience it provided.

      ERE isn’t for everyone… I just try and take what I can out of it, and then sprinkle in my own flavor, which is also evolving over time. I do spend more now than I did last year… but I’m also earning more in both earned/passive income. My own thinking is as long as I’m making progress and hitting my goals, I don’t have to go too hardcore in cutting expenses. Just trying to find that happy balance.

      Getting laid off used to be my biggest fear, especially when I was first starting out. It’s amazing how much life has improved since I stopped worrying about it so much (having passive income certainly helps). Financial freedom is empowering… I can’t imagine facing these fears when I’m much older and less capable of working. When you’re young, you really owe it to your future self to take care of business. Things only get more difficult with age…

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Fast WeeklyNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the back story. Mine was a little different, but think of how lucky we are to have figured out what we want around age 30. My dad and uncle figured it out around 60, and while I hope they live another 30 years……that’s a lot of lost time. Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:02 pm


      Yes, I am grateful for discovering the light at an earlier age. I hope my decisions now will pay off later and make my future self very happy πŸ™‚

      Happy Thanksgiving and all the best!

  • writing2realityNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 12:49 pm

    First of, thank you for sharing this private look back into your mindset as you made the realization of what really matters (you’ve been killing it lately on the blog posts btw). I, too, seek freedom and independence and eagerly look forward to the day in which I can wake and know I am free to do as I please.

    As I’m sure others will mention, there is incredible number of resources and inspirational blogs out there, all showing the multitude of ways it is possible to find early financial independence and the resulting improvement in happiness as a result. Everyone has a different path, but we are all on the same journey. I appreciate your candid nature in sharing your feelings and transformation. I know you offer another unique path to success for people to follow. Your journey and is inspirational to me, as for others as well.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:08 pm


      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate the kind words! I’m also enjoying your blog and following along on your journey.

      You’re right, there’s definitely a ton of great resources and blogs out there. When I first started two years ago, there really were just a handful, but now I’m seeing more and more early FI/RE, dividend investing, etc. popping up every month. This is a great thing! I love connecting with more of these like minded people who are working hard to better their futures.

      I do my best to be open and transparent… Right or wrong, I’ve always believed it’s more helpful to show somebody what I’m doing, as opposed to just telling them what to do. There’s no sales pitch, or book I’m trying to sell. Everything is documented (thought process, transactions, net worth, cash flow, etc.).

      All the best!

  • FFdividendNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 1:02 pm

    Great Post. really enjoyed it.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:10 pm



  • theFIREstarterNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:14 pm

    Wow… That actually sent a shiver down my spine, it’s so eerily similar to how I’ve felt throughout my twenties! Except I don’t think I could have expressed my thoughts as lucidly – You are clearly a fantastic writer.

    It’s funny, I used to think 30 was old but I feel like I’ve only just woken up and started living life how I want (and not how society/corporate marketing teams want) to live it.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2013, 7:59 pm


      Thanks for the kind words. Going through this experience, or transformation really was like waking up for the first time. I had gotten stuck in a rut, and forgot what it was like to live life on my own terms.

      For anyone who’s been in corporate long enough, you do start to get brainwashed into thinking their way is the right way to live. I had to be unplugged from the Matrix… and ERE did that for me.

      30 isn’t old at all, and my new point of view is that it’s only gonna be just the beginning! We have our whole lives ahead of us, let’s make the most of it!

      All the best!

  • Accumulating AssetsNo Gravatar November 27, 2013, 11:20 pm

    FI Fighter,

    Great post and thanks for sharing. For me, FI doesnt mean not working, it does mean working on my own terms.

    Happy thanksgiving from your old stopping grounds, Newport Beach..well Costa Mesa.


    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2013, 8:07 pm


      Thanks! I agree with you that FI doesn’t mean not working, but instead means working on your own terms. That’s why I don’t plan on not working and want to eventually get involved with real estate, teaching, etc. As you are aware, blogging takes up a lot of time as well, and could be considered “work”. But since you answer to no one, it’s not only tolerable, but for many, very enjoyable.

      Happy Thanksgiving! I do miss the old stopping grounds! I used to stopby Costa Mesa to go to the South Coast shopping mall, and I think they had some good Mexican food out there as well.

      All the best!

  • Life In CenterNo Gravatar November 29, 2013, 9:31 am

    Man you just summed up how i’ve felt/been feeling πŸ™‚ It sounds pretty silly but I just had my first dividend come up in my brokerage account, a little over 2$ but boy oh boy does that feel much better than some stupid stuff πŸ™‚

    I’ve been reading so much on FI and ERE and I just hope I get to where you are now, keep up the good work!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar November 29, 2013, 8:09 pm

      Life In Center,

      Getting started is usually the hardest part. $2 might not seem like much right now, but in a few years, you’ll be so glad you got started. It’s amazing how fast progress can be made if you dedicate yourself to doing it.

      Glad you are excited about the journey. My journey isn’t complete, but I hope the progress made in just 2 years can inspire others to also start their own journeys. Might be the best decision I ever made…

      Thanks for stopping by!

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