Back to Humble Beginnings (January 06, 2015)

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In the last post, I touched on the subject of health and how important it is for us to always keep that in mind. It’s easy to get consumed with wealth building while on the journey to early FI, so sometimes we need to take a step back for the greater good.

After all, what good is money or wealth if you don’t have the health to enjoy it? This is Year 4 for me, and I confess that I am tired of running.

I left work early yesterday, and didn’t make it in the office today. I won’t be in tomorrow either. Or the following day… Actually, my plans are to take the rest of the week off and let my body rest up. I’m not too certain what will happen because of my actions, but whatever the consequences, I’m willing to accept it.

For certain, I won’t be running in 2015. No, those days are behind me for good. At best, I will walk at a casual pace, always remembering to take breaks often and in-between. Unpaid days off are something I will fight for as often as possible. 🙂

There’s simply no need for me to jeopardize my health any longer! Yes, I have a great job that pays well, so it would be somewhat hasty of me to just walk in and resign tomorrow. But health must come first from now on. Walking away is something that’s always going to be an option on the table as far as I’m concerned…

As I’ve mentioned before, my plans are to use 2015 to help me build up a larger cash buffer prior to checking out of corporate for good. But even if the high-tech salary came to a screeching halt tomorrow, I believe I ought to be resourceful enough to find something (part-time perhaps) to help fill in any income gaps.

Anyway, I’ll learn more in the upcoming weeks and be sure to fill in everyone with any news.

Beauty in Simplicity

I discovered the concept of early retirement (financial independence) when I stumbled upon the Early Retirement Extreme blog back in late 2011.

At the time, my net worth was below $100,000, and I didn’t have a clue how to invest my money. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that I’ve made a lot of progress since then…

But I’m so thankful that I got started in the manner in which I did. By discovering ERE, I was able to filter out the noise of modern day life and figure out exactly what it is that I wanted out of life.

I learned early on, at the beginning of this quest, that I don’t need expensive material possessions to be happy. Rather, the most important (and precious) thing that I value is time.

By becoming financially independent, I will be able to purchase time which can afford me the following luxuries:

  • The freedom to come and go as I choose.
  • The ability to slow down the pace of life and cruise at a much more relaxed pace.
  • The endless possibilities to mold and shape each day as I see fit.
  • The pursuit of acquiring a multitude of skills instead of always being a specialized monkey.
  • Learning for the sole sake of learning.

What a wonderful life, right?

Perhaps not for everyone, but that’s what I’ve always had in mind…

Back to Basics

If you know what you want, then the rest is easy. As I’ve watched my cash flow and net worth steadily increase over the years, one thing that has remained constant since Day 1 — I’ve never given in to lifestyle inflation.

For three years now, my savings rate has hovered between 70% to 80% each month. I don’t buy things that I don’t need! And I have absolutely no desire to upgrade or indulge in the “finer things” in life (unless travel hacked!).

Because I know the truth — they won’t bring me any true happiness.

So, with the day off today, it was back to basics. Back to my roots… and to the starting point of the early FI journey.

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Where it all started…

It was here, in 2012, where I made the declaration to pursue financial freedom. It was here that I decided to start a blog and document my progress.

Today, I came back here to rediscover myself. To rest. To think. To slow down time again…

I wasn’t there for too long, but as always, I enjoyed the peace and serenity… I even managed to sneak in a few chapters of this:

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The sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing. The water was calm and the fresh morning air was refreshing.

And that’s really all it took… I was happy… Mind, body, and soul.

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ElroyFI FighterJamesJason @ Islands of InvestingMrs. WW Recent comment authors
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Jeremy
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Jeremy

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog for the past year and it has inspired me to think differently about my career, investing, and accumulating passive income – I now own 3 rental properties since discovering this blog in late 2013! I’m a real estate agent and while I don’t work for ‘the man’ each and every day I answer to several mini-bosses known as clients. I’m sincerely tired of dealing with them and recently aspired to be a full time trader – start out learning for 1-2 years and work my way into it. I’ve been a real estate agent for 5 years now so in approx 2 years it will be 7 total. Then I can move onto my next 7 year experience (stock trading) – one of your past blog posts mentions the concept of polymath’s which has really, really intrigued me since reading that. I’m beginning my classes with Online Trading Academy this weekend and started reading the prep handouts and read this about 10 minutes after reading your post above and thought it was worth sharing. This is one of the the traders ‘mission statement’ which sounds like something you would of wrote – maybe trading is in your future as you are already somewhat familiar with the markets and have the right mindset?

“Trading gives me the personal freedoms that other careers do not offer. I enjoy taking days off when I want without worrying how much vacation time I have left. I enjoy working independently, without having a boss or employees. This means I am solely responsible for my own future.

? I love the freedom of working from home, which allows me to have more balance in my life. It also means that I do not fight traffic or weather while commuting. When the market is not tradeable, I am able to keep other areas of my life caught up because I am not on someone else’s clock or enjoy some time in the pool.
? I want to trade because I do not have a salary cap or a glass ceiling. My earnings potential is unlimited. This means I can write my own future.
? I can trade from anywhere in the world.”

