Early Retirement BEFORE Financial Independence
Earlier this year, I laid out my path to Financial Liberty.
My goal was very similar to FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). I was planning to meet a certain financial goal, and then I was going to quit my job and “retire”.
I haven’t hit my financial goal yet, and I haven’t achieved financial independence, but I’m probably going to quit anyway.
What Led me to “FIRE”
I don’t like my career. The day-to-day work is monotonous, and I’ve been growing tired of having to put on this corporate persona to blend in. (No, I don’t give a shit about the “strategic vision”, but I guess I have to pretend.) I also wanted to be able to live a more flexible lifestyle in which I could focus on purpose, health, and community instead of arbitrary deadlines, PowerPoints, and climbing the corporate ladder.
I suppose I could have just looked for jobs at other companies, but there’s something about white-collar work that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s so dull and always ends up encroaching on your personal life – just a little bit at a time until work has become the center of your life without you even realizing it.
So, I decided: Instead of finding a different job, I would save up enough money to not have to be stressed about income, then I would start doing work that I found purpose in.
My Financial Liberty & FIRE Goal
- $20,000 per year of passive income (after some reinvesting to keep up with inflation)
- $50,000 cushion/emergency fund
When I hit that goal, I was going to move to an island in the Pacific (where median annual income is about $20k). Then I wouldn’t have to be concerned about earning enough income. Instead, I could do work I enjoyed on my own terms and spend more time with my wife living a healthy, simple lifestyle.
Well, I haven’t hit that goal yet, but I’m probably going to quit my job now anyway.
How far am I from my goal?
Currently, I’m at:
- $15,000 per year of passive income
- $25,000 cushion/emergency fund
So I have half the emergency fund and 75% of the investment income.
That’s not bad, but it means in my early “retirement”, I will still have to keep some focus on earning income, instead of only thinking about work that I want to do.
Here’s why I’m okay with that.
I’ll unpackage this from the math and logic side for you fellow numbers nerds, but I’ll also get into the more personal side.
I’m a super low-risk person by nature. So when my goal is $20,000 per year of passive income, that means $20k per year of passive income for the rest of my life, even if the market crashes and I live to be 110.
Also, let’s be real. $20k doesn’t buy much today, and with the Fed’s current monetary policy, $20k ain’t gonna by shit in the not too distant future. My $20k goal is to have $20k after reinvesting enough money to make sure my portfolio (and the passive income of future years) keeps up with inflation. It’s really more like $40k a year of passive income that I’m going for. Thanks, Jerome.
Now, that sounds pretty negative. But here’s the POSITIVE.
While I don’t have enough investments to replace all of my income forever…
- My current savings and investments will last 13.5 years
- Even if I don’t make another single dollar
- Accounting for inflation
- Not reducing my spending at all
With the little bit I make from my fun side hustles and reducing my spending by only 10%, my savings and investments will last almost 20 years!
Since I don’t enjoy my current job, I might as well quit now. If my side hustles never pick up, then I guess I’ll go back to the corporate world in 20 years. That’s plenty of time (especially with all the time I get back in my schedule!) to make something happen.
The Personal Side
Some of peoples’ biggest regrets in life are:
- Not being a better spouse or parent
- Spending too much time at work
- Not doing more enjoyable work
- Not doing more for others
- Not taking more risks
Leaving the rat race earlier, despite not having all the savings I will ever need, will allow me to spend more time and energy on the above, instead of just my job.
But, who knows? Maybe on my death bed I’ll say I really wished I spent more time in dull meetings pretending to be interested in my company’s sTraTeGic ViSIoN.
I’m gonna do it! Last day in the rat race is December 31st!