Financial Independence, Where to Start

Considering Financial Independence

Financial Independence (FI), as I define it, is no longer having to trade your time for money in order to cover your cost of living. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Financial Independence might lead to retirement, or even ‘early’ retirement. In about 2015, I began getting interested in my own finances, financial independence but didn’t know where to start. I knew I needed to get educated, and was looking for inspiration. Here’s a little about my experience, books, blogs, vlogs, tools and resources that I’ve found useful.      

Helpful Tools for FI & Life

  • Stacking Benjamin’s Podcast – Mike and OG from the basement! Good solid knowledge for anyone, and there’s a trivia question in every show. I’m a sucker for trivia!
  • Afford Anything, but Not Everything – Paula Pants’ is thorough and thoughtful approach to interviews and information presentation. She delivers in-depth information that is very valuable.
  • Bigger Pockets Money Podcast – Scott & Mindy walk the walk, real estate bent but good general information as well. If you get really interested in the Real Estate part, you should graduate to the orginal podcast.
  • NPR Planet Money Podcast – They have a way of making complex money notions make sense.
  • Mad Fientist Podcast – Great information, a fellow spreadsheet nerd, one of the original FI podcasters. I appreciate his very personal account of his path in life.
  • Next Level Life – Daniel is on a mission to spread basic financial literacy, because ‘god knows they aren’t going to teach us this in school.’
  • The Money Guys – maybe its the Southern accent, but I love these guys.  They are more in the mainstream, as far as financial paths to take. But the information they provide is legit, and I love thinking about my ‘army of dollars’ at work for me everyday.
  • Our Rich Journey – Christina and Amon are the complete package as far as an example for how to reach financial independence and retire from the regular 9-5. They have done it all…frugality, real estate, side hustles, good investing, and with two beautiful kids!
  • Tim Ferris – While not very FI focused, Tim’s guests and approach to life are inspirational and informative. A lot of people would say his Four Hour Work Week is a must read.
  • The Simple Path to Investing, by JL Collins. His book was very foundational in my path to FI, and his voice is so awesome! I love hearing him on podcasts.

Overcoming an Imperfect Start

Although I don’t claim to be a part of the F.I.R.E movement, I do aspire to attain Financial Independence and hopefully not die slumped over in a cubicle. When I began self-educating about finances, I was already in my 30’s, ancient by some metrics. And I was definitely not on a path to Financial Independence.  I had not one, but TWO completely financially silly degrees. A Liberal Arts undergrad and a Master’s in Social Work, and went into debt for both. I cashed out a 403(b), paid the penalty in order to quit my Social Work job, move and become a bartender. (Actually, that wasn’t such a bad decision.) I never believed that the average person that I was would ever be Financial Independent.

Crazy turn of events, and I end up answering phones for a financial firm. Culture is powerful. Being in that environment, I learned financial terms, basic tax and investing concepts, and most importantly saw that money makes money. I finally got up the courage to open my first investment account. This was a 180 degree shift from my strategy of stashing of $20 bills in a book. I never would have gotten to this point, without feeling like I understood at least the basics of stocks, bonds, markets and investing.

Financial Independence can be for you, too!

The more I learned, the more I became focused, and made decisions that led to some growth. Slowly, I got out of some bad debt, started increasing my 401(k) contributions, maxing out my IRA contribution.  I started to think of myself as someone who was ‘good with money.’ Thanks to having to survive on little money for most of my adult life, I was naturally frugal and didn’t inflate my lifestyle as my financial circumstances improved. I always had anxiety about having enough money for something unexpected, or to weather a job loss. Once I got to the point of having an emergency savings of 6 months living expenses, I felt a sense of security and freedom like nothing I’d experienced before. I was hooked.  ‘How can I get more? I want more freedom!’ 

I began thinking of options that had seemed unfathomable before. Things like ‘I could retire at some point,’ and ‘I could choose to work when and where I want.’  

Hopefully, my story gives you some inspiration that if I learn and make changes, so can you. The links above should give you a place to start in your Financial Independence journey.

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