I know most will view ‘trading’ as an unrealistic and risky dream but they would say that about becoming a real estate agent in 2009 too. In just 5 years I’ve become a top agent in my market and make $20-$30K per month which is 5-10x more than most of my friends who work ‘regular jobs’ sitting behind a desk answering to a traditional boss. I believe I can be successful at just about anything given proper training and enough time. I see trading as the ideal ‘career’ – assuming one can be consistently successful at it. There are a lot of people who are very successful at it over the world – no reason I can’t be one of them! Just like in real estate where 85% of the new agents don’t make much $ and eventually quit but 15% of them are very successful, make a lot of $ and I’ve already proven I can do that.

I just wanted you to know that you’ve personally effected my life and how I’m moving forward towards FI. I will anxiously be checking back to hear your progress and decisions in 2015!

Mr. Frugalwoods
Guest

I’ve seen the duck photo and wondered where it came from… what a great origin story!

You definitely seem to have enough assets to not need to worry about keeping your job at all costs. Maybe it’s not 100% FI, but it’s mental freedom from being chained to a job. That’s where I am.

My job is fine, they pay me well, but I’m not going to work myself to the bone for them anymore. I will give them a fair amount of effort. I’m not going to run myself ragged.

In the worst case scenario, getting fired wouldn’t be a big deal. We have 10+ years of living expenses invested and easily accessible. And having a high tech skill set means finding another job wouldn’t be hard.

I hesitate to call it “coasting” since I’m still working hard and doing good work. But in terms of managing my career and exceeding expectations (which I’ve done all my life) I’m definitely pulling back.

Sounds like you are too. In my opinion it’s an honest glide path to full time early retirement. Hope you situation works out well. We’re cheering for you!

No Nonsense Landlord
Guest

Keep looking at ways to reduce your time expenses. Digest the properties you have. Work on lowering your risk. As bad as the cube farm is, it’s your ticket to freedom in the long run.

Keep the faith and work on reducing stress by reducing the stress makers.

Elroy
Guest

Part of me admires what you’re doing, and the other part of me wants to say, “4 years!” You certainly do an excellent job being frugal and working hard with rental properties. The other half of me thinks you’re being a bit impractical, but that is based on the assumption you will fall in love and have a family. That’s not to say it can’t or won’t work if my assumption comes to fruition, just that there is a good chance you might not want it to. Time, the ever elusive variable […]

Certainly though, I wish you luck and success in whatever you do [and love reading about it].

kb
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kb

Enjoy your time. I really enjoy your blog and wish you success man.

Kathy @ Rental Realities
Guest

I hope you’re not expecting too much of yourself too soon. If so, just remember how far you’ve come and how many people would kill to be where you are. Baby steps.

I love taking “Kathy days” off work at random times of the year – just a day to do whatever I want… errands, video games, blog writing, crafting, listening to podcasts, etc. Usually I’m relatively productive, even on Kathy days, but that’s more because I feel better being organized and such.

Also FYI – I was inspired by your Key West pics – it gave me a moment of “why am I not prioritizing something I love doing?” So we’re now planning a trip to London/England, and that post was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to commit. 😉

Bryan
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Bryan

FI – I’m not calling you out, but you have had posts as recent as 3 months ago stating how fulfilling your job was, although it required tremendous amounts of effort.

Have you ever thought of doing project contracting as an engineer? Sounds like it would be a great fit for you and you certainly are in the right area for it. Put in your 3 months as a contractor (who typically earn more per hour due to no benefits) and then take time to relax and enjoy the world. Do a couple contracts a year and I think you’ll have a really good balance of income and time. I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but figured maybe you just need some outside affirmation.

Congrats to all you’ve accomplished and keep on fighting for the things that matter most in your life.

Even Steven
Guest

If you need a break, take a break. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Max
Guest
Max

Hey FIFighter,

Hmmm, just when it seemed like you were going to call it quits you got a new job, and now it sounds like you may go back to what you were thinking and perhaps call it quits or begin to head in that direction.

I definitely feel you and have really benefited from your blog. You helped show me what kind of cash flow is possible from real estate. I now have a five year plan outlined that I feel really confident about – hoping to get a second multi-unit rental property later this year.

Looking forward to hopefully catching up sometime in the Bay Area and will continue reading to see what next steps await you.

Mrs. WW
Guest

Hope you fully enjoy the rest of your time off so you can find enjoyment when you do return. A good balance is so important. Thank you for keeping us all abreast of how things are going. We’re all rootin’ for you!

Jason @ Islands of Investing
Guest

Hey FI Fighter, I was sorry to read about the impacts your work has been having on your health, but so thrilled that you’re focusing on what’s most important and taking matters into your own hands. After all your hard work the past few years I really hope you find the right solution to live the life you really want! I’m very inspired by what you’ve done and continue to do, like most readers, so I can’t wait to see what you do next!

Cheers,

Jason

James
Guest

Hey FF,

You’ve seen it before and you’ll see it again, but you’ve definitely inspired myself and a lot of people to pursue that FI goal. Seems like your refocus on your health is another great step in your FI journey.

